by Charlie Adhara
Series: Big Bad Wolf #3
Also in this series: The Wolf at the Door, The Wolf at Bay, Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2019
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:
Agent Cooper Dayton is going to meet his boyfriend’s werewolf family. Unarmed. On their turf.
And he’s bringing his cat.
When Agent Cooper Dayton agreed to attend the funeral for Oliver Park’s grandfather, he didn’t know what he was getting into. Turns out, the deceased was the alpha of the most powerful werewolf pack on the eastern seaboard. And his death is highly suspicious. Regardless, Cooper is determined to love and support Park the way Park has been there for him.
But Park left him woefully unprepared for the wolf pack politics and etiquette. Rival packs? A seating order at the dinner table? A mysterious figure named the Shepherd? The worst is that Park didn’t tell his family one key thing about Cooper. Cooper feels two steps behind, and reticent Park is no help.
There are plenty of pack members eager to open up about Park and why Cooper is wrong for him. Their stories make Cooper wonder if he’s holding Park back. But there’s no time to get into it…as lethal tranquilizer darts start to fly, Cooper needs to solve the mystery of the alpha’s death and fight for the man he loves—all before someone else dies.
OK, so you’ve probably heard me squee about this series before. For me, it’s the perfect mix of paranormal romance, mystery, humor and angst. This is the third is the series (and can’t be read as a standalone), and if you’ve been following along, the first book introduced Cooper and Park as a couple, the second book covered Cooper’s family issues, and now this third book FINALLY covers Park and his secrets. And just putting it out there – yes, they get a very satisfactory HEA, but the door is also left open for more books (please please please, yes, please).
“How do I look?” he blurted as they approached the car. He couldn’t help it.
“Like you’ve seen some shit,” Park said.
“Oh, good. I like to stay on brand.”
Between his doubts about the BSI and Park’s sudden distance, Cooper is having a rough time. After the events of the last book, Cooper’s made the decision to be completely open with Park about his past, but Park doesn’t seem to be returning the favor – Cooper still has never seen him shift. But when Park gets the call that his grandfather – and alpha of his family’s pack – has died, Cooper doesn’t hesitate to offer to go with Park – cat in tow. Things, of course, are not quite what they seem on the surface, and it quickly becomes clear that Park’s been keeping a lot of secrets. Stuck in a house full of unfriendly werewolves in a remote Nova Scotian village with a murderer on the loose, will Park’s secrets be enough to tear them apart?
“True, the circumstances weren’t great, what with the forced partnership, Cooper’s recent life-threatening attack and months of Cooper’s ex-mentor and current psychopath feeding him vicious lies about werewolves. But since then Cooper had done a much-needed and thorough self-evaluation to root out any prejudices he hadn’t even known he had. And since Jagger Valley, he’d been trying to be a much more open person. Love and intimacy meant being vulnerable, and Christ, was he in love. So he tried. Every day.”
It is very hard to talk about this book without getting into spoilers, but I will just say that Cooper and Park’s relationship is so, so good. It’s definitely evolved from the previous books, and the way Cooper reacts to Park’s revelations was so perfect for me. Since all the books are solely from Cooper’s first person POV, a lot of Park’s actions – or inactions – are initially incomprehensible and maddening. Cooper, though, has been through a lot of crap – and put Park through a lot of crap – so he’s able to thoughtfully work through and understand Park’s motivations, not just react in a knee-jerk way. What’s most important to him is Park – not Park’s family, or Park’s past, but the Park he’s come to know and love. There are some moments where Cooper doubts their relationship, but it’s always because he’s worried of hurting Park or denying him what he thinks he truly needs. Of course, they do have it out eventually, but it’s in a respectful way, and rather than dwelling on what caused the rift they reaffirm why they’re together.
“What am I supposed to be doing on this hike? Trying to start a…a…”
“Investigation?” Park suggested.
“Threesome?” Cooper finished.
Park choked. “Okay. We’re obviously not a couple that should be trying to finish each other’s sentences.”
The sex scenes are, as before, pretty hot, and involve some light BDSM, and I absolutely love the humor that’s woven throughout the book, even in particularly emotional moments. Besides the excellent romance, there’s also a fun murder mystery aspect to it. The whole book is quite fast paced, with revelations hitting one right after another and plenty of action. While I didn’t manage to read the book in one setting (darn kids and needing to be fed), this is definitely one of those books that’s nearly unputdownable. The only negative, for me, was the sheer number of new characters introduced in a short amount of time (pretty much over the course of a dinner party early on – yes, there is a dinner party at Park’s family’s mansion), and I struggled a bit with keeping all their relationships straight in my head. There is a handy family tree at the start of the book, which was helpful.
Overall, I adored this book and I’m pleased with the end of this arc of Cooper and Park’s life. If this is the last book in the series, I would be completely satisfied, but I’m desperately hoping for more. I haven’t resorted to writing begging emails to the author, yet, but I’m almost there! And, finally, I’m going to end this with my favorite passage from the book:
“Park had changed that. Well, he hadn’t cured Cooper’s anxiety, obviously. But having Park there, living with him even just temporarily, had reminded Cooper what a great apartment it was. The windows let in more light when Park drank his coffee by them in the morning, people-watching. The shower got hotter when Park crowded up against him and blocked shampoo suds from dripping into his eyes. The kitchen smelled better when Park was baking challah bread, even after Cooper found out the secret ingredient was puréed butternut squash and refused to speak to him for the rest of the day.”