The Last Wolf
Maria Vale’s The Last Wolf is not at all what I expected. I thought I’d get a fast-paced, spicy shifter romance, much like others I’ve loved. This book, this heroine was unexpected.
In all the right ways.
Shifters and werewolves are different in this world. A werewolf must turn into a wolf during the full moon. Shifters can turn into a wolf but aren’t bound to the form three days a month and are therefore freer to participate in the human world – at least on the fringes. This difference has led to the evolution of two different societies and never the twain shall meet.
Instead of free-wheeling, passion driven shifters, Vale’s werewolves, hidden away on a massive tract of undeveloped land, are rule-driven and orderly. They might live in the woods but they have an elaborate and ritualistic society that is designed to protect the pact first, the individual second. The details of what it means to be a wolf, to hunt and kill, to have to fight for your place in society aren’t prettied up here. They are real and visceral and a bit frightening.
The story is told in the first-person from the heroine’s point of view. Only in this book it’s she who is the pack member, the insider – and the hero who is the fish out of water. Silver has been so sheltered by the pack that she has never even left their land, not even to go into the nearest town. Silver is a runt, one whom some think should have been left to die because she is crippled. She is able bodied as a human but in wolf form one of her hind legs is useless, making her slower and weaker than the other wolves. She is unflinching in her self-assessment yet never descends into self-pity. Her disability is something that has bad consequences for her but she just accepts it all and moves on.
Silver loves the land, she loves her pack and she loves her life, even if she knows that the best she can look forward to is a place at the bottom of the pecking order paired with a werewolf who sneaks off to human bars to get drunk and doesn’t really like her much at all.
That might not be a great future but when the wolf she was supposed to be paired with is run off from the pack for being the useless drunk he is, Silver finds herself facing a life alone.
And then a wounded Tiberius stumbles onto the pack’s land.
He’s a shifter and would be banished or killed outright for the threat his kind poses to the werewolves until Silver steps in to claim him.
This doesn’t mean he’s in, only that he and Silver have three months to convince the pack to let them stay.
The romance in this book is such a slow burn I was expecting it to turn into an urban fantasy, with the love story developing over several books but this is indeed a standalone romance with a satisfying HEA.
At first Silver and Ti are so focused on trying to understand each other, it doesn’t seem as if they are getting any closer. They are both shocked and confused at how the other half lives. Ti can’t believe Silver has never been to a mall, let alone college., whileSilver is horrified that Tiberius sleeps wrapped up in sheets indoors every night. I loved this part of the book. The slow and subtle shift from bemused to curious to fascinated is well done and it just made that first kiss all the hotter.
And here’s where the pacing picks up. As Silver and Ti fall more and more in love, the faster the pacing of both the romance itself and the secondary story line of the pack; and I was turning the pages as fast as I could to see what would happen next.
Silver is viewed as weak by her pack but she proves her strength of will. She sees what she wants and fights for it so hard, even if she doesn’t expect to win. She fights to protect her pack, she fights to make a place for herself and Tiberius within the pack and she fights for her own well-deserved happy ending.
~ Julia Broadbooks