A MelanieM Review: A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders #2) by Liv Olteano

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Sequel to A Tooth for a Fang
Leader Murders: Case Two

CounselorAmongWolves[A]FSFive dead leaders, their bodies arranged in a pentagram. Treason, lies, and backstabbing. A make-believe affair that turns into a real mating.

Timothy Sands is a PBI counselor, half-fey, half-elf, with a secret crush on Herman Weiss, PBI director. As a new chapter is added to the Leader Murders, it is Weiss’s responsibility to investigate what seems an impossible-to-solve case. The other problem? Weiss is suffering from rages, and his only salvation lies in Tim’s emotional-grid-balancing skills. They only have to pretend to be a couple for Tim to use his talents, and he owes Weiss a big favor. Piece of cake, right?

The fey might be involved in the Leader Murders. Someone on the Council might be their ally, and another prominent PBI figure looks more and more suspicious as they investigate. The stakes are upped when Timothy’s father, the Fey King, threatens to leave the Council destitute if they don’t hand Timothy over to him. Weiss’s brilliant solution? Mating Timothy and forcing the Council into protecting him.

There’s only one small hitch in that plan: instead of protecting one, the Council might decide to get rid of two.

A Tooth for a Fang was the first book I had read by Liv Olteano, and I loved the author’s darker take on werewolves, lycans, wolfshifters of all sorts (two different things in this series) and the supernatural in general.  As much as I love all my romantic wolf shifter love stories, reading one where the wolves have a more manipulative aspect to their character that dominates all their relationships and outlook was refreshing and new.  And the author took it further and separated out the wolf shifters or lycans from the werewolves, a divide both emotional and physical.  But it was Olteano’s focus on domestic abuse in a Mate/Mate bond that was unexpected, intriguing and powerful.

For many stories, the weres and their mates meet and the mate bond snaps into place (a broad generalization I know), and they are happy together at the end.  But what happens when one mate hates or grows to hate the other?  In a species where the need to be dominant is inherent and expected, then the possibility of mate/spousal abuse appears.  This element is a major part of the plot in Liv Olteano’s Leader Murder Mystery trilogy.  Those mates who have been abused (no matter what species they belong too, were, lycan, vampire… whathaveyou) and those that see a wrong that needs to be addressed in their society  have banded together to enact new laws to protect abused mates and enable them to “divorce” their abuser.  Not a small thing in a hide bound society that resists change.   But some of them have gone further and several murders of abusive leaders have occurred.

The first book involved a were and a human lured into a mate bond.   That pair is still on shaky ground when this story opens  But A Counselor Among Wolves has a different focus and pairing.  This time its Timothy Sands, a half elf,half fey, who works for the PBI (Paranormal Bureau of Investigations).  A loner due to his heritage, past history, and inclinations, Tim has been in love with the PBI’S Director,Herman Weiss, a Werewolf Alpha,  for 5 years, to no avail.  Weiss, as he is called, has been mated for years and last year his female mate produced the heir Weiss had been waiting for.  His mating?  Not at all happy, as everyone found out in the first story.  The difficult relationships established in the first story get even more so here.

The “revolution” is building, Tim is part of the group that is working towards Mate Bond reforms (through legal methods) and Weiss is trying to deal with new murders, his imploded relationship, his son, and his increasingly unstable personality.   The one being who might hold some of the answers Weiss requires?  That would be Tim, who wants to keep his shields and secrets intact.

Olteano’s supernatural beings are anything but superficial in their creation.  The author delivers not only each species physical characteristics, but background, natural history, cultural history and current racial and societal issues as well.  Like I said, these aren’t your cuddly sort of wolves.  Even Weiss’ toddler son is capable of  well thought out manipulations and the boy/pup demonstrates a constant defiance that shows he is challenging his father (and others) for dominance even at the youngest of ages.  His is a remarkable portrait as well.  How many  5 year olds do you know who attack their mothers, trying to force them to submit? As Olteano points out, that makes it hard to establish a maternal bond, now doesn’t it? A Counselor to Wolves (and the series to date) is just one neat twist and turn after another.  But always at its heart, are serious subject matters such as domestic abuse and violence.

Still this is a romance, of sorts, one between Tim and Weiss that struggles to coalesce at first under the stress and extraordinary circumstances. Then gets mired down in the politics and machinations of the investigation and murders.  Throw in Tim’s father, who has his own nefarious plotting underway that also involves his son, and well, this book has plenty of layers to satisfy any lover of espionage and suspense.   Plus Tim and Weiss are just plain hot together.  You will root for them, really you will.

In this story, some of the revelations help speed us along to the final story that will tie up all the investigations and plotting revealed here.  All the couples will have their moment on stage in the final story.  That’s especially important because neither of the two couples relationships and pairing are on particularly stable ground.  There are too many unknown elements still at play, and that include’s Tim’s father, the Elf King.

Now comes the waiting…how I hate that part.  I want the final story now.  This is such a terrific series.  My admiration for Liv Olteano’s writing and plot grows with each story that’s released.  I loved  lycan Travis Chandler and the former human Rick Barton who took a vacation from an abusive lover and ended up as a mate.  And I love Tim, one of a kind Tim and the dominating Alpha, Weiss and his son.  We have one more couple to come forward and then the author will tie things up.  I expect it to be messy, bloody, hot, and one heck of a wild ride towards the end.  As I said, I can’t wait.

New to this series?  Pick up A Tooth For A Fang first, then proceed to A Counselor Among Wolves.  These books need to be read in the order they were written to understand the character and plot developments that are occurring within. The author tries to fill in gaps in each story but its far too complicated for that to one in any one book.  I highly recommend them both.  Then we can wait together for the final installment to arrive.  See you there.

Cover Art by  AngstyG.  Love the cover, its dark and yes, angsty.  Works a treat for the characters and story within.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press – All Romance (ARe)Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages, also in paperback
Published May 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781632169235
edition languageEnglish
seriesLeader Murders #2

The Leader Murder Case Mysteries Trilogy:

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