Wesley Stone has worked to be the Alpha of his pack for years. He is next in line for the job, but due to a scar on his stomach, his pack won’t accept him with that “imperfection.” No matter what he does, Wesley can’t earn their trust or support and the current Alpha makes it clear that Wesley does not have a future as Alpha there. Instead, Wesley is told that the Red River pack is in need of an Alpha to mate with the offspring of the current Alphas and that he can go there to lead. In exchange, one of their Alphas will take over at his pack.
Wesley is not happy with the arrangement, first because he is hurt that his pack won’t accept him, but also because he feels like he has been sold to be this other shifter’s mate. On top of that, everyone knows Alphas rarely have mates, and mates are determined by fate, not by marriage bargains. But Wesley has little choice but to accept the situation and move to Red River.
Wesley is surprised to find how much he likes his new mate, Jobe Root. Jobe is patient and kind and Wesley is definitely attracted to him. The Red River pack is strong with an intense tie to Mother Nature. Wesley can see himself happy here making a life with Jobe. But Jobe still seems to think that they can be true mates despite the fact that they aren’t fated to be together. And so much about Red River is confusing to Wesley. Not to mention that he worries about Jobe’s reaction when he sees his scar, afraid Jobe will reject him just like his own pack members did. The guys must finally talk through their differences and their confusion to begin to really build their lives together.
Red River is the second book in Cardeno C’s Pack series, though the books are all stand alone and this can easily be read without the first.
I enjoyed the way this story explored two different packs and their customs, traditions, and reactions to Wesley’s differences. The author builds an interesting world here and this book in particular really looks at how different the packs can be. I particularly liked Red River and the way they had this unique connection to nature. It also made for some nice redemption for Wesley after he is rejected by his home pack to then find a place where he really belongs.
The main conflict here focuses on Wesley and how he handles being sent away from his pack and brought into this new one. The whole idea is painful for him, but adding the confusion about how he and Jobe will mate, as well as the differences between the packs, he has to learn a lot while he is there. I think the story relies a lot on the confusion and misunderstandings between these guys though. It is not really Big Misunderstanding, because it didn’t really lead to conflict (in fact, there really isn’t much conflict in the book at all). It is more like confusion that seems to take the guys a long time to recognize. Like they are talking across each other, neither one ever realizing that the other is misinterpreting him. I kind of thought, at some point Jobe needs to just sit down and give Wesley an info dump so this guy can catch up to his new life.
Despite this issue, this one is a light, easy read. The guys are sexy together, the pack dynamics interesting, and both characters likable. This is a nice installment to the series, and I am definitely intrigued by the hints of where it is going next.