Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Adam Madison, convoy driver for the military contractor Ares in Iraq, is a good man suffering under a ton of issues. Younger brother to Major Tim Madison, a officer assigned to werewolf military, Adam has long association of resentment of his brother and poor judgement calls he has made throughout his life. Plus the death of his youngest brother has continued to haunt him. Now assigned to Camp Fallujah, Adam is driving supply trucks for the Marines. But things are tense at the camp. The werewolves stationed there lack discipline and the Camp Alpha seems to reward bad behavior instead of controlling and dispelling it with his authority. It’s affecting morale and their mission.
When Noah sends his Omega, Dawson Rivers, to get the camp and the shifters under control, Dawson finds that Adam helps him understand the conflicts inside and out of the camp. Their old attraction flares up again as they work closely together to bring order back to Camp Fallujah. But Adam has had little contact with shifters before and he lacks the necessary information and back history to understand all the issues at stake, including what Dawson’s actions towards him means.
As their relationship strengthens into a bond, the insurgents up their attacks on the Camp and the convoys. When one such ambush succeeds, the end result is devastating. Only through Dawson and Adam’s bond might their relationship and each other survive.
Strength of the Mate, the third in The Tameness of the Wolf series by Kendall McKenna, brings back a divisive character from the previous stories, Adam Madison, Tim Madison’s younger brother. In the last story, Strength of the Wolf, Adam’s scenes with his brother were full of anger, jealousy, and pain. Long estranged from Tim, Adam’s actions were often petulant and explosive. And while the reader was given part of the back history of Adam’s problems, it didn’t exactly make him a likable character. Now he gets his own story and the switch in perspective changes everything.
I love Kendall McKenna’s characters. Steeped in military tradition and settings, they always come across as gritty and real. Adam is no exception. He is cool under fire, fueled by adrenaline, and proud of his capabilities. Adam has grown up in Iraq, and the long distance and his missions have given him a new slant on his brother and their relationship. But the one thing they do not have in common is Tim’s close association and knowledge of shifters.. Adam works with them at Marine Corps Base Camp Fallujah, Fallujah, Iraq but the Camp Alpha has everything in such turmoil that Adam isn’t sure what and how a were should act. As seen from Adam’s eyes, the Camp is as dangerous a place as the insurgent controlled outskirts of town. Weres are fighting other weres, and harassing the human Marines as well. It’s a horrible situation, one that Adam flees while he drives his truck.
Into this mess strides Dawson Rivers, the True Alpha’s Omega. Sent to get the camp under control, what happens almost instantaneously is that the attraction between Adam and Dawson reignites as soon as they do. Having met previously back in the States, working together to restructure the Camp and out on the convoys, their attraction deepens into first a connection and then a bond. It’s sexy, complicated and at times, uncertain but the author always lets the reader know that these men are intended for each other.
With Kendall McKenna, its hard to separate her men from their locations as it is so much a part of who they are as Marines or in Adam’s case, a military convoy driver. McKenna’s descriptions are tight, gritty, and authentic in detail and atmosphere. You can feel the blazing sun and the dust from the desert sands of Camp Fallujah. The small showers, the cots and mess, they all are so vividly described that scene after scene pulls you down into their experiences and makes it yours. Going about their duties in camp are a host of human and shifter Marines that play a number of important roles in Strength of the Mate. Whether it is Corporal Jason Rodriguez, the young shifter who rides guard with Adam in the truck or Private First Class Roger Allen, as well as Lance Corporal Will Borovec, a shifter who gets picked on, you embrace these young Marines the more you get to know them. Kendall McKenna has paid as much attention to getting these secondary characters right as she does to her main ones. Each is a marvelous portrait of a youngster at war. Some are cocky, a little arrogant, some like to kid around, others not so much. But their actions and reactions to the situations they find themselves are recognizable and it makes them all easy to relate to. How I love these guys, every single one.
The romance and bonding of Adam and Dawson is the center thread of this tapestry and it runs passionate and bright through all the turmoil at Camp, the insurgents whose actions are increasingly putting the convoys and the Marine’s mission in danger, and all the other elements McKenna has introduced into the plot. It helps to introduce Adam to more of the shifter history, it gives him a better perspective on Tim and his mate, Jeremy, and it provides a needed solace to his old pain. I wish we had a little more of Dawson’ s internal thinking and emotions but I loved what the author delivered to us. Dawson is amazing. Although, I did find myself wishing that his “violet eyes” had been mentioned a little less throughout the narrative. That was my only issue here. Had the author cut back on the epithets for Dawson’s eye color, than this would have been a five star story. As it is, that issue is a minor irritation, nothing more. And others may find it doesn’t bother them at all.
There is already another story in the works, Strength of the Warrior (The Tameness of the Wolf, #4). I can’t wait for that to come out. Kendall McKenna has created an amazing soldier shifter universe here and with each new story, she strengthens and deepens her world building and the incredible characters that are so much a part of this series. I loved Adam and Dawson. Their story was alternately, gripping, suspenseful, lusty, and romantic. Or sometimes all at the same time. I couldn’t put it down. Strength of the Mate is one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Favorites and Most Highly Recommended Stories and Series.
Cover Art by Jared Rackler. Love this cover, hot, hot, hot!
ebook, 356 pages
Published June 20th 2014 by MLR Press (first published June 2014)
original titleStrength of the Mate
seriesThe Tameness of the Wolf #3
charactersAdam Madison, Dawson Rivers, Tim Madison, Lucas Young, Noah Hammond
Books in The Tameness of the Wolf series include in the order they were written and should be read:
Strength of the Pack (The Tameness of the Wolf, #1)
Strength of the Wolf (The Tameness of the Wolf, #2)
Strength of the Mate (The Tameness of the Wolf, #3)
Strength of the Warrior (The Tameness of the Wolf, #4) coming soon at MLR Press.