Story Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars
Narrator: Charlie David
Length: 5 hours, 59 minutes
Samuel Goodwin is a very analytical and logical person. He’s been that way ever since he was a child. He has spent his life preparing to succeed his father and become the pack alpha, studying hard and learning all the laws, rules, and lore of wolf shifter culture. No one knows the facts better than Samuel. But despite being incredibly smart and strong, he has issues when it comes to people. He can’t seem to understand the lessons his father has tried to teach him about leading from the heart.
Samuel’s eight years old the first time he meets Korban Keller, the son of the alpha of the neighboring pack. Samuel finds Korban weird, and has so much trouble interacting with the slightly older boy that he’s exceedingly uncomfortable. As the years pass, Samuel and Korban don’t interact much, but when they do, Samuel just cannot understand Korban’s words and actions. But Samuel doesn’t focus on that, only on his goal of becoming the best alpha he possibly can.
When Samuel is twenty-three, he’s realized that he’s not ready to lead and is finally ready to talk to his father and tell him the truth about some of the troubles that have been plaguing him. Namely, Samuel is ready to admit the reasons behind his trouble shifting. But Samuel never gets the chance. Dirk Keller, Korban’s father and the alpha of the neighboring pack, has issued challenge and Dirk and Samuel’s father Tom must fight to the death. When Tom acts uncharacteristically during the fight, and then is killed, Samuel has to step in. But he’s unable to shift as he should and is disqualified. Dirk is named alpha of both packs. Samuel is distraught beyond belief, but then he’s led back to the battle ring, only to discover evidence that Dirk cheated.
Since the battle was unfairly fought, Samuel is named alpha of his pack. But with his troubles, he knows he can’t lead them forever. He sets about calling for vengeance for his father, and when that task is completed, he intends to find the right person to lead. What he never expects was for Korban to be brought forward. Everything goes awry, and Samuel still can’t understand his pull to Korban. Korban, for his part, is patient and understanding. And finally, Samuel sees the truth that Korban has known for years; they are true mates. It takes Samuel a minute to wrap his head around the fact that the lore he knows so well is wrong, but he has no probably accepting that Korban is his and how well they fit together. But not everyone is happy with their mating or the fact that Korban is still alive, but nothing is going to keep Samuel from protecting his mate and his pack.
Oh, you guys. I loved this story, and it was down to Samuel and Korban. The characterization here were fantastic, and totally made this book for me. The story was great, but the characters were what really shone and kept me invested so fully throughout this book.
Samuel is analytical. He hardly has any of the more tender emotions, and what he does feel is frustration and anger. He could have come off like a cocky, arrogant ass. And don’t get me wrong, there were moments of arrogance. But Samuel was so well crafted that it was easy to see he was very right-brained, incredibly smart, and as is so often the case with these type of people, he was social awkward. He didn’t know how to interact with people, and his pack, because he didn’t have a frame of reference for it. And underneath it all, he just had a huge heart, and wanted to do what was right. I loved the way he was portrayed, how he grew and changed. He’s young, but so very smart, and I loved watching him blossom as he began to understand things more fully. For him, the only way he could understand was having the experience, and he could only experience truly once he had Korban in his life.
And Korban? Yeah, I just adored him from the very first time he came on the page. He’s so earnest and sweet, patient and understanding. But what I particularly loved about him was his balance. He was a presumptive alpha, and so he was big and strong. But that’s not all he was. He was sensitive and tender and a really well rounded, big hearted person. Korban was exactly the kind of guy that Samuel needed, and the fit together perfectly. I loved their interactions, and when they were finally in the same space, the book really took off for me. I really liked the beginning, but I loved the second half of the book. Really, this story was just all sorts of well done.
And because it’s me, y’all know I have to make mention of the world building. If you like your shifter books with explanations as to the whys and the hows, then you’re going to love this book. The author has crafted such a fantastic world, with its own rules, and does a spectacular job of laying it all out, giving us everything we need, and it never feeling like an info dump. I had no trouble understanding what was going on, and I appreciated that so much.
Now, I read this book when it was first released, but here I listened to it on audio. I think it really enhanced the experience for me. Charlie David is an amazing narrator, and he did a fantastic job with the characters. As Samuel is telling the story from a first person perspective, David used the same voice for narration and Samuel’s dialogue. This worked really well, and I never had any trouble knowing when Samuel was speaking. David did a great job with Korban too, giving him a slightly softer voice that fit the character perfectly, without making him sound anything less than the man he is. The scenes where it was just Korban and Samuel were so tender and perfect, and David captured that so beautifully I rewound a couple just to hear them again. The sex scenes in this book were smoking hot to begin with, but David’s narration seemed to give them an extra layer. It was exceedingly well done.
I can definitely recommend this book to you in either the print or audio format. If shifters are your thing, then you’re going to want to pick this one up. And even if they’re not, I urge you to give this one a try.