The Shape of Desire (Shifting Circle #1) by Sharon Shinn


“For fifteen years Maria Devane has been desperately, passionately in love with Dante Romano. But despite loving him with all of her heart and soul, Maria knows that Dante can never give all of himself back-at least not all the time.
Every month, Dante shifts shape, becoming a wild animal. During those times, he wanders far and wide, leaving Maria alone. He can’t choose when he shifts, the transition is often abrupt and, as he gets older, the time he spends in human form is gradually decreasing. But Maria, who loves him without hesitation, wouldn’t trade their unusual relationship for anything.
Since the beginning, she has kept his secret, knowing that their love is worth the danger. But when a string of brutal attacks occur in local parks during the times when Dante is in animal form, Maria is forced to consider whether the lies she’s been telling about her life have turned into lies she’s telling herself”

I want to start by saying that I liked The Shape of Desire better after I finished reading it than I did while I was reading.  There are several reasons so I will get started.

Worldbuilding:  This is often a big problem with a new series.  There is so much that has to be mentioned and explained that it slows the story down.  It has to be done or the story would not make much sense.  The Shape of Desire requires a lot of world building.  Sharon Shinn does a good job weaving it into the story but sometimes it slows down the action.

Backstory:  This is a biggie in a new series.  Sometimes you just need a little and it can be dropped in conversation small hints.  That was not the case in The Shape of Desire.  In order to understand the characters and their relationships you needed to know their past history. The best way to do that was to include scenes from the two main characters past.  The use of flash backs did the job but was another thing that slowed the main story line down.

Characters:  This is another new take on shifters.  Dante is very different from shifter characters in other books.  Maria Devane and Dante are the two main characters.  We see much more of Maria and as a result she is much better drawn than Dante.  Maria is very good at hiding her relationship with Dante.  In some ways she was just to good to be true. Dante remained a bit of a mystery to me.  His character kept me guessing right until the end.  There were several very well drawn side characters that were essential to the story.  I am looking forward to how they will be featured in future books.

Plot:  The main plot is the number of deaths by wild animal attack.  That plot brings on the sub-plots that hinge on relationships in the book.  Not all of those sub-plots are about Maria and Dante.  I think some of them are setups for future books.  I really liked the fact that at the end there was a resolution to Maria and Dante’s relationship.  They had as much of a HEA as was possible at the time.

Sex:  I had to include this one.  In most of Sharon Shinn’s previous books the couple went into the bedroom and shut the door.  You knew what was going on but used your imagination about how it was going on.  Not in this book.  While it is not as graphic as many books today it was very graphic compared to other Sharon Shinn books.  I suspect that this was a requirement by the publisher.  I like the other way best, and if you have read any of my previous post you know I just skim those parts of the book.  I will say that the sex in The Shape of Desire adds to the story.  It is not just put for no reason.

All of that said, when I got through reading everything fell in place and I really liked the book.  The Shape of Desire set the stage for future books and I am looking forward to next book in the Shifting Circle series.

Ace published The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn in 2012.

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