Rating: 4 stars
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Beta Dan Keller had expected to become his pack’s new alpha when the old one died, but a human was chosen instead. Now Dan needs to figure out his role in the pack and how to fit in with all these changes. He has always felt a little removed from the other pack members and Alpha Lex suggests Dan needs to start thinking of them as individuals and learn what they each need.
When Dan gets a call for help from Nathan Ross, the pack omega, at first he is caught off guard. Nathan is the weakest member of the pack and doesn’t quite seem to be fitting in or gaining strength, even with close attention from Lex. Not only is Nathan weak, he seems to know nothing about being a wolf. His instincts are poor and he doesn’t understand much about how the pack works. But as Dan gets to know the younger wolf, he finds himself drawn to the man, especially when it becomes clear how Nathan responds to Dan and is comforted by him.
Nathan must learn to trust the pack and believe they will care for him, otherwise he will never get stronger. Dan is determined to help him, but he also wants to keep some distance, realizing he is falling for the young wolf. When trouble begins brewing as a strange wolf is scented around their pack territory, its connection to Nathan makes Dan even more concerned. He must figure out how to really take on his role as beta so he can not only help the pack, but also take care of Nathan as well.
Belligerent Beta is the second book in Poppy Dennison’s Pack Partners series and it follows along with many of the characters we met in the first book, Accidental Alpha. The story focuses mainly on Dan and how he is finding his way after not being chosen by young Aidan as alpha. I liked seeing this other side of the story, now getting the perspective from Dan, the man who was the presumed next alpha until Lex came along. Dan isn’t bitter or resentful, but he is disappointed and a bit lost. He doesn’t really know where he fits in, and here we see that focusing on Nathan helps him find his place in the pack and his own strengths.
I continue to like this shifter world Dennison has built. She gives us a bit of a unique spin on shifters that I really like. This is a touchy-feely pack for sure. They are very close, both physically and emotionally. I also found Dan and Nathan a fun couple. I am always a sucker for the shy hero and Nathan is so delicate at first. I really loved seeing how being with Dan brings out his confidence and inner strength and Dennison does a nice job showing his growth over the story, from his demeanor to the way he speaks.
I did feel like I wanted some more relationship development though. Not much happens between these guys for most of the story, then suddenly they seem to be a long term couple. I didn’t necessarily need to see a lot of sex, but they seemed to be more a friend level until suddenly they are partners. I wished that transition started happening earlier so we could see it grow and it would feel like a stronger connection. I also felt like the conflict was a bit vague. Unless I am misunderstanding, Dan was the beta already (before Lex became alpha) so I am not sure why he didn’t really know how to continue being a beta, other than his disappointment at not becoming leader. The conflict with the outsider wolf gets resolved so quickly it is essentially a non issue. And the confusion about why Nathan didn’t connect with his wolf was also resolved fairly quickly by just asking him about his previous packs. So I guess I needed more clarity of the conflict here to give the story a little more energy as we built the relationship between the men.
Overall, however, I found this an enjoyable story. Dennison really has a way with paranormal stories and she builds a great world here. This book seems best read along with Accidental Alpha because there are so many overlapping characters. I enjoyed revisiting them again and Belligerent Beta is a nice follow up to the first story.