A Stella Review: The Half Wolf by Jay Northcote

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The Half Wolf is the first paranormal story Jay Northcote wrote (I think!) and although lately I’m strongly glued to the contemporary genre, I loved this new release quite a lot. Simply because Jay gave me everything I like to find in my readings: love, family, supportive second characters, and loveable MCs.
The love story between Quinn and Kellan was well developed. I was able to know their own stories and see the important people in their lives. and then they meet and the impossible (to Quinn) happens. His life is changed forever. Both MCs have strong personalities, positive attitudes, big hearts. They are enjoyable and easy to love. Plus some secondary characters are very memorable and amazing, it was so beautiful to see these young men surrounded by so many good persons who are ready to be part of the same family.
I found the plot, with the little mystery, very interesting, nothing too big,  but just right to give the author the chance to create later the perfect ending. I have to say I particularly liked the epilogue, it was exactly what I was hoping to read, what I wished not just for Quinn and Kellan, but for Ruth and Tash too, or for Allana.
I want to recommend The Half Wolf, I think the author did a great job, maybe it wasn’t a surprise because he is an amazing writer and I have loved all his stories I read so far. I hope he will write another story here, maybe a sequel, and give me another great paranormal book.
Cover art is gorgeous.

Sales Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2wRSr2I

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ynPnww

 
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 193 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Jaybird Press
ASINB075WYY8HF
Edition LanguageEnglish

Bayou Loup (Rougaroux Social Club #3) by Lynn Lorenz

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Rating 4.25 stars

Bayou LoupWhen werewolf Bobby Cotteau’s wife died, two things happened.  One was that Bobby could finally start to live his life as he had always wanted to before his inner wolf chose Carol as his mate, live and love as a gay man.  The second thing that started to happen?  Bobby started to die.   Without his mate, a werewolf will slowly waste away, and the only thing that can stop it if the shifter finds another mate, a rare occurrence. But before Bobby dies, he wants to experience the life he always wanted for himself.  Not comfortable being out in St. Jerome parish where he used to be the Sheriff, Bobby heads out to neighboring towns to visit gay clubs and meet strangers for anonymous sex.

During one of his weekend stays at a Lake Charles hotel, Bobby meets Mark, a handsome man closer to Bobby’s fifty years of age and the sparks fly.  A weekend of wild sex leaves both men satiated, physically and emotionally, something that surprises them both.  Bobby leaves to return home and neither man has each others phone number or last name to their mutual regret.

Professor Mark Bradford teaches zoology at the local college, his specialty is wolves.  Due to traumatic incident from his past, Mark has made it his life mission to prove the existence of wolves in the Louisiana bayou and now he thinks he has found the location of the wolves in a place called St. Jerome.  The small parish even had a Rougaroux Social Club which put on a yearly Rugarou Festival about their swamp wolf.  Now he is off with camera and recorder in hand to get the final bit of proof he needs to make his colleagues believe in him.  Once he has done this, perhaps he can finally start his life fresh, maybe even with the man he has meet in Lake George.

Bobby has the responsibility of running their Rugarou Festival this year but all he wants to do is  find Mark. Bobby has finally realized what his emotions have been telling him, that Mark is his true mate but he doesn’t know where to find him.  Then there is a Jesus sighting in the bark of the old tree in the church parking lot, a band cancels and he has to find a replacement while hiding from the widow determined to  get Bobby to marry her.  Things are falling apart faster than Bobby can fix them, but he has no idea that the worst is yet to come.  His true mate coming to town to expose his pack.  It will take all of his years experience, all of his wiles and major mojo if Bobby can save Mark, himself, his pack and the festival.

What a wild and wonderful sexy romp this book turned out to be.  I fell in love with this series with the first book, Bayou Dreams which introduced us to St. Jerome, Sheriff Scott Dupree, his mate Ted and all the other colorful characters of the parish.  Scott was the first shifter in his conservative, Catholic pack to come out  as gay and bring in his human mate as a pack member.  Scott did it with the backing of  Bobby Cotteau, a man who is not only his mentor but has acted as his father figure since the death of his dad.  Bobby, even as a secondary character, still managed to grab my attention.  Then in the second book, Bayou ‘s End (Billy and Peter’s story), it comes out that Bobby is gay but he buried that fact about himself when he married Carol all those years ago.  That was a truly heartbreaking  and unexpected element of that book and it further endeared the character of Bobby Cotteau to all the readers.

Now Lynn Lorenz uses all her wonderful gifts of characterization and vivid portraits of the Louisiana towns and countryside to bring Bobby’s story to life in Technicolor  (google it) terms and lusty joy.  The first part of the story is consumed with bobby and Mark’s first encounter in Lake Charles. And while it might seem one continuous sexual encounter (love that shifter stamina), it really shows the slow turn around in the attitude and thoughts of both men as the weekend progresses.  As physical satisfaction evolves to an emotionally happy state of mind, Bobby and Mark start to realize that this weekend is becoming more than just a quick sexual fix and the sex changes to reflect that.  And while Bobby realizes that Mark is his true mate there is not a case of instant love going on here, just a meshing of individuals.

And as with the previous books, there are quite a few humorous elements here to offset the angst, mostly supplied by that wonderful character of Darlene Dupree, Scott’s mother and her black cat, which just might be her familiar.  She has her own peculiar way of looking at religion that Father Peder, the parish priest would not approve of or even her son, the object of several of her spells gone awry.  She cracks me up every time and as she is such a lively, fleshed out riot of a person, you can’t wait to see what escapade she will cause next.

