by Charlie Adhara
Series: Big Bad Wolf #2
Also in this series: The Wolf at the Door, Thrown to the Wolves, Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: September 24, 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:
Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.
When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.
The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.
Imagine my surprise when, while rereading the Big Bad Wolf series in preparation for the fourth book, I realized I’d never actually officially reviewed the second one. So, I’ve updated my personal notes from my first read through and added on some additional insights.
Oh, Charlie Adhara, how is this only your second book??? If you may recall, I fangirled endlessly over the first in this series, The Wolf at the Door, and I highly recommend reading it before this book. I was simultaneously excited and worried about this book, as how could it possibly live up to the first? Well, it did, and in some ways even surpassed it.
Our prickly porcupine Cooper is back on the job with Park, though his serial killer ex-partner is still causing problems for him, as no one seems to believe that he wasn’t involved in the werewolf killings. After an op that nearly gets him seriously injured (again), Cooper’s contemplating taking a vacation, from both his job and his undefined possible relationship with Park… and then his dad calls to remind him to come home for his brother’s big engagement party that week. Cooper lost his mom to cancer when he was eleven, and his dad was much more of a tough love kind of person, leading Cooper to repress his grief, and well, basically all of his feelings. Cooper’s so certain of how his family will react that he hides anything “real” in his life from them – they think he works a desk job, as opposed to his job as an BSI agent, and have no idea that he’s gay. His father’s attempts at removing a ghost from the past – his mother’s falling down arbor – result in him digging up a body, and more secrets from the past than could ever have been expected. Cooper is left with the realization that while his family doesn’t know him, he doesn’t really know his family either.
“If he can’t be proud of every part of me, he doesn’t get to know the rest,” Cooper hissed. “I’m not some kind of fucking pick’n’mix bag.”
Cooper is scarred, mentally and physically, and returning to his childhood home causes an unwelcome reevaluation of what he thought he knew about his family. He’s so desperately broken and yet he’s still trying to do the right thing – even if that means doing his own investigating in to who could possibly have killed the man found under the arbor. So there’s plenty more of Cooper’s highly insightful question, and, of course, more Cooper and Park, though of course Cooper’s manages to find some way to screw everything up. He’s not sure if what he and Park have is even a relationship, and he’s afraid to bring the question up for fear of finding out that it means nothing to Park. Their banter is as hilarious as ever, and their chemistry remains off the charts. The mystery is also quite well done, well paced, and well interspersed with scenes that further Cooper’s relationships with his family and Park.
“I don’t need you,” Cooper repeated, whispering into Park’s sweaty hair now. “But I want you. All the time.”
A lot of the family background – and secrets – help finally explain what makes Cooper tick. Sure, he’s a prickly hedgehog, more likely to stick his head in the sand and ignore something than, oh, I don’t know, communicate or express feelings, but he’s got good reasons for being that way. Some of those reasons – and especially some of the things from the previous book – really made me want to hate his dad, but, oof, when him and Cooper finally have it out, I cried like a baby. Like, how is this book so full of feels and yet also so incredibly steamy? Seeing the progress Cooper and Park have made in their relationship is just barely more fulfilling than the resolution of the murder mystery, and that’s saying something.
While more of Cooper’s background is explained, there are even more unresolved questions about Park and his family – and that’s where Thrown to the Wolves, the next book in the series comes in. Seriously, this is one of my favorite series of all time, and overall, I recommend it to pretty much anyone who loves both romances and mysteries.