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Review: Panther’s Luck – Holly Day

Panther's Luck - Holly Day

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Shifters

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewers: Gordon & Linda, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

Humans off the paved road are nothing but shifter food.

Romeo Gallo has to flee town. The problem is that the only place he can think of going is an old ranch he’s inherited from his uncle, and it’s off the paved road. Humans are fair game if they’re off the paved road, and being eaten by shifters has never been on the list of things Romeo wants to experience.

Ciar Moonlight is a panther shifter, perfectly happy living a laidback life on the ranch. He wants nothing to do with humans. But one night, one moves into the house, and Ciar finds it hard to stay away.

Romeo soon learns he isn’t the only one living on the ranch. Shifters and vampires keep popping up, and since no one has eaten him yet, he’d go as far as to call a few of them his friends. And there is a panther reluctant to leave his bedroom, so maybe one is even more than a friend. Ciar might not have wanted to get to know a human, but now when Romeo is living in his territory, he’s Ciar’s to keep, right? So if someone tries to get rid of Romeo, it’s Ciar’s right to defend him. Right?

The Reviews


In “Panther’s Luck” Holly Day creates a world in which humans and “supernatural” creatures (shifters and vampires—“supes” as they are called) live in an uneasy truce, the land partitioned between small human settlements situated in the much larger, abandoned human towns and cities, and the “wild” regions between, where the shifters and vampires live.

Day deftly sets up a compelling situation in the first few pages, capturing the reader’s interest. Romeo is a human living in New Town, and is gay. He has just been beaten for this by some town-folk as a “warning,” and is convinced they will kill him should they catch him again. He decides to leave the town, to go to the Moonlight Ranch he inherited from his Uncle Leo but has never seen as it is in the middle of wild country.

“They will kill you if you go there,” says his mother. Romeo agrees, but thinks:

The shifters and vampires most likely would kill him, but if he stayed, he was certain his fellow humans would. There was no way out.

Quite the dramatic opening! Romeo does go, but where the paved road ends is where human jurisdiction ends, by the rules of the truce, final several miles to the ranch are gravel road. He makes it but, though not seeing anything, is convinced he is watched.

The symbolism of the paved road as a human “safe zone” is archetypal, evoking Little Red Riding Hood’s“ don’t leave the path” (and even “follow the yellow-brick road” in The Wizard of Oz). It has resonance in human nature: the boundary between the conscious and unconscious mind (Freud’s ego and id), between rationality and instinct—or, more literally, between civilization and wilderness.

The point-of-view changes to that of Ciar Moonlight, a panther shifterwho is watching Romeo’s arrival at the Ranch. From him we learn that manyare watching this human incursion into supe territory.The story goes from there, centering around the question of whether Romeo’s alien presence is to be tolerated. This, like a small stone dropped into a pond, causes ripples to spread outwards into both worlds, challenging the precarious relationship between them.

Day introduces numerous characters, yet manages to give the principal characters distinct individualities. The young bear changer, Humbert, whose youthful exuberance and curiosity tend to get him into trouble, is thoroughly loveable. Thano (thanos, Greek:death) the vampire, is powerful and dangerous (is able to “hide in shadows,” feeds on humans), but basically benign when it comes to Romeo, since the latter has the key to the ranch from his uncle. Then there are the wolves, led by Tatwulf…

The story development shows more and more of the two cultures. Human society doesn’t fare very well—perhaps not surprisingly, given that we live in an age painfully aware of how humans have ravaged the planet.

One of the disturbing, oppressive rules of the world Day creates is a ban on reading and writing, shades of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Day expresses this in the dedication:

A world without readers can easily turn into a scary place. So read before we find ourselves in a similar world to the one Romeo’s in!

This exhortation, playfully as it is put, is also serious, and has the break-the-fourth-wall quality that J.M. Barrie uses in Peter Pan, when Peter exhorts the audience to clap if they believe in fairies so that Tinkerbell will recover simply through their good-will and belief.

The relationship between humans and supes in Panther’s Luckis ironicas well. Humans want to be superior, “above” the supernaturals, it is the supes who are “super,”i.e., stronger. It is they who have wiped out the cities and tolerate humans only enough to allow them small communities within the ruins.

The tension increases when Romeo discovers several crates of the forbidden books in his cellar (including romance, horror, mystery, paranormal and young adult fiction).The supes, most of whom cannot read or write, it turns out love to be read to—making Romeo a source of much pleasure.

The principal relationship is the developing romance between Romeo and Ciar, complete with both misunderstandings and surprises. For example:

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” He slumped in the chair, and Ciar watched in fascination. Romeo was angry and not because someone had done something to him. He was angry because Thano couldn’t have his money.

