Strength of the Wolf (Tameness of the Wolf #2), Kendall McKenna
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: Gay Erotic Romance
Tags: Paranormal – Wolf Shifters, Military
Length: 365 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
“Christ! What you do to me,” Jeremy whispered. He ran one hand gently over Tim’s shorn hair. “No idea what I did right, just hope I keep doing it.”
That right there. That’s what kept Tim coming back…
Tim kissed him. He pushed his tongue deep into Jeremy’s mouth and tried to tell him. without words, that who he was at the core was what won Tim over.
In the second book in The Tameness of the Wolf series, Tim Madison, a secondary character from Strength of the Pack, is front and centre. He is three days out from coming back home from Afghanistan to America, and the book opens with much action. When he arrives back, Tim is working with Lucas and Noah, the MC’s of book #1. All three have promotions and Captain Madison is now Major Madison. He is in charge of putting together documentation, manuals and implementation of how best to use shifters in the Marine Corps. There are many who have incorrect or out dated, pre-conceived ideas on how to use the wolves in the armed services, much to the wolves detriment. There is also much to learn in the way they place an Alpha in charge, not cronyism or military rank, but using a true Alpha. So they work from Camp Pendleton in California on relevant changes.
Tim, Lucas, Noah, and several others, are leaving a bar one night after a couple of drinks when they are confronted by an angry young shifter who doesn’t have the skillset to handle himself properly. He tries to confront/challenge Noah, which is never going to fly as Noah is the Alpha of the US Armed Forces pack. Noah knows how to handle a conflict and a shifter or two –
It was a real shame that pretty face was going to end up bloody and bruised.
But what it’s really all about is that Jeremy is unsure, coming into his abilities and malleable. After the initial confrontation settles, and because Noah knows this a a Transitioning Alpha left without guidance, not some miscreant, Noah decides that he will give Jeremy some training. Also, from the beginning, you just know Jeremy feels a bond to Tim, and soon enough Tim is involved. He is the intimate touch that is necessary for Jeremy’s transition, which is no hardship as Tim is definitely attracted. It is a duel attraction at first site, which is written subtly, and the mate bond grows, in spite of Tim feeling that he is too old at thirty five to Jeremy’s twenty five. Jeremy is late to transition, so at twenty five he initially seems a bit younger, but that disappears quickly. I did not agree with him being called a brat. The fact that Tim adopts it as an endearment made it okay for me. I thought Jeremy was lost, sensual, and wore his heart on his sleeve for one man only. Tim. I absolutely fell in love with Jeremy, so he really helped make this book for me. He was teamed perfectly with Tim. Tim is a man of great discipline and very loyal. He also cares a lot for the wolves in the Marines and is an advocate of the highest order – he has the job of making their lot better in the armed services, so he was perfect for Jeremy. Jeremy, being a cast off lone wolf, is in need of emotional bolstering from someone who would tell him to stand straight, look people in the eye, and behave in a manner befitting an Alpha.
Jeremy Wagner is actually an architectural intern who, as a wolf, has been cast adrift from his pack – San Diego North East – by the current aging Alpha, Richard Gleason. Richard is the corrupt, power hungry, empire building kind who sees the threat to his cushy leadership, and he cuts Jeremy loose. Now Jeremy has been left unchecked to transition and to run alone at full-moon shifts locally, but that is a problem in itself as other packs are very territorial. Soon Tim has located a place where Jeremy can run safer at full-moon with him as Sentinel.
So, Strength of the Wolf looks at Tim’s role in the Marines implementing change – including short deployments to see how things are working out with new procedures, and to learn what he can from FOB’s in war zones. Which means that there is definitely some military action. But the majority of the book is the building relationship between Tim and Jeremy and the assistance received from Noah and Lucas. For those who love Noah and Lucas they are in this book a fair bit, but it does not in any way detract from the relationship of the MC’s here. It compliments it. There are side stories about Tim and his brother Adam, who has been driving supply trucks in Iraq, and emotional issues to do with the death of another of their brothers. Some other lone wolves. Several Marine wolves, two of whom will feature in the next book in the series, and a Marine wolf memorial being commissioned. Not to mention the threat of someone wishing to use Lucas and Noah’s bond – and status – as a weapon, and for power building. There is certainly the groundwork for more books with a few story lines that can be followed, not to mention ample characters.
