Friday, April 22, 2022

Charlie Adhara - Thrown to the Wolves

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.

Comment: This is the third installment in the Big Bad Wolf series by author Charlie Adhara. Despite some less positive elements, I feel invested in the stories, especially the romance between the main couple and want to know what is next for them...

In this story, Cooper and Park, now a well established couple, are on route to visit Park's family and Cooper is both curious, since he knows little about them, and anxious, for they are all werewolves and he doesn't know how they would react. He feels a little lost because there is plenty about werewolves he doesn't know either, but as the problems start coming, he knows he has the mind to analyze and look for clues. While complications seem to amount, Park remains silent and this makes it hard for Cooper to know what he is supposed to do. One things he knows, he's on Park's side and he will do his best to help him and those he is defending...

I believe my small summary above keys on the element I found to be the most annoying one on the whole story, which had already been my biggest criticism of the previous books as well: we don't see/are given enough development on werewolves, on their culture, nor on the "rules". So many things are alluded, so many are left up in the air over conversations, over hints and I do like werewolf stories, so there are things I just think are similar, but... this could be so much better!

I think the overall world building is understandable for the plot but Cooper and the reader are always so blind over what some things mean, why certain behaviors exist... I felt a little irritated, to be honest, despite my enjoyment of the overall book, over the fact we don't have the main couple communicating more. I know the goal is to show case the slow evolution of their relationship and they are both reserved individuals, but....they don't even discuss things between one another? Closer to the end of the novel, they seem to agree on more sharing, but I'm dreading it for the next book...I'm still curious about where this is going though...

Cooper is a fascinating character and a lot of my enjoyment is because of him, although I still think if we had Park's POV all would be different. I know, I know, I only seem to criticize but there is indeed something special about these books which makes me want to keep reading, but that some things might be better done, that I think the author could achieve.

Park is a werewolf and I can see why he feels the need for secrecy..actually, one or two details over this whole subject were quite pertinent, namely the fact revealing the identity of werewolves to the main public might be more complicated and difficult to manage, but it can't be helped I think Park's attitude should be other and not even his past experiences, negative and positive, over his wolf identity are reason enough for his silent position on so many things, mostly how he doesn't speak to Cooper more.

The whole romance aspect should also be more developed by now, I think. I can accept reluctance and wariness but with so much talk of being in love and similar things, the interactions could be more solid now... I still fear any problem might be too much and separate them, even though Cooper seems to have reached that point where he sees beyond the surface and he allows himself time to process stuff instead of rashly react.

The plot of this installment is focused on the arrangements for the funeral of Park's grandfather but mixed up with the family members' personalities and how that affects what behaviors we see, we also have a mystery, over a death and attacks on some werewolves with tranquilizers. The mystery is not very complicated but I think the mix up with all the other things happening, and my overall confusion over what is happening and what is not said, made me too distracted to fully appreciate the mystery aspects. The plot does make sense, no doubt on it, but to be fair, I feel ambivalent towards it.

I think that, were the werewolf culture more obvious, the family bonds of the characters in this book stronger or, at least, friendlier, I'd have appreciated this more. I still liked the overall vibe and the generality of the book, but when I think about the different elements on their own... let's just say that, unlike other werewolf PNR worlds out there, this isn't one where I imagine myself as part of it, everything is so superficial and purposely vague it seems.
Grade: 7/10

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