Ciar thus learns that Romeo has principles that do not arise from simple self-interest. The values of most of the shifter characters too are quite sweet, and give the story a charming quality. If there is a drawback to the story it is that the benign shifters and the several vampires, are a shade too nice—the natural quarrels that arise within any group feels distinctly missing at times.

The pervasive anxiety that the shifters have about human society is a powerful analogue to what queer people experience even in today’s world about incipient homophobia. Disturbing to read and experience in the writing, it is also very true.

Finally, there is magic in depiction, as when Ciar, in panther form protectively decides to sleep on a tree limb outside Romeo’s bedroom window:

Ciar looked at him one last time before closing his eyes. Romeo yawned and slumped back against the pillow. Amazing. A panther was sleeping outside his bedroom window.

This image, breathtakingly beautiful, is an example of one of the justifications of fantasy literature: being able to create situations in which the possibilities of existence are distilled into something both wondrous and wonderful.

Five stars.


This book takes place in a dystopian world, where kids only go to school for six years and then start to work. Where books, paper and pens are forbidden, and being different could be deadly. The story follows the life of Romeo Gallo, a gay man whose life is in constant danger. His family survives, like most humans, on very little. Work is hard to come by, and their lives are in constant danger because of Romeo. With no other option, he decides to go to The Moonlight Ranch, once owned by his uncle and left to his family.

Supernatural creatures – “supes” – are now the top of the food chain, and if anyone gets off the paved road, they become food. Unfortunately for Romeo, the road to the ranch is unpaved but driving as fast as he can, he gets to the front door of the house, and with his key makes it indoors. Romeo is safe, for now, but he faces the prospect death by starvation, since there is no food and he has no way of hunting for any. His resources are very limited, but he is alone and hopefully the fear of dying because he is gay is behind him.

Romeo has no idea that he is not alone. Moonlight Ranch is home to vampires and all kinds of shifters and the only reason he is alive is because of a single rule – that anyone with a key is protected. Leo, Romeo’s uncle, ensured that his family would not be harmed. Romeo’s first introduction to the supes happens by accident when a bear cub gets stuck getting out of a window in one of the cabins. Even a small cub could be deadly, but he couldn’t just stand by without helping.

With a little effort, the cub gets loose and turns into a small boy. Humbert is a curious kid and, of course, like all boys his age, he’d disobeyed his mom to investigate the human. Fortunately for Romeo, Humbert embraces him like a friend, one of many he has no idea will be in his future.

A huge black panther, Ciar, and Draven, an eagle owl come to the door. They are not thrilled to have a human living there, but they can’t harm him. Before long most of the supes have accepted Romeo, some more than others. Supes have no issue with him being different, i.e. gay.

There is one supe, hoewver, who wants Romeo gone – Tatwulf, the leader of the wolves. Fortunately, Romeo has more supes who want him there, especially when he finds boxes of books his uncle had hidden and begins having reading night, which is a huge success. The only difficulty is having to explain simple things that humans take for granted. But when he finds books on vampires, wolves, and even bears, cheers go up.

Things are going well in a nearby human town, where items can be purchased, gas, food and even electricity. Romeo gives Ciar and Draven an opportunity that would not normally be available to supes – starting their own business. All is going well until Tatwulf puts a plan in motion that would guarantee that Romeo will be gone.

Day has created a fascinating world that makes life nearly impossible for humans. So much is banned that it seems impossible for Romeo to find happiness, security, and an HEA.

The characters are amazing, especially little Humbert, who is adorable.

Five stars.

The Reviewers

About Gordon: Having received formal training in the world of science, Gordon has always found relief from the strictures of present-day reality in reading fiction, mostly fantasy, horror and sci-fi, fiction that explores regions of what is sometimes called the Kingdom of If. Here the rules can be virtually anything, allowing for greater possibilities of wonder and strange discovery. Gordon also writes, among other things, stories of M/M romance within these genres. This provides the opportunity for exploring how characters, some of them possibly not fully human, might act and react in truly strange circumstances. He writes romance because, of all the mind-blowingly possibilities inherent in the creation of imaginative worlds, the most mysterious and magical are the operations of the human heart itself, including its curious ability to grow when broken.

The Paranormal Romance Guild was established in 2009 by 8 Indie Authors and one Reviewer to be a constant help for authors. You can be a free author member, submitting your work for review OR become a Premium Author Member for a small yearly fee and enjoy many extra services including Free Beta Reads, Author Giveaways and many others. Your reviews are posted on our 3 FB Sites, Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram. WE REVIEW ALL GENRES LGBTQ+ welcome.

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