Thursday, February 17, 2022

Charlie Adhara - The Wolf at Bay

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.

Comment: This is the second installment in the Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara. I've read the first book last year and although it wasn't as fantastic as I wanted, I liked it enough to want to keep going.

In this second story, Cooper and Park seem to have adjusted to being partners both at work and as a romantic couple. They are still not talking about everything but they seem to generally be in the same page. Thinking on it, when Cooper's father reminds him again his brothers' Dean engagement party is soon, he decides to accept and since Park is traveling with him, he tells his father his partner is with him. This might feel odd, but Cooper and Park try to be discreet for Cooper isn't out with his family. As they deal with these issues, an apparent simple work in the garden uncovers bones and suddenly all points to Copper's father being the culprit, since the bones belong to a neighbor who had disappeared. But the secrets that come out with the bones are trickier to solve...

This second installment was more appealing to me than the first. It certainly makes me more eager to keep reading the series at least, and I'm glad we did learn a few more things of this world in which werewolves exist.

Cooper and Park are doing some lighter work, compared with the big case they investigated in the first book. Their relationship has progressed a little too and Cooper - whose POV remains the only one we have - seems to be thinking about them a lot, namely how exactly to classify what they have. Since he still has doubts on how to talk to Park about them and about Park's wolf, he struggles with thoughts on whether they might be getting too serious or not serious enough despite how intimate they have been. What this tells me is quite simple: the development is slow but the whole world building and inclusion of the werewolf aspect isn't such a big priority anyway. Despite what we do learn, it's still not enough to make me feel the world is fully structured as it seems to be hinted.

This story is basically set on Cooper's childhood house, we get to understand his more reserved nature a lot and, of course, there's even a mystery for them to investigate as well. Since the major suspect ends up being Cooper's father, they pretty much investigate by talking to people Cooper knows in a non official capacity. Besides the obvious, this also allows the reader to have an idea of what others think of Cooper and it's another tactic for us to know more things about him.

I think the mystery was a bit too easy to be solved once the right clues are put together but I also got the feeling the goal here was to allow us to know Cooper better. Still, some details about what happened in the past, how that is connected with the bones found and even with Cooper and Dean's mother was done well enough for me to appreciate the different ways this is all linked. This situation also worked out to push Cooper and his brother to talk seriously, and the same between Cooper and his father. I think this was a way to add closure to some doubts we might still have on how exactly Cooper interacts with the important family members in his life and at the same time this makes him feel some worries are gone, so his attitude also seems to change a bit for the better when the books ends.

Park remains a more mysterious character, we only know things from his interactions with Cooper and when he talks about him. Some things we can infer, of course, but since so little is told to us regarding the wolf culture/society in this world, there isn't much to guess anyway. In a way, this was a bit frustrating to be honest, because some scenes happen and we don't really have much explanation on some things. In terms of romance, I kind of liked where this went but, again, they don't seem to communicate enough and although the end of the story offered cute and romantic stuff, I feel a lot more might have been done.

The overall effect of what is shared about the main characters is a positive one for me. I liked to see some development but if the goal is to only give small tidbits on each story, I wonder how much more complex this might turn out to be... still, I hope things will be developed a lot more and, seeing the blurb of the next book puts the guys near Park's family, I surely hope we will finally learn the important things about wolves at last.
Grade: 8/10

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