by Bea’s Book Nook-
Book copy: Keri Arthur, the New York Times bestselling author of the Riley Jenson Guardian series, takes readers to the werewolf reservation of Ripple Creek—where moon fever runs high and a savage murderer runs rampant.
There’s no turning back for Neva Grant. To find a killer, she must seduce the boldest male in the Sinclair pack. Her twin sister lies in a hospital bed, fighting for her life, the fourth and only surviving victim of a vicious attacker. The werewolf rangers suspect the Sinclair pack, and the only way Neva can infiltrate their close-knit ranks is to unleash the wildness within and offer herself to Duncan Sinclair.
Duncan’s appetite for women is legendary on the reservation. But when this new woman stirs his hunger, he finds his desire for her goes deeper than anything he’s ever felt before. When he realizes that she’s playing a game and he’s taken the bait, he is determined to push her to the breaking point. As Duncan and Neva engage in a dangerous dance, they must somehow find a way to join forces—before a cornered killer bites back.
If you’ve read Full Moon Rising or any of the Riley Jenson series, you’ll see some similarities between the werewolves in that series and this book: the wolves are out to the humans, the relationship between humans and werewolves is bumpy and the wolves are heavily regulated, the wolves have soul mates and moon dances. But, as Arthur makes sure to point out in a note at the beginning of the book, this book is set in a different world than the Riley books. It was in fact written and released, by Piatkus Books, before Full Moon Rising. This is a re-release.
The werewolves in this world live on reservations, though humans also live and work with them. They have their own police force, the rangers, who handle most of the law enforcing on the reservation. One of their own, Savannah Grant, was attacked and is in the local hospital in a coma. Her twin Neva, who shares a psychic connection to her and actually saw part of the attack through Savannah’s eyes, decides to take matters in her own hands and investigate.
She goes undercover to look for the killer. A local wolf family, the Sinclairs, is the main suspect. The family has a mansion outside of town where they hold monthly “dances” i.e. get-togethers where wolves can hook up and give free rein to their sexual surges which surge at the full moon. Neva is from a family that believes wolves should wait to indulge until they find their soul mate. Neva has discretely had a few lovers here and there but is fairly inexperienced. She is anxious about attending the dance because she knows she’ll have to dance, i.e. have sex, with a strange wolf to accomplish her goal. Not just any wolf, but Duncan Sinclair, a son of the Sinclair pack leader, who had been away for ten years and returned home after the first couple murders. Neva thinks he may be the safest to hook up with as the rangers don’t consider him a suspect. He has a bad boy reputation due to his actions before he took off ten years but he seems to have calmed down.
Sinclair quickly realizes that Neva is there under false pretenses and decides she’s working for someone as a spy. He proceeds to treat her like dog doo that’s stuck to the bottom of his shoe and she lets him because she still wants to find the wolf that attacked her sister and is killing female werewolves. I admit, that bugged the crap out of me. Yes, Sinclair could be a nice guy but was he flat out cruel to her, coolly and calculatingly destroyed both her reputation and her relationship with her parents, and was a sexual tease. He ran hot and cold and had no problem using magic to make her do his bidding. The constant reference to the “dance” instead of calling it sex annoyed me. I understand that “dance” was the wolves’ term but it was used all of the time, which I found unrealistic. Seriously, no one ever refers to it as sex? It just felt forced and unnatural. Towards the end of the book Sinclair also makes a decision on Neva’s behalf that radically affects both of their lives but doesn’t tell her. “It wasn’t playing fair, it wasn’t giving her the choice, but in all honestly, he didn’t care.” And that is typical of his behavior all throughout the book. In my opinion, it didn’t make up for his behavior. He was very controlling and several times I wanted her to call a domestic abuse hotline. When their relationship turned “real” and not just an act to find her sister’s attacker, her tolerance of his behavior really bothered me. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around it.
Another thing that bugged me was the double standard that Arthur employed. Sinclair liked Neva for her freshness, her lack of experience with the dance and her innocence; he often and callously referred to regulars at the dance as “well-used”. So did other males in his family. Hello, Mr. Hypocrite and Double Standard Bearer.
So, did I like ANYTHING? I did actually. I was sucked into the story immediately and stayed up late to finish it. I wanted to see what happened next and how things worked out. I liked Neva and I liked that Neva grew over the course of the book, a neat trick as the majority of the book occurs over a four day period. Arthur also did a good job showing us the differences between Neva and Savannah; they’re identical twins physically but different personality-wise. Arthur resisted the cliché of having a good twin/bad twin nor are they complete opposites, they both feel real. Sinclair, even with all his doucheness, also feels real and occasionally was quite likable. He and Neva both feel strong loyalty to their families and would do whatever was necessary to protect them. Savannah and Neva’s sibling relationship was strong but not perfect and I enjoyed their interactions. Their father was somewhat cardboard and could have been developed more but I did believe in his and his wife’s concern for Neva’s well-being. The conflict between their vision of Neva’s happiness and her vision was painfully real and something many readers will be able to empathize with.
I did figure out who the killer was but I had the motivation wrong. Arthur sprinkled real clues and red herrings throughout but it’s not too hard to identify the killer. I would have liked a bit more depth to the killer’s characterization but it worked. Neva and Sinclair eventually work together to track the killer and they were actually pretty decent at it for being amateurs. The mistakes they made were believable and not just there to move the story along. The trick some of the wolves have with baking soda (read the story to find out, it’s a minor spoiler) is a good detail and a nice touch.
The world building is well done, detailed but not overly so. I’d call the book a paranormal romantic suspense, though the emphasis was more on the sex and the relationship. I hope that Arthur will continue the series. There’s at least one more, Savannah’s story, as there was a blurb for it at the end of my book and I’ll be picking it up.
Question: Don’t you find most of the books you really love to read engage you and though you may not love every aspect of the journey the author takes you on you want to read more and more of her books? Love to hear the authors that drive you nuts but are your favorites too – Happy Reading!
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