Zeus lives in Mad Creek, but he’s in Alaska with the members of his Search and Rescue Team to help out after an earthquake in Anchorage. The job is perfect for his inner Saint Bernard and Zeus is great at tracking and finding people who are missing. When Zeus sees another dog shifter, a quickened, who is wild looking and beautiful, Zeus is immediately drawn to the man.
Zeus learns that the Inuit have a legend about a group of sled dogs who turned into men and ran off to form their own pack, the Quimmiq. The Inuit think it is just a story, but Zeus and his friends from Mad Creek realize that the story is quite likely true. Unfortunately, the Quimmig are very reclusive and no one knows where they live, so as much as Zeus is dying to know more about the man, he fears he will never get the chance.
Timo is part of the Quimmig pack and he works part of the year in Anchorage. Timo’s pack never know that there were other “two-skinned” like them, but he recognizes that Zeus is a shifter as well. Timo’s pack is dying out, as they are having fewer and fewer successful births. Timo is drawn to Zeus and hopes to perhaps make him part of their pack. When he approaches Zeus, Zeus is eager to get to know more about the Quimmig, and Timo in particular. Zeus is fascinated by life in the wild and the remote Alaskan wilderness just calls to him. But he also knows he can’t just abandon his friends and family.
As Timo shares more about what is happening with the Quimmig population, Zeus and the others from Mad Creek realize that they may be able to help the pack. It offers a chance for Timo to learn more about the other two-skinned and to see what life is like in a thriving town like Mad Creek. As he and Zeus spend more time together, their bond begins to grow. Zeus realizes that he has feelings for Timo that are more than friendship, but Timo has never even considered the idea of a male mate. That is something unheard of in his pack, especially as producing pups is so crucial with their dwindling numbers. The men have formed a strong bond, but they come from very different lives and experiences. Now they must figure out if there is a way for them to fit together and if they can help to save the Quimmig pack in the process.
How to Run with the Wolves is the fifth book in Eli Easton’s wonderful Howl at the Moon series. While we meet all of the previous couples here, as well as many of the Mad Creek regulars, this story stands alone pretty well and the background of the quickened is explained in enough detail that I think new readers can follow along. One of the things that most stands out for me in this series is the creative world building. Easton has built such an interesting world of dog shifters, particularly the quickened. The idea that a dog could bond so intensely with their human owner as to turn human themselves is just delightful, and Easton has used it to great effect throughout the series. I particularly love the little doggy quirks that we see in the Mad Creek residents and the way their canine personalities come through in their human sides.
In this story, we get to explore a new facet of the world building as we step out of Mad Creek to meet the Quimmig. I loved the way Easton connected the world of the quickened to Alaska and the native populations there. She really brings the setting to life as we see Zeus and Timo running through the remote Alaskan wilderness. It is clear that while they are all shifters, the Quimmig culture is far different from those at Mad Creek. In many ways they are closer to nature and to their animal sides, living in such a remote and rustic area. So I found this part of the story really well done and it was the highlight of the book for me.
The relationship end was not quite as successful for me, mostly because it takes a very long time for things to really bloom between the men. There is clearly a bond between them and they are drawn to one another, but it feels like a platonic connection for much of the book. Even as Zeus is beginning to realize he may have romantic feelings toward Timo, Timo himself doesn’t even think about there being anything more between them. He doesn’t even have the frame of reference to consider it. It is not until almost the end the book that things move from friendship to a romantic connection between them, and so I felt like I kept waiting for something to develop between the men. Also, there is sort of a childlike quality to both men that comes from not having full familiarity with the human world. It didn’t make total sense to me on Zeus’ end as he grew up as a shifter, went to college, holds an outside job, etc. For Timo, his only real interaction with humans comes from working in Anchorage over the past few years. So this childlike sense made their eventual relationship seem a little awkward to me. I have noticed this at times with other books in the series, but here it felt like a factor for both men.
For me, the biggest draw for this story is the amazing world building and the exploration of life in Alaska and the Quimmig pack. Easton notes at the end of the story that she has plans to spin off the series to focus on the Quimmig and things set up nicely for that here. So I am super excited as I think this will add a great facet to the series and I’m really eager to learn more about the pack and their story.