Winter's Trial - Darren Endymion 4 1/2 Hearts

Review written for MM Good Book Reviews

Austin's life has been hell ever since his first change and he was discovered to be a Three Form, hated and bullied he has lived with daily abuse and the only thing he has had to cling to is the promise of his True Mate. Cristiano has been lavished with love and honor, he is a True Mate and has lived the life of one of the blessed, when the urge to find his True Mate becomes too strong he heads to America to find the man he will love forever. When Austin and Cris meet the connection is instant, but Cris discovers it isn't going to be as easy as he hoped to settle with his mate. Austin has to show his mate the truth about his life and they both have to hope that they can get away from a pack bent on violence.

This story is absolutely amazing, the brutality and prejudice, the abuse and despair, along with the thread of hope and love just jump off the pages as we are told the tale of Austin and Cris. Cris really has no clue what he is heading into when he begins the journey to find his True Mate, he never imagined that his mate would have lived a life of abuse or that he would be a Three Form, the most fear and hated wolf. Austin has lived with the hope of his True Mate for many years, it is the only thing that keeps him going each day and the only reason that he doesn't turn on his abusers.

Austin and Cris are a brilliant couple but they face manage challenges as they maneuver through pack politics, prejudice, danger and psychotic pack mates. We are pulled into a story that is much more than just a love story, and we get a wealth of information about the structures of the packs and their backgrounds and roles. Austin's pack is a mess compared to others and as it begins to implode Austin and Cris get caught up in it, even as they try to leave. We are with them every step of the way as they try to find a pack who will take them, it isn't easy because of Austin being Three Form and somebody doing their best to sabotage them, we are with them as they make new friends and fight against the pack who won't let them go. We are also with them and their friends as they face loss and suffering and Austin finally finds his place in the world.

I loved this story, it was just so involved and we get a full story even though it would have been easy to have split it into two books. We meet a wealth of characters who enrich this story and I would love to see get their own stories. We feel frustration and anger at Austin's pack and we feel gratitude to the pack who are willing to give them a chance. And at the end we find it very hard to find pity for those who have hurt Austin when the full story emerges, you really can't help but feel that they got what they deserved.

I recommend this to those who love shifters, danger, finding an escape route, working through difficulties to get what you want, love and happiness, fantastic characters and a brilliant ending.