But Bobby and Mark, especially Bobby are the reasons to read this book.  Bobby is such a wonderful character, older and  yet more vulnerable than he should be at his age, finally able to be himself for the first time in his life and yet looking at such a small time in which to experience everything he has denied himself unless a miracle happens and then it does.  I loved him.  I love St. Jerome and can’t wait to see who and what will come up next in this small bayou town.  Mama Dupree is making noise about grandchildren that should leave the reader laughing in anticipation and her son and mate quaking in their boots.  Either way, you know it will be memorable and that is why this series continues to be a must read for me. I think it will be yours too.

But start at the beginning and catch up with all the parish going ons and relationships.  Here are the books in the order they were written and need to be read to understand the characters and their relationships:

Bayou Dreams (Rougaroux Social Club #1)

Bayou’s End (Rougaroux Social Club #2)

Bayou Loup (Rougaroux Social Club #3)

Review of Splintered Lies (In The Shadow of the Wolf #3) by Diane Adams and RJ Scott

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Rating: 4 stars

When cop Joe Christie’s shifter wife and unborn child died, a part of him died with them.  Since their deaths, he has just been going through the motions of life, running on his own in wolf form and avoiding all former friends and partners, including Nick.  That would be Nickolas Alexander, Joe’s former best friend and lover before his marriage to Mara.  Once Joe married Mara, Nick stepped back from their lives and away from Joe.  But Nick has continued to love Joe all through his marriage to a woman that he grew to like as well. And when Mara and their unborn child was killed, Nick stood by Joe as the shattered man tried to cope with their loss and failed.

One piece of information about the ongoing investigation into criminal acts against the shifter population shocks Nick to the core and then galvanizes Joe into action.  Mara and Joe’s unborn child were the recipients of an illegal drug and unknowingly part of a criminal experiment on female wolf shifters and their babies.  They were killed to get rid of evidence of the experiments not in a car accident as Joe and the others had been told. Only two others of their group know the truth and when Nick tells Joe how Mara really died, Joe explodes in rage, determined to find and kill the people responsible.

With Rob, Sam, Doug, and Jamie to help, Nick and Joe set out to find the truth behind the torture, kidnapping and deaths of the shifters.  Nick tries to keep his love for Joe quiet but working next to him in the investigation is unbelievably hard.  And Joe is also finding  that the love and lust he thought he had buried when he married Mara is coming back in full force.  Will his guilt and love for his dead wife make any future with Nick impossible?  And will the conspiracy to kill wolf shifters mean their deaths as well.

Splintered Lies (In The Shadow of the Wolf #3) completes the investigation into a wolf shifter conspiracy that started with Shattered Secrets (In The Shadow of the Wolf #1) and continued in Broken Memories (In The Shadow of the Wolf #2). All the couples from the first two stories are back as well as the auxiliary characters who are now the main characters here, Joe and Nick.  There is a conspiracy aimed at the destruction of wolf shifters.  Shifters have been captured, kidnapped and tortured, experimented on and then killed but the investigations into each case has proven that the leadership behind the criminal acts goes higher than anyone had anticipated, reaching into the top levels of the government itself. Authors Adams and Scott more than accomplish their goals in giving the reader a horrifying mystery to solve as each new angle or case makes the conspiracy behind it even more terrifying in scope.  Before we had abused wolves who can’t or won’t shift back, cases of multiple rapes and prostituted shifters, now it is revealed that pregnant wolf shifters and their fetuses have  been the subject of gruesome experiments.  And when those experiments have failed, the subjects have been deposed of, including Mara and their unborn child.  The subject matter alone here raises the horror factor considerably and thankfully most of the experimentation has been left to the reader’s imagination.  Again, this is such a huge element of the series and it is very well crafted.  Splintered Lies brings the hunt for the people behind the atrocities to a conclusion that is 99 percent satisfying as not all of those who participated are counted for at the end.  Are they setting us up for another book?  It would seem so.

More problematic are the characters of Joe Christie and Nick Anderson.  Joe is lost in his grief over the death’s of Mara and their child. And all the emotions he is going through seemed grounded in reality.  You can feel how shattered he is,  how his grief has immobilized him in his loss. But when it comes to the backstory of his and Nick’s earlier relationship, you want to know what was the pivotal point that made Joe choose Mara over his very real love for Nick.  Over and over Joe reveals how guilty he felt over dumping Nick for Mara and that Nick still appeared in his dreams but the reader never understands why Joe felt the need to make the choice he did and that serves as a huge disconnect between the reader and this character.  How can the reader mourn the loss of Joe and Nick’s relationship is it never feels completely real to begin with? Then there is Nick who in his love for Joe steps back and away from the man he loves.  He says he understood Joe, but again, we never feel either his passion for Joe or the bargain he made with himself.  Nick just comes across as way too passive with regard to his past with Joe.  Ultimately, while the confused sexual tension between the men had a certain gravity to it, the rest of it felt flimsy in its construction.  So while I liked the characters I never bought into a loving connection between them and the story suffered from it.

An intriguing angle I wish had been more throughly explored was the idea of  shifter assimilation versus shifter integration into human society. Sam posed that part of Joe’s behavioral problems was that he was trying to act “human”, from his method of dealing with his grief to crowded human conditions.  I loved this concept.  It came about  very late in the book and has so many great elements to it, so many places you could go with it that I wish it had been the focus of the story or  maybe the central idea behind its own series.  Again I felt like it was given short shrift but maybe that’s on purpose.  I certainly hope so because an exploration of what it means to be a wolf shifter in a human society could certainly benefit from another great perspective or even two.

So if you love shifters, add this series to books that you should read.  I adored two out of the three couples but the rest of the book has so many good elements that I don’t think it should be missed either.

Here are the In The Shadow of the Wolf books in the order they should be read in order to understand the long reaching plot and characters:

Shattered Secrets #1

Broken Memories #2

Splintered Lies #3

Another splendid series cover by Reese Dante