The story is a mix of paranormal and sci-fi, meaning that the shifters in this story are not some mythological creatures but the dangerous experiment of a crazy scientist. Strangely enough, the separation between animal and human is more marked in these creatures than you usually find in an “ordinary” paranormal romance. You notice it in the little things, like the small gestures some of them have when they are in their human self that are more like their animal self, the reactions and the behaviour, but also the physical built, reflecting their inner beast.
Among them there is Mason, a snow leopard shifter who is the only one who can touch Heinrich, the son of the crazy scientist who was himself an experiment of his own father. The idea they have is that Heinrich’s father “created” Mason as a special pet for Heinrich, to allow someone/something to be near to his son. But that was not done out of love for his son, but more like another experiment to understand how dangerous Heinrich could be.
There are different subplots, many of them quite interesting, like the one among a shifter rave and a shifter bear, or the one barely hinted among a shifter coyote and a shifter timber wolf. Love and danger seem to be all over the place, and the shifters living in the safe shelter that is Heinrich’s ranch tend to find comfort in each other; this is not like a Noah’s Ark and so the shifters don’t find the only one that can match them, and they have to do with what is around, and so an odd couple like a raven and a bear, or a lion and a bull, is paired; I think this is a metaphor with what is happening outside the ranch, with simple "humans" who are not able to accept who is different from them, while the dangerous "beasts" are able to live in peace.
As usual in a T.A. Chase’s novel, the sex is a great, a good, share of the story, and it’s sexy and naughty, with a love for little details that makes it graphically detailed without being a “medical textbook”.
Amazon Kindle: The Subtlety of Understanding
Publisher: MLR Press (March 7, 2012)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott