by Charlie Adhara
Series: Big Bad Wolf #1
Also in this series: Thrown to the Wolves, The Wolf at Bay, Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A former FBI agent is partnered with the enemy in this suspenseful male/male shifter romance from debut author Charlie Adhara
Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.
Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.
When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.
This book is approximately 90,000 words
Carina Press acknowledges the editorial services of Mackenzie Walton
THIS BOOK, guys! This is, without a doubt, my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. It’s a wonderful mix of police procedural mixed with paranormal romance, and it sucked me in so much I stayed up reading way, way past my bedtime. In some ways, it reminded me of Eileen Wilks’ World of the Lupi books (one of my all-time favorite series).
In Ms. Adhara’s world, werewolves have come out to the government, but are still a secret to the general public. In its endless quest to control everything – as the government does – the Bureau of Special Investigations was formed, a subset of the FBI to deal with werewolf cases. Their agents are even armed with special werewolf-strength tasers and silver bullets. However, relations between the BSI and the werewolf community, represented by the Trust, are rocky at best, after a teen werewolf was shot by a BSI agent during a burglary. The solution that comes down from on high is for a Trust agent and a BSI agent to team up on what seems to be a werewolf serial killer case in rural Maine.
“’Your head’s so far up your ass you’re choking on your own brain’ was what his dad would say. Not that he’d ever know the specifics, but it held true just the same. Whatever issues Cooper had with getting partnered with a Trust member was getting in the way of being a good agent.”
Cooper is the BSI agent chosen to be on the team. A former FBI agent, he was attacked and practically disemboweled by a werewolf, losing six and a half feet of small intestine and gaining a bunch of scars and intermittent stomach pains. The only way he could get any sort of answers about the attack was to join the BSI. Luckily, he was partnered with an older agent who’s taught him everything he knows about taking down werewolves. At one point, another character calls Cooper a porcupine, and it’s the perfect description of him. He’s prickly, flawed, and operating on a lot of assumptions, but at the end of the day, he joined the FBI to protect the innocent, and he truly believes in his job. His prickliness has many sources. He’s been molded by trauma – both that of his werewolf attack and the death of his mom when he was a child. Also, his whole family is in law enforcement, though he’s the black sheep who’s become a government agent rather than staying with the local police force. He’s honest enough to realize, as the case progresses, that his issues with being partnered up with a werewolf are negatively affecting the way he’s doing his job, so he mans up, apologizes to Park, and does better. I wanted to kiss him at this point, and, frankly, I spent the book alternating between wanting to smack Cooper for being a distrustful bigot and hug him because, gosh darnit, he just means well.
Park is the Trust half of the team, and he’s a bit of a cipher. The book is told from Cooper’s third-person point of view, so everything is filtered through his lens of attraction, prejudice, and distrust. Despite Cooper’s prickliness and downright rudeness, he’s a consummate professional, though he has flashes of wicked humor, and seems to have had some experience with investigations before. Neither has any reason to trust the other – a werewolf investigating another werewolf? a trigger happy BSI agent who’s probably going to shoot the first werewolf he sees and ask questions later? – and watching them find a groove in their partnership was wonderful. It’s not just professional, though – Park and Cooper have an attraction between them from the first time they meet on the subway, but when they realize they’ll be working together, Cooper desperately tries to bury it.
This is, at heart, a thriller, with a paranormal romance subplot. The plot is deliciously twisty, with enough red herrings that I was guessing up until the very end. I was absolutely sucked in, and stayed up reading one night until I literally could not keep my eyes open any longer. The romantic tension is threaded through the rest of the story, especially every time Park and Cooper are on page together, and it works amazing well. Each element is well balanced, and I kept reading because I equally wanted to see Park and Cooper resolve the crime *and* resolve the sexual tension between them. Thrillers can sometimes go overboard on grittiness, but there’s enough humor mixed in to lighten it up.
“There was a difference between not distrusting someone anymore and trusting them to let yourself be totally vulnerable.”
Romance as a genre is sometimes dismissed as fluff, and paranormal romance even more so. The themes in this book, however, reflect current events, from police brutality and profiling (Cooper being advised to just arrest the nearest werewolf to a crime, as if he’s not guilty for that he’s probably guilty of something else) to immigration (a parallel Ms. Adhara specifically references in the book). There’s even a bit about being a gay werewolf, an other among others (though his sexual orientation doesn’t seem to be an issue for the werewolves in this book), and a gay cop.
“’Why wouldn’t I want to work with you?’
‘Why would you?’ Cooper asked bluntly. ‘Since we first met, I’ve done nothing but stick my foot in my mouth and my head up my ass.’
‘Very flexible of you. Good trait in a partner.’”
If you like thrillers and paranormal romances, I simply cannot recommend this book enough! At the end of the book, there are a lot of unresolved questions about Park’s family and how he relates to the Trust, so I was very pleased to see that this is the first in a series with another book planned for September 2018. I cannot wait to see where Ms. Adhara takes Park and Cooper next!