Title: Wake Me Up Inside
Series: Mates, Book #1
Author: Cardeno C.
Genre: Paranormal Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy from publisher
Published: August 2012 by Dreamspinner Press
Zev Hassick is surprised and confused when he finds himself attracted to his best friend. His very human, very male best friend. Zev is the son of the pack Alpha, regarded as the strongest wolf in generations, born to lead. And everyone knows a male shifter has to mate with a female of his own kind to keep his humanity. So shifters can't be gay, right?
Jonah Marvel wants a relationship with Zev, his best friend, the man he has loved since childhood. It wasn't easy to maintain that relationship over years spent living apart while Jonah studied to become a doctor. And then things grow more difficult when Jonah becomes his own patient. Before he can make a life with Zev, he has to understand his past and cure the unexplained ailments that plague him.
Zev and Jonah know they're destined for each other, but they're facing traditions ingrained over generations and long-buried secrets that may threaten any future together.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Awesome MM romance that is given time to develop as the characters mature. Love the world building and can’t wait to read more in the series.
The Set Up: Zev is the Alpha heir of his wolf shifter pack and is waiting to fully mate with his high school love, Jonah. Zev’s wolf pack doesn’t think it’s possible to have a gay Alpha but Zev doesn’t care as he knows Jonah is special. It breaks Jonah’s heart to be away from Zev but they have a mutual goal of him becoming a doctor. But Jonah’s mysterious past is going to cause problems not just for him but for Zev’s wolf pack.
Why I Read this Book: I’ve been seeing flurries of positive reviews for this book and had to read it for myself.
What I Liked: I loved the two leads and their romance. The book starts with Zev and Jonah meeting as children when their friendship begins. Then it follows them as they become high school sweethearts and through the next twelve years until they can fully become a couple. The men are both extremely likable, especially Zev whose love and commitment to Jonah is sigh-worthy. Zev and Jonah are friends before they become lovers and this adds a wonderful, realistic depth to their romance that I adored. I especially liked that the men are the same age and maturing as the book progresses, both individually and as a couple. The men confess love early but then spend the next twelve years negotiating what this means as a committed couple not living together. The men are honest and open with each other and they don’t do stupid things just for the sake of tension, except for Jonah one time but even that was satisfactorily explained for me. Then when Zev and Jonah finally start living together, ka-pow!, just awesome emotional and sexual intimacy.
What I Also Liked: In addition to stellar leads and romance, this book has great world-building. Yes, it’s a shifter setting so not groundbreaking but this book sets up that the shifter world is on the cusp of change and Zev is leading it. This makes the social dynamics be a greater part of the plot than just the shifter lore. I adored the wolf pack members, especially Zev’s twin sister and her mate. And there is a mysterious vampire and shifter couple who come in at novel’s end whose romance BETTER be told in a future book.
What I Didn’t Like: I don’t know when I’ll get book two in this series and that’s the only thing I dislike.
IMO: One of the best MM romances I’ve recently read. The author successfully writes a believable romance where readers are shown why and how these men become a couple over time and through difficulties—just what I look for in romance.