Years ago, Danyal had an unexpected heat and spent it with a stranger on leave from the military. A tentative bond formed between the men, but his partner left the next morning and the bond eventually faded. Now, Danyal works as a geneticist with the wolf resistance in Corland. After his brother was kidnapped and tortured, Danyal should have known better than to fall for the fake text that got him out in the open. But now, he too has been captured by the evil doctor who has been abusing and experimenting upon wolves, all in the supposed name of science. In reality, his motives are far darker and spell disaster for any hope of wolf rights and independence if he succeeds.
When Mikael saw Danyal again in Corland, so many years after sharing a heat with him, he panicked. Rather than acknowledging what happened between them, Mikael just pretended he had no idea who Danyal was. It is safer that way for Mikael’s heart after losing his first mate. But now that Danyal has been kidnapped, Mikael will rest at nothing to bring the man back to safety.
Getting to Danyal is one thing, but finding their way back home is another. Danyal has witnessed too many atrocities for his captors to let him go easily. And with anti-wolf sentiment on the rise, making their way back to Corland is not going to be easy. Even as the men rekindle their connect to one another, it will take all they have to make it out alive.
Before the Storm is the third book in Ariel Millar’s excellent dystopian, omegaverse Carpe Noctem series. The series follows one long story about the wolves fighting to save themselves from both the corrupt wolf and human governments. While each installment thus far features a new couple, you will want to read these in order for the full story.
Danyal has been a prominent character in the first two books as the wolves’ geneticist, so it was great to see his story. There is a nice lovers reunited element here as Danyal and Mikael connected for one passionate night years ago. While a fragile bond formed between them, Mikael cut it off until it withered out of fear of getting involved again. Now, things are complicated as Danyal assumes Mikael is just not interested in him, while Mikael thinks Danyal doesn’t remember their night together after being in the throes of heat. It takes them a while to sort out the misunderstanding, and I worried upon reading the blurb that this would be frustrating, but it turns out to be very smooth. There is so much going on with the men as they work through the kidnapping, rescue, and escape, that I didn’t find there was a lack of communication. The real issue is Danyal moving past Mikael’s abandonment, as well as the fact that they are living on the run and barely surviving, so it isn’t really the time for them to pursue things between them. Despite that, the draw the two men have for each other is strong and there is a nice sense of connection and attraction between them. I did find myself unclear on exactly how this bond worked, however, as at times it seemed like fated mates, pulling them together because they had shared that initial heat, and others it just seemed like natural attraction, so I wished this was explained better. We do see the men together during the heat early in the book, so that helped to build a sense of bond between them, but I wish we had more relationship development, since so much seemed down to instinct and there wasn’t quite as much romantic development as I wanted.
This is the third story of four, so as the title suggests, this book is setting the stage for the big finale. This story gives us both a big picture look at what is going on with the wolves, as well as the smaller focus on Danyal’s kidnapping and subsequent rescue and his and Mikael’s attempts to get home to freedom. We also learn more about the goals for the experiments, follow along as the wolves get some dramatic new information, and see the pieces come into place for the final showdown. Millar does a great job here really building the intensity, both through the things Danyal learns while in captivity, and the ever increasing danger the wolves are facing. We see here the inevitability of war, as well as the huge obstacle the wolves are up against given how much the governments are compromised. This story also overlaps in time with Beast of Burden, so there is some added intensity as Danyal doesn’t know what is going on with his brother, no one really knows what is happening with Kor and Misha, and things are in a lot of confusion. I thought the story was engaging and really exciting, both while Danyal is imprisoned, as well as they are on the run. I do feel like the pacing is a bit off, though, as things wrap up quickly in the final stage of their journey compared to the rest of the story. I also felt like parts of the plot are a bit repetitive in that this is our third kidnapping and escape story out of three books, all by the same bad guys. The plots surrounding these events are quite different, but it does feel a bit of a repeat storyline.
Overall, this story has a lot of excitement, many new revelations, and a great set up for the final book. It sounds like that one is not going to be out for a while, which make me awfully impatient as this is such a good story. But that gives you a chance to catch up in this world if you haven’t started the series. It is a great dystopian with a nice omegaverse twist, and Danyal and Mikael’s journey was an enjoyable installment.