Rating: 4.25 stars
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Joseph Anderson is hiking in the woods when he hears a mountain lion, followed shortly after by a child’s cry. Concerned for the child’s safety, he tracks the sound to a dying mountain lion surrounded by two young boys hovering over her protectively. Although Joseph’s first instinct is to get the boys away, he is shocked when the mountain lion transforms into the sister of Joseph’s childhood friend, Dominick Levent. Before her death, Krista warns Joseph that the cubs are in danger and begs him to call Dominick for help.
It has been years since Dominick last spoke to his friend Joseph. Although the two were incredibly close growing up, as a mountain lion shifter Dominick had to protect his secret. When he realized how strong his feelings were for Joseph, Dominick pulled away rather than risk sharing the secret he was forced to keep. So he is surprised to hear from Joseph again, and torn apart to hear about his sister and nephews.
At first the men are just in survival mode, figuring out how to get the boys’ basic needs met and how to keep them safe. Dominick also needs to find out what happened to his pack and whether the boys are still in danger. Joseph is committed to helping them, but also still hurt at the way Dominick walked out of his life so many years ago without a word. But the more time they spend together, both men realize the feelings they had for each other years ago are still strong, and both want to build something together. But they must figure out the mystery of the attack, of how a witness in one of Dominick’s cases fits in, and how to make a family for the boys together.
Wild Magic is the latest offering in Poppy Dennison’s fabulous Triad series, though it takes a bit of a shift from the first three books. They focused on the three types of magic and an overarching suspense plot that connects the books and resolves in Soul Magic. Wild Magic comes into the series from the viewpoint of the mountain lion pack that we see destroyed in an earlier book and from which Gray and Simon’s adopted son Riley comes.
The first part of this story focuses mostly on Joseph and Dominick as they attempt to take care of these young boys and figure out what happened to the pack. Dominick becomes an instant father to his nephews, and Joseph quickly assumes the role of surrogate parent as well. As a U.S. Marshal, Dominick lived in another part of the country and now must relocate and settle in the area to avoid uprooting the boys. All the while Dominick and Joseph dance around their attraction, admitting how they once felt, but with Joseph not ready to forgive and forget his past hurts. Dominick also gets assigned a case for work involving a witness who is a mage, and who has a connection to the High Moon Pack. As he begins to dig more into that case, Dominick begins to see connections with his own pack and ultimately the story connects up Dominick and Joseph and the boys with the Gray and Simon and Riley from the first three books.
I really liked the setup here and the way Joseph gets integrated into the shifter world. It is a nice way to pick up that thread about the mountain lion pack from the first three books and connect it all together, since it is important but not the main focus of the other stories. The boys are cute and the men make a nice family unit and clearly care for one another. And I loved visiting with Simon and Gray again and seeing everything come together. I just love this shifter world Dennison has created and was so happy to get back into it again.
I did find the pacing to be a little off here for me. The first portion seemed somewhat slow. A lot of ideas are put out there but nothing really solidifies until the last 20-30%. The guys aren’t really together, and while the connection between the men is spoken about, we don’t really see it on page yet (or get too much detail on their past relationship). Dominick finds out the mountain lion pack is destroyed, but not what happened to it and that is sort of dropped for a while. He finds the witness, but the significance is not clear. Then suddenly everything comes together all at once and it was really exciting, but it felt like it was all crammed in to the last part of the book and somewhat rushed. I wish things had been more balanced so that we spent more time really getting into the relationship between the men, the connection with High Moon, and how everything sort of meets in the middle.
As I mentioned, this is part of the larger Triad series, but more stand alone than the first three. Still, I think that reading those helps a lot in understanding the dynamics in the High Moon pack, as well as what happened to the mountain lion pack. Actually, even reading the first three, I didn’t remember the specifics of that incident and wish Dominick had been told more than just that the guy who did it was destroyed. It seemed strange that was enough for him, and as a reader, I would have liked my memory refreshed as well.
So I was sort of mixed on this one. I loved being back in this fabulous world that Dennison has created, and especially getting time with Simon and Grey again. I also appreciated picking back up that side thread with the mountain lions and developing it further. I liked both Joseph and Dominick, though I wish more of their relationship development was on page to give us more of a sense of the connection between the two. And I would have liked to see that final section developed further so we could really sink into that meaty part of the story rather than feeling so rushed.
This wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, but I am a big fan of the series, so I would suggest you start at the beginning because Dennison has created a really unique world and a great series. It is definitely worth it!
Cover Review: As with the other covers in the series, this one is just lovely. I really like how they all work so nicely together.