Rating: 3.75 stars
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Cole Harker is floored when his father tells him of Cole’s betrothal to a female werewolf to seal an alliance agreement. An agreement that will make the pack a stronger force in the face of imminent war. For one, Cole’s never met the girl. And for another thing, Cole is gay. But the deal is made and Cole has no say in it. Not that he would turn his back on his father or the pack for any reason. So with a heavy heart, Cole attends his betrothal party. When he arrives and meets his future bride’s half-brother, Cole is torn. He’s interested in the man, not only because he’s beautiful, kind, and strong, but his future brother-in-law is also an anomaly. One that Cole wants more of even though he can never have it.
Paris Marketo is a freak of nature. Half werewolf and half panther shifter, Paris’ existence is a mystery. Leaning more towards his panther half, Paris is independent and likes it that way. The he meets Cole, the wolf slated to marry his half-sister. When Paris’s sister runs away to marry her human lover, Paris’s father attempts to complete the pack alliance with the joining of Paris and Cole instead. Angered by the audacity of his father and fear of being trapped, Paris runs back to his life, away from his family and away from his indescribable attraction to Cole Harker.
Paris’s abandonment breaks Cole’s heart, but in the midst of his hurt, Cole is forced to focus on the coming war against a gangster of an alpha whose very presence threatens not only his pack, but the surrounding packs and their lands. When Cole learns that the enemy alpha has his sights set on Paris, Cole will stop at nothing to keep Paris safe – even if the panther doesn’t want him. But will he be too late?
I’ve read a few books written by Tara Lain, and I like them. The light feel of her stories with conflict but little, if any, angst is just the thing I look for after a truly heart-wrenching story. The Pack or the Panther the first book in a new series by Lain, and I’m looking forward to more of this world. It was a fun book. Not perfect, but fun.
For the most part, I liked Cole. Once I got to know him, I liked his strength and determination. I enjoyed his journey from pack bitch to fighting to be himself. He accepts his father’s edict of marrying a woman without much fight, but when Paris rejects him, Cole finds his balls and stands up to everyone who tries to push him around. It’s empowering for him and for his eventual relationship with Paris. My problem with Cole is in the beginning of the story. His character is written in a “cutesy” manner. I don’t know if that makes sense, but the writing describing him is very flouncy. Without highlighting his strengths, it tends to make him look a little flakey. That eventually is corrected, but initially, I had a hard time connecting with him.
Paris was easier to like, but we all know I have a thing for the stipper/dancer/erotic entertainment. Lord, had Lain put the man in some lacy panties, I might have crawled through the pages to have a front row seat to his show. Paris is a little conflicted, wanting to maintain his independence while longing to attach himself to Cole. He wants to be like his mother so badly that he misses who she was and how she reacted to true love. And don’t take Paris for an effeminate pushover. The man is strong, outspoken, and confident. He’s a rock who is deserving of another to stand beside him not in front of him.
I liked the story. The conflict was predictable, yet still good and fun to read. The villain was molded in true sleazy fashion. I’m not sure how I feel about the introduction of the airborne sedative that is released through vents and sucked back out so quickly it doesn’t affect the mad man. That was a little over the top. But the romance and the action were all very entertaining.
The writing is decent, but like I said earlier, there are times that it is very cutesy. It’s fine, but not my favorite. The story read very easily though. It’s a short and sweet tale, and I enjoyed it.
Overall, I liked this one. It had its flaws, but it was still very entertaining. I’ve enjoyed each of the books I’ve read from Tara Lain, and I liked this one too. For those of you that like a good paranormal story, who like a sweet happily ever after, and like conflicted sexy protagonists, The Pack or the Panther is a story for you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.