Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I always anticipate the next TJ Klune novel. When I found out that this book would be a shifter book, I was doubly excited. I am happy to say that I was not disappointed.
Oxnard Matheson was twelve when his father walked out. His father told Ox that he had to be a man now that he was leaving. Without his father’s income from the garage that he worked at, Ox’s mother struggled to pay the bills. Fortunately, the garage owner, Gordo, took Ox under his wing. Gordo made sure that Ox and his mother held onto their house and gave Ox work in his garage even though he wasn’t of legal age. This would continue until Ox’s sixteenth birthday, when Gordo and the guys at the garage welcomed him as an official member of their crew. On his way home, he runs into a ten year old boy.
Joe Bennett’s life has not been easy in his short ten years. Most of his pack was slaughtered by hunters when his father (the alpha) and uncle were out looking for food. The family moves east afterward. Then a previous pack member kidnaps and tortures Joe to get back at Joe’s father for not protecting the pack. Joe is rescued six weeks later but the damage is done. The kidnapper escapes and Joe goes into a shell. He does not speak for 18 months until he meets a young man who smells of “candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.” Joe’s family is shocked and grateful that this young man, Ox, has turned Joe around after just meeting. Much to their surprise, the young future alpha of their pack gives Ox the stone carved wolf statue after just meeting. This is a wolf shifter’s most prized possession given at birth and usually only given to one’s mate.
The years go by and Joe’s father Thomas teaches his son the lessons needed to become the next alpha of the pack. Thomas also sees something in Ox and starts teaching him as well, as he will be the next alpha mate. But troubles from the past come back to haunt this small but powerful pack. The kidnapper returns and this time sets his sights on Ox. The pack once again must mourn the loss of some of their own. However, will the actions of Joe to exact revenge on the kidnapper be the one thing to not only tear the pack apart but his relationship with Ox?
The characters in this book are charming, delightful and strong when need be. Ox might not be the brightest character around, but his strong character draws people to him. Thomas gives him the choice to become a werewolf but Ox turns it down each time saying it is not right for him at the moment. He leads what would turn into his pack of humans at the garage when Gordo leaves with Joe. The rest of the Bennett pack looks to him for leadership in Joe’s absence. Joe’s exuberance over meeting his mate after suffering from PTSD from the kidnapping is cute. You would think he was a four year old at Christmas time. While Joe going after his kidnapper seems like a good idea to someone who has suffered at his hands, the decision will affect the rest of the pack for the next three years. Joe’s refusal to talk to the pack is especially hard on Ox. Once reunited though, you get the feeling that this will be a power couple in the shifter world.
The cover art by Reese Duncan is stark and perfect for this book. The cover shows two wolf paw prints on a dark background. It sets up the tone for the middle and latter parts of the book perfectly
ebook, 400 pages
Published June 20th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634771656 (ISBN13: 9781634771658)