This is the fourth story in a series about werewolves and other paranormals. The series centers around the sexy, strong (but gentle, of course) Alpha wolf, Charles, who deeply loves his Omega wolf mate, Anna, and wants to tear apart anyone who even looks at her crossways. This would not be difficult for Charles, who also happens to be the chief enforcer for his “da”, the “Marrok”, or head of all the werewolves in North America.
As this book begins, Charles and Anna have been married three years, and Anna is starting to think about children, but Charles is resisting. Anna isn’t exactly sure why, although she knows that Charles’ mother died giving birth to him. But Anna has ideas about how to get around the danger to a werewolf of giving birth, such as by using a surrogate mother. Still, there is something more troubling Charles.
She begins to guess what it might be when Charles gets a call from his old human friend Joseph out in Arizona. Joseph is dying, and wants to see Charles. Joseph happens to be the son of Hosteen, the Alpha werewolf of the Salt River Pack. [It can all be a bit confusing to a reader unfamiliar with werewolf-ness, however, because while Hosteen looks young, his son Joseph is in his eighties.] Werewolves can live a very long time, but humans die, and so Charles has been avoiding his friend. Joseph won’t let anyone turn him into a werewolf, and Charles hates the idea of losing him. And what if Charles and Anna’s child did not turn out to be a werewolf? Then it too would have only a human life span.
Charles and Anna go out to Arizona to visit Joseph and to pick out a horse for Anna’s 26th birthday from Hosteen’s stable.
But things are far from quiet where Joseph is. A particularly evil Fae has been released into the human world (in spite of the truce worked out by Charles’ father), to wreak havoc among humans by attacking their children, and thus possibly precipitating a war. When the Fae strikes against Joseph’s family, Charles and Anna become involved. Working together along with their old friend FBI Agent Leslie Fisher, they get into a life and death battle with this very powerful Fae.
Discussion: There are many things to like about this series (the cover of this book not being one of them). Although Charles is the “Alpha” wolf and Anna the “Omega,” you can see that the power in this relationship is reciprocal and complementary. Charles, an Alpha “enforcer” can make other wolves quake, while an Omega, rare among werewolves, confers peace and serenity onto other wolves. Omegas are thus very valuable, especially in those critical beginning days of managing the change from human to werewolf. But Anna is no wimp; she has her own store of ferocity, which she brings into play as needed. For example, in one rather humorous incident, a young school teacher shamelessly flirts with Charles, even though Anna is standing right there. As they get ready to leave, Anna pulls her aside and says:
“You need to understand something . . . Charles is my husband. You can’t have him. Mine. Not yours. There are lots of nice, unattached men out there, I’m sure. Pick one of them and you might live longer.”
Charles is not threatened at all by Anna’s power, but is proud of her, and even nonplussed that she chose him of all possible mates. Anna of course, feels that she is the lucky one, and in this book, she tries to explain to Charles just wherein his true power lies.
While the Fae in this story is after children, there is no sexual abuse – not that killing kids is okay, but it (ironically) makes for easier reading. Moreover, the emphasis on children helps tie in the having-kids theme, and teaches Charles some things he didn’t know about himself and young people.
There is also a great deal about horses in this book. The author apparently has her own collection of horses, and clearly loves them. She didn’t make her enthusiasm too burdensome, however, but there was probably a little more about horses than I personally would have wanted.
On the other hand, I did like the information about the Navajo (Diné) and other Native Peoples.
As for the Fae, I kind of hate it when Fae come to dominate stories about paranormals. I suppose they make good villains. But as Anna points out in this book, most people carry monster within themselves; it doesn’t take a paranormal connection to be evil; it just makes the evil more dangerous. I suppose what I don’t like about the Fae is the lack of nuance; a human monster generally has more layers. Even other kinds of paranormals usually have more complex characters.
Nevertheless, what makes this series shine is not these extra plot elements, but the relationship between Charles and Anna, and between these two and other werewolves, not only in their own pack, but in other packs as well.
Evaluation: I didn’t like this installment as much as previous books, I suppose because we now take the relationship of Charles and Anna for granted, and so the story is less about them and more about politics in the paranormal world. Nevertheless, it’s a fast-moving story with good characterization. Anna is a great heroine who has no problem standing up to her husband in spite of his being an enforcer Alpha wolf, and the two together have great chemistry.
Published by Ace Books, an imprint of the Berkley Publishing Group, a member of the Penguin Group (USA), 2015