pack of lies coverRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel


Julien Doran has come to Maudit Falls, North Carolina, looking for answers about his brother’s death. Rocky was obsessed with hunting mythical monsters. He was a true believer and his attempts to find these creatures led him into non-stop trouble, with Julien bailing him out each time. And a month before his death, Rocky told Julien for the hundredth time that this was it, this time he had truly found the evidence to prove the monsters were real — and Julien didn’t believe him any more than he had any other time. But now, Julien has stumbled upon some of Rocky’s old papers and he is hoping they may lead to some answers about Rocky’s mysterious death. So he is in Maudit Falls, pretending to be there for a ski trip, so that he can do some digging.

Eli Smith has had a rough life, mixed up as a thief with a rebel wolf pack, then sold out to the humans and left to die. It has been hard pulling his life back together and Eli is nothing if not wary about just about everyone. But he is healing with the help of his ex-boyfriend, Oliver Park, and Oliver’s husband, Cooper Drayton. The couple has recently opened a retreat in Maudit Falls as a haven for wolves escaping their rebel packs, and Eli is managing it. He can’t help but worry he will mess it up like he does everything else, but this could also be his chance to find a place for himself.

When Julien’s car runs off the road after he almost hits some sort of strange animal, he ends up at the retreat looking for help. He and Eli are both wary of one another, as both men have secrets they most definitely need to keep. But they also keep ending up in each other’s path, as strange things are happening on the mountain and each man can’t help but wonder if it ties to their own secrets and mysteries. Neither man quite trusts the other, as each are hiding plenty and wary of anyone else. But there is also an attraction between the two, one that they act on despite themselves.

Both Eli and Julien have good reasons to stick close to the investigation into the mysterious happenings. And when someone is murdered, and another body found, it is clear that things are even more serious than they once believed. Both Eli and Julien want answers, and both are finding themselves in danger. Now, they must each take a chance trust one another with their secrets if they have any chance of making it out alive.

Pack of Lies is the first book in Charlie Adhara’s Monster Hunt series, a spin off of the author’s fabulous Big Bad Wolf series. While this book features new MCs in Eli and Julien, this is all part of the same world as the main series. We have met Eli in past books, and we saw Cooper and Oliver investigating another mystery at Maudit Falls in Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. We do get some backstory here on past events and the larger world building, so you could probably jump in here if needed, but I think this one works best after having read the first series (which is fabulous, so check it out).

The title of this book fits the story so well, as both Eli and Julien are full of lies and secrets. For Eli, it is not just keeping hidden the existence of wolves, but also fear about exposing his own past as a thief for a rebel pack. He wants to stay off the official radar as much as possible. He also has something to prove to himself, a determination to show that he can handle the responsibility Cooper and Oliver gave him over the retreat before leaving for their honeymoon. For Julien, he wants to find out what happened to his brother, and he is pretty sure someone in Maudit Falls has answers. But he doesn’t want anyone to know why he is really there, nor know about the mysterious papers that Rocky left behind. So both men are coming into this connection wary of one another, determined to keep their own secrets, but also completely charmed by the other despite themselves.

Eli and Julien start falling for each other, even as they know they shouldn’t. The chemistry between these guys is so great, I could completely feel the pull they have toward one another. There is a bit of a power exchange, with Julien asserting a dominance that drives Eli crazy with lust. Eli could tear Julien apart if he wanted to, so letting go and giving Julien control totally gets him going. Both men are aware the other has secrets, and that becomes a complication at various points throughout the book. Neither man thinks things are going anywhere either, particularly with Julien living on the other side of the country. But they have such an incredible dynamic, I just loved them together and found the way they interact so much fun. This story ends on a soft HFN, with the guys interested in seeing each other again, but not in a relationship or anything serious at this point. Given this is the first in the series, I assume we will see things continue to develop over future books. But I felt like they end up in a good place here that feels realistic for the characters and the situation.

The mystery itself is fun and plays well with both the larger lore we have learned from the main series, and some of the specific events of Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. There is an element of house party mystery here as they all get snowed in at one point, but also some engaging interplay as we meet this cast of characters who are all interconnected and we are learning how they all play into the mystery. I found the investigation interesting, with some really thrilling moments, and it’s nicely twisty. I did find the timeline a little confusing upon reveal, as the things some people knew and actions they took felt a bit off with the sequence of events. But overall, I really enjoyed the mystery and particularly liked how it picked up on some of the existing world building, while still opening up new avenues for Julien and Eli. As with the romance, things aren’t all settled here, and while we get closure in some areas of the mystery, others are still unresolved until future books.

I really loved the original series so I was thrilled to see Adhara had started a spin off. And I am happy to say I enjoyed this one as much as the main series. I am super excited about where things are going here and definitely can highly recommend both series.

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