I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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First off, cover love. I don't pay much attention to covers, usually, but this one was cleverly done, with the O in Poppy being a moon, picking up the wolf shifter theme. Nice.
This novella was adorable. Lex Tompkins, retired cop after having been injured on the job, just wants peace and quiet. He has one neighbor, Spencer Robinson, which would be fine, if there weren't always a ton of people visiting. The author did a great job, with just a few words, of establishing Lex as a grumpy curmudgeon, who just wants to be left alone.
Then a toddler shows up on his deck, and when Lex tries to return him to the neighbor's house, the kid bites him.
I loved how the author described Lex's disbelief when he wakes up and is told that he's now the Alpha wolf of the pack, congrats. The snark in the narrative was right up my alley, and I had giggled a few times before the first chapter was even done.
I also loved how this particular shifter world was being built. While there was a mate attraction, it wasn't turning into a 'no choice' thing. And while there was a true mate bond going on between Lex and Spencer, this book isn't all about their romance, but about Lex figuring out how to suddenly be not only a wolf but also the Alpha of the pack. The author did a great job showing how Lex, while still grumpy and certainly confused as to what the hell just happened, naturally takes charge.
Spencer seemed a great fit for Lex, kind and caring to soften the egdes of the grumbly Alpha, but also with enough backbone to stand up to him when required. I loved that their relationship wasn't insta-love (though insta-attraction worked fine), and that they had to figure things out first (Lex, primarily) before they could get together. The fact that there was only one intimate scene between the two main characters didn't detract at all, but actually enhanced this book's plotline and made a whole lot more sense than jumping into bed at first sight.
The supporting characters were great as well - nicely fleshed out, with idiosyncrasies that gave a realistic feel to the multitude of characters involved. I thought it was very well done how Dan, the pack's Beta, was given some food for thought by his new Alpha, and how the two men forged a strong relationship after a while.
Oh, and puppy piles, OMG. Fabulous explanation for that behavior, and oh so cute.
I loved the supporting characters just as much, and couldn't wait to read the next book, Belligerent Beta, which continues the story more or less seamlessly.
This book is primarily about Dan and Nathan, the Beta and Omega of the pack. Nathan is portrayed as weak and small, fearful and shy in the first book, and while that is an accurate assessment, there seemed to be something missing, some vital information.
Poppy Dennison delivered in this second novella, and skillfully showed that there is more to Nathan than meets the eye. It was a pleasure to see this shy young man flourish under the attention and guidance he received from Lex, the Alpha, but more so from Dan, who, as he is beginning to get Nathan to open up to him, also opens himself to Nathan.
Their relationship was a slow burn, slower even than Lex and Spencer, but it made perfect sense within the world the author created. The mythology chosen for this particular series worked extremely well within those plotlines and made sense to this near-virginal reader as far as shifter books are concerned.
We also receive some answers in this 2nd book as to Nathan's background, which explained quite well how he has fared until joining this pack and how he's still unsure of his place. This young man got to grow into himself, to find his rightful place within the pack, and finally got to feel like he belonged. I smiled widely by the end of the book.
I sure hope that this author has plans to continue on with this series, even if future books might not be strictly M/M, since that would be unlikely, considering the other pack members such as Justin and Ruby. I would however like to see more of these people.
Of course, there were still puppy piles. Love!!
As with the first book, the writing was fabulous. Organic, bantering dialogue, great narration and realistic situations that always considered pack dynamics and the mythology created for this series. Very nicely done. I'm a fan!
** I received both books for free directly from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **