Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Also by this author:
Series: The Olympus Pride #1
Publisher: Independently Published
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Cat shifter Bree Dwyer doesn't fear much. Ironically, what she fears most is the person who was put on the Earth just for her. Your true mate wasn't supposed to be cruel and twisted; wasn't supposed to be someone who’d never love or want to claim you. The rumors that her true mate is dead bring her only relief. Bree's intent on moving forward with her life and building a future with someone else. Sadly, the male she wants most is one she can never have—a hot-as-sin wolverine shifter who happens to be her boss … and the cousin of her predestined mate.
Aleksandr “Alex” Devereaux detests being bullshitted, but he’s been lying to himself for years—pretending he thinks of Bree as extended family; that he doesn't want her so bad he aches with it; that he can't feel himself weakening against her pull. The night they spend together changes everything. He's done fighting himself on what he wants. Someone isn't happy about that. Possibly the same 'someone' who's playing mind games with Bree, trying to scare her. They're succeeding, because too many leads point to the possibility that the culprit could be the one person that she's determined to believe is dead.
When He’s Dark has hit my radar #BecauseOfBookstagram a few times in the last few months (especially because of @pnrbookloverreviews), but it really hit my radar when my favorite paranormal podcast The Fangover did an episode on the book! I held off on listening to it until I read the book, but I downloaded it on KU that day, hoping to get to it soon. And I did!
This one dives right in, introducing us to Pallas cat shifter Bree Dwyer, who is a tough. chick. As an omega, she has the ability to read a person’s ability through touch, one of the Pack’s emotional healers. And as a powerful Omega, she is also capable of hearing people’s thoughts when she tapped into their emotions. Despite her high power level, Bree also has no intention of being the Pack Primary (head of the Omega’s), but the current Primary is bitter at Bree’s power, so there’s tennnssssionnn there! Bree also found her True Mate when she was 11 years old, Paxton. Except Paxton is basically a sociopath… sooooo that didn’t really work out well for her. But she’s wanted Alex, her boss, and a wolverine shifter, for years, and apparently that feeling is reciprocated!
1. Alex and Bree’s relationship
I loved Bree and Alex’s relationship, and I especially loved that they were never the problem in the book, even as they were taking their first steps. They had some really great banter moments, and I just really enjoyed the two of them together. They had a very no-nonsense, sarcastic, and hilarious relationship which is perfect for me :) Especially because both characters were both very confident in themselves, so there were a lot of vulnerabilities, but not insecurities, which was a refreshing change. But an emphasis on the fact that these two were very funny together, I feel like I highlighted a very large portion of their dialogue!
“Do you think you could ever love me more than you do beef jerky?”
He sighed. “And we’re back to asking stupid questions.”
“I just want to know.”
“Look me and jerky… we go way back; we have the kind of history that means there’s no breaking free of it.”
This book has some smexy scenes, but it’s very much not an Erotic Paranormal read, which is apparently abnormal for this author. I definitely felt like Alex and Bree had chemistry and were great together, but I’m not sure that I fully bought the long-lasting-forever-love portion of their romance. It almost felt like they were friends-with-benefits/roommates-with-benefits, so that was a bit conflicting for me. I think this may be tied to one of the reasons I loved it – the romance itself never went through any angst, drama, or pitfalls, and they were solid this whole book. While that was refreshing for me, it also may have led to why I didn’t fully believe that they were for life.
2. World-building + Can it be read as a standalone?
This book was very conflicting for me ? I’m not sure I’ve fully landed on how I feel about this series, but I’m figuring it out as I write it out. But I will say, it very much felt like I was walking into an established world. Which can be nice, because then all the pieces were pulled together for the tapestry of the world. The world itself was not very complex, with no pack politics or any of the like going on, but there was that feeling of “oh I’m supposed to know what this is, what this means, and who these people are” that followed me throughout the book.
The mating system wasn’t very well explained here (although it seems an odd one – you can have a True Mate, or you can “imprint” on someone, which seems to be a point of contention with readers but while I agree that – if you think really hard – it can get messy, I didn’t really mind) and I was very confused on what a Pallas Cat shifter was. Like, okay, it’s a cat, but I don’t feel like I fully grasp that one even to the end of the book. So I definitely want to step back and start with the OG series, so I can get a better grasp on the world and the characters because I did enjoy Suzanne’s writing. So while it can be read as a standalone, I think you’re better off starting with her other two series that this is a spinoff of.
3. I loved how Suzanne handled the shifter elements!
I’ve now looked up pictures of the animals, and Pallas cats are actually SUPER adorable!! And then Alex is a wolverine, and I’m over here picturing Hugh Jackman… but it’s more like a Badger / mini-bear thing? I should have definitely done this earlier, and normally I’m better at looking up the animal pictures while I’m actually reading! That would have probably helped me a lot during my read of this book LOL
I did thoroughly enjoy the variety of shifters this book had (not just having wolves), and the way they were portrayed! Alex and Bree as their animals were my favorite scenes, and I loved it when the humans took on characters/antics of their animal. We got so many non-violent scenes with their animals, which is one of my favorite aspects :)
“It’s true that my cat would like to tear several strips out of his scalp, gag him with them, and then perform a vile and brutal version of testicle removal surgery while he’s alive and unable to scream.”
Shaya smiled at the sole female in her security team. “This is why I love Pallas cats.”
Alex, as a Wolverine, was hilarious because they tend to eat you out of your house, so he’s constantly pulling up with random food that people didn’t know they had in their pantry. There was one scene where Alex woke up and Bree wasn’t in bed, and he found her in cat form on top of the fridge dozing. So cute! These animal scenes were the perfect sweet juxtaposition to their normal antagonistically/loving relationship :) Not to mention the wolverine Russian uncles!! Hilarious ?
4. Romantic Suspense + Pacing
The thing that I didn’t expect going into this book was that if you took the shifters out, it would feel like a regular ole contemporary/romantic suspense. When He’s Dark had a very sedate, steady pacing throughout that did keep me entertained and immersed in the story, but it also did that thing that romantic suspense novels do sometimes where the book just suddenly picks up and tells you everything in the last little bit.
The whole book actually had a very sedate, strolling-along vibe to it, even as danger was occurring, I could just easily picture Bree snoozing on the fridge and Alex whistling by while everything was going on ? It was a very fluffy paranormal read, which was actually very perfect for what I needed in the moment.
5. Final Thoughts…
This was my very first Suzanne Wright book, and it came highly recommended by several people who regularly enjoyed PNR as I do, so I had some expectations. I have to say, for a Kindle Unlimited Paranormal Read, I was pleasantly surprised! (Not to speak ill of KU, I love that subscription, but it’s also a quality risk going into each book.)
So yes, I was pleasantly surprised, and I do plan to start over with the first few books and get into Suzanne Wright the correct way. That said, it wasn’t a genre standout for me, even if the entertaining banter and sarcasm were quite on point. So if there’s more of that in Suzanne’s previous books, I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the hell out of them!
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Do you enjoy urban fantasy reads? Have you read Suzanne Wright’s books? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!