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.

Carnal Secrets by Suzanne Wright

Ok, I have a question for ya. Why is it that male wolf shifters can always smell the arousal of their female mates, whereas the females only get an increased scent of woods and pine for their male counterpart? Doesn’t exactly seem fair, does it? Could also make certain situations hella awkward!!

What’s it About? 

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Half-shifter Shaya Critchley may hold a submissive role in her pack, but she’s done taking orders. After her Alpha wolf mate refused to claim her—but committed to interfering in her life—she took off. Now she hides from him, posing as a human in a town full of anti-shifter extremist groups. She thinks he’ll never find her again, and that suits her just fine. But she’s wrong.

Nick Axton can barely control his feelings for Shaya, but he could never claim her—not if he truly cares for her. The degenerative brain condition he keeps secret would ultimately leave her with a burden rather than a mate. But when Shaya runs away, Nick can’t bear the thought of never seeing her again. After tracking her down, he discovers Shaya’s feisty and passionate side in the process…a side he’d never seen before. Under the menacing gazes of territorial local packs and violent human extremists, Nick vows to finally claim the spirited Shaya…and despite her initial resistance, Shaya just might find his fiery determination to be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

First Impressions

This was definitely an enjoyable continuation of the Phoenix Pack series, as this story takes us away from the other pack members for a large majority of the novel. This allows us to meet some new characters along the way; some are delightfully awesome, others are homicidal psychopaths. It’s all good fun! Another way this novel sets itself apart from the others in the series is that our two lead characters, Nick and Shaya, knew upon first meeting they were mates. No confusion about it! Their mating did create some added complications though. As alpha of his pack, Nick doesn’t want to claim Shaya because she is a submissive wolf, meaning she would constantly be challenged by other females who could push out dominant vibes over her. To escape the pain of being near her mate without being claimed, Shaya runs away. Little did she know Nick would give up being alpha of his pack to come after her. But come on, we all knew he wouldn’t let her get away!

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Wholesome Little Town

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was so distinct from the others in the series so far. Yes, we have two mates struggling to come together, but in this instance we also have the added complication of battling human extremists. Unlike books 1 and 2, which dealt more with feuds between or within packs, this dealt with a battle between species. And I gotta say, humans can kind of be major dicks!

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Within this small town Shaya settled down in there is a group of human extremists who want shifters removed from their society; tagged and registered. If that doesn’t work they’re willing to go to ever greater lengths. In this case, the extremists have even created a game preserve where they take captured shifters to be hunted by other humans. Good God Shaya, could you have picked a shittier town to settle down in?! Seriously, it’s like we’ve wandered onto a filming of the Purge: Shifter edition. Definitely creepy, yet also a clever way to demonstrate a threat which impacts all shifters, not just one particular pack.

That Time of the Month

In addition to hearing more about the interactions and obstacles facing shifters and humans, I also liked that we got to learn some more day-to-day aspects of shifters that are rarely discussed. For example, did you know that female shifters have periods?! Shocker!! To quote this book directly, “the shifter menstrual cycle is a bitch.” I mean, you’ve got both the female and wolf to contend with, throwing around all kinds of hostile attitude. No male shifter wants to be around that much irritability. I don’t know why, but I just loved this little detail. Let’s face it, you don’t usually read much about this monthly occurrence in romance novels! The fact that Nick chooses to stay by Shaya when most other male wolves would run for the woods means I might officially be in love with him.

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Matters of Trust

Although Nick gives up his pack to pursue Shaya, she doesn’t initially welcome him with open arms. Trust is definitely an issue in their relationship. For Shaya, she has difficulty accepting Nick into her life considering he rebuffed her from his so many times. To turn your back on your mate is unheard of, and it’s a lasting pain. An event from Shaya’s past also makes it difficult for her to trust men in general. Her first lover tricked her into thinking they were mates, when all he really wanted was to get into her pants.

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As for Nick, events from his own past impact his relationship with Shaya. When he was young, Nick killed a human, and maimed two others who raped his sister. Because Shaya is half human, he thinks she’ll shy away from him after learning the truth. He simply forgot she is also half shifter, which means her loyalties don’t automatically side with humans.

