Big Bad Wolf (Third Shift #1)
by Suleikha Snyder

I misjudged this cover to indicate more UF than PR, but this is definitely, solidly, steamily in the paranormal romance category with insta-love and shifter-mates and secret military ops, etc. All the delicious PR tropes you could hope for with an added dash of desi culture in the heroine that actually informs her actions & personality (rather than just window dressing).

We begin our introduction to the secret Third Shift operations with Neha, a psychological legal aide, walking into a jail with her criminal defense lawyer superior to interview their current client: a bad-ass, ex military brute who confessed to killing a bunch of Russian mobsters. There’s insta-lust and she can’t help herself from going back again and again. So she’s there when someone attacks the jail and they have to go on the lam.

Neha is an upright, desi daughter within the Sikh community whose religion and family informs her decisions. She dishes about her life over pani puri with her cousin, she stays in an Auntie’s guesthouse, she avoids gurdwara with her criminal companion because she doesn’t want to hurt her community, she feels the need to be of service to others because of her faith……I wanted to give 5 stars to this book based on Neha alone.

But the stream-of-consciousness over action style of writing (very romance-trope heavy) resulted in quite a lot of Joe Peluso, murder-for-hire waxing on and on in alpha male shifter manner about what he wanted to do to Neha (and this is not my personal taste, insta-love flavored with alpha male. I like some foreplay thank you very much) and how he didn’t deserve her, etc. etc. And Neha waxing on and on about how she could handle herself and didn’t mind Joe’s murderous past.

There’s also a beta couple present in the book with some POV sections: the younger sister of the main bad criminal guy and a cop involved in Third Shift trying to get her out.

But to be honest, I kept reading late into the night because Snyder has reached the sweet spot on bad-ass/flirty vampires and bisexual lawyer side characters. Finn Conlan and his over-wraggly eyebrows steals every scene he’s in, and Snyder also sets a really intriguing base for further exploration of Third Shift staff with giving us little bits about the lion-shifter and the sorceror co-founders that make you want to read all the sequels.

So four stars for the insta-lust and over-deployment of the “I love her so I must avoid her” trope but definitely am going to buy the rest of this series. Fans of Marjorie Liu’s Dirk & Steele or Kresley Cole’s Immortals after Dark should take note.