Rating: 3.75 stars
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After retiring from the police force with a career ending injury, all Lex Tompkins wants is some quiet time alone. He has found a secluded property, disturbed only by his one neighbor who constantly seems to have guests over. One day a toddler wanders over, obviously having come from the party across the street. When the little boy unexpectedly bites Lex in the neck, Lex’s life changes for good.
Much to Lex’s surprise, when young Aiden bit him, he chose Lex as the new pack alpha. Lex barely knows where to begin with this news that he is now a werewolf and is responsible for this entire pack. He has no idea what is involved in being a wolf, nor how to lead this group. All he knows is that his neighbor, Spencer Robinson, suddenly smells so good that Lex can’t get enough of him. Unexpectedly becoming not just a wolf, but an Alpha as well, is not an easy task, and with trouble brewing from a neighboring pack, Lex must work hard to assume his new role and protect his new family.
I am a big fan of Dennison’s paranormal stories and I think the set up for this one was really fun. Lex is a total outsider to this world and I got a kick out of him being felled by this mere toddler, totally turning his life upside down. Dennison gives us some unique aspects to the shifter world, with Lex’s role as Alpha really as a caretaker to the others. They are constantly barging in, bringing him their problems, and he has to learn to get past his isolationist instincts and help take care of them. Lex is more of a loner, but everyone is very touchy feely, loving to pile up together to sleep, and it is a unique pack dynamic that was really interesting and distinct, even from the authors’ other work. I like Lex as sort of a growly guy who gets thrown in over his head and still manages to figure out how to be there for his people.
I think my trouble here really stemmed from the fact that this is such a short story and, as such, there is really not a lot of time to develop things as well as I would like. First off, Lex gets bitten and is told out of the blue he is now a werewolf, and an alpha no less. He barely reacts to the idea that werewolves exist, and seems more upset at the circumstances that got him into this situation than that he is facing this whole new world he presumably never knew existed. He is annoyed, but weirdly accepting of the whole thing. No one ever really seems to explain much to him beyond the basics, but then he is quickly taking charge, figuring out what the pack needs and exactly how to handle everyone’s problems just perfectly. It just seemed very fast and easy to me. We are also told about an injury Lex got on the job that led to his retirement, and there is a sense that his past experiences on the force have shaped his personality, but nothing is really ever explained or developed with his past and the injury quickly becomes a non issue.
I also found the conflicts only loosely developed. We hear there are some other wolves in town and learn they are up to no good. But even as the conflict develops, we don’t get much about what is happening or why they take some of the actions they do and it never really builds to the level of intensity I would have wanted. I think it just fell somewhat flat, and perhaps the conflict was unnecessary given that this is such a short book. Just Lex dealing with the pack and with Spencer is more than enough for a story of this length. As it is, the relationship with Spencer seems similarly shortchanged. Lex acknowledges that he had no interest in Spencer before the change (even though Spencer is clear he tried to make his interest in Lex known). Now that he is Alpha, he has an instant attraction to Spencer as a mate. But we never see anything develop between them and they hardly spend any quality time together where feelings might grow. The connection from Lex’s end seems purely mating instinct and nothing more. Although it is clear Spencer has been attracted from the start, there just wasn’t enough here to really show a connection for me between the two.
So this one was sort of a mixed bag for me. It was entertaining and Dennison really has a way with shifter stories. There were some nice unique elements here and I enjoyed Spencer and Lex. I just think this book is too short to really develop so many of these threads the way they needed to be, and as a result, the story just wasn’t as well rounded or developed as I would have liked. This looks to be the first of a series so I will be really interested to see where it goes in the future. I will be looking forward to seeing more from this series and hopefully Lex and Spencer as well.