COWBOY WOLF TROUBLE (Seven Range Shifters, Book 1) by Kait Ballenger
Publication Date: January 01, 2019
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Seven shifter clans call the Montana mountains home.
But a new evil will stop at nothing to tear their world apart.
For centuries, the shifters that roam Big Sky country have honored a pact to keep the peace. Even bad-boy rancher Wes Calhoun, former leader of a renegade pack, has given up his violent ways and sworn loyalty to the Grey Wolves. But his dark past keeps catching up with him…
Human rancher Naomi Evans cares only about saving the ranch that was her father’s legacy. Until a clash with Wes opens up a whole new world—a supernatural world on the verge of war—and Naomi, her ranch, and the sexy cowboy wolf stealing her heart are smack dab in the middle of it.
I enjoyed the start to this new shifter series. There was plenty of action, suspense and sexy romance to keep me turning the pages. Wes was the quintessential bad-boy looking for redemption, and Naomi was the strong capable woman putting up with all that came with him. There were a few times when the shifter’s actions/reactions were not consistent with being apex predators, and one or two “too stupid to live” moments for Naomi…but I still enjoyed the story and look forward to the next installment.
*Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Naomi came to on a jolt of energy and fear. Dreaming. She had been dreaming. Closing her eyes again, she slowed her breathing. A gentle sway moved beneath her as she lay on her stomach, her spine curved in an upside-down U. Where the hell was she? Her head throbbed and her thoughts somehow felt fuzzy. Was she on a horse? The oily scent of coat polish permeated her nose, and from the gentle sway it certainly felt like it. But she didn’t trust her disoriented head. Hadn’t she been at home just moments ago? As she attempted to push herself up, a soft tug pulled at her wrists. She shifted until her wrists were in front of her face. Loosely tied rope wrapped around her wrists. Panic flooded her. She scrambled in an attempt to sit up. Immediately, she slipped from where she’d been perched and her back hit the cold mountain ground with a hard thud.
A nearby male voice cursed.
The moon above bathed the normally pitch-black forest in pale moonlight. A horse’s hooves leading up into thick muscled legs stood less than a foot away from her; its coat was as dark as the night sky. Equus ferus caballus. A black American mustang, a typically free-roaming species. She scrambled to sitting despite the ache in her shoulders from the fall. It took her all of two seconds to ascertain she’d been riding passed out on the back of the horse. And this horse was decidedly not free-roaming.
She didn’t think. Jumping to her feet, Naomi darted into the trees. She had to escape. Had to get back to her ranch. Her feet flew over the hard mountain terrain as she ran downhill. Ten yards in a rock caught the toe of her boot and she toppled into the dried autumn leaves. She started to scramble to her feet again.
And that’s when she saw him, looming in front of her. Her captor.
He sat on the back of the dark horse, hands clutched in the beast’s mane, those same yellow wolf eyes narrowed in her direction. Thankfully, he was clothed now.
He rode before her as a man. But his eyes told the true story.
“Werewolf,” the word fell from her lips.
“Glad we’ve gotten that out of the way,” he said.
She jumped at the deep rumble of his voice. His voice was human, but those dangerous yellow eyes…
He dismounted the horse, and her eyes widened as she took in the full sight of him. Mangy blond hair brushed beneath his chin, wild and unkempt. He stood unnaturally still, wolf eyes ablaze through the darkness. Harsh, brutal features comprised his face. Jagged cheekbones, a bladed nose, an angry slash of a mouth, and a strong jaw lined with a thin layer of coarse blond stubble clenched tight. He watched her with relentless intent. Violent battle scars marred the skin of his chest, highlighting the bloody wound at his shoulder from where her shot grazed him, and the deep slashes of the now removed wolf trap in his forearm only served to make him appear all the deadlier.
Wild, fierce, virile.
In her work as a biologist, she had developed a brief, flirting fascination with large apex predators. After she’d finished her degree, she’d accepted a brief summer internship at a large cat rescue in northern Florida, where she’d worked with the rehabilitated predators up close. She’d been captivated with the languid way they moved, their ability to become so still in anticipation before they struck or lunged at lesser prey, a trait common among predators across varying species. Being so close to such strength and power had filled her with both excitement and fear. She remembered once observing a cougar crouch in anticipation of a live rabbit that had been released into its cage. The intense, deadly look in its eyes had both thrilled her and terrified her. Making her want to draw closer while also being thankful a cage had stood between them.
She had no such protection now.
It was the cold, ferocious intent in his golden wolf eyes that paralyzed her, that held her captive. Even in this form, he was lethal, standing well-over six feet, his body unforgiving muscle and sinew that moved with predatory fluidness.
Few would have called him handsome. Terrifying seemed more accurate, yet she couldn’t pull her gaze away. She didn’t want to.
He wore nothing but a pair of loose jeans covered with riding chaps. The combination hung low enough on his hips to serve as a reminder there was nothing underneath. Her eyes followed the trail of blond hair on his muscled abdomen. The material covering him seemed so precariously perched there, that it sent a wave of embarrassed heat straight to her cheeks.
Slowly, she shifted her legs underneath herself until she crouched over the tree roots. Though she naturally loved the outdoors, having grown up on a ranch, she’d never been a very fast runner. But she had to fight, had to try. She knew these mountains. She could find her way to her ranch, even in the dark. Right? He took one step toward her, and even that small movement was predatory, not fully human.
And she was his prey.
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ROMANCE AUTHOR, WORLD TRAVELER, ENGLISH PROFESSOR, AND FORMER PROFESSIONAL
BELLYDANCER, Kait Ballenger hated reading when she was a child, because she was horrible at it. Then by chance she picked up the Harry Potter series at the age of eight, fell in love with reading, and never looked back. When she realized she could tell her own stories, the deal was sealed. After stints working as a real vampire (aka a phlebotomist), a bingo caller, and a professional bellydancer, Kait finally decided that her eight-year-old self knew best: Kait’s meant to be a writer…though the jury is still out on being the next J.K Rowling.
When Kait’s not preoccupied with writing captivating paranormal romance, page-turning suspense or love scenes that make even seasoned romance readers blush, she can usually be found spending time with her family or with her nose buried in a good book. She lives in Florida with her husband and two young sons.
And yes, she can still bellydance with the best of them…