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Nick also has debilitating headaches, and he refuses to go to a female healer for help. The reason being that this healer also has the hots for Nick, and he doesn’t want her scent on him when he’s around Shaya. If ever there was a need for a wolf shifter version of Craigslist calling all male healers this would be it! Eventually his headaches become so terrible he starts to lose his memory, and he decides he’s going to leave Shaya rather than become her burden. Dude! Tell her what’s up, and go to a healer already! I’m sure she’d be supportive of that decision!! Just take a bath if you need to get the other woman’s scent off ya.

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Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 3. Gotta say, I’m really enjoying this paranormal series!

Should you read it? Overall a good read with an intense ending. I do think there could have been a smoother blend between scenes of threatening human extremists and Nick and Shaya learning to trust each other. It felt kind of stop and go at times. The novel starts with him pursuing her to give him another chance, but as things progress and Nick’s headaches worsen we find that Shaya is the one who has to go after him, and convince him to stay. Nice parallel there!

Smut Level: Nick leaves marks all over Shaya’s body. But they’re the good, paranormal claiming mark kind!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 377 Pages.

 

Wicked Cravings by Suzanne Wright

Another female shifter with inner wolf problems!

What’s it About?

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For years, wolf shifter Jaime Farrow has harbored a not-so-secret crush on gorgeous Dante Garcea. But the time has come for Jaime to face facts: despite her best efforts, Dante just isn’t interested. And that’s probably for the best. The last thing Jaime needs is for anyone—particularly Dante—to find out about her little “problem.” The one that haunts her past and threatens to destroy her and everyone she loves…As the pack Beta, workaholic Dante Garcea doesn’t have time for distractions—especially the kind promised by Jaime Farrow. It’s all he can do to keep her at arm’s length and his desire at bay. Yet when her flirtations abruptly end, Dante becomes suspicious. She’s hiding something, something big, and unless he can convince her to trust him, their entire pack could be in danger. He knows hot-headed Jaime will resist him…but Dante never takes no for an answer.

First Impressions

This sequel in the Phoenix Pack series definitely had a slower start than the first book, and overall wasn’t as intense. That being said, I must say I did like the lead characters much better. They were more likable and less cocky than the alphas of the pack. Jaime has always had a crush on Dante, and has been following him around like a lost puppy for years. One day, she overhears him in a conversation with another pack member, where he mentions he could never have a relationship with someone like Jaime. Feeling slighted, Jaime decides she must finally relent, and avoid interacting with him whenever possible. As could be expected with similar playground antics, Dante finds himself drawn to her even more. Pay attention to meeeeee Jaime!!!

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The Struggle of a Beta

Unbeknownst to Jaime, Dante has actually always had an eye for her as well. He’s found himself drawn to her very presence, but Dante has vowed to never be with someone in his own pack. As beta of the Phoenix Pack, he realizes that if he were to claim a female, his attentions would eventually be split between his mate and pack business. Dante believes that he would inevitably choose his pack over his mate, and he would never want to put any woman through that, least of all Jaime. However, this doesn’t prevent them from entering into a sexual relationship! Instead of “friends with benefits”, it’s more like “pack members without the expectations of mating”.

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Living with a Wolf

I must say, I find the inner wolf identity of these characters to be a rather unique feature of this series. Although their wolf is an essential part of their character, it’s also a distinct and independent feature of their personality at the same time. They even refer to their wolves in the third person as though it’s another character entirely.

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As mentioned earlier, Jaime has some severe wolf problems. She refuses to let her wolf out anymore because of a tragic event from her past. By continually suppressing her wolf, the animal becomes increasingly restless, and tries to overpower Jaime. Because of this, Jaime vows that she doesn’t want to discover who her true mate is, as she could never ask him to put up with her dysfunctional wolf. Unfortunately this just makes her wolf even more restless. Such a vicious circle!!

Series: Phoenix Pack, book 2. The first book had more action, but I still enjoyed this one. Definitely looking forward to more from this series!

Should you read it? Pretty easy to see where the plot was headed with this one. Both Dante and Jaime have put up a wall where they don’t want to find their mate, which makes them blind to what’s right in front of them. Then you’ve got her wolf ultimately coming out to play, and some rather jealous/overbearing female foes to contend with. Still an enjoyable read though!

Smut Level: These two like to push each other, both in and out of the bedroom. They also like to bite and claw each other in the sack!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 395 Pages.

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Feral Sins by Suzanne Wright

A sassy alpha female wolf with lots of spunk? Check. A dirty talking alpha male with possessive tendencies? Check. A final wolf battle between bitter enemies? Check. You’ve got all the makings of a great paranormal romance read with this one!

