Croc's Return by Eve Langlais
Welcome to Bitten Point, where the swamp doesn't just keep its secrets, it sometimes eats them.
Take one deadly bite and, bam, a man's life is changed forever, or so Caleb discovers when a loss of control leads him to joining the military and leaving everything behind. Now that he's back, making amends his harder than expected.
His ex-girlfriend, Renny, is not interested in excuses. Caleb might have returned but her plan is to keep him at arm's length. Only she can't. Her son deserves a chance to get to know his father, but that doesn't mean Renny is letting Caleb back into her heart. Now if only her heart would cooperate.
Things get dangerous when a mysterious being starts stalking the residents of Bitten Point. When the monster threatens his son, Caleb knows it's time to unleash his dark inner beast so he can snap at danger, and take a bite out of life.
Coming home doesn't always solve things...but it does pave the way for second chances.
Croc's Return is the first book in the Bitten Point series but I have to admit, while reading, it felt like there were things that I was supposed to know that I didn't. Eventually things were cleared up (the last few chapters of the book) but until then, rather than feel like the author was cleverly hiding clues it felt as if there was a short story somewhere I had missed. There was a reference to Kodiak Point, another series I have only read two books so perhaps there was info there. I just don't know. Besides the fact that I was confused about Caleb's past, I did enjoy this story of a man trying to find forgiveness from those he left high and dry years earlier when he up and left to join the military. Finding out he is a father is not at all what Caleb expects but he is ready to take up the mantle of responsibility and hopes that his ex-girlfriend Renny is willing to have him in his son's life.
Renny has not had an easy time of it since Caleb left. Being a single mother is hard; missing so many firsts because she is working two jobs to pay the bills makes it even harder. When Caleb comes back, Renny is sure he is going to continue to ignore Luke, their son. After all, he never responded to the letters informing him he was a father. When it comes out that he never read the letters and is very invested in being a permanent, vital part of Luke's life, she isn't sure what to think. True kuddos to Renny for wanting what is best for her son, even if that is letting in a man she would prefer to pretend didn't exist anymore. She doesn't let wounded pride stand between her son and his father which takes some real cajones...I've read a lot of romance books with the surprise trope and Renny was probably the most levelheaded and honest about allowing Caleb into her child's life.
Add in a "dinosaur" that is hunting humans and shifters alike, some intriguing secondary characters (who scream sequel-bait), one of the least annoying child characters I have ever read, and a corporation who might be involved in incredibly shady-doings with ties to almost every family in town, and you have the recipe for a great story. Add in Eve Langlais's characteristic snarkiness and this was another winner...and yet I didn't love it as much as other books by her that I have read. At times the story felt both too busy and not solid enough...this improved as the book progressed and hopefully will not be an issue in future installments. I will be looking forward to reading A Panther's Claim as this series definitely holds promise.