I read a lot of shifter paranormal stories. This one falls in the middle of the road for me. Yes it is well written, edited, and engaging. The beginning starts with a lot of promise. Eli left his father's pack 2 weeks ago and is looking up his childhood friend Jai, hoping to join Jai's pack. In those two weeks we learn Eli's wolf is 'breaking out' and becoming more difficult to control. Eli needs a pack to settle his wolf and he's about at the end of his rope.
SPOILERS AHEAD. You are warned:
Eli and Kellan meet at a gay nightclub. Kellan, the Alpha, knows that Eli is his mate but we don't read the same reaction from Eli. Sure his wolf is driving him crazy but again, he's packless and blames his wolf's reactions on that. Eli doesn't firmly know what's right in front of him, that Kellan is his mate. Attraction yes but mate. . . Well, it wasn't flat out and acknowledged. The 'straight' issue really isn't an issue or a concern when wolves are so focused on whoever their mate is. Eli never really goes into that instant mate, smell, you smell good, you smell like mate type reaction. I honestly didn't get that because it was so off from 'normal' instant wolf mate reactions. Kellan had the 'normal' mate reactions but not Eli.
The submissive / dominate wolf aspect was addressed and how this impacts Eli and Kellan's relationship. I've read that addressed in other books and while this theme was touched on and explained, it could have been better. Their relationship was too new, Kellan was too alpha, he was not willing to back down, and I am still not sure if Kellan was willing to bend his standards in dealing with Eli. The protection issue was touched on and the fight could have concluded that aspect. The result could have gone both ways-- Eli: Yes I can protect myself. Kellan: See, you need protection, you almost died! But no, no conclusion at this critical time.
And what in the heck is going on with Jai and Dylan? Has this been going on for years? Just how long has Jai been in this pack? Again, not normal mating behavior no matter what happened.
So Eli joins the pack. I think. He's sitting with Jai in front of the alpha and enforcers and is welcomed. Eli tells his story. Then the alpha goes crazy with jealousy and possessiveness and the mating dance begins. So. Did Eli join the pack? I know he did but it wasn't really touched on. It was assumed.
The focus of this story is mainly on Kellan and Eli's mating. There are a lot of interesting side stories that will continue in the next book. Actually, I wish some of these threads were tied up. The betrayal of an old fling. . . You know that little red head schemer is going to cause more trouble. Eli's father's pack is causing problems on a huge scale and even though that theme will over arch throughout the series, it would have been nice to have a few more details I find it hard to believe Eli, a beta, the second strongest wolf in his father's pack, second to the alpha, didn't know anything of his father's plans for 'taking over the packs' and breeding program. All those plans took time. Yet Eli had only been gone only 2 weeks and somehow his father's plans have all come together. Eli in the dark? Noah, his brother, not knowing? Just where are their heads in fulfilling their father's orders and pack involvement? Surely someone in their pack would alert them or complain or they'd overhear the enforcers. Wolves are horrid gossips and I can't see something that big not being talked about.
While I don't mind the mating sex. . .Page wise the sex was a bit more compared to the rest of the story. I would have liked a bit more, at least on Noah. OK. The suspend disbelief part: Noah phones Eli, said he'd be there in a hour. At that point he was fine. But then we hear Carl has captured and tortured him. In an hour Noah is tortured, cut, gouged, toe nails pulled, and left for dead. All by one man, Carl, an Enforcer. I can't see that type of torture done in an hour, not by a psycho like Carl. He'd draw it out and make it last. So Noah isn't talking. Was the betrayal from his father too deep and his wolf so damaged he's barely hanging on? Or is it that he's still tied to his father's pack and that bond needs to be broken? My mind was running ahead of the story -- I kept thinking Noah would find his fated mate in Kellan's pack and his mate would assist his recovery.
Then we have Ryker. Love that name. There's just enough on him to hope he gets more air time in the next book. The question I had about his involvement. . . Wasn't he severely injured during the fight yet somehow he's able to 'race' over to protect Eli? I realize they were in a bar but no one who is overpowered and losing a fight like Ryker was is able to race anywhere. I was amazed Eli was able to preform as well as he did - He was still recovering from a paralyzing drug. Even if he is a wolf he wasn't in top form yet did so well during that fight. A bit over the top? Maybe. But at that point I only expected him to give everything he had.
Three stars because I got too caught up in the side stories instead of mainly interested in Kellan and Eli. Sure their story was interesting but what happened around them was better. I expect an alpha, even a newly mated one, to get right on the threat and being there for Noah, getting that intel - Gear up and target the threats. . . Get on the phone, call the other alphas, alert them if they don't know and get going on this. Instead all that slides and sex is more important. -- Dan's Wife