I’ve never read a sixty-two title series before, and if I’m completely honest, I haven’t done so yet, either.
Let me explain.
The Black Hills Wolves series is a shared world series where various authors visit the same location, share characters, and build an ever-growing tale about a pack of werewolves. From the publisher website: Dawn has come to Los Lobos and a nearly decimated wolf pack has found its feet again. Drew Tao has ousted his father, the Alpha, reclaimed his mate, and is determined to make things better than they ever were before.
Now, if the notion of a sixty-two book series is overwhelming, I want to take a second before I begin to point out I read book forty-seven first.
That would be Craving His Love, by Kayleigh Malcolm.
Stone McKie has come back to the Black Hills, the only place he’s ever felt as home. He never expected to find a mate waiting, or that the creative Omega would be terrified of him.
Josh was raised believing that he wasn’t worth anything other than being a whipping boy for more dominate wolves. The thought of being the mate to a big, burly, tattoo artist is too terrifying to contemplate, but he can’t seem to keep his distance.
When a threat from Josh’s past catches up to him, he has to turn to the one man that scares him for protection. Can Josh get past his fears and accept the love he desperately craves? Will Stone have to leave the one place he’s ever felt at home, to follow his mate?
So, jumping in forty-seven books into a series. Crazy, right?
Here’s the thing: I trust Kayleigh Malcolm to tell a good—and hot—story, so I figured I would have to suss out details on my own and just roll with any punches if I was missing anything from earlier books that was needed to “get” the narrative.
Which, it turns out, was foolish. Malcolm explained the specifics of the Black Hills wolves by showing (not telling), and at no point did I ever feel like I was missing anything.
Which is pretty freaking amazing, no? I remind you, forty-six other stories came before this novella.
This story is self-contained, hot, sweet, sexy, and—an added bonus that I’m really coming to love with Kayleigh Malcolm’s books—characters who are finding their way back to places of joy, trust, or love. The character of Josh is someone discovering his strengths after surviving a nightmare, and his life thus far has convinced him he’s pretty much worthless. The allegory isn’t heavy handed, but the “leave behind the family that dismissed you and find a new family that loves you” is such a quintessential queer journey that I connected with him even as I wanted him to shake him until he realized his worth.
Stone, the big burly tattoo artist who meets Josh and realizes they’re meant to be together, makes a misstep or two, but the chemistry is scorching and the journey is fantastic. More, the inclusion of a “take care of someone more vulnerable” (and no, I don’t mean Josh) as a way for Stone and Josh to bond was a great way to bring them closer together. I really appreciated it wasn’t all about Stone saying “Hey, you’re mine,” to the timid younger man.
The paranormal genre lets writers break a few rules, and one of those rules is the notion of instant-attraction/love that goes deeper than hormones. When part of who you are is a wolf with the ability to recognize your soul-mate at first scent, you get to open up new paths of narratives. How do you reconcile this bestial side with the reality of your very human brains with all their very human foibles, self-doubt, and denial?
Well, if Kayleigh Malcolm is at the helm, you do it with wit, humour, and a great deal of heat.
I’ll be running with these wolves again.