I think I should preface this review with the statement that this is an epic adventure, not a romance. I will also state that there are MINOR spoilers in this review. This world contains a number of mystical creatures, including werewolves, vampires, amazons, and others. There is a delicate balance between these factions. The amazons are duty-bound to protect human life. Treaties have been established between the nearby vampire coven and the amazon guild that dictate the Silverbane werewolves will not kill humans and will not overhunt their range in the remote Maine woods where they make their home. These alliances are established, but tenuous. The amazons will destroy of the Silverbane pack if they are proved to have shed human blood.
The main character, Josh, is a werewolf, omega to his “family” the Silverbane pack. Josh has no father that he knows of. His mother was a rogue who was adopted into the pack due to her powers as an omega, which—in this bookscape—means that she was the peacemaker of the family. She spoke truth, sensed truth, and worked her wiles to keep the peace, even if it meant sacrificing her body—which is why Josh’s paternity could not be established. (Expect slut-shaming.) She had a particular love for the pack alpha, Eric Silverbane, and he was kind to Josh—but Josh’s mother died two years ago and at 18 years old, Josh is old enough to set out on his own. If only Silverbane would release him. Instead, Josh runs away. Time and time again.
While Josh is a good omega in terms of being a peacemaker/negotiator, he can’t handle the mistreatment of his station. Really, it’s obnoxiously bad. Like, he’s practically raped by pack dudes who think they are his betters. Silverbane agrees to release Josh from his blood tie, and Josh thinks his life is about to begin. Yay! Then, Silverbane dies, before he could release Josh. Crap! Instead of being on his own, Josh is pressed into finding the pack’s new alpha, as this is another duty of an omega. The candidates present themselves, but none of them give off the true alpha vibe. Josh must find an alpha, or he’ll be (quite honestly) killed by his pack. Under duress, Josh befriends Andrea, an amazon, who can sense latent werewolf powers. They comb the areas of town, investigating every mixed-blood human in the effort. They can’t find an alpha, but Josh has a sense regarding Gavin, a new park ranger. He’s a dreamboat to Josh but, sadly, Gavin’s got serious eyes for Andrea.
Lookit, this is an adventure story. It has plenty of double-crosses, double-dealing, and doubling–down. Josh wants out of Silverbane territory, because living as he is—constantly put-down and exploited by his pack—is unhealthy. To get out he must identify the pack’s new leader, but his power is limited. Compared to the pack werewolves he has zero strength, and even less influence. Andrea has ulterior motives for her friendship with Josh—she agrees to help him if he will facilitate her own transformation into a full-fledged warrior. Unfortunately, he’s never sure he can trust Andrea because her help comes at the expense of his physical well-being. Plus, she’s kinda a flighty dingbat. Josh thinks he’s found an alpha, but that person isn’t ready, or capable, of taking on a pack the size of the Silverbanes. There are so many ways this story could have gone wrong, but it didn’t. The competing interests were interesting and provided quite a bit of suspense. Josh is the weakest of his pack, but holds influence that some would (and do) kill to have. He struggles between his desire to leave and his desire to save the pack that mistreats him. He knows the amazons are very close to staging a Silverbane pack massacre, and there are members of the pack he definitely wants to save.
I am a lover of romance, so I wanted there to be SOME romance, but it was not the case here. And, I think I was mostly okay with that. I was captivated by the world, though there were parts that did feel repetitive, especially regarding Josh’s role and his shame over his mother’s place as the omega before him. I wanted to skip to the action, at times. There does end up being a LOT of action and bloodshed, and a cleansing of the worst elements of the Silverbane pack. Josh is freaking amazing in the end, a hero that the Silverbanes can respect, which is really most of what he longed to have. The book is set up to be the beginning of a series, and I’d be interested to read on, and see if Josh is able to find himself a mate.