lone wolf coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novella


Shifters have recently gone public and, with that, political. Wolf shifters bear the brunt of the public scrutiny. Matt, the pack alpha, thinks it’s time that other shifters are brought up to date, and has reached out to the cat shifters in hopes of arranging an alliance. Karl is in charge of pack security and has to make their land safe not only for Matt’s important mate, but also for the cat shifter queen. If Karl was high strung and paranoid before, it’s even worse now. Especially, when the cat shifter’s brother, Leon, starts poking his nose into things. Leon thinks Karl’s security isn’t good enough and, when two humans are scented on a ridge overlooking the pack house, it seems Leon’s proved right.

Karl has to do something; hunting down the humans and beating answers out of them sounds like just the thing. Leon, however, tags along. It’s ostensibly for his sister’s safety, or maybe for his own amusement, as he can’t seem to say anything that doesn’t set Karl off. And then it starts to rain.

Lone Wolf is a part of Joy Lynn Fielding’s Strength of the Pack series but can, somewhat, be read as a standalone, as it’s focus isn’t on the politics or the overarching story of shifters going public, but instead on Karl and Leon as they chase down humans, save a wolf pup, and find themselves in trouble. I found there’s enough sketched out plot to the sides to keep the story feeling like it belongs to a greater series, without needing to have read the series to enjoy the story.

Karl has served in the Army, in the special forces, and is left with nightmares and a survivor complex. It’s also left him feeling like he has to be in control of everything, none of which is helped by Leon who, in true cat fashion, sticks his nose into everything. Leon, the result of his mother’s infidelity, has always felt like an outsider in his own pride. The only person there for him is his sister, to whom he is endlessly devoted. But Karl is … interesting. He may be as good as Leon is at knowing he’s watched, at tracking and hunting, and it’s a bit of a bone in Leon’s throat because he’s used to being the best, having pushed himself hard to be worthy of being his sister’s bodyguard.

While there’s a tension between the two men, it’s not antagonistic as much as it is annoyance. To meet someone just as good as you are (or almost as good) when you thought you were the best can be either challenging or infuriating. And the two of them both do their best to rile each other up — not to provoke a fight, but to get a sense of who the other man is. Neither Karl nor Leon insult or deride the other. When they realize they can work as a team, they do. And when they realize there’s a chemistry between them, they act on it. And, as a point in their favor, they’re both intelligent, sensible men who actually take the time to think before acting:

“They need to know back at Elk Ridge,” Karl said next. “Your sister. If something’s going on here, then she’ll need to know.”

“Nope.” Leon was beginning perversely to enjoy this. “Nice try, wolf, but appealing to my need to protect my sister ain’t gonna work. You seem to have missed the bit where this pack is scared of the outside world. We blundered in, but they’re not going out looking for trouble.”

The two men are in a tense situation, but neither of them act like fools. They’re both trained fighters, politicians, and sensible men who know better than to act first and think later. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like action scenes and stupid men as much as the next person, but blundering about, fists up and tempers high, would have been out of character for either Leon or Karl. Neither of these men want violence in their life; they just want the people they love to be safe.

This is a novella more than a novel, so the pace was fairly brisk, going from animosity to true love fairly quickly, but it was written well and everything felt well supported by the plot and the world building. Both characters were always themselves, and the final reveal felt earned. All in all, I’ll probably pick up other books by this author, if only to know how the main series went.

Note: This book will be for sale at Amazon at the end of June, but is currently only being offered through the publisher site.