wolf hunt coverRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Justin Brook is a lawyer with the Coven. His job is to help resolve sticky shifter situations before humans learn about the existence of the paranormal world. Taylor Walsh is a snake shifter and a Coven agent, and he makes Justin’s job harder by always pushing the rules and leaving Justin to clean up the mess. But this latest problem is even bigger than normal. Hunters have been kidnapping shifters and the Coven has been unable to stop them. They need someone on the inside to act as bait so they can track the hunters to their compound and catch them all. And Taylor wants Justin to be that bait.

Well, technically the situation isn’t all Taylor’s doing. The request for Justin to work on the case is actually coming from higher up. Justin has a broken leg and they think that weakness will be a lure for the hunters, and Taylor is to be his handler. Taylor knows that this is an important job and they need something to help break the case, but he isn’t so happy that Justin is involved. Not only does Taylor worry for Justin’s safety, but he also knows that after going through this ordeal, Justin will hate him more than he already does. And given how much Taylor is into Justin, it hurts to know he will likely lose him before things could even begin between them.

Justin isn’t happy about being put in this situation. Either he puts his life on the line and sets himself up for torture and pain at the hands of the hunters until the Coven can rescue him, or he does nothing and knows more innocent shifters will likely be taken. Justin can’t bear to have anyone else hurt, so he agrees to the assignment. Since Justin in not an agent, that means Taylor needs to get him trained up quickly. As the men spend long days together, Justin realizes both that Taylor is into him, but also that he actually likes Taylor in return. In fact, Justin is beginning to think something more could be developing, but Taylor can’t help but worry Justin will hate him when it is all over for being the one who dragged him into this whole thing. But even if Justin’s feelings don’t change, his life will be on the line when the hunters catch him. Now, it will take all of Taylor’s skills and Justin’s newly found knowledge for Justin to make it out of the situation alive.

Wolf Hunt is the sixth book in T.J. Nichols’ Outcast Pack series. The series focuses on a group of wolves who have formed their own pack when they didn’t fit in or were kicked out of their own. The first three books tie together with an overarching series plot, but the remainder are more standalones. This book overlaps the timeline a bit with Wolf Lust and Drew and River’s wedding, and there are some general world building and series elements that carry into this book, but I think it mostly works on it’s own.

I liked the set up here as it takes things in a little bit of a different direction, focusing on a Coven investigation more than the pack specifically (though Justin is a member of the Outcast pack). We get somewhat of an enemies-to-lovers vibe in the sense that Taylor is the source of a lot of irritation to Justin for always getting into messes Justin has to clean up. However, Taylor is secretly harboring an attraction to Justin, so while he is wary about getting called in after getting into trouble, he does quite like Justin. Yet the problem is that this case is dangerous and will likely be traumatic for Justin, so Taylor knows that even if the guys can get along now, Justin will probably want nothing to do with him once it is all over.

Most of the book is focused on Taylor preparing Justin for the impending kidnapping. While Coven agents plan to rescue Justin as soon as possible, there are all kinds of things that can go wrong and Justin needs to be ready. It gives the guys a chance to get to know one another and for Justin to see that Taylor is more than a rule breaker, but a good agent who takes his job seriously. It also gives them a chance to fall for one another as they are working closely every day. This part takes somewhat of a suspension of disbelief, primarily that they would take an untrained Coven lawyer and, within a week or two, have him in the field in an incredibly important and dangerous assignment. Yes, Justin’s leg is broken, making him vulnerable and an easy target for the hunters, but couldn’t any undercover agent fake an injury? They also somehow teach Justin all these new skills in such a short time. But I do think Nichols gets the right tone here, as there is a nice sense of foreboding as we know this kidnapping is coming and Justin is in for a lot of potentially horrible things.

One element that really didn’t work for me here is that there is this kink dynamic woven in that didn’t seem to fit the story or really come together. Justin is into BDSM and belongs to a club. It feels like the story is trying to somehow weave in that kink and the trust inherent in BDSM and make it fit into this relationship dynamic with Taylor. It just feels like this doesn’t really develop into anything — there is no kink on page, there is no real sense of Justin as into the lifestyle other than being told he is — and so it feels somewhat shoehorned into the story.

One of things I like about this larger series world (these books, along with the Familiar Mates series) is the way Nichols includes a variety of shifter types and really connects the traits to the characters. Taylor is a snake shifter and Nichols builds in the details of his animal side into his human one in some fun ways. We also see how various shifters help out on the case, such as bird shifters who track the kidnappers by air and deliver medicine to Justin. So I think the larger world building is well done here.

Overall, I enjoy this world and these two connected series. I like that this story takes a bit of a departure from some of the other storylines with a different focus, but still fits into the series well. I think the guys feel like they fall a little faster than the story really develops and there were places were things didn’t feel fully tight with the storyline, but I do think this was a nice installment in the series.

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