Dark Instincts by Suzanne Wright

Goodness gracious golly gee, this book definitely starts off with a bang! Nothing like an attempted kidnapping and an overturned car to get your juices flowing.

What’s it About? 

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It happens whenever wolf shifter Roni Axton is near Marcus Fuller: a crackle of sexual awareness that’s intoxicating…and deeply annoying. Marcus is a pack enforcer who oozes power, but Roni is lethal in her own right—nothing like the flirty females who flock around him. Even still, his possessive gaze makes one thing clear. Marcus has singled her out for seduction, and he wants to make her sit up and beg.

No matter how aloof and unfazed Roni acts, Marcus can tell she wants him. When a brutal attack by a jackal pack forces them to work together, it’s the perfect opportunity for Marcus to chip away at her defenses—until he falls into his own trap, completely unprepared for the intensity of their connection. Roni is the only one who’s ever seen past his shifter charm and discovered the man hiding beneath it. And for Marcus, claiming Roni once will mean needing her forever.

First Impressions

I’m now four books into this Phoenix Pack series, and I’m starting to notice that each novel follows a very particular arch from start to finish. At the start we are always presented with some kind of interesting conflict or suspense, and this novel in particular had probably the most dramatic opening scene of any book in the series so far. Roni is trapped in an overturned car, and is desperately struggling to fight off a pack of jackal shifters from kidnapping the child of the alpha and beta of the Phoenix Pack. Nail biting start that draws you in, guaranteed.

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Then things slow down a bit story wise as we have a male and female lead who start to explore their sexual attraction for one another. They are undoubtedly mates, even if they can’t admit it to themselves yet. Fast forward through all the sexy times, and in the last 10% of each novel we always see the resurgence of our main conflict point, which is resolved in a fabulous display of pack strength. Voilà. There you go. Not gonna lie, this was probably the most disappointing book in the series so far for me, as it followed this arch to the letter, with very little deviation. Quite predictable.

Pack Combos and Ignored Villains

This novel has character overload! Not only do we have our two main leads, but we also have the mates from the previous three novels of the series, the blending of both the Phoenix and Mercury packs, human extremists and jackal shifters. It was honestly very difficult to keep them all straight, as well as understand the dynamics between all the pairs. This novel started off so strong, but then unfortunately just tapered off into nothing. Look, I get we have a romance novel here, and we need to focus on the development of Roni and Marcus’ relationship. However, to have such an intense start with a dramatic kidnapping attempt, and then switch to basically no mention of it for a large portion of the book was a total let down.

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Especially considering I was really excited to see that we were dealing with jackals. I was hoping to learn more about a different species within the series, but it’s not really touched upon all that much. As is a theme with most of the books in this series, we never really get to know our villain either. We are just aware that they’re lurking in the background plotting dastardly deeds, but there’s no real character introduction before the villain ultimately reappears for one final battle. Having more than just a surface level look at the enemy could really enhance the sense of struggle throughout the entire series.

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From Bad-ass to Damsel

The biggest disappointment for me in regards to this novel was the ending, and the stagnation of Roni’s womanly independence. Throughout this book, and even in the last book for that matter, Roni is portrayed as the ultimate bad-ass. She is a dominant female who can stand up for herself, sucking on a lollipop the whole time. Roni acknowledges that it’s ok if she’s dominated in the bedroom, but the girl knows how to give as good as she gets. She was actually the one to mark Marcus first, but Roni manages to distinguish very early on in their relationship the difference between possession and control. While she’s fine with Marcus doing the former in bed, she won’t stand if he does the latter in their day to day life.

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Fast forward to the end of the novel, where everything has been building up to one final confrontation between Roni and our jackal leader villain. Warning: spoilers ahead. I’m telling you guys, I was totally pumped for this ultimate showdown. Unleash the girl power Roni, and kick his ass to the curb!! Unfortunately, when push comes to shove we find that she actually can’t do it by herself. Marcus has to come along and rescue her. Now, I totally would have been ok with this if they had done like, a back-to-back teamwork fight off of jackals, but that’s not the case here. Roni is literally lying on the floor dying, and Marcus has to come and finish the job for her. Where she failed in her confrontation with evil, Marcus succeeds and saves the day. While this might be a victory for our Phoenix pack, I was really keeping my fingers crossed that Roni could have been the hero in the end.

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Series: Phoenix Pack, book 4.

Should you read it? I just wasn’t impressed with this one. It felt like the focus wasn’t always on Marcus and Roni, as there were all the other characters from the previous novels making an appearance. In the end though, the disjointed mix of suspense and romantic story lines was the main factor of why this book didn’t do it for me like the others.

Smut Level: We’re dealing with wolf shifters here. Undoubtedly we’ll deal with some animalistic urges and…mounting.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 322 Pages.

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