Lane Irons is an alpha in Connor’s Court. He’s not the traditional alpha, but that suits him and his pack just fine. When taking in a new family crossing over from another pack, Lane meets Phoenix Weston, the adult son of the family. Phoenix immediately pushes Lane’s buttons, testing and pushing without outright challenging him, but making it clear that Phoenix intends to one day be alpha of the pack. Lane doesn’t let him get away with anything, but he’s also intrigued by and attracted to Phoenix.
Phoenix is young and cocky, and he’s convinced he’s going to take over Lane’s pack. In the interim, he challenges for a position on Lane’s council and wins. This happens just before Lane’s pack is chosen as a delegation to head to Maeve’s Court for a week long Samhain celebration. With the connections between the three courts stronger than ever, Lane’s pack needs to make a respectful showing. Phoenix is still cocky and pushing, but he takes his responsibilities seriously.
When Phoenix pushes too far, Lane needs to put him in his place. One of the fae suggests a challenge both Lane and Phoenix can do that would prove their worth. Heading into a cave, they have two days to come out the other side or be lost forever. The spirits will try to seduce them to stay and Lane and Phoenix need to rely on each other to make it through. And in the process, their attraction and true feelings come out. If they make it to the other side, they just might find their happily ever after.
I really enjoyed the Worth Series, so when I saw that Evans had written a spinoff featuring an unforgettable side character, I quickly snapped it up. This book is billed as a standalone, and to a large degree it is. But I can tell you, having read the first three books makes a huge difference. Since there is reference to “after everything that happened” as well as prominent roles for both Oliver and Connor from the first three books, to me, it reads better after having already read the other stories I think I would have felt like I was missing something had I not read them, so while it works on its own, I’d honestly start with the others before jumping in here. Since I loved the series, I have no trouble recommending you do just that.
So I enjoyed this book a lot. Because let me tell you, the chemistry between the characters was just insane. Not to mention, the author has created an amazing world that she continues expand and enhance, while still adhering to the rules she’s created. There is very rich world building that continues to impress, as the little twists and differences really give some unique aspects and make it feel fresh and original.
Lane showed up in the previous books, and his presence was commanding. The one thing that stuck with me was that he was stalwartly committed to his pack. And here we see that again. But we also get to see his true self. Lane has had a tragedy in his past that has colored everything he’s done since. It also informs the way he acts with lovers, and is the reason he’s a “love em and leave em” kind of guy. What I liked about him is that he knows who he is, why he is the way he is, and he doesn’t make any excuses. He knows himself well. And as the narrator of the story, we get to know him just as well. I liked being in his head as the story progressed. He’s a very strong character, and one that really carries the tale.
We don’t get to know Phoenix nearly as well, but I thought the author did a great job of giving us a sense of him. He’s perfectly cocky, and it fits his younger age and his swagger. On top of that, the author manages to pepper in enough clues that let the reader understand the deeper meaning behind his actions. I would have liked to know him a little better, to have his thoughts and feelings a little better explained. But his chemistry with Lane just leapt off the page, and these guys were electric together. Because of the nature of their relationship, them being werewolves and this amazing chemistry, when they took that step to lovers, to acknowledging their bond, it all felt so believable. I wanted these guys to take that step, because the author wrote the UST so well, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for that moment when they finally acted on it.
So while I really liked this book, I definitely had a couple of small issues. The first was not getting to know Phoenix as well as I wanted to. The second was that there were a few shift in tenses that were distracting. The majority of the book is told in first person past tense, and it works really well. But occasionally there were odd shifts into present tense or where Lane broke the fourth wall and talked directly to the reader. While not a huge deal, it was enough that it was starkly noticeable when it happened and pulled me out of the story every time.
Despite that, this book is definitely a worth a read. The characters and overall plot really sucked me in and kept me engaged throughout, and I couldn’t wait until Lane and Phoenix finally got their HEA. If you’ve read the first trilogy, you’re definitely going to want to pick this one up. And if you haven’t yet, pick them all up and read through. This book is a nice addition to the greater world.