Narrator: Joseph Morgan
Length: 9 hours, 15 minutes
Sebastian Zeller is the nephew of the alpha, and when his uncle is attacked, Sebastian has no choice but to step up and take over… or so you’d think. Sebastian, instead, has a bright idea. If he finds out who attacked his uncle and takes care of them, then Ron can go back to being alpha and Sebastian can go back to doing what he does best: designing fabrics and living in Colorado, far away from pack politics and shennanigans.
Ron, in order to protect his sheltered dreamer of a nephew, hires Jaxon Reedis, a fox shifter, to be his body guard, as well as to keep Sebastian in line. When Jaxon finds out that the handsome werewolf he’s charged to protect has an idiotic plan to get himself hurt, he knows he has two choices: help or get out. Something about Sebastian, though, has him interested. The other man has the native strength of personality and the easy charm of an alpha; he cares for his pack mates, has the ability to take charge in any situation, and has no desire to take over the pack.
More curious than a cat, the fox shifter’s attention is caught by the werewolf and isn’t long before the mutual interest between the two of them turns into something stronger. Jaxon soon realizes that he has something worth more than just a substantial paycheck. He has a mate. A true mate. He’d die for Sebastian, but he’s hoping it won’t come to that. All he has to do is keep Sebastian safe while his beloved puts himself in harm’s way again and again as they try to flush out their prey. It’s not the brightest plan, but it’s the one Sebastian’s stubbornly clinging to. But when their attackers make their move, Jaxon isn’t there to help. Will the strength of their mate bond be enough to help Jaxon save Sebastian’s life?
The Wolf’s Man Friday is the second book in the Nose to Tail Inc. series, but reads easily as a standalone, which is fortunate, since I haven’t read book one. This is a world filled with shifters of all sorts: marmots, elk, wolves, and foxes, even beavers. Beavers who work construction, at that! Shifting in this world isn’t painful or difficult, and there are no inner wolves or inner foxes; just people who happen to wear fur half of the day and skin the other half.
Sebastian doesn’t really want to be the heir. He loves his uncle, he loves his pack, but he mostly wants to be left alone, free to create and design and bring into being his art. It’s not that he won’t do his duty, he just thinks his best friend, Adam, would be a better pack alpha. So does Adam, if it comes to it, but wolves are so very traditional. Sebastian is also pretty sure he doesn’t need an assistant, or a body guard. He’s a wolf, after all, and the other man is just a fox.
Sebastian is pretty much your standard werewolf. Gruff and stoic on the outside, gooey and family oriented on the inside. Jaxon, as a fox shifter, has a different approach. He’s more playful, more curious, more intuitive. In order to keep Sebastian from either running away from him or firing him, he has to prove to be more than just useful. He has to be… well, perfect. Fortunately, Jaxon is pretty confident in his ability to be the prince charming Sebastian needs.
Jaxon is cute and filled with personality, which is good because Sebastian never quite manages to be more than one note. As a couple, it always felt like Jaxon was taking charge both of conversations and over the relationship. But, even with as charming as Jaxon, is he still felt a lot like Fox Shifter A, as opposed to being a living, breathing person in his own right. For what the story was, they were entertaining enough, just not ground breaking or all that captivating.
The plotting slows down in the middle as the story turns from a thriller — who attacked the alpha, who is attacking Sebastian — to focus on the romance. Long sections of the courting, the playing, the romping in the snow, and exploring the house. Talks about cars and cooking and favorite colors have their place, but they stalled the action and, at times, felt rather generic. I honestly think there was a good story here, but the author spent too much time trying to write everything rather than focusing on any one thing. The writing is good, the plot starts out good, and the romance is there. I just wish there had been a bit more sparkle to even one of them, enough to turn this from an okay story into a good one.
I also found it distracting when, throughout the book, a character would be thinking, only to have that thought adressed by whomever he was talking to immediately after. This is supposed to be a facet of the mate bond Jaxon and Sebastian share, the ability to read each other’s thoughts and emotions, but that doesn’t explain how every character has this ability and no one seems surprised when the person they’re talking to answers unspoken questions or vague ponderings.
When we get back into the plot, the pace picks up almost too fast, which made it feel disjointed, and the ending comes up so quickly — and is set up so strangely — that it feels abrupt and took me completely out of the story. The motives of the attackers is left so vague until the last fifth of the book, and we are not given any information about them other than that they’re cat shifters until we’re at the last two chapters or so. Then it’s wham-bam-the end and I was left feeling disinterested and displeased. It’s not bad, it’s just so very rushed. Once it was set up, the payoff was immediate with no twist or shocking reveal. Everything was hinted at, explained, and finished in one conversation. There was honest potential in this, both the plot and the world, which is why I feel so irked about that ending.
The narration in this book was difficult. The narrator, Joseph Morgan, has a delibrate one-two-three cadence to his speaking, a rhythm in which there is a subtle pause or slight emphasis every three or four words. The pauses are, at first, fairly distracting, but the regularity of them makes it possible to sync up once you get used to it. I didn’t find it pleasant or relaxing to listen to and ended up adjusting the speed to 1.25 in order to get through it. Even so, there were still sections of slow, deliberate speaking that drew out lengthy scenes into even lengthier ones.
The narrator sounded somewhat dry, almost sarcastic at some scenes. Again, this is only my opinion, but it felt like the narrator was disinterested in what he was reading. This could be explained by numerous takes of a particular chapter or scene, but I did not enjoy the audible version of this book. Jaxon and Sebstian were really the only two characters whose voices stood out, which is completely fine as they are the focus of this story. Morgan’s characterizations of Jaxon and Sebastian seemed on point, to me. He gave Jaxon a light, airness that suited a fox, while Sebastian growled like a werewolf, and I thought they worked, overall.
If you’re interested in this story, it’s not a bad book; in fact, it’s a decent one. I just feel as if it could have been a better one. I’d recommend just getting the book in written form rather than going for the audio version. If, however, you do go for the audio book, try adjusting the speed to 1.25; it makes for a smoother listen.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.