Rowan is a tracker who has been hired to find two escaped convicts. The search takes the team to land owned by the Winsford shifter pack, which means working with the alpha to search the area. Rowan has been taught all his life to hate shifters, and while he is more accepting than some humans, he doesn’t want to get involved with the pack. Yet he finds himself surprisingly drawn to the pack alpha, Quinn. Quinn is nothing like Rowan expects of an alpha, being lively and full of life, caring and sweet, and fairly small. Yet despite all appearances, Quinn is a strong leader and something inside Rowan is incredibly attracted to him.
Quinn hasn’t had an easy life and he has built his pack as a safe place for shifters. Shifters are often treated poorly in society and face rules and restrictions, as well as outright hatred and prejudice. So Quinn isn’t thrilled that law enforcement is on their land, especially since they are suggesting that his pack may be hiding the convicts. But Quinn also knows it is better to go along and keep the peace, so he agrees to help with the search. Quinn finds Rowan appealing, but the man is clearly conflicted about shifters and doesn’t seem fully comfortable with Quinn or his pack.
Between attacks by a mysterious shifter and the disappearance of one of the pack’s younger members, it is clear that more is going on than just the missing convicts. As Quinn, Rowan, and others start digging further, they begin to uncover the truth about what is out there in the woods. Quinn is determined to protect his people, and with Rowan by his side, he will fight to protect his pack at all costs.
Of Secrets and Wolves is the first book in Alice Winters’ new Winsford Shifters series and I absolutely loved it. I have made no secret that I am a huge fan of this author, so I was really excited to see her take on the shifter genre. Winters introduces us to an interesting world here where shifters are well known to humans, but also frequently treated with prejudice and hatred. We see all sides here, from humans that are part of the pack, to a member of the tracking team who is filled with venom for the shifters, to Rowan somewhere in the middle. He has been taught all his life to hate shifters, but he also recognizes how unfairly they are being treated. He also slowly comes to get to know Quinn and the pack and realize that what he has always been taught isn’t true. I enjoyed the way it is a mixed pack with a variety of different kinds of shifters, rather than just wolves like Quinn. I am a sucker for non-traditional shifters, so I enjoyed seeing the way all these different shifters lived and worked together.
This story starts an ongoing series featuring the pack and some mysterious baddies. I don’t want to get too much into who they are or what is going on, as that is part of the fun of the story. But I will say that this book has a nice blend of the romance side of things, with calmer, funny moments as we get to know the pack, with some seriously intense suspense scenes. When Quinn and Rowan are investigating, things get quite thrilling and exciting. Winters does such a nice job bringing balance to all the various elements and I was totally caught up in the story. I will note that this is not a comedy in the way of some of Winters’ other books, so be aware of what to expect here. That said, there is still a lot of humor and fun to the story that I really enjoyed. Quinn and Rowan have a great playfulness between them and some fun banter. The rest of the pack also gets in on it, especially as they playfully pick on Rowan for being an outsider or for his interest in Quinn. My favorite side character is Quinn’s best friend, Ari, and adorable ocelot shifter who gets away with everything because he is so cute. He stirs up trouble constantly and no one can deny him anything, particularly his human mate.
The relationship between Quinn and Rowan develops nicely here, leaving us at a good place for a continuing series. The men are drawn to each other right away, and there is a clear connection between them. But while part of Rowan finds himself wanting to be with Quinn and can’t keep away from him, Rowan’s past makes it hard for him to imagine moving forward with a shifter partner. He is battling against himself for a lot of the book and Winters does a nice job exploring the inner demons that are leaving him so conflicted. But even as the men struggle to figure out if there can be a real future for them, we get lots of fun, sexiness, romance, and sweetness between them. While their brains may be unsure if this is all going to work, their hearts and their bodies are definitely on board. We get a nice happy for now ending with a lot more to come for the men.
I think the story ties up nicely here, though there are a lot of unanswered questions, both about the larger suspense plot, as well as each man’s individual background. I would have loved a little more detail on Quinn’s past, as it is alluded to here but never explained. But I assume that more will be revealed in future books.
So I am really excited about this series. It is fun, exciting, sexy, and intense. I am so happy to see that the second book is coming out soon, as I am eager to delve more into this new world from Alice Winters.