Posted in: AztecLady Reviews
Tags:Cascadia Wolves, Lauren Dane, paranormal romance
Standoff, by Lauren Dane
This is the fifth installment in Ms Dane’s Cascadia Wolves stories, originally published digitally only by Samhain in January 2008. It was also the first story of hers that I read. While I enjoyed this book when I read it first, rereading it this week highlights how far Ms Dane’s writing has come in the intervening four years.
First, a warning: this is an erotic romance, with graphic language and graphic sex throughout. If either offends you (or if you are a minor), you are better off not reading either the review or the novel. Thanks.
Here is the blurb from the print edition:
It’s the law of the Pack—or anarchy.
A Cascadia Wolves Story.
For most of his life, Cade Warden has put the needs of his Pack first, setting aside everything else—even the emptiness he feels from having no mate. But Warren Pellini and his thugs have a biological weapon, threatening everything Cade holds dear.
Into his intensely focused, lonely life walks the woman he’s been waiting for.
Packless for many years, Grace Pellini has edged back into the good graces of her evil brother, walking a dangerous line to gather information to aid the Nationally Allied Packs. Cade is everything she could have hoped for in a man and a mate, even if he can be pushy and over protective.
In the midst of their rising passion and desperate search for the key to disabling the weapon, Pellini rises the stakes by calling an ancient Challenge.
Now it’s Grace’s turn to put her protective instincts aside and stand by, Cade’s life in her hands, as her mate risks everything for his people.
Warning: hot sexin’ of an Alpha-wolf type nature, some violence due to meddling werewolf mafia involvement, bad words that may end up the subject of a letter to the editor.
While I would recommend that a reader new to Ms Dane’s work start with something else (say, the Federation books, which I absolutely adore), that doesn’t mean that this story doesn’t have a charm all its own. At just over 200 pages, this is neither a long nor a complex story. Instead it’s a quick, entertaining read. Despite not having read the previous books, the world building is easy enough to follow.
In Ms Dane’s world, werewolves and humans coexist, peacefully enough. By following certain old traditions, Packs (organized groups of wolves, not only extended families) can interact with each other—politically and in business. Among these traditions is the election of Alpha pairs, the sealing of a mating, declarations of war, truces, and so on, and so forth.
It being an erotic romance, there are many sexy moments—for example, upon meeting, Grace and Cade know that they are each other’s mate (yes, it’s one of those) and right away off they go, to seal the bond by (how did you guess?) getting it on.
Which brings me to one of two main problems I had with the book. First, there are no questions regarding either one’s sexual past—mind you, there is none of “she was a virgin waiting for THE one and only.” Later one we learn that Grace is no wilting flower, even if previous experiences do not compare to the magic that is Cade (which, after all, goes along with the magic that is Grace, because these two are fated to be all each other needs, so…as long as you are able to enjoy fated mate stories, you are okay here). Still, on both readings I wished that at least a line was thrown in there, regarding health, safety, I don’t know. Something.
My second issue is the lack of actual conflict between the main characters. Yes, there are a couple of disagreements and what could have been an actual fight (if not for the sexin’ almost in the middle of it), but whatever tension the reader is supposed to feel comes from the external threat of war and, to this reader at least, it wasn’t enough.
As a minor issue, there are a few instances of telling rather than showing, though I’ll concede that this was probably due to the length of the story. Both Cade and Grace tell us how they feel in different instances, both about each other and about other characters in the novel (most notably, Grace’s feelings about her family—particularly her parents).
Despite these issues, Ms Lauren’s voice and charm come through—I particularly enjoyed the dialogue, as well as the fact that female wolves are in effect as competent in all areas as the males. Two of Cade’s younger sisters are high ranking Enforcers (protectors/security officers) for two different packs, and Grace herself doesn’t take shit from anyone.
Standoff gets a 6.50 out of 10.
This book is available at Amazon.