Luke grew up as part of a pack in the northwest with his lycan father and human mother. But being mostly human, Luke never felt like he fully fit in and left the pack to try to live among other humans. After years on his own, however, Luke knows that he misses pack life too much, and he approaches a local pack known for taking in those who don’t quite have a place to fit — the strays. He has been watching the pack leader Dean and the other lycans for a while now, and Luke hopes that he has finally found a place to fit in.
Things seem to be going well at the start when Dean agrees to let Luke stay that first night. However, soon it becomes clear that Luke has incited Dean’s mating instinct and that adds a whole new complication. While lycans can be drawn to one another through their mating needs, they don’t necessarily stay with a partner just because they have gone through a heat together. So Luke figures as soon as the mating heat has ended, Dean will be done with him and he will lose his place in the pack after all. Luke finally feels like he has found the place where he can fit in, but now he has to hope that once Dean’s interest wanes, he won’t lose the new home he has built with the pack.
Kari Gregg creates a really interesting take on shifters in this story. It is hard with so many shifter tales out there to find books that have a unique spin on the world building, but Gregg does a nice job bringing something new to the story. I liked the idea of Luke as this loner who doesn’t quite fit in with the humans or the lycans and it was good to see him finally find a place with Dean’s pack. I liked the spin on the mating heat and the way it mixes the sexual intensity that is a hallmark of much of this genre with the need for the couple to actually choose to stay together long term once the initial frenzy wears off.
The biggest issue I had here is that it is perhaps too much world building. It is clear that Gregg has taken a lot of time to develop even the smallest details of the world and build them into the story. However, at times I felt almost like I was reading a lecture on the world of shifters and humans. There is just so much detail, so much explaining of every component that it bogged down the story for me. Everything from what type of pillows the lycans use, to what color they paint their walls. Virtually every nuance of their lives is described. This isn’t a very long novel and it was just so detailed in the world building that I felt like we lost the story at times. The plot itself is very simple and stripped down and most of the book is spent telling us all this information about shifter life without showing us as much of the story as I would have wanted.
The other issue for me is that there isn’t much relationship development here. That isn’t always an problem for me, but this story sets up the idea that after the initial mating rush is over, lycans must actually fall for one another if they are going to be mates. So we clearly are told that things are not a done deal just because the guys are hot for one another, yet we don’t ever see much of anything develop between them. There is just a lot of telling; we hear how they have been getting to know one another but barely see it. The guys don’t actually even spend much time together. So again, I think I felt like the balance of the book leaned too heavily on world building and that took time away from plot and character development.
I found enough of the story entertaining that it kept my interest throughout the book. However, I would recommend this one mostly to folks who are big shifter fans, especially those who really enjoy richly developed world building.