Adopted at an early age by a wealthy family, Jake Davis has always seemed to have an easy life. Even in college he was blessed with good grades and an apparently clear path to a pro football career. Good thing his best friend keeps hanging around to keep his head from getting too swollen.
Zakiya Incekara has always been…odd. Being fluent in six languages and having a flair for international cooking should open the world to him, but those skills leave him isolated.
When Jake sees Zak for the first time, with water beading down his slender form, something inside him shifts, and it hungers for Zak. To have him. To claim him. And Jake knows that whatever it is, it won’t be denied.
When they are approached by a man who claims knowledge of a secret past they share, Jake and Zak are thrust into a world they would never have believed existed. The forests of Alaska might seem an odd place to find your destiny, but these men will meet the challenges head on, as they learn that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to be Protector of the Alpha.
Jake turned from the bar, and Zak watched as the bright smile turn into a sneer. He dropped the tray, the catfish crashing to the floor, before he stalked to where Zak sat. Jake grabbed a man, probably about forty, by his throat and pushed him against the wall.
“You don’t so much as breathe near him,” Jake snarled.
The man looked cool as he smiled and croaked out. “You are everything I had heard you would be, and more, my lord.”
This is the first instalment of a brand new shifter series by Parker Williams, and as a fan of shifter stories I was really looking forward to seeing what he brought to the table. It’s got some familiar tropes (instant mate attraction via delicious scent for example) but it also offers up some that are not so familiar and mixes in some new, so that what we get is a shifter story that is both familiar and that little bit different. I quite liked how he wove active magic in with the mythos of his world.
Featuring young men at university, the main characters are brash, often insecure, filled with bravado and uncertainties, and of course, not immune to being horny. Williams manages to capture the essence of what it is to be a barely minted adult without homogenising any of the group or reverting to stereotypes. Zak in particular was an interesting character, with his upbringing handing him multilingual ability and a broad knowledge of international customs and cookery, but lacking in interpersonal social skills and a penchant for overly correct speech.
The hows and whys of how Zak, Jake, and jake’s best friend Casey came to cross paths and attend the same university turns out to have been years in the making. They discover they are important chess pieces in an epic struggle to reclaim the pack they never knew they had back from a power crazed alpha. And I do mean crazed- this is one seriously twisted power sociopath they find themselves up against. How twisted? Twisted every bit as bad as some of the worst in Game of Thrones.
My only personal niggle was how the final boss fight played out. With the big lead in to the death match, the fight scene itself seemed to be over far too quickly. The ending is in itself satisfying with just enough of a lead in to the next book in the series that I was left hungry for the next volume without feeling left on too huge a cliffhanger without resolution to this volume’s main plot line.