Timber Wolf – Virtue Shifters Book 1 by Zoe Chant

Timber Wolf
Virtue Shifters Book 1
Zoe Chant


Wolf shifter and carpenter Jake Rowly left his home town of Virtue straight out of high school and never planned to return. But a broken heart sends him back into the fold, because if there’s one thing Virtue doesn’t have, it’s any chance of romantic complications. Then he meets newcomer Mabs Brannigan, and realizes fate has brought him home again….

All single mother Mabs Brannigan wants is a safe, friendly place to raise her young son. When a distant relative leaves her a falling-down farmhouse in upstate New York, it seems like the chance of a lifetime to start over…until an unethical contractor runs off with her money and she’s left with the devastating truth that she may have to sell the farm that she and her son have already come to love.

Jake needs a place to stay. Mabs needs a carpenter. It seems like a match made in Heaven, but Jake doesn’t want to move too fast with a single mom trying to build a new life…and Mabs can’t imagine a gorgeous, sexy guy like Jake would be interested in anything more than her amazing old house.

But when Mabs’s past comes back to haunt her, and winter traps them together, Jake and Mabs find they’re ready for whatever romance may bring…and that the house holds more secrets than they know!

Mabs Brannigan is a single mom, who by a stroke of good fortune has inherited a home in upstate NY. Well in terms of a place to stay it’s good, however it requires much renovation. Her great aunt Doris seems to have only lived in a couple of rooms in the house and the rest was truly in sad shape. She had planned out everything and now the contractor took off with her money, leaving her little hope of getting things done. Her son Noah is a whirlwind of energy and in order to do the few things she knows she can handle alone; her friend and town librarian Sarah Ekstrom is coming over.

Sarah calls to say she’s bringing an old friend with her and really nothing else.

Jake Rowley left Virtue, never intending to come back. A romance gone bad has him returning where he’s sure he won’t have any romantic complications. He’s going to need a place to stay and Sarah has an idea about that.

Then there’s the realtor that calls offering a lot of money for the property. Mabs isn’t interested, she wants this home for her and Noah and will restore it to its former glory following rules for historic landmarks.

Jake needs a place to stay, and Mabs needs someone to help her renovate. One would say it’s a match made in heaven, but Jake’s wolf is sure Mags is his mate.

This is a favorite scene.

Sarah, though, picked up the thread of conversation as if it hadn’t been interrupted, thanks to a lot of practice at the library-daycare. “The thing is, though, Mabs, Jake’s just back in town and he doesn’t have anywhere to stay, so I was thinking, like, your barn’s pretty solid, right? You could snug up a corner of that and Jake could stay there and work on the house.”

“He can’t stay in my barn. It’s a barn! You can’t stay in my barn!” Mabs’s gaze flickered between Sarah and Jake, finally landing accusingly on Sarah. “Have you been planning this?!”

“I don’t see how I could have been,” Sarah said in the cheerful tone of someone who had been planning this. “I only found out about Chad this morning and then Jake only dropped by the library about half an hour ago to say he was back in town. Who has time to plan?”

“You!” Both Mabs and Jake spoke, then exchanged little grins that made Mabs want to giggle like a schoolgirl. Jake Rowly had a sly, charming grin that could seduce a woman at five paces. Or maybe seven, since that’s about how far away from she was.

“I have not been planning anything,” Sarah said loftily. “I do, however, see an opportunity when it presents itself. You two talk it out. I have a date with a car race.” She exited with less fanfare than Noah had, leaving Mabs and Jake and a whole lot of uncomfortable space between them.

Jake broke it. “I had no idea she was going to do that. Sorry.”

“No, not at all. I didn’t either, obviously. And it’s not that you can’t stay in my barn, it’s just—” Mabs gestured broadly, as if it would explain everything she meant. “It’s just, who goes around inviting people to stay in barns?”

“Apparently Sarah,” Jake said dryly. They both laughed, and suddenly the tension evaporated, leaving Mabs smiling easily at…at the strange man in her house. Maybe she shouldn’t dwell on that.

