Wolf shifters Tobias and Kyle have barely had a moment to get accustomed to Tobais’ new reality as the Arkhon. Being Alpha for a single pack had been more than enough of a challenge. Now, he is responsible for overseeing all the Alphas and all their wolves for the whole North East region. In truth, Tobias never imagined trying to become Arkhon, despite his leadership skills. But as long as he has Kyle at his side, Tobias hopes he can muddle through. The caveat is that Tobias did not become Arkhon by chance. Someone higher up in the hierarchy of wolves is hoping Tobias will be forced to challenge a wolf too powerful to defeat. That hasn’t changed now that Tobias has assumed a more powerful role. In fact, the stakes have only gotten higher. Not only is Tobias aware that his hand is being forced when it comes to challenging other powerful wolves for dominance, he knows Kyle, as capable and strong as his lover is, is another vulnerability, as Tobias would die if anything happened to Kyle.
There is hope, however. Tobias is almost certain he knows who is responsible for the recent attacks: the Anax, the highest ranked wolf in the country. Tobias is not alone in his suspicions; allies in his region and his old pack also know that something fishy is going on. Plus, Kyle’s own mysterious sixth-sense about wolf business has him and Tobias convinced that the current Anax, in his advanced age, is losing his grip on reality. But there’s no time to form a plan for how to address the situation, because the annual meeting between the Anax, the regional Arkhons, and all pack Alphas is less than 48 hours away. Tobias isn’t sure why the Anax hates him so much, but he and Kyle are determined to end the dangerous wolf’s reign before any more senseless violence happens.
Tempeh for Two is book 5 in Karenna Colcroft’s wolf-shifter series Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat. Told from Tobias’ POV, the story picks up mere months after the events of the fourth book’s end. Now, Tobias and Kyle are just starting to get settled in the Arkhon’s mansion in Pennsylvania, complete with carefully vetted human staff. The move has effectively cut them off from their old support systems in Boston and foisted a lot of responsibility onto their shoulders. Tobias has to control dozens, if not hundreds, of wolves and Kyle has to strike the right balance between support and not meddling. The couple doesn’t get much time to explore their new situation, as the action plot kicks off almost immediately with two back-to-back attacks on Tobias’ home. The fact that an Arkhon’s home got targeted sows seeds of doubt about how competent a leader Tobias is, but before that can turn into anything substantial, the story shifts into the annual Anax/Arkhon/Alpha meeting.
I was so excited to to jump back into this wolf shifter world. I have loved seeing how Tobias and Kyle’s relationship has grown and developed and, from early on in the series, there has been a clear meta-arch that has foreshadowed Tobias becoming Arkhon and challenging the Anax himself. I was especially excited about what the previous book foreshadowed about Kyle, hinting that he would be at the center of some drama. Clearly, Kyle’s trademark “he mysteriously just knows stuff no one else could know” is front and center at key moments. That said, the biggest role Kyle seems to occupy in this story is Achilles’ heel for Tobias. Once our MCs make it out to the Anax’s lands for the big annual meeting, Kyle basically gets house arrested. That, coupled with Tobias being the sole narrator, made me feel like Kyle got pretty clearly relegated to supporting side-character in this story.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, but I must admit that so much of the flow and action felt like a pretty close recasting of the events from book number 4, Try the Tofu. In super simple terms, Tobias is forced to challenge the next-highest ranking wolf in both stories. In Try the Tofu, that was the Arkhon of the North East region. In this book, it’s the Anax of the United States. Unlike the prior book, there was no sympathy here for the wolf Tobias challenges–the old Anax is clearly shown to be a poor, if not outright dangerous, leader. It felt strange that the whole problem with the Anax is chalked up to his age/senility. For as much detail as we get about how rigidly structured and hierarchical wolf society is, it was so strange that the culture would have no mechanism for dealing with this kind of situation. The two major fight scenes also felt like they lacked gravitas, which was a surprising disappointment considering the whole series has basically been leading Tobias to this point.
Fans of this series will surely want to stay up to date on what’s happening with our delightfully real main characters, but the absence of real character/plot development may not go unnoticed. On the other hand, readers who didn’t get enough of the vibes in book 4 or who enjoy “monster of the week” story telling (the monster here being the senile Anax), then you’ll probably be thrilled at the high-stakes game of chance Tobias has to play and win. Note that this is not a standalone, so if this series sounds at all interesting to you (and despite my lukewarm feelings towards this particular installment, I do love the series), please start at book one to get the full experience!
Note: This book was originally published in 2014 under the same title. This edition has been re-edited and updated from the original and has a new ending.