Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Charlie Adhara - Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Agent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.
With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.
The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.
With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.

Comment: This is the fourth installment in the Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara. I have enjoyed reading the other books and of course I will finish the series.

In this 4th adventure, Cooper and Park are now confident in their feelings for one another and Cooper, almost surprising himself, is actually having some thoughts on being in a steady relationship, although moving into a new house still makes him doubt himself. When it seemed their lives would be quite predictable, a new case comes to their hands and they will pretend to be a couple in trouble at a sort of resort up in the mountains where wolves and humans in relationships deal with their issues. This does feel a little too close to home for Cooper, not that he doubts Park's feelings but things weren't always easy between them. Apart from this, someone is dead and the authorities want to know what's happening up there. Will these two be able to pretend enough to solve the case or will they let their own emotions get in the way?

I liked this book, especially because that now Park and Cooper have gotten to the point where they no longer hide their feelings and communicate a lot more, it does feel their relationship is much stronger than what was suggest before, where so much was just not shared.

I really think the couple's dynamics in this 4th book were done a lot better than before. I can understand the idea is to show how far they've come and how much they are now trusting one another, but it certainly makes for a better read when the relationship feels like it's steadier and stronger for both of them. This case of pretending to be a couple in trouble isn't new in romance but of course there are a few scenes where we can see how this experience affects them and in a way helps them think about their real connection.

Cooper is very practical but in this book his softer side seemed to be more obvious and it affected Park's reactions too, so a win-win for me. My favorite aspect of this books is to see the romance develop and in the first books it seemed we had to imagine or assume too much, because they didn't talk nor discuss personal issues and how odd was that, but here I think the author took things to a very good point.

The plot, I admit, seemed truly secondary for me because my focus was definitely on the couple and how stronger their connection seemed to be. The story is actually quite complex, regarding rebel wolves and a crime and this retreat idea. I mean, some characters were quite shady and I can guess that is on purpose so that we don't immediately see what's going on and what secrets are being hidden. I liked the idea of the retreat but it became very clear that something else was going, considering the personalities of the characters and some comments here and there.

When we discover the truth and why and how the murder Cooper and Park went to investigate happened, that is when we can realize there was a lot more to this than what seemed at first. I think the identity of the villain was a surprise so, in that regard, the author has a clever plot for certain. As for the motif, that was quite a twist and while nothing new, I was surprised nevertheless. I would also say some scenes weren't as well done because when the truth is about to come out and we learn how things came to be, I was thinking "how did they think this" so I wasn't paying enough attention or some steps weren't that smooth.

I think this was a very enjoyable novel. There's a certain resolution to what was going on at the retreat which I kind of liked and I'm glad to see the author is taking that into a spin off of sorts, for there's a new series featuring a secondary character and perhaps the idea we just started to see here will be developed then. I feel curious enough to try that too, in the future.

All in all, it worked out for me and I would say this is probably my favorite book in the series so far.
Grade: 8/10

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