dire warning coverStory Rating: 2.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars

Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 8 hours, 22 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

Jackson, a timber wolf shifter, is the oldest of seven surviving brothers. Their parents, six siblings, and the rest of the Fox River pack were slaughtered by Jackson’s uncle, the alpha of the Silver Point pack, for reasons Jackson doesn’t really know. Now, he and his brothers are in hiding, and Jackson is doing his best to hold everyone together. But even as he tries to be the responsible one, Jackson finds himself being the naked one as, trying to do a good deed for stranded motorists, he finds himself walking home along the road with no money, no car, and no clothes.

Steel wants to find his fated mate. It’s the only thing he’s ever wanted and, while his mother assures him the Fates have a mate for him, that he just has to be patient, Steel doesn’t want to be patient. When he sees the naked man hitchhiking down the side of the road, Steel’s dick lets him know instantly that this man, this glorious man, is his mate.

In Dire Warning, Jackson is a shifter with an altruistic streak. Altruism, caring for people and being considerate, in this world are genetic traits carried only by Omegas. Because Jackson stopped to help people, it shows that he’s not just an Alpha, he’s both an Alpha and an Omega, which means he can get pregnant. And, like the worst omegaverse tropes, upon hearing that, suddenly Jackson’s made of emotion and a desire for sex with his mate.

Steel is a Dire wolf, one of only four in the world. He’s rich, handsome, tall, and hung. And, in the end, that’s pretty much it. Jackson and Steel aren’t really characters, they’re a framing device for the rest of their book. Between meeting, mating, and getting pregnant, Steel and Jackson only seem to have sex for the rest of the story. There’s no character growth, no character arc, and no character conflict. Jackson cares only about getting fucked, Steel cares about fucking, and they both love the baby that Jackson got pregnant with after their first night together.

The rest of the book — everything past chapter five-ish — is an introduction to Jackson’s six brothers. Each of them have a moment to take center stage. All seven were away at college when the slaughter happened and now that they’re hiding. Each member of their orphaned pack has had to put aside their dreams of being a cook, a nurse, an artist, etc. After seeing how happy Jackson is with his fated mate, each of them now dreams of finding their own fated mate (fated mate gets used a lot). And that’s pretty much it, personality-wise. This one wants to go to cooking school, this one wants to design the nursery, this one wants to be a nurse…

This book is a paper thin excuse for sex. And that’s not a terrible thing! It’s just, well, I found it to be a boring thing. It wasn’t helped by the cringe-worthy writing. While at times it made me laugh, I don’t think it’s meant to be a comedy. I cringed at a lot of the writing — for example, this gem:

[The woman] appeared to be old, her body was tight, her face unlined, and the only indication of her age was the long silver hair falling in layers around her face highlighting sculptured cheek bones and soft lips.

She’s old, but still hot, and you wouldn’t know how old she was if she didn’t have gray hair because she’s so hot.

I’m sorry, but I found much of the book unpleasant. I found the sex scenes a little tedious. And the plot — the dead parents, the evil uncle, the assassins sent after the pack — didn’t really go anywhere. No one cared, nothing happened, and, by the end of the book, every character was pretty much still where they started. I’d classify this as a cliffhanger if there had been any rising action at all, or action of any kind. Exposition happens a lot, repeated again and again as each group of characters has to have the information given to them, and we’re there for each exciting “sitting around and listening” moment of it. The only time we get a show moment as opposed to a tell moment is when Jackson and Steel are fucking.

And then there’s the wolf sex. At least it was brief. Other scenes, such as sitting and talking, or thinking about a phone call, or wondering about how someone else feels about a phone call, can go on and on. I found myself turning the speed on the audio book to 2x just to get through it, which did a disservice — not to the book — but the narrator.

Nick J. Russo did a good job and made this almost palatable. With 12+ POV characters, and a lot of head flipping in the middle of scenes, he managed to make the voices come across as unique. He tried different voices for the villain, the over-the-phone doctor, the seven brothers all in one scene … and he managed to give hints of personality where there weren’t any. I’ve listened to other books that he’s narrated and, for me, he tends to be a little hit-or-miss. This is in no way a comment on his skill as a narrator (and he is skilled), but more that his interpretation of a character doesn’t always match mine. If you really want to give this book a try — though I don’t recommend it — go with the audio book.

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