This is the ninth story in the Shifting Crossroads series by Zenina Masters. You don’t have to read them all, I was going to recommend reading Lion Time, Dragon Around, Poisoned Pen (the second, fourth and fifth stories) first but as I looked at the nine stories all I can think is, ‘Read them all!’
This story begins with Pansy Medeela, a porcupine shifter in a wolf shifter family, working in the family garage. By that I mean fixing people’s cars, not just front desk work. Her long time crush, Axander Barkley, arrives to retrieve his car and tells her he will be heading to the Crossroads at the end of the month. Sigh. The poor girl is a bit distraught. She has six older brothers and her father is the pack alpha, so the seven wolves protect her. The big ‘problem’ with the family is the fact she isn’t a wolf so she doesn’t fit into pack protocols. Her entire family calls her by any number of nicknames like Prix and Prickles instead of her actual name. It’s coming up on her birthday and she’s looking forward to seeing her fairy godmother. Yes, I did just say fairy godmother. Aunty Keelie is actually Fae, and every year she gifts Pansy with jewelry, property and things like that. Of course, her father is always trying to get in the way of Keelie arriving since he doesn’t like her very much.
Keelie arrives for her birthday at dawn, surprising the family, and she spends the day with Pansy telling her all about her mother, how they met, and why she has gifted the properties she has. Wow! Apparently Pansy’s mother really wanted a daughter and with the seventh pregnancy she was successful. The problem was that after finding out she would have a daughter she also found out she had breast cancer. Boy, what a heck of a dramatic twist to what should have been a joyous occasion. Keelie worked very hard to use magic to protect the baby, calling up the wild magic from the area. It was that magic that made Pansy a porcupine instead of a wolf. Her gift, after letting Pansy know what happened and why, is an all expense paid makeover and trip to the Shifter Crossroads for Pansy to find a mate…and maybe get a life.
Pansy arrives at the Crossroads with a bang! I really do mean that. It turns out that our girl Pansy has so much of that wild magic in her that she takes down the roof of the Welcome Center. Anyway, the first half of the story is all about Pansy, how she got a real fairy godmother and sort of how she ended up a porcupine. When she gets to the Crossroads she has to recover from her entry, but she also needs a new wardrobe and a complete makeover. The ladies of the Crossroads are more than happy to assist. Her crush is already there and doesn’t even recognize her when he meets her again! And you know, her attraction to him isn’t one sided, they have incredible chemistry. I thought it was funny that he is the only honey badger in his family of shifters, although we never find out what his family is. This is one of the sweetest stories of the series! I loved Keelie and the back-story, I thought Axander was pretty cool even though I kept wanting to change his name to Alexander. And frankly, I love a woman who knows what to do with her quills!