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Book Review: Kinship and Kindness by Kara Jorgensen

Title: Kinship and Kindness

Author: Kara Jorgensen

Publisher: Kara Jorgensen

Publication Date: August 5, 2020

Genres: Urban Fantasy, Romance

Shelves: Transgender

This was just delightful, both sweeter and darker than I expected, with some wonderful themes of understanding and acceptance throughout. Kinship and Kindness is a story of pack and of family, a story about transformations, and a story of making one’s own destiny, all set in a historical setting.

One of the first things that struck me about the story was Kara Jorgensen’s flair for detail. This is a book you can hear, smell, and feel on every page. It’s fully immersive, but in a way that’s never intrusive or overwhelming. I mean, read this and tell me you’re not right there, on that street, covering your nose:

Even in winter, the city still tasted of coal dust and bodies, a thousand dishes cooking on one stove overlaid with sweat and urine.

The second thing that struck me was the way she handled Bennett’s hidden gender situation, and the way Theo responded to it. Theirs is a slow burn romance, complicated by Bennet being a transgender fox amidst a pack of wolves, and Theo being a fatalistic epileptic who won’t allow anyone to get close, but it’s well worth waiting for those magical moments when they connect. These two quotes are taken from different parts of the book, several chapters apart, but they speak volumes about the body dynamic of their romance:

“My body and mind don’t quite match. I’m missing some things and have too much of others. My mind and body don’t see eye to eye.” [Bennet]

“I don’t only like men, and I’m fussy about who I do things with, not what types of activities I entertain with others. Bodies will always be different, some more than others, so that’s very low on my list of concerns.” [Theo]

Woven within all that is the overall theme of family born, family lost, and family found, which is made even more interesting and dynamic with the whole shifter/pack element. There’s a sort of racial element to that dynamic as well, with species playing into the role of family in a couple of ways. There’s the whole element of Bennet being a fox among wolves, and then there’s the passion that brings him to town, a proposal to start a union for all shifters, allowing foxes, selkies, and more to enjoy the same protections and privileges of wolves. There’s a lot of tension there, a lot of challenges to pack and family, and the way they come together against a common enemy is fantastic.

Finally, I must say I loved the way Jorgensen explored shifters here, with the animal and the human sort of coexisting, challenging for dominance, and remaining aware of one another. Watching the wolves tear through the house and across the grounds is exhilarating, and watching the battles between them is bloody horrifying, but watching Bennet’s fox scampering about and begging for pastries from Theo is just adorable.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the author for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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