Wolf Hunter, Ryan Loveless
Publisher: TVB Publishing
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Paranormal – Werewolf, Interracial, Dark Humour, Quirky
Length: 227 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
Purchase At: amazon.com,
Well…isn’t this an interesting book. It is not standard M/M fare. It is offbeat throughout. It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the writing style that Ryan Loveless adopted here. Things that are mentioned in the beginning and the middle all have purpose and tie up in different ways. Even dialogue or thoughts that may have occurred earlier or seemed odd have a response or reason – sometimes much later than when the first question was raised or thought of. I loved the MC’s. It was easy to love 6’6″ Klutzy, innocent, wolf pack outsider Westley. It was also easy to love bigger still Tom, the alpha-in-waiting to the La Mer-sur-Plaines wolf pack. Jaylen, the wolf hunter from the title, was this very interesting character thrown into the mix. I like morally ambiguous characters and Jaylen is definitely morally ambiguous.
Wolf Hunter has three very strong but different MC’s. There is Tom, the alpha’s son and someone who doesn’t want to have to kill his father in order to become the alpha –
“Do you know what it’s like growing up knowing you’re expected to tear out the throat of your own father? He’s my dad! I can’t kill him just because ‘nature dictates'”
The thing is, his father is not going to step down, so it’s what you do. You have to kill your father. If not, another potential alpha will, and there will be no respect. Tom is Westley’s best friend, has been since they can remember, but he has deeper feelings for Westley –
“Me and you. Be mated.”
“You’re my best friend.”
“I don’t see you that way.”
Tom looked down. “Well, do you have someone who you do see that way?”
The answer is no, Westley doesn’t. He parents have tried to mate him before but Westley has refused, much to their chagrin and disappointment. He figures he will stay alone as no one in the wolf pack will have him, they barely tolerate him as it is. In their eyes he is the antithesis of an omega wolf – he is independent, lives on his own, is educated, isn’t mated. People in the pack feel he leads Tom along as Tom ‘jokes’ about them mating. However, whenever Tom is deposited on Westley’s doorstep drunk or hungover the omega is very much alive as he looks after Tom. Because he is Tom’s best friend, and he does great herbal remedies for those who need it, he is still in the pack. And speaking of herbal remedies, Westley has concocted a herbal tea that stops him from shifting at full moons –
The last six months had been amazing. A cup of tea at breakfast and another after dinner, and he could have a normal life.
After one shift there was a boy he was in the fifth grade with on the floor nearby and he thinks he killed him. His father has always claimed he did it but Westley wonders if he might have been the one who killed him and his father is covering up. So he drinks his tea and stops his shifts.
Jaylen is a wolf hunter. He saw his mother, father and brother, ‘Sunny,’ slaughtered by wolves at sixteen and, after the initial breakdown and time spent in an institution, then on the streets, he has spent his life hunting Denton, the extremely nasty ringleader. He also hates weres in general and hunts any and all of them down. He is a big black man who wears cornrows in his hair, and because he spends his life on the road hunting Denton he always wears t-shirts from the last location he visited –
He was a suspicious looking m-f’ker. Of course, take that all away, put him in a suit, and he’d still be a six foot plus black man walking into an almost empty establishment at ass o’clock.
Jaylen has a way of detecting wolves in human form. Something that gives him an edge. He takes a drug that his witchy-friend, Danni, has worked out for him. The thing is, he has hallucinations and sees/hears voices when on the drug and when coming off as well – some of the people he has killed. He has to tie himself to the bed when coming down and every twenty four hours he has to detox off the magical- wolf-detection drug. There is no time in his life for love, there is no time in his life to think about the people/wolves he has killed, and there is no time for attraction, not when he is all about finding and killing Denton. And Denton is in town. But he is at the local La Mer-sur-Plaines library one day when someone knocks a stack of books over and has to be guided to a table which happens to have Jaylen sitting at it. Jaylen finds the clumsy, tall and well-built Westley a rather interesting distraction. However, Jaylen is a man on a mission and he can’t afford, nor does he allow himself, distractions. He is at the library checking out the local map so he can bury two bodies. The two people he killed at the beginning of his visit to La Mer-sur-Plaines – the father and his sixteen year old daughter who ran the Curlicue Café.
