ravens never fall coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Raven shifter Mercer has always wanted to get out of the small town of Willow Lake. It may be meant as a haven for shifters of all kinds, but Mercer has heard enough rumblings from wolves who think they should rein supreme to know things are not as idyllic as his parents would like to believe. But Mercer’s parents aren’t in the best of health and he knows he can’t leave them on their own.

Oak is a new wolf to the Willow Lake Pack and he is still settling in. Oak is happier here than he was in his old pack, but he doesn’t feel fully a part of things yet, especially as one of the pack members is harassing him to be his mate, even though Oak has been clear he is not interested. But the pack alpha and his wife seem to support Oak and his work as an artist, which is reassuring. Oak has also found himself unable to stop thinking about the gorgeous raven shifter in town. Something in Oak is drawing him to Mercer, but he is too unsure of himself to take a chance and ask Mercer out on a date, or even really speak to him.

When Mercer overhears some of the pack members stirring up trouble, he can’t help but be even more concerned about what is going on with the wolves. And when he is then shot by the same group, he knows something is seriously wrong. Fortunately, Oak manages to not only rescue Mercer, but get him help. As the men compare notes, it becomes clear that the former pack alpha’s younger son and his friends are the ones behind the trouble. But getting anyone to believe it isn’t easy, especially as Hayden, the older son, hasn’t yet stepped into his role as the new alpha.

As Mercer and Oak are laying low, they begin to act on the attraction they are feeling toward each other. There is such a strong connection and the men are realizing that they are the perfect fit. But with the wolf pack falling apart, it is an uncertain time. And with one of the wolves still insisting Oak belongs to him, things are even more dangerous. But Mercer and Oak have found true happiness together, and they will fight with all they have to keep it.

Ravens Never Fall is a prequel story set in Lori Ames Willow Lake Supernaturals series. The story takes place 12 years before the events of the main series and is available exclusively as a free download for Ames’ newsletter subscribers. (You can subscribe to Ames newsletter for a free copy on her website here.) I was first introduced to this series with book one, Hellhounds Never Lie, and I absolutely loved it. In that story, we learn that years earlier there was a rift in the wolf pack and some of the group splintered off to make their own pack and they serve as the antagonists in that book. So this story takes us back in time to show us how that split happened and to highlight Oak and Mercer’s romance at the same time. I read these out of order, starting with book one and then going back to the prequel, and I think it worked fine. (In fact, Ames notes in the back matter that she wrote the main series first, then the prequel.) This story serves to connect some dots and share the origin of present-day events. But if I was just jumping into the series, I probably would start here and read chronologically.

Both these stories have a nice, sweet comfort to the romance, though there is definitely heat as well. Oak is a gentle giant, always aware of his size and how it can intimidate people. He is a little unsure about his place in the pack and too nervous to approach Mercer. But when Mercer is in trouble, Oak is ready to step up (and when Mercer is really in trouble, everyone better watch out for Oak). Mercer is a raven shifter and loves shiny, flashy things. He may be smaller, but he is strong willed and confident. He and Oak make such a fun couple and if you like big softies paired with smaller mates, I think this one will really appeal. Their romance is a little mushy in all the best ways and I really enjoyed them together.

The conflict focuses on the alpha’s younger son, Robbie, and his hatred of shifters other than wolves. He has been stirring up trouble for a while and now he is taking action. We know from the first novel that Robbie ends up leading a group of wolves who splinter off from the main pack, so this is less about what is going to happen than how it comes about. There is also a secondary plot about one of Robbie’s friends, Holt, who is determined to have Oak as a mate, even if he needs to do it by force. Oak is a big guy, but it has been ingrained in him not to use his size against others, and so Holt is able to push him around and threaten him (including veiled threats of rape). So despite series readers knowing the outcome of the major events here already, Ames manages to build some suspense and intensity into the story well.

The second novel in the main series is coming out next week, so I wanted to jump back to read the prequel here. If you are intrigued by this story, I definitely encourage you to also check out Hellhounds Never Lie. I really am enjoying this series and meeting the characters from Willow Lake. I am looking forward to book two and continuing on with this series.

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