The world building surpassed book one. Kendall McKenna really put some amazing touches to this book. The Strength of the Pack built a seriously interesting and unique shifter world but it was elaborated on further here. The fact that the wolves have been used since Vietnam, but they still weren’t using the shifters with care in battle. Talking about the oral history of the shifters. There was a touch of the mythical and the historical – Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and Thebes included – and the tying in of these and, once again, other well known characters in time in a military/civilian setting was well done; Tim is military and Jeremy civilian after all. I loved the Alpha Transition of Jeremy from near the beginning to the conclusion of that transition and the outcome. We get to see Noah as a fully transitioned and powerful Alpha in book #1, albeit finding his Dominant. Here, though, within the construct of this setting, we get to see how touch, emotion, sex, having people around the shifter, the emotional bond worked further in another place. The other lone wolves, the traditions. Also the law, both at a military level – shaming, and civilian – Dimacatio and how it played out. I loved how Tim took the Sentinel role in a civilian setting and looked out for Jeremy at full-moon runs. Yes, sex was used as a means of calming Jeremy during his highly hormonal transition, which meant there was a fair bit of it in this book, but it fit beautifully as each time there was more of an emotional connection between Tim and Jeremy. They had wonderful chemistry,and I will say that the sex was off the fuck-me-I-need-a-cigarette…or-ten Richter Scale of sex chart, and I loved every minute of it. Their bedroom banter was smutty, the biting, all kinds of yum, their desire, palpable –
Tim pulled Jeremy downward, thrusting his hips up and burying his cock deep inside Jeremy’s ass.
Jeremy’s cry was nearly a sob. He folded over Tim’s body shuddering violently.
“Fuck yeah,” Tim growled, smiling in triumph. “Fuck yourself on my cock, baby. Ride me hard. Use my dick to make yourself feel good.
Jeremy’s thighs trembled as he rose up and sank down. Tim’s hard-on was buried in Jeremy’s heat. The sound of sweaty skin mingled with their heavy breathing and filled the room…
“Oh fuck,” Jeremy whispered as he fucked himself hard on Tim’s cock. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, oh yeah.”
Tim’s voice was broken,. “Shit, Christ, you feel good. Use my cock, baby. Fuck yourself on me.”
But they had things in common outside of the bedroom – their new roles of authority, physicality, pride in their work, family, the way they played when Jeremy was a wolf was also just…nice. The way Jeremy was unsure how Tim would feel about him when he was a wolf. The way Tim was so free with his admiration –
Taking a step toward Jeremy, he said, “You’re fucking gorgeous as a wolf.”
Two things I will say niggled – 1) It did not wrap up the story arc about Tim and his brother Adam to my satisfaction. I wanted something tangible – but maybe Adam has a role to play in another book. 2) I liked the wolves story more stateside with Jeremy and Tim learning to fit together more than I did in the overseas deployments this time, not that they are long deployments. I think I just loved seeing Tim come to the realisation that he was in love and that Jeremy loved him. That he was Jeremy’s mate and that he could be marked and let himself be the one for his own Alpha. That he could block emotions when he was deployed, and he didn’t want to worry Jeremy, or that when he needed it, Jeremy would send him calming thoughts. When Jeremy needed him at times of great hormonal highs, or after a run, Tim was there.
I really liked this second instalment in the Tameness of the Wolf series. Maybe I’m going against trend but – hush my mouth! – I liked Tim Madison and Jeremy Wagner more than Lucas and Noah. The passion leapt out at me and I felt every minute of it. I loved the extra world building…I do love that in paranormal reads.
Highly recommended for lovers of M/M with a military theme, paranormal, particularly shifters, erotic writing and unique and interesting world building.