What’s it About?

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When female wolf shifter Taryn Warner first encounters Trey Coleman, an alpha male wolf shifter with a dangerous reputation, she’s determined to resist his charms. After all, Trey—who was only fourteen when he defeated his own father in a duel, winning the right to be alpha of his pack—can’t have anything to offer the talented healer besides trouble, or so she thinks. Taryn finds herself drawn in by Trey’s forceful demeanor and arctic-blue eyes, and she eventually agrees to enter an uneasy alliance with him. If the two succeed in convincing their respective packs that they’ve chosen each other as mates, Trey will win valuable political allies, while Taryn will escape an odious arranged mating.

But there are a lot of potential pitfalls to this plan—including the very real possibility that the wolf shifters, overwhelmed by their growing attraction to each other, will be unable to maintain the clear heads needed to pull off the deception.

First Impressions

I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romances, especially those involving wolves, but I gotta say even I enjoyed this one. It carries the unique aspect in the fact that Taryn is latent, meaning she is unable to shift into her wolf form. This results in her pack, and even her own father, treating her like crap. When her dad tries to marry her off to a sadistic creep for the benefit of a powerful alliance, Taryn’s decided she’s had enough, and that she must abandon her pack. Enter the sexy alpha, Trey, with an offer to mate to fix both their problems for the time being. Although their mating initially seems convenient, it’s quite difficult for them to accept internally, as both of their true mates died when they were younger.

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Taryn especially doesn’t want to offend the memory of her deceased mate and childhood friend by entering into a false mating with a wolf known to go feral. However, as they spend more time together, especially in the bedroom, they start to realize that they have a deeper connection than either expected. An intriguing start to the novel which culminates in a powerful ending involving an unexpected traitor in Trey’s own pack, and a final battle between wolves. Unfortunately, I will say the middle part of the novel was somewhat disappointing, as the final conflict is barely mentioned at all. Instead, the main focus is Taryn’s integration into Trey’s pack as alpha female.

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Alpha Female Indeed

Hands down I must say my favorite feature of this novel was Taryn. Such a refreshing character with enough sass and sarcasm to hold her own in any situation. The sarcasm in particular was something I thoroughly enjoyed, as it was just the perfect amount to provide some comedic relief in stressful situations, yet not too much where you can feel like the character can’t take anything seriously. Sort of reminded me of myself I guess!

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I also loved how strong Taryn’s character was. True, she initially relies on Trey to help her out of a bind, but after that she can really stand up for herself. From verbal sparring matches with Trey’s grandma, to refusing to act all jealous and intimidated by one of Trey’s former flings. Taryn doesn’t let the negative opinions surrounding her latency bring her down when trying to prove her worth and status in this new pack. Quite admirable!

Sexy Yet Uncomfortable

Another rather interesting feature of this novel revolved around Taryn and Trey’s sexual relationship. No question, off the charts sexy, with plenty of dirty talk to make even the most seasoned romance novel enthusiast blush. However, I must say at times I thought it was kind of…uncomfortable. Taryn is an alpha female, and Trey is an alpha male, meaning that their inner wolves were constantly battling for dominance in the bedroom. As for who came out on top? Well, it was always Trey.

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At one point he tries to explain it away by saying that just because she submits to him it doesn’t mean she has to be submissive. Ok, I kind of get it, but at the same time when their sexual relationship first started there was a lot of Taryn struggling, saying “no” during sex, and fighting against him. Although we are told that technically it’s just her wolf fighting him, it was still kind of disturbing to read at times. I mean, if you were to approach it without the paranormal element involved, you’d be concerned for this woman’s safety. Just goes to show how context can have such an impact on how we view their physical relationship in the beginning!

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Series: The Phoenix Pack, book 1. I’ll be continuing with this series.

Should you read it? I feel like this novel could have been condensed a bit more, specifically in the middle when not much was going on, and there was practically no mention of the upcoming battle with Trey’s uncle. Still a unique and exciting paranormal read with a female lead I really enjoyed.

Smut Level: We’ve got enough dirty talk and explicit sexual detail to fill a whole book. Although, I was slightly confused due to the menage warning on Goodreads, and unless I totally dazed out, or had a different version of the novel, there was no menage. Therefore, I guess I was expecting more! Trey is still downright filthy though, especially when Taryn offers herself over to him to do with as he pleases for his birthday. Quite the present!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Montlake Romance. 428 Pages