Author: Liv Olteano
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Type: Standalone Novel
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Three days. Three dead bodies. One newly turned, broken-hearted lycan tracker to figure out the connection.
The one summer Rick Barton takes a vacation, all hell breaks loose. Running from an abusive relationship leads him into the arms of hard-nosed lycan Travis Chandler, who gives him little choice but to become a lycan too and join the Paranormal Bureau of Investigation. Out of options, Rick joins the weird organization, expecting some two weeks of training and an adjustment period. Tough luck, he doesn’t get either. On his first day, his new partner offers to promote him to field agent if they get mated—less time wasted on training, more time on the field, and considering Rick is the only tracker the Bureau has on hand when a wave of strange murders hits the community, time is of the essence.
Someone’s killing the leaders of the paranormal world and mutilating the bodies. Investigating and tracking clues is enough of a challenge, and Rick must contend with an impatient Council, Travis’s advances, and actually adjusting to being a lycan. Only one thing is certain: Rick’s new life promises plenty of interesting adventures—as long as he can survive.
Review: Rick Barton is newly single and jobless. His abusive boyfriend, who is also his former boss, is no longer in his life. It’s a positive yet scary change, so Rick treats himself to the first vacation he’s had in years. While lounging around on a beach Rick spots an incredibly sexy man. They have a brief and sexy interlude in the water that ends in a rather painful bite. Later that day Rick becomes sick. Rick manages to end up in the hospital. The sexy biter shows up for a visit. As it turns out the sexy biter is named Travis Chandler, and the bite was a job offer. Unfortunately, it was an offer Rick can’t really refuse. Rick can “heal” himself by becoming a full lycan and coming to work for the Paranormal Bureau of Investigations, or he can remain in limbo, nauseated, in pain, and jobless. Technically, Rick did fill out a job application for something and he doesn’t want to be miserable and jobless, so he chooses the second bite. On top of that non-choice, Rick also learns Travis will be Rick’s Alpha and work partner. And because of his hormones being all out of whack from being recently turned, Rick will experience an intense sexual attraction to Travis. Yay. Good times. Rick is now a detective and is getting a crash course in paranormal politics and behavior from his Dr while still in a hospital bed. Unfortunately, Rick doesn’t have time to lay about. He’s got training to start and a murder to solve. That’s bad enough, but he also really wants to have sex with Travis on top of it. Thanks a lot, hormones.
Travis is Rick’s new partner, but his boss is Herman Weiss, the only legal werewolf pack leader. One of Weiss’ first comments concerns his wife and her ferociousness. Rick has no desire to meet the woman. Wolf. Whatever. Rick doesn’t want to meet her as Weiss is damn terrifying, and Rick doesn’t want to contemplate how scary his wife would have to be to scare Weiss. So, when Rick’s trainer gets killed in an elevator by Weiss’ wife he agrees to mate with Travis so Travis can be his trainer instead of Amanda Weiss. Training consists of going to work and investigating a murder. A dead werewolf woman. Rick and Travis don’t really have a lot of evidence, but what they do learn was the young woman was a potential alpha. After seeing a dead body and interviewing the victim’s mother, Rick gets to see where he’s going to live now. As it turns out, it’s right next door to Travis. Rick and Travis do get some sexy time together, but it’s very evident the men want different things for their relationship. Rick does not want to fall in love again. He’s working on getting over his abusive ex. He doesn’t need another domineering man in his life. Rick and Travis are awoken with news of another murder. It’s similar, but this victim is an older male Vampire head of his household. Rick again has to sniff for clues. When they go to inform the family of their leader’s death Rick is a bit shocked to find none of them seem too sad about it. Rick is able to pick up a scent there. It’s an important clue. Rick and Travis’ case begins to coalesce as their romantic attachment begins to heat up. That’s when there’s a third victim. It’s also when the evidence begins to point in a really ugly direction that puts Rick and Travis between a rock and a hard place.
In terms of concept and commentary this was absolutely one of the best books I’ve read in 2014. I love a good book with Alpha male characters as much as the next person, but sometimes I just have to face the fact that Alpha males can be creepy. Travis staked his claim on Rick and coerced Rick into a relationship, Travis used derogatory nicknames that eventually became a charming inside joke, Travis ordered Rick into sexual acts that were unwanted despite being enjoyable. Travis was a total sleazeball and a classic Alpha male character. The juxtaposition of the storylines of dubious consent or no consent to being turned into a paranormal creature, and Travis forcing a romantic relationship upon Rick was one of the most brilliant comments I’ve read on the Alpha male character. Ever. Rick’s life went from the fire to the frying pan. His ex, Mitch, was physically abusive. Rick didn’t consent to being beaten. But Rick also didn’t really consent to the things Travis did. Not saying no isn’t the same as saying yes. Alpha males take what they want, and at times I find that incredibly sexy. I am very thankful for the reminder that it’s also an example of taking without consent.
In terms of execution I felt this book was not that impressive. I didn’t need to be told about the obvious parallels between Mitch and Travis. The concept an office worker can become a detective with no training because instinct would take over was something I felt was poor world building. I really, really don’t understand how lips can clack. No, I won’t admit to trying to see if it were somehow possible, and I certainly didn’t try it repeatedly. I didn’t see a reason for Travis’ transformation from a sleazy Alpha to a caring and loving romantic partner. Travis always cared about and wanted Rick for himself, but I felt unable to reconcile the differences between the guy at the hospital at the beginning with the guy on his knees at the end. In short, I have really mixed feelings about this book. And now I’m actually going to highly recommend a book I felt was poorly executed. Really.