Author: Cari Z.
Title: Dangerous Territory
Series: Part of the Devil's Land Collection
Rating: Three Petals
On the Publisher's Website:
With his father barely in the ground and his sister married to a scheming bastard, Carter is on the verge of losing the family ranch. His only chance at holding onto his inheritance is to get his cattle to market before his brother-in-law. That means braving Mason Canyon, which on top of being snake-infested and easily flooded, is also shifter territory. Most clans would just as soon shoot humans as look at them.
His only hope of making it is to trust the shifter who's agreed to help him, and pray that Rani won't double-cross him. If Carter doesn't go he loses everything, and if he doesn't make it there his family is as good as dead.
I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I want to start this review with the issues I noticed because there were a lot. First was the fact that the summary implies more than the story actually contains. It states that Carter is about to lose his family ranch, but that's not true. He's already lost it before the book even started. His inheritance from his dead parents is forty percent of the cattle on the land, which he needs to sell before his brother-in-law gets to market in order to get top dollar. The money he then makes will be his inheritance, which he plans to use for some sort of plan that was never properly explained. Either he wants to buy his brother-in-law's portion of the cattle, or he wants to buy his own ranch, or something else vaguely described. I didn't really understand it.
Next in the summary is the idea that a shifter would shoot instead of just tear Carter limb from limb. The book really fell short in describing the shifters in general. Their society is understandably hidden, yet almost no insight into their culture is given. The only concrete detail was that in times when they have plenty of children, partners of the same gender are allowed, which made it possible for the romantic pairing in the book to occur. There was so much more that could have been done with the shifters, which makes me hope that this is merely a short story set in a larger world. A full length novel expanding on the shifters would help this story stand on it's own. Dangerous Territory was too short to carry the weight of the world it was given.
Last from the summary is the the statement that his family was as good as dead. I am particularly annoyed with this line because I don't remember his family ever being harmed. Certainly the brother-in-law is an idiotic ass, but the worst he ever does is threaten to force a couple out of their home on the ranch's property. Despite the fact that the entire point of Carter's journey was to "save" his home, Cari Z. neglected to have Carter return there to do any actual saving. There is speculation that the brother-in-law lost his cattle in a storm on the river, but we're never told if that's actually true or given even a glimpse into how Carter might take advantage of that. I felt like an entire chapter, or at least an epilogue, had been left off the story. Instead, the story ends when Carter sells his cattle and rides off into the sunset with his romantic partner. I was very disappointed that the rest of the plot wasn't also completed.
With that said, there was also a lot to like about this story. Foremost was the sheer beauty of the world Cari Z. created. It was so detailed and full of possibilities. When the Europeans landed in the New World, instead of meeting with the Native Americans who were unfortunate enough not to have defenses against guns and smallpox, the settlers met with the shifters who fought and won the right to keep their land. The human towns and society that developed from there were very interesting, as was the interaction between the humans and shifters. I would really like to read more about this world, so I hope Cari Z. is thinking about writing a sequel.
I also liked the characterizations. They were a little one-note in that Carter was determined and his sister was weakened by love, but I could see the distinct personalities of each and the deep feelings that made them who they are.
There were a lot of issues in this story. Events weren't explained properly, the society of the shifters was glanced over, and the ending was missing a conclusion to the premise of the story. Overall, however, I did enjoy reading it. The world was beautifully crafted and I liked the characterizations. I would recommend this book and if a sequel were written I would read it too.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.