4 Hot Shapeshifter Romance Reads For Your Summer Enjoyment

It's hot, it's muggy as all hell, and I just want to read something smutty and fun.

Here's my true confession: I hate "The Great Gatsby." I don't like a single character in that book, though I love the fashion involved, and reading (repeatedly, I might add) in various classes was active torment. Everyone makes empty, soulless decisions in an empty, soulless world.

And, of course, the book was meant to illustrate just that sort of hollowness. And it's effective at least. I remind myself about "The Great Gatsby" every time I pick up another book only to read the description and discover that it is about a dystopia.

Y'all, I cannot read another dystopia. It's hot, it's muggy as all hell, and I just want to read something smutty and fun. The real world is scary enough right now -- adding to my anxiety with characters in peril is not going to do it.

Fortunately for me -- and for you, my xoFriends -- the paranormal romance/erotica industry is ready, willing, and able to provide much needed distraction, amusement, and awesomeness in the form of shapeshifter romance. Forget werewolves. Sure, they're classic, but there is an entire animal kingdom of weres to explore.

One thing to note: The Romance/Erotica industry has embraced epublishing like nobody's business. You'd think it'd be sci-fi, what with the whole thing where epublishing is literally a component of almost every future envisioned. But no. It's romance/erotica that is paying people pro-rates for erotic novellas that will only be presented in ebook format. It's such a rad and fascinating industry.

With that in mind, some of these are only available in eformats. To me, that's a benefit. It means you can download and start your awesome summer reading immediately.

Someone to Cuttle

The first rule of shapeshifter romance is apparently that you have to make an amazingly awful/wonderful pun in the title. "Someone To Cuttle" is actually a short story, presented only for the Kindle as far as I can tell. It's $2.99, so you don't have to invest very much in your werecuttlefish curiosities.

It really was curiosity that led me to buy this Gay Cuttlefish Shapeshifter Erotica, as it is classified. There are a lot of women writing gay erotica (and I'm not even talking about fan fic) and I'm not sure how I feel about that. But I am infinitely amused by this story.

Businessman Paul is on vacation. If he hadn't inherited his father's advertising firm, he always thought he'd have been a marine biologist. He doesn't flat out muse on the wonders of chromatophores but he comes very close, marveling at the way cephalopods are so intelligent. And he's very accepting of the three werecuttlefish who decide he's what they want to spend their time doing.

Eight Arms To Hold You

From cuttlefish to octopuses -- I have to admit, when my friend Andrea livetweeted the reading of this, I pretty much laughed myself sick. Austin Bell is an out-of-work deep sea diver. Luke Cordova is an abused shapeshifter who can heal himself of his injuries when he returns to the sea in his octopus form.

There's actually a mystery involved in this one, involving Luke's guardian and a bunch of artifacts. Think of it as a sort of gay, undersea, shapeshifting Indiana Jones adventure kind of story.

Also, it's called EIGHT ARMS TO HOLD YOU and it's $5.99 for the whole novel. What's not to love about that? Especially if you're headed to the beach. Where you will, of course, be very careful now that you know how many cephaloshifters there apparently are!

Hedging His Bets

When we move from sea to land, the shifting just gets more awesome. I mean, hedgehogs, okay. When I was little, I watched a show on Nickelodeon called "Emily." It was based on a French show, but that's not the point. The point is, she had a pet hedgehog named Humphrey. And it made me want a pet hedgehog so stinking much.

We had dogs. And they were awesome. But they weren't hedgehogs.

Maybe the authors of this novella are familiar because Blake, a bad ass biker in his human form, is really a red-blooded werehedgehog. Honey is the no-shit-taking bar owner who secretly loves him.

Don't lie, you totally want to know how their story works out. I can tell. Actually, I kind of love that Honey is, like, no, you don't get to eff up my bar and grill just because you're having a temper tantrum.

Also: werehedgehog. It's $2.99.

Dawg Town: Puppy Dawg

Look, no one takes prairie dogs seriously. So when my friend Jackie told me about this book, she laughed and laughed at my face. Like Blake in "Hedging His Bet," Quentin Mosely -- nicknamed Puppy -- is a biker. But instead of a hedgehog, this time we are faced with the unadulterated passion of a prairie dog who has identified his mate.

(Basically, I love writing sentences like that. They give my life extra special meaning.)

The object of his prairie affection? An older-than-him (10 years older, which is totally fantastic) black librarian who isn't comfortable making the first move.

I would say you can't make this stuff up except people can and totally do -- and did, in fact, because Dawg Town is apparently a shared universe in which other romance/erotica authors play from time to time.

The summer is too short for me to be all depressed about the eventual collapse of public order in the fiction I choose for entertainment. What are you choosing for your beach reads or for the days when it's just too beautiful to deal with the serious stuff?

Marianne is retweeting shapeshifter romance links on Twitter: @TheRotund.