River's Recruit (Sanctuary, #1)

River's Recruit (Sanctuary, #1) - Charlotte Abel I think it's important for me to explain what my expectations were when I accepted the opportunity to review this book. I expected this to be about werewolves and I expected this to be heavy on the romance since it was classified as PNR. Although this is about shifters, the focus is more on the community and their rules and struggle for power. I can count the times there was any actual shifting. This is also a paranormal book with very little romance. This felt more like a YA book. While I enjoy YA, it's not what I was expecting and needless to say it has affected the way I read the book.

This is the story about River. She is part of a secluded community of shifters that live in the mountains. Jonathan is an ex-military that was injured while in Afghanistan. His mental and physical injuries lead him to seek seclusion. He decides to take a 3-week trip to the mountains and here his path leads him to River. River stands out within her community because she has some attitude and is independent. The community she is part of is divided between those who live inside the caves and surface dwellers. She is a surface dweller. She loves to hunt and ride horses. I got the impression the community was part native american, part cult, all nothing I would ever want to be part of. Herein was part of the problem.

I enjoyed the premise. I liked the fact that the shifters literally merged with a wolf. Their spirits and bodies becoming one. There was all this mystique about River's past and who she was and yet...it didn't seem to go anywhere. I knew that when she met Jonathan the story would take a twist but she doesn't meet Jonathan until about 20% into the book and then he freely goes along with this stranger and accepts her peculiar customs and his position as her recruit. Yes, he thinks of escaping, sort of, but... it just seemed too easy.

I found it very difficult to connect to any of the characters. I found Jonathan to be an idiot a lot of times. I get that he has a soldier mentality and wants to save those in need but... I don't know, something just didn't click. Eli is an egotistical person with zero appeal and his mother Shula selfish. She kept wanting to advance her son's political life without caring about how breaking the rules would affect anyone. Her brother gets punished for her behavior, he questions her choices and yet he still trusts her. While I would usually applaud a strong willed woman, she cared about nobody. I couldn't get behind any of her motives.

I enjoyed the writing and thought this had potential. Lots of potential but I found it overall frustrating and at points boring since it didn't seem to progress. Theories, legends, customs were taken at face value and nobody seemed to question anyone. I liked River, her character has so much potential for being so much more. The worst part is just that it ends just when it was getting a bit interesting. Argh!!