Con Albury is still officially affiliated with his birth pack, but they have made clear their feelings about him being gay, so while Con still sees his family, he doesn’t have much to do with the pack. Con has also connected with the Outcast pack, a group of mostly gay wolves that don’t have a place in their home packs anymore. Con joins them for runs and othOKer events, but is still mostly straddling the line between the two packs.
Zach Ellis is next in line to lead his pack, but he is keeping his interest in men a secret. His pack is very old fashioned and he knows they would never accept him being gay. Zach has tried to push his feelings aside and be the person his family wants and expects, but it is not easy. One night, Zach encounters Con on the beach when they are both letting their wolves run. There is immediate attraction, so much so that Zach surprises himself by indulging in a hookup with Con. But Zach knows this can only be one time to get it out of his system, and Con isn’t a guy who does repeats anyway.
However, the pull between the men is strong and it is not as easy to stay away from each other as they expected. Zach finds himself dreaming of what might be, even as his family increases the pressure on him to choose a woman to marry. And Con is starting to realize that he may just want more with Zach than he ever has with anyone before. But Zach’s family is continuing to pressure him to find a wife. Not only that, but his pack is making threats against the Outcast pack to which Con belongs. But now that Con and Zach have found each other, both men have realized that they want more together and are willing to do whatever to be with one another.
Wolf Heart is the first book in T.J. Nichols’ new Outcast Pack series. It is set in the same world as the author’s Familiar Mates series, but having read most of those books, I really think new readers can start here with no problem. If you read The Detective’s Familiar, you may remember Con as one of the Outcast pack members that Sam meets when he leaves Mark. And there are a few very small references to events from that story. But like I said, you can easily start here.
From a series standpoint, the focus here is setting up the Outcast pack and their place in the shifter community. They are pretty loosely organized and still somewhat unofficial, but some of the older packs are hostile because most of their members are gay. So we get a sense here of the struggles this group will likely face as the series goes on and we see some threats play out from Zach’s pack. I do wish we got to know this group a bit more and spent more time with them, as they are the thread that connects the series. But I do think this is an interesting set up and I am looking forward to seeing how things develop as the series continues.
Most of the book is centered on Con and Zach as they explore their new relationship. Con is a guy who gets by on hookups and never thought he would want more. And Zach is closeted and assuming he can never have the life he wants with a man. I think this feels mostly like Zach’s journey as he really has to come to terms with what he wants in life. He can either fold to his family demands and take up leadership of a pack that would hate him if they knew the truth, or he can come out and live on his terms, knowing he will lose his pack. There are some nice parallels in terms of Con’s own journey with his pack that tie in well. The guys have a nice connection and I rooted for them to find their way together.
I enjoy this world Nichols has created and I’m happy to see the author has started this new series set in the same universe. I am looking forward to more and seeing where she takes the series.