Story Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 2.75 stars
Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours, 43 minutes
When Trey was a teenager, he lived in Lobo Canyon with his family and his mate. It was a small town filled with small minds (the smallest belonging to their alpha, George) and small dreams. But Trey wanted more, and when he pushed — when he left the limits of the town to run beneath the moonlight — he was punished. Scarred and scared, bleeding and alone, Trey was banished. It was a death sentence for a wolf, to be without a pack. But Trey didn’t die. In the world beyond Lobo Canyon, he thrived.
Cory didn’t follow his mate when Trey was exiled. Instead, he stayed, confused and hurt, bound by his ties to his family and his pack. Cory is certain Trey is now dead, and has resigned himself to living as the sheriff of Lobo Canyon, alone, until death reunites them. When a strange car drives through town, heading for the alpha’s house, Cory does what any self-respecting sheriff would do; he follows. The new alpha of Lobo Canyon is preparing to wed his mate and their small town will soon be overrun with new wolves as the wedding party arrives. But it isn’t a stranger from a strange pack who steps out of the car. It’s Cory’s mate. It’s Trey. And this time, Cory has no intention of letting him go.
Normally I’d lay out the characters, a bit on the relationship and story and my opinions, and then let you know that I listened to the audio version of this book. However, the audio version of this story so colored my experience that I think it needs to be talked about first. I’ve listened to other books by John Solo and enjoyed the performance. But this time, I have to say, it’s a solid thumbs down from me. The voices are so inconsistent that it was hard to tell who was doing the talking, and even when I thought I had a handle on it, voices would change. Trey, at times, came across as sassy and snarky; other times he was calm and quiet. While people are complex and no one is going to feel the same emotion 100% of the time, I don’t know how much was his personality and how much was the delivery. Cory came across as flat and uninterested, taking a fatalistic and patient approach to the events. The side characters were hard to tell apart, especially when Miguel — Trey’s friend from outside Lobo Canyon — arrived. Suddenly, Trey was less sassy so that Miguel could be the snarky one.
All in all, I had a very hard time with this version of the story. While I could follow the events of the book, I’d have to go back and relisten to a few scenes more than once to figure out if it was Trey or Cory doing the growling. It left for a disjointed and uneven experience that, to be honest, made it hard to connect with or form a less-than-biased opinion on the book as its own thing, apart from the audio version.
And then there was the ending, which stood on its own and annoyed me on its own merits. There’s vandalism, shooting, kidnapping, threats, and dire prophecies, and it all ends anticlimactically with no real action taken on the part of any of the characters. The drama of the story revolves around the changing of the guard as George, the old, evil alpha has been replaced by Trey’s brother. George has people stirred up … but only a handful of them. He makes a show of teeth (figuratively) and shakes his fist, but no one cares. Until they do, and then it’s over.
When Trey left as a teenager, he asked Cory to come with him, but Cory didn’t. In the following years, Cory is certain Trey died — certainly no one in Trey’s family bothered to tell the kid that his mate was still alive an thriving out there — and when they’re reunited, it’s all “let’s jump back in bed!” There’s no angst, no hurt feelings, no anything. And that might be due in part to the narration, or it might be the story.
Unfortunately, the audio version of this book has so colored my experience with this book that I found it hard to enjoy any part of it. And there are parts that deserve some attention and parts that I think could lead to an interesting story. The way packs are shaped, the way alphas come about, the idea of a found family of outcast wolves who support one another … all of this is right up my alley. I just wasn’t able to enjoy it. If you’re interested in this story, I’d honestly suggest skipping the audio version and go ahead and get the book.