Reviewed by Morgan
Title: Forging the Future
Author: Mary Calmes
Narrator: Sean Crisden
Series: Change of Heart #5
Heroes: Jin Church/Logan Church
Genre: MM Paranormal
Length: 6 Hours 59 Minutes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 9, 2015
Available at: Amazon, Audible and iTunes
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Jin Church is back where he started, alone, wandering, and uncertain of his path. It’s not by choice but by circumstance, as he remembers he’s a werepanther… but not much else. He knows one thing for sure—he needs to find the beautiful blond man who haunts his dreams.
Logan Church is trapped in a living hell. His mate is missing, his tribe is falling apart, and he’s estranged from the son he loves with all his heart. His world is unraveling without his mate by his side, and he has no one to blame but himself.
If Jin can regain his memory and Logan can overcome the threats to his leadership, then perhaps they can resume their lives. The question is: Is that what they want? Back to the same house, the same tribe, the same troubles? They can choose from various roads leading to their future… or they can forge their own path.
Review – Book: Wow! What a finale to this story!
This series starts with Jin, a werepanther meeting his fated Mate, Logan in book one, Change of Heart. Logan hadn’t ever been with a man and Jin had been cast out for being a gay panther. This sets the tone for the series in that there is a lot of drama both between the two MCs and the community. Mary’s panthers are not easy people who happen to shift into fluffy animals. They have an old world mentality with lots of rules and a strict order to their society. When Jin shows up, he’s a Reah, which is only ever a female position, so he rocks their world as a man. When there are challenges, they are to the death. When there are insults given, there are challenges to the death. When someone attacks one’s mate…. You get the idea.
In succeeding books, we learn more about Jin and Logan’s world. Jin, in addition to being the only male Reah, happens to have other powers that nobody else does – nekhene cat – which give him another source of both fear and awe in the community.
As Logan and Jin settle into their relationship, Logan’s title changes with some challenges and he and his “colleagues” become more powerful in the panther community. Book Four, Crucible of Fate, is in fact mostly about Logan and Jin’s friends, Domin and Yuri, who end up leading the entire panther community. We also find out that Logan and Jin have managed to have a child together, Ilia, who has Jin’s powers as well.
(This is definitely not a standalone book, and if you haven’t read the first four books, I’m not sure you’d understand much of this one. Mary’s world is very complex and involved, and by this time, the characters are numerous and well developed.)
These things are important, because in book 5, all of these things come to a head.
Because Mary loves to cause us pain, we start the book with Jin and Logan SEPARATED because Jin has lost his memory. He’s found in another Semel’s territory and this sets up the alerts that he is a lost Mate.
Without giving away too much of the story – of course Logan and Jin are re-united, but it isn’t easy or simple. There was a reason Jin lost his memory and it’s a hard truth for the couple to bear. Once they return back to Nevada things become more complicated.
With Jin gone, Logan was essentially “less” able to rule and this riled up his father and brothers into leading a coup. Russ now wants to take over the tribe and send Logan away.
Domin also wants Logan to leave Nevada and join him in Egypt for his own reasons, one of which is the raising of Ilia in a safe environment.
This is where the story gets very hard. Jin learns what caused the memory loss, Logan’s family gets torn apart, Crane’s life gets threatened and everyone has to decide what’s best for the future.
So, yeah. Wow. This was a hard, hard book at times. But it answered so many questions and wrapped things up so beautifully.
It wasn’t until I was listening to the audiobook (after having read the book originally) that I really saw the beauty in that space between when Logan and Jin are together as mates but Jin hasn’t regained his memory. Logan points it out explicitly, but it seemed to resonate more for me the second time through. Originally it was Jin who argued that Logan wasn’t gay and only loved him because he was his Mate. Now, with shoe on the other foot, both men are able to see the importance and distinction between the love they hold for each other as men and the mate bond itself.
Another part of the story that really gets settled is the fact that, despite Peter’s saying so, he never did accept Jin and Logan’s relationship. This mirrors the community in that they are awed by Jin but never really trust him and now with Ilia in the picture things are only worse. So the decision they make as a family really had to reflect that – as a family – they couldn’t really stay the same without making significant changes or living in fear.
There is a moment when my heart stopped – Crane is involved – you’ll know it when you get there – but I loved how Mary resolved this. Jin’s power is virtually unstoppable and it’s amazing to see it unfold and strengthen.
It was an amazing end to an amazing series, absolutely unique in the shifter world and a couple that will absolutely rank among my favorites forever.
Review – Audiobook: The narration of this series is mostly done by Sean Crisden (books 2 and 3 by Jeff Gelder). Sean – by far – did the best job IMHO, and I’m always sad when a series isn’t done by the same narrator especially when they are doing a fabulous job, but that is neither here nor there.
Sean did his best work with this, by far. It’s a very complex story with so many people and so many different accents and voice types and regionalities. Women, children, older people, younger, anger, crying, passion – you name it. Add to that the very complex names and places and I’m sure it was WORK to do this so well.
(I had the luck to see/meet Sean at GRL this year and he’s agreed to answer some questions about this narration – so look for that to follow!)
I love Sean’s Alpha growly voice that he gives to Logan. It absolutely makes my toes curl. When Logan is on the plane and tells Jin how sorry he is for doubting him and he’s all choked up… yep. Tears. It’s very moving.
I also liked what he did with Crane’s voice in this narration, it seemed more natural. I’m amazed that he can go from an American to British to Egyptian to… you name it, so smoothly and flawlessly. They are all in this book and he did them all very, very well.
So, as you can probably guess I’m giving this a big 6 of 5 stars for an absolutely amazing book, series and narration. Highly recommended.
Overall Impression: It was amazing
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*