For Lane, moving to the small town of Watson Hollow is the chance at a new life, one far away from his cheating ex. Lane’s teaching again, and he loves his kids. He loves waking up happy, not tiptoeing around on eggshells, afraid of upsetting Kurt; once again he’s making friends, eating what he wants, watching what TV he wants. It’s freeing, and Lane feels more like himself than he has in years. Lane hasn’t given any thoughts to moving on and finding a new boyfriend until a chance encounter with a lost child at the mall brings him face to face with the boy’s father, the oh-so-handsome, dark and mysterious, Jared Atherton.
Jared doesn’t like being surrounded by humans, and the mall — with all its scents and crowds — has to be one of his least favorite places. Losing his son in the crowd was not on his to-do-list, but, then again, neither was finding Lane. Something about the human arouses a curiosity in Jared that’s been long asleep. Ever since his wife, Neve, died, Jared has carried the heavy weight of his small pack and his young son on his shoulders. It’s been a lonely life, even though he’s been surrounded by his family..
When some thing starts harassing Lane, attacking him in a dark parking lot, stalking him across the school grounds, Jared invites the teacher to stay at his house where he can protect him. For someone who is just beginning to believe all the stories about werewolves might just be true, it’s a chance to learn more about this mysterious world. And for two men who have been lonely and alone, it’s a chance, once again, to find love.
Lane is everything the perfect teacher ought to be. He’s patient and kind, has a sense of humor and a strong grasp on his temper. He’s open minded, brave, and compassionate. As much as I like the academic and the warrior trope, Lane felt a little too perfect, to me. He has no flaws, no small imperfections to make him more human. He’s just … a really, really good guy. It meant that when the big scenes happen at the end of the story where Lane has to stand up and prove his mettle, they didn’t really resonate because Lane didn’t have to prove anything. He hadn’t done anything wrong, hadn’t made any mistakes, hadn’t been a jerk to anyone. If anything, it just made him more perfect because he’s the guy who manages to save the day.
Jared was raised with a silver spoon — a silver dog bone? — as the scion of a powerful werewolf pack, only he didn’t want to be his father’s perfect heir. So, he left and was content to be a lone wolf until he met Neve, a young woman needing his help and protection, a young woman with whom he fell in love. Together, the two of them made their own small pack of people who needed someone to believe in them, people who needed understanding, kindness, and patience. Jared is absolutely noble, if a little too quick to trust and willfully blind about politics. He’s the sort of man who believes everyone is as good and upstanding as he is, and can only blink in surprise when the knife stabs him in the back, because it’s nothing he’d ever do.
There was a nice chemistry between the men, though I didn’t quite like some of the undertones about how similar Lane was to Neve. I understand that Jared and his son, and his whole pack, is missing her, but the constant comparisons of Lane to Neve became a little … much. Almost as if there was a subtle undercurrent or awareness that he would be stepping into her place. It’s a small thing, not overt or anything, but it was there enough for me to give it a strong side-eye.
However, that said, the world building is really well done. The offhand mentions of how the werewolf tongue uses Greek and Roman roots — without length explanations or, worse (to me) a try-hard showing off by having wolf, lupus, or canis in every third word — and the lack of handholding when the various packs were introduced was well-written and refreshing. While we haven’t been introduced to them yet, we’re made aware that witches and vampires also exist in this world, and I hope to see them in future installments of this series. This was a fun book, and had just enough snow in it to be perfect for a January read.