Review: Strength of the Mate (The Tameness of the Wolf #3) by Kendall McKenna

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Rating: 4.5  stars out of 5

Strength of the Mate coverAdam 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!

 

Buy Links:      MLR Press            All Romance (ARe)                Amazon      Strength of the Mate

 

Book Details:

ebook, 356 pages
Published June 20th 2014 by MLR Press (first published June 2014)
original titleStrength of the Mate
edition languageEnglish
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.

More Winner Announcements and the Week Ahead at ScatteredThoughts

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It’s the 13th already?  How the time just flies by, it will be August before we know it and there is still so much I have to do.  And that’s inside, outside and at my desk.  Trying different things on the blog, so if you see bits appear and then disappear, you know I am tinkering, albeit in my Scatteredway.

❖And I have a question for you all.  How important is it for you to have a review blog with one reviewer or multiple reviewers?  When a review blog has more than one reviewer, do you remember the individual reviewers name or just the review?  This inquiring mind wants to know….thanks.

I have several winner announcements to make.  The winners of the following contests are (all have been notified):

  • Of Madeleine Ribbon’s “Faire Protector“Contest:  the winner is JeanReads2
  • Of Mina MacLeod’s Swords,Sorcery and Sundry Contest:  the winner is felinewyvern
  • Of B.A. Tortuga’s Wolf Run:  the winner is JillP
  • Of Eden Winter’s Diversion Tour:  the winner is Karen R.
  • Of Havan Fellows’ Hidden Needs  Tour:  the winner is Allison H.
  • Eric Thompson’s “Absolute” Book Tour & contest:  the winner is Serena

More to come.  Congratulations to all the winners.  Thank you to everyone who left comments and participated.  You rock my world!  RJ Scott’s contest is still open so don’t forget to drop by and leave a comment to be entered into her terrific giveaway.

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I have been reading lots of new authors, to me at any rate.  Rory Ni Coiliean, Lou Sylvre, and Charley Descoteaux in advance of some upcoming book tours and I can’t wait to share some of their stories with you.   I am also reading the next in Kendall McKenna’s Strength of the Pack series, Strength the Mate, and its blowing me away.  Look for my review this Saturday.

What can’t I share?  Riptide has made me promise not to talk about Aleksandr Voinov’s final story in the Scorpion series, A Taste For Poison.  But do I love this story? Yes.  Do I love this character and series?  Absolutely.  Not a romance by any means but that’s fine.  That term doesn’t work for a story as brutal at times as this has been.   But it is so outstanding that  I would more readers would find it and spread the word.  I am also reading, viewing, whatever you do with a photograph non fiction book, a book of photographs taken of different drag queens called, appropriately dr.a.g. (bookthefilm edition).  The pictures by various photographers are glorious as are the drag performers inside. I can’t wait to share my review of that with you as well.

But enough of what’s still in progress, here is the week I have planned for you all this week:

Monday, July 14:

  • On Tour with SE Jakes and her latest release Running Wild (contest)
  • Book Blast with SA McAuley and “Damaged Package” Tour and Contest

Tuesday, July 15:

  • T.A. Chase’s Mountains to Climb “What’s His Passion?” Imprint Book Tour/Contest
  • Audio Book Tour:  Tara Lain’s The Pack or the Panther Tour/Contest
  • Review:  Running Wild by SE Jakes

Wednesday, July 16:

  • On Tour with L.A. Witt and Noble Metals, a Steampunk Romance (contest)
  • Review:  Noble Metals by L.A. Witt

Thursday, July 17:

  • In the Author Spotlight:  Angel Martinez and her Endangered Fae series (contest)
  • Book Blast:  Jennifer Cie’s Down On The Other Street Story Collection (contest)

Friday, July 18:

  • Diana DeRicci’s “Not Quite Broken” Book Blast and Contest
  • Does Size Matter?  Find out with Sean Michael’s Size Matters Book Tour/Contest

Saturday, July 19:

  • Review:  Strength of the Mate by Kendall McKenna

 

I want to leave you all with two summer cocktails to drink if you are watching the World Soccer Cup in Brazil or just hanging out.  Whether your teams lost or in the finals, here are two drinks for you:

sangriafloraSangria Flora

Created by St. Germain

1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc or Dry White Wine
1 cup St-Germain
2 Fresh Peaches
5-6 Fresh Strawberries
6 Fresh Raspberries
1 bunch Fresh Grapes

Stir ingredients in a pitcher or carafe. Soak for approximately 15 minutes (or longer if desired). Serve in an ice-filled glass, then telephone your physician and regale him with stories of your exemplary fruit consumption. Serve with St-Germain spoon-straws to enjoy the fruit while drinking

 

 

MangoCarnivaleSVEDKA Mango Carnivale
Created by SVEDKA

1 ½ oz. SVEDKA Mango Pineapple
½ oz. SVEDKA Vanilla
½ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
8-10 Mint Leaves
3-4 Dashes of Angostura Bitters

Combine mint leaves, simple syrup and fresh lime juice in a Collins glass. Add crushed ice and swizzle. Fill three quarters of the glass with more crushed ice and add SVEDKA Mango Pineapple and SVEDKA Vanilla-then swizzle again. Top with crushed ice and then float a layer of bitters on top. Garnish with mint sprigs.