books

Charlie Adhara

Books

Big Bad Wolf: The Wolf at the Door (2018), The Wolf at Bay (2018), Thrown to the Wolves (2019)



Big Bad Wolf


The Wolf at the Door (2018)

Agent Cooper Dayton was transferred from the FBI to the BSI after a werewolf attack. The job of the BSI is to deal with werewolf crime–and keep the existence of werewolves from becoming known to the general public.

The public could never know about werewolves, though. That was one of the few things the BSI and the Trust agreed on. The panic, the prejudice, the senseless violence that would surely come if the truth was revealed.

After a teenage werewolf is shot and killed, the BSI and the Trust (the face of the werewolves) decide something new needs to be tried–that a BSI agent and a Trust agent should work together to search for what appears to be a new serial killer.

So Cooper is sent to Maine with Park, his temporary partner, where they join in the search for a missing man and look into the bodies that have already been discovered.

I especially liked Cooper as a character. He still has health issues from the attack, and those issues persist throughout the book, as he has to watch what and how he eats. He also is out to everyone but his family, which makes his personal life even more complicated, since he can’t tell his dad and brother about the details of his work or his love life.

He’s also very perceptive, and good at his job.

He’d watched her read him the minute he sat down. Out of town, thirtysomething, dissatisfied with his day, a chip on his shoulder and an anxious energy boiling his blood. A man with something to prove and no one to prove it to. An ugly, dangerous look. He didn’t blame her for shifting away from him warily. He didn’t find it an attractive look on men, either.

He also lives in his head just a little too much, which makes him all the more endearing.

“She’s not my type because I’m gay.”

The silence was sharp. Vaguely Cooper was aware his mouth was hanging open. He shut it quickly. Then opened it again to say, “Oh, that’s nice.”

That’s nice? Good job, Dayton. Christ, so much for getting better at picking up on the little clues. Did that mean… Could Park actually have been interested in him back at the metro?

Cooper couldn’t think of what else to say and went with the next thing that popped into his head. “Me, too.”

But what was best was the mystery. I thought I knew pretty quickly who the killer was, but there was a lovely twist at the end that was both unexpected and made everything fall into place.

This is a M/M romance and there is boinking. But it is also a well-written supernatural mystery, that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 8/10

The Wolf at Bay (2018)

After solving the serial killer case four months previous, Cooper and Park have become partners at the BSI–and partners in the other sense as well, but neither of them is capable of talking about how they feel about each other.

“That depends on just because what. Just because you love him?”

Cooper coughed. “Oh, well. Let’s not get crazy. What are my other options?”

She snorted. “Like that, is it? You sound like my second husband, Gary. He couldn’t handle looking like he cared either. A man like that gives daisies. Dead by the end of the work week. Don’t be a daisy man, friend.”

“I thought you said you’ve been married for thirty-two years.” “And I was. Just not to the same man or for consecutive sentences.”

The problem is that although they solved the case, many at the BSI believe Cooper might have gotten away with murder–regardless of the fact that the BSI officially cleared him of wrong-doing.

Either they didn’t believe he hadn’t been involved with his ex-partner’s crimes or they thought he should be punished for not figuring it out sooner. Cooper didn’t blame them. He just wondered if Park felt the same way.

And Cooper blames himself for not realizing what was going on earlier.

Cooper was injured in a werewolf attack, and those injuries remain with him, and I like that the repercussions of that injury have become an integral part of his life.

Ever since then Park had been hyper-vigilant that Cooper was getting enough nutrition. He often cooked him little omelets in the morning before Cooper woke, had started researching supplements and vitamins he thought Cooper should take, and packed snacks for him on cases as if he was a child.

First, that’s adorable. Second, I like that Cooper’s medical issues don’t magically disappear.

In this book, Cooper and Park have solved the case they were working on, and are heading back to DC when Cooper is reminded that he was supposed to go home for his brother’s engagement party–and he hasn’t been home since before he was injured.

This trip home reminds Cooper not just of the problems he has with his family (like the fact he’s never come out to them) but that his mother’s death still looms over the family, even though she died when Cooper was a child.

