Paige Tyler has a clear blueprint for each book in her SWAT series of shifter romances. Sexy, alpha men use their animal side to serve the greater good all while yearning for the one woman who can love the man beneath. In Wolf Hunt, book six in the series, all of the ground rules about werewolves, their fated mates and the Dallas pack are well established and have crossed over from being fun, exciting stories into more formulaic tales of wolf meets girl. It’s not enough to move the story out of the mid-grade range.
Officer Remy Boudreaux is back in New Orleans along with a few other members of the Dallas SWAT team to train with the local police on close quarter entry tactics. It’s a specialty of Remy’s and he’s happy to show the NOPD officers many of the skills he’s developed though years in law enforcement. On their first night in the Crescent City, Remy is ready to show off his home town to his pack mates; but after entering a club in the French Quarter he catches a scent that he cannot ignore. Following the scent trail through bars up and down the street Remy catches his quarry in another club and finds the scent belongs to a sexy woman dancing with friends. Remy’s animal side wants this woman immediately but his human side is surprised when she’s revealed to be his former high school friend Triana Bellamy.
Triana is only in New Orleans for a short time to support her best friend after an awful break up before returning to her life in Houston. The night on the town was to keep their minds off of men, yet seeing Remy again after so many years just reminds Triana of all the feelings she used to have for her high school friend. The awkward science nerd, she never thought she’d have a chance with her handsome crush. With her girlfriends happily distracted by Remy’s sexy companions, Triana and Remy have a chance to escape the noise of the club and get caught up a little on old times. They easily fall back into their comfortable relationship; however now there are undercurrents of lust and heat in every word they say to each other. Unwilling to let their reunion end too soon, Triana and Remy walk the French Quarter late into the night and all the way to her mother’s house where the simmering attraction boils over. Only her mother’s interruption keeps them from giving into their physical desires.
Understanding that they are both in New Orleans for a short period of time, Triana and Remy make the most of their time together. Their immediate connection confuses Triana but Remy has an unwelcome suspicion that she could be The One for him; a destined mate for his werewolf side. He has been steering clear of any long-term relationships since his last serious girlfriend and partner was killed in the line of duty during a mission under his command and isn’t ready to open his heart to another woman, even if she’s fated to be his. Triana has problems of her own that she’s hiding; her mother is being harassed by a shady lawyer trying to purchase a wolf’s head necklace that supposedly has voodoo powers. On top of this, the private investigator Triana hired to investigate her father’s murder five years earlier has stumbled on some new clues that tie the crime to one of the biggest drug dealers in the city. Neither Remy nor Triana is ready to share their secrets but when Triana’s life is put in danger, the choice to reveal everything is taken out of their hands.
I was first drawn into the Special Wolf Alpha Team world for the mix of romantic suspense with paranormal elements. Over time, the uniqueness of each storyline has diminished and has become more predictable. It’s possible that even the author herself realizes that many of the previous stories all fall into a pattern because Wolf Hunt finally brings together threads that have been hanging since the first book of the series. The idea of The One was always supposed to be a rare if almost mythical kind of connection for a werewolf, yet over the course of a few years, six Alpha men have met their mates and bonded with them to form an even larger pack. Other werewolves have started to take notice of the strength of the Dallas pack but it’s also attracted the interest of Hunters who track and kill werewolves. The danger to all of the men and women of the Dallas pack has increased and it’s only a matter of time before they will have to protect themselves from the Hunters. Expanding the threat outward creates an interesting undercurrent for future stories but it’s not enough to save Remy and Triana’s story.
Unfortunately, their romance falls 100% into the realm of that old paranormal standby that a fated mate equals love. I appreciate stories where the human emotions are kept away from how the animal inside feels about the relationship. In those cases the wolf, bear, or other animal aspect wants to possess their mate but the human side of the person actually want to get to know them. But Triana and Remy practically fall into bed with each other on the first night they’re reunited and then Remy spends the rest of the book fighting against his feelings for her. It gets unnecessarily messy and painful for Triana because she’s experiencing those same overwhelming emotions but getting nothing from Remy to explain them. He knows what’s going on but won’t tell her out of fear that his love will put her life in danger. Fortunately Triana gets answers about werewolves, The One and her own family’s ties to the paranormal world from a rather unexpected source; however it’s a missed chance for Remy to open himself up to her and bond on a human level.
I’m torn about recommending Wolf Hunt to the uninitiated reader. The backstory of the Dallas SWAT pack, the myth of The One and the eminent threat to the werewolves are all explained well for a new reader but this isn’t the best example of the series as a whole. The lukewarm romance counters the more suspenseful elements of the story, making it an uneven read and for me, a disappointing one.