“Sarah’s always been a fixer-upper,” Jake added. “Even in high school she was always trying to make things work better. She ran our student body single-handedly. I guess I kind of thought she’d be mayor of Virtue by now.”

“I don’t think she has time, with running the library and the not-officially-a-daycare and helping out with Meals-On-Wheels and overseeing the allotment gardens and…” Mabs trailed off. “I see what you mean.” She fell silent a moment, then cleared her throat. “What you said…would you want to?”

“What, fix up this place?” Jake’s blue gaze rose to the kitchen ceiling, which Mabs bet he could touch easily. She needed a chair to get to the top shelf of the dang cupboards, and they were only two shelves high. “Yeah,” Jake said with a touch of longing that Mabs frankly wished was directed at her. “I could do wonders with this old house. Somebody should, anyway. Do you know anything about its construction?”

His gaze returned to Mabs with the power of a static shock. Her breath caught and she straightened a little, like electricity really had run through her. “Um. No? Not really? I know it’s from about the mid-1800s, but that’s about it?”

Jake shook his head and actually offered her his hand, like they’d known each other forever. What was even stranger was that she took it like it was natural. His grip was comfortable, his hand strong and calloused from work. Mabs had never liked super soft hands anyway. There were so many places on her body where the roughness of a callous could add a little extra…hrrr.

God, what was she thinking? Well obviously she knew exactly what she was thinking, but it was, as she liked to tell Noah about some of his more outlandish ideas, wildly inappropriate.

Jake smiled and drew her out of her own house, leading her past Noah and Sarah on the porch, and down the steps. Mabs had to look at her feet to make sure they were still on the ground, because somehow, holding Jake Rowly’s work-strong hand made her feel like she was floating.

When they got out to the yard, he turned her to face the house, and then, as if he’d suddenly realized what he was doing, let go of her hand. “Sorry, that was…”

“No, it’s fine, I could have kicked you instead of taking your hand.” It took all of Mabs’s attention to not put a hand over her face. She sounded like an eight year old. “What did you want to show me?”

His smile appeared again, no longer sly, but genuine and sweet as he lifted his hands toward the house and began pointing. “So from the door over to the left, basically your kitchen, the room behind it, and the rooms above? That was probably the original house. They called it a double-cell, double-pile.”

“Catchy,” Mabs muttered, and Jake grinned.

“Isn’t it, though? So back then, where your hallway is, that was the front.”

Mabs said, “But this is the front,” and winced. Now she sounded like an idiot. She was a waitress, for heaven’s sake. She was good at talking to people, even about things she didn’t care about, and she did care about the house.

But Jake was still grinning like she wasn’t an idiot, so maybe it was okay. “Right, this is the front now. But when it started, back probably around 1790—you could look it up in the local records—it was the side.”

“Oh. Wow. I never thought of looking it up in the records. I’ve never lived anywhere old enough to have local records, I don’t think.”

“Most of us haven’t, but this place, everybody knows it.”

“‘The Old Brannigan Place,’ yeah. People in Virtue are always excited to hear there’s someone living here again.” Mabs smiled at the truth of that. It was one of the reasons she simply didn’t want to give the place up.
Chant, Zoe. Timber Wolf (Virtue Shifters Book 1) Kindle Locations (267-310). Kindle Edition.

There are plenty of ups and downs in this book as Jake and Mabs explore a relationship and renovate.

More annoyance from the realtor and to top it off Noah’s father shows up with threats even though he has had nothing to do with Mabs or Noah from the beginning.

I love the way this story plays out. The town of Virtue is welcoming in a very different way than most small towns.

I am already reading the next book in the series.

5 Contented Purrs for Zoe!

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Zoe Chant loves writing paranormal romance. Over a cup of tea (or something stronger) she whips up sexy tales of hunky heroes and adventurous heroines to tantalize and satisfy her readers. Sizzling hot romance, no cliffhangers!

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