(W)hite walls kept immaculate except for the small patch of butter yellow in the back room that his mother had painted to test out the color but never had time to finish and Ed had never painted over.

Cooper has a lot of bitterness towards his father.

“What’s wrong with calling?” Park said. “Besides, you’d probably get along better if he knew what you did. Or some version of it, anyway.”

“If he can’t be proud of every part of me, he doesn’t get to know the rest,” Cooper hissed. “I’m not some kind of fucking pick’n’mix bag.”

“They didn’t even know you were in the hospital.” Park’s voice was raised now, his eyes dilating and possibly glowing gold, though through the haze of Cooper’s frustration with his father, everything seemed brighter. “You almost died, Cooper.”

“Yeah, and? You think if he’d seen me tubed up in some hospital that would fix us?

What I particularly liked about this story was that we slowly learn just why Cooper’s family life was so difficult (besides the fact that his dad became a single father of two pre-teen boys) and that what Cooper felt was not necessarily how things were.

I also appreciated that Cooper was full of self-doubt.

“I’m sorry,” Cooper blurted. His heart was beating hard, but fuck it, what were they here for if not this?

Park looked at him. He had that same odd look on his face he’d had when they first got to Jagger Valley that looked so much like nerves, but a little hopeful, too. “For what?”

“Everything. Well, for earlier, and for being, you know, me.” Cooper laughed awkwardly.

“What the hell, Dayton,” Park said, sounding angry. “That’s a horrible thing to say.”

And that Park calls him on it.

The mystery was again quite good, and I actually enjoyed seeing Cooper and Park work out their issues–because they both had issues, and seeing Cooper learn Park’s was revealing about the both of them.

I am enjoying this series.

Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 8/10

Thrown to the Wolves (2019)

Cooper is (again) recuperating, having had his leg badly broken in their last adventure–the one that got Park suspended for a month.

They are still hiding their relationship from the BSI, but neither is sure if that will work once they are both back at work together.

Every official communication was carefully uninterested about the private lives of their agents but reaffirmed their stance that BSI agents engaged in a personal relationship could not be partnered together in the field.

Now they’re headed north for Park’s grandfather’s funeral.

Cooper put the guidebook down and cleared his throat. This was getting ridiculous. “Did you tell them I was coming?”

Park blinked slowly, like he’d been dragged from deep in thought. “Yes, of course,” he said after a long moment. Then, “Don’t be nervous.”

“I’m not,” Cooper said. Well, I wasn’t until you said that.

Unfortunately, it gets worse for Cooper, as they wreck their car before even reaching the house.

Park said. “We need to get you to the hospital.”

“No!” Cooper groaned against his own arm. “No more doctors.”

“You lost consciousness.”

“Didn’t. I was just closing my eyes,” he muttered. Park was silent. “I can sense your disapproval from here. Surely that means I’m not concussed.”

“You’d have to be dead not to.” Park sighed.

Also unfortunately, it seems likely that someone killed Joe Park. And the Park family refuses to allow the authorities to be called in.

On of the aspects of the world building I particularly like about this story is the focus on how the government and policing agencies would deal the supernatural. Because anyone who put more than three seconds of thought into it realized that humans are not going to be happy to discover non-humans, and that government agencies are ill-suited to deal with the strange and unexpected.

Bribes for humans getting too close, land purchases kept undeveloped for runs, bail money for wolves who end up in jails where they can’t shift, et cetera.”

Cooper absorbed that. He hadn’t thought much about what went into keeping werewolves out of the news. Now he couldn’t seem to stop thinking about it.

No wonder the antiquated system of pack control flourished. The wolves had no one to turn to when they were in trouble and couldn’t rely on the police without endangering their secret.

The other interesting thing about this story is what we spend no time in Park’s head, so we know only what he has told Cooper about wolves and about his past. It’s not especially unusual for mysteries, but it is less common in romances, and it works very well for these stories.

If Cooper were an armchair psychologist, he’d guess the early abandonment Park had experienced by his parents paired with Joe’s extremely conditional love had shaped him into someone who’d do anything, be anyone, for love. That sounded romantic. It wasn’t.

I really like this series. I also like that although there could easily be more stories, it will be okay if there are not.

Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 8/10