Guest Review by Melanie
Title: Sebastian’s Wolves
Author: Valentina Heart
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novella
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Rating: 4.25 stars

Sebastian Vory and his mate, Tim, left their pack in the East for a new start together as a mated pair on their own. And for years they were happy, until a car accident took Tim away from Sebastian and left him half mad with grief. Sebastian spent a year wandering in wolf form, uncaring what happened to him and unaware of how far he had traveled until he runs smack into the pack whose territory he’s in. The Alpha gives Sebastian a choice, leave or join them. Too weary to go on, Sebastian chooses to stay. Within the new pack, Sebastian finds the family he has always wanted and begins the healing process.

As Sebastian adjusts to his new pack, a strange wolf appears at the pack lodge. Eshan Low has come to the West Pack to beg its Alpha for help with the deadly Alpha of his pack in the east. Sebastian takes one look at Eshan and knows he has found a new mate. Eshan’s wolf feels the same and soon a mating has taken place. But duty and his pack’s safety are calling Eshan back east and Sebastian finds himself once more in danger of losing his mate. Sebastian and his pack must undertake a risky mission to dethrone an Alpha or Sebastian will lose another mate and possibly his sanity.

This is the second book I have read by Valentina Heart and my admiration of her skill as a writer continues to grow. I really enjoy her take on wolf shifters. Heart demonstrates a knowledge of wolf natural history as her wolves primal nature exists just under their human skin. These are not shifters living a normal human existence, but rather wolf shifters adjusting their human forms to exist within a pack structure. The pack all live together under one roof, often sleeping in communal beds as would a wolf pack.  Communication between members include both wolf and human vocalizations no matter what form they may be in at the time, a lovely touch. Here the nature of the beast, not the rationale of man, rules.

This same “wolf first” take on shifters extends to love and mating. When a wolf looks to take another as mate, the potential mate is judged on strength, compatibility, as well as attraction. Pheromones come into play as they would in nature. Mating is straightforward and primal, often involving a chase, a fight, and bloodletting. Not for the fainthearted, nor any indicator of “instant love.” When Sebastian first sees Eshan, it’s their wolves that call to each other, a need for a mate strong within them. The scene between them as their wolves decide to act on the call to mate as their pack watches is as sexy and hot as any I can remember. Heart’s writing is so vivid that we are standing along side the pack, watching it happen as the tension and heat rises amidst growls and changing forms.

Sebastian is a wonderful character. When we first meet him, he has given up much to be with his mate, Tim. Neither is a pureblood, having been changed into a shifter, not born one. Sebastian misses being part of a pack, his wolf nature so close to the surface all the time. Tim became a shifter later in life so he remains far more human than his mate. Sebastian is a more simplistic (yet never simple) character, more basic in his wants and desires and who is living a complicated life because of his mate. When Tim dies, Sebastian’s pain and loss are overwhelming for the character and the reader, so realistically is it described. Sebastian’s Wolves also strays from the “norm” in making Sebastian just another wolf in the pack. Strong yes, but not the Alpha or even the Beta. It gives Sebastian a unusual vulnerability to see him called into a submissive state by his Alpha when he’s panicking or unable to cope.

Eshan, with his dyed Mohawk and history of abuse, is given less backstory but still becomes a strong character among many strong characters in this story. Heart makes it easy to see how he compliments and belongs with Sebastian. And we become just as worried about his safety when responsibility makes him return to his pack and its unstable leader. The author literally packs her story with one memorable wolf after another, and then gives them a good plot worthy of such characters. Does the plot have some holes in it? Yes, which is why the rating is not higher, but the nature of her shifters override the deficiencies in the plot.

I have read that there will be no sequel to Sebastian’s Wolves. And while I feel that is a shame, I am still so very happy to have made their acquaintance. Wonderful shifters, wonderful story. Thank you, Valentina Heart.

Cover:  Unusual cover design with its bold use of just the face of a model. Memorable in that I could pick out this cover from others with just a glance but really, what does the design have to do with the story? Not sure how I feel about this as a cover.