But from the moment he sees the cause of the book chaos, Westley gets under Jaylen’s skin. When he thinks of ‘Sunny,’ his dead brother, you can see that his brother’s nature was like his nickname – sunny. Westley is just the same – genuinely sweet and kind…and sunny in disposition.
Pretty soon Jaylen and Westley have sex and no matter how much he wants to disengage from Westley, Jaylen feels something. To make matters worse, Denton is now rallying the town’s wolves to take on the hunter and because he is The Alpha he affects the wolves in town. He also mass texts them a picture of Jaylen stating that he needs to be brought to justice. To him. Not so hard to get wolf shifters to sympathise with another wolf, a very powerful one at that against a wolf hunter. Westley pulls out all stops to get Jaylen to his place after the town meeting, to keep him safe. He has bonded to him and he doesn’t want anyone to die – not the wolves and not Jaylen. The reason Westley is not able to be detected as a wolf by Jaylen is the tea he drinks. But he has to out himself as a wolf and it is one of the most interesting scenes in the book – Westley is sweet and playful as a wolf as well…and likes to play fetch. However, he is not against protecting his mate, something he will have to deal with later. Jaylen is shocked to discover he has been sleeping with the enemy and things take an interesting turn from here as Jaylen promises to kill Westley after Denton is taken care of. Here is where it gets into the realms of dark humour.
So it is an interesting story arc – Westley hates being a wolf shifter. Jaylen hates wolf shifters. Then there is Tom, who wants to be alpha, but not at the expense of killing his father, and who cares deeply for Westley. Westley, who feels that he is fate-mated to Jaylen and Jaylen who would kill Westley if he knew he was a wolf. Jaylen who takes a drug to detect wolves and Westley who takes his medicinal tea to stop being a wolf and Tom who doesn’t want things happening just because ‘nature dictates.’ An interesting triangle if ever there was one.
The wolf shifters in this story do not have human sentient awareness when they are in wolf form. They work at a more primal, animalistic level and they do occasionally kill people or each other if they perceive a threat to someone they have a bond with. However, for one hundred and fifty years the wolves and the humans have co-existed in the local town well. Until Denton brings his own kind of mayhem with him, and he does.
From here I can’t say anymore about the story because to do so would be to ruin the direction the book goes in and there is a twist on the relationship that I found refreshing but not everyone will share my enthusiasm.
You do get alternating POV in the book as well as an omniscient perspective. It was absolutely necessary. Without a POV Jaylen just would have been a cold-hearted murderer and someone without any layers, and he has some real depth. Seeing inside Westley’s mind is also well worth his perspective and the altering narrative.
The ending is not a traditional HEA. But I liked it. I get tired of boy meets boy, boys ride off into the sunset. I like traditional too, but I like variations on a theme. I need to stress that you have to embrace weird and different – I can’t say anymore without giving things away.
Hmm, so who do I recommend this book for? It is simply not going to be for everybody. Not by a long shot. I loved it. But…I would say paranormal lovers who like to read LGBTQ writing, interesting world building, an interracial coupling and some likeable MC’s. But mostly for those readers who also enjoy dry, dark, quirky humour, a non-traditional story, a non-traditional love story (and yet there is still a familiarity) and for those who don’t need to have much sex, and are okay with wolves mating – I’m tabling it as it is necessary to the plot. I really enjoyed the stuffing out of Wolf Hunter. I literally devoured it. 5 stars!
“You know,” Leslie said, pulling up a bench inside his brain and straddling it. “You need to figure out how to type….”