“Hell & High Water” by Charlie Cochet is about a law enforcement agent, Dex, who gets transferred to a specialized unit that deals with Human/Therian affairs, T.H.I.R.D.S. Therians are a subspecies of human that were created accidentally through a vaccine, and because of general prejudice, a task force was developed to ensure their rights.
In the beginning of the novel, Dex’s boyfriend, who wasn’t good for him, broke up with him; and his boss, who didn’t really support him, forced him to leave his current job. Dex gets transferred on a team where his brother and father work, and where he can be among other like-minded people. The theme of the novel seems to be about Dex getting back to his true self.
And then there’s Sloane.
Sloane is Dex’s new team leader on the task force, T.H.I.R.D.S. He’s undergoing new beginnings as well, and this story is as much about Dex as it is him. The spot Dex took over when he transferred used to be filled by Sloane’s ex-partner—who died on duty. Sloane’s been beating himself up because not only were they partners, they were lovers as well. Secret lovers.
Sloane is also a Therian, because that’s how T.H.I.R.D.S. teams are set up—one Therian and one Human per pair. Sloane can willingly turn into a big black cat, which makes this a shifter book. Yay!
The plot centers on Dex joining T.H.I.R.D.S., solving a string of murders, and how Dex and Sloane help each other heal.
My favorite parts of the book revolved around the tension between Sloane and Dex. There was an immediate attraction between the two, but Sloane spent a lot of time and effort trying to resist Dex’s charms. First and foremost, he didn’t want a repeat of what happened with his ex. And, if anyone found out that they were seeing each other, they’d be transferred again—and well, Dex just got there and Sloane was just starting to get used to having a new partner. He put up a good fight, he really did.
This book is a part of a series, and I’m glad, because there was so much more I wanted to explore in Cochet’s world. Such as, I wanted to know more about shifting and I wanted Dex and Sloane to connect more on that level.
It occurred to me while reading that the idea of shifters and bestiality—though they never actually cross that line—get pretty close to one another at times. Because, let’s face it, panther-Sloane is damn sexy. Pretending this is all real, how should partners of shifters feel about their shifter lovers? The person they have sex with is an animal part of the time. In Cochet’s world shifters retain human-like sentience, so shifters are still “human” on the inside. They just happen to have fur, cat breath, and may scratch the furniture.
I went to Cochet’s website and poked around. If you want to get an idea of what the characters look like and their relationship to one another, you should check out her T.H.I.R.D.S page:
I found her sites to be nicely laid out and easy to navigate. On Cochet’s info page, she mentions that she was born in Cuba—how cool. She’s lived all over, worked at many different jobs, and seems to be incredibly open-minded. The diversity certainly shows in her writing.
It appears as if Cochet favors writing series, and you can find more info about her and her works on her website:
Beth Brock is a reviewer for DSP and QSF. She enjoys reading, writing, running, family and food, and fills her life with bent bunk. She especially loves to discuss LGBTQ+ literature.
Her website is http://www.bethbrockbooks.com
You can find her on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/BethBrockBooks.
Dreamspinner Press – Where Dreams Come True… International publishers of quality gay romantic fiction since 2007. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
DSP Publications – Off the Beaten Path. Worth the Journey. http://www.dsppublications.com
Harmony Ink Press – LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction. http://www.harmonyinkpress.com