Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

Werewolves are shunned and ostracized, and hybrid wolves suffer the worst. Max Gallagher knows all too well how some people will go to any length to rid the world of hybrid “abominations.” Max might have escaped the clutches of his abductors, but he’s suffering for it, feral and trapped, having lost touch with his human side.

Agent Gabriel Reyes suffered at the hands of a cult as a child, and he’s made a personal vow to find the leader and bring him down. He works for the Lycanthrope Protection Agency (LPA) saving hybrid wolves and helping them find a better life. When he finds a feral red wolf in the park, Gabe’s heart cracks open. The wolf smells like all the good things, and Gabe wants nothing more than to protect him.

It takes time, but Gabe is able to bring Max back to himself. But the demons that chase both men continue to haunt them. The closer they grow, the more connection they feel. For Max, he’s scared to trust, as so many have let him down. But his wolf side feels safe with Gabe. Gabe, on the other hand, all but denies the pull he feels to Max. Because of the path his life is on, Gabe knows better than to open his heart when his journey could end in his death.

But there’s no denying the connection between them. When trouble finds them, Gabe and Max finally take that leap, having seen what they could lose. It’s not enough, though, because the forces that want to devour them won’t stop coming. They might have found love, but their fight is far from over.

This is the first book in the Lycanthrope Protection Agency series by new-to-me author C.J. Ravenna. The premise intrigued me and I dove right in. Though this book wasn’t without it’s problems for me, it was an engaging story that kept me reading.

This is an AU world where werewolves and humans coexist, but it’s not without tension and strife. Humans look down upon werewolves and purebred wolves despise hybrid wolves, those born from a human-wolf pairing or bitten to change. It’s why the LPA exists: to protect the werewolves who need help. Hate crimes are common against wolves. Both the MCs here have suffered abuse and kidnapping, are both a bit broken, and are both trying their best to survive. Gabe is farther removed from his trauma, and though it still haunts him, he’s made great strides. Max is another story, though he’s trying and he’s stronger than anyone knows, even himself. My heart went out to both MCs and I felt for them as they healed.

The story has a good balance between the romance side of things and the action storyline. The two are well intwined and one can’t exist without the other. Max’s experience serves as almost a break in the case, leading Gabe and his fellow agents to the cult they’ve been hunting. But it’s not smooth sailing and roadblocks appear every which way they turn. But while Gabe is trying to take down a cult, he’s also trying to protect Max. They are fated mates, but it takes both men a while not only recognize it, but to accept it. Gabe, in particular, is determined not to bring anyone into his life, but he can’t deny fate. The romance aspect of things was satisfying in the end and the chemistry between the MCs was good.

But I have to admit that the pacing was off for me in this story. This book is long, and I felt it could do with some tightening up. For me, there were unnecessary scenes that just dragged out and prolonged revelations that could have happened much sooner. It felt like it took an unnecessarily long time for Gabe and Max to realize that the connection they felt was because they were fated. While the action scenes were well drawn with heightened tension, they happened again and again with essentially the same result. The climax could have happened sooner and still had the same effect for me. As much as I liked the base of this story, the fact that it felt like certain points were being dragged out instead of resolved brought the overall story down for me.

This book ends on a cliffhanger with a very strong HFN. Gabe and Max are solid in their relationship, but the outside forces have not been thwarted, and the ominous last chapter is a portent of more bad things to come. Despite my issues with the story, I’m invested in these characters and their journey and looking forward to what is to come.

Note: Be sure to check out the content warnings on this book, as there is depiction and discussion of abuse within the pages. While the scenes are short, they are a bit graphic.