Wolf on a Mission
I took a risk selecting Wolf on a Mission. It is book six in the Salvation Pack series and N.J. Walters is a completely new-to-me author. My gamble paid off in this case as I found the book to be a good point of entry for a new reader and I liked the world created for the characters.
Wolf packs are isolationist by nature and protective of their members, yet they can be very cruel to those born slightly different. Elias Gallagher and his brother Everett left their Alaskan family seventeen years earlier when Everett fell in love with a half-breed woman and started a family. The years away from a pack were difficult for the brothers but they had each other to rely on. Everything changed for Elias when Everett and his wife were killed in an accident and he was left to raise his twin nephews. The boys’ hybrid nature would instantly mark them for death if they returned to Alaska, so Elias sells everything to seek out the rumored Salvation Pack in rural North Carolina.
Upon arriving in the small town of Salvation the twins, Reece and Sage, escape from the relative protection of their campsite to explore the woods using their wolf senses (and in the case of Reece his wolf form). They stumble upon a small cabin and meet Sue Walsh and her son Billy. Sue is instantly wary of the wolf traveling with a teenaged boy through her woods as her best friend was attacked one year earlier by an animal they never found. Her son has no fears of the large wolf and makes friends with Sage and his “doggy” Reece.
When Elias discovers his nephews missing, he quickly follows their trail into Sue’s yard and puts her fears at ease about the wolf. He can’t explain the truth since humans don’t know shifters exist but he makes her believe that Reece is completely docile. Over the next few days Elias finds himself being drawn back to Sue’s house, enjoying her company just as much as he appreciates her beauty. Unfortunately Elias is in no position to offer her more than a few nights together since his petition to join the Salvation Pack hinges on his keeping their existence hidden from the humans living in town. All too soon the choice is taken from Elias when local hunters injure Reece in his wolf form and the pack leaders have to decide if the three outsiders are worth the risk of exposure of their way of life.
The groundwork of the Salvation Pack being a refuge for wolves without a pack was laid in earlier books; however Elias’s status as a new wolf looking to join allows a new reader to learn all the group’s politics along with him. We meet the Alpha and the other men and women and see them through Elias’s eyes and only have one or two major scenes through the pack member’s point of view. Those few scenes fill in all the critical information gaps of the previous five books without resorting to pages of explanation. I never felt excluded from the dynamic of the other couples of the pack just because I came in at book six.
Author N.J. Walters handles the idea of fated mates in a gentle way when matching Elias with Sue. Their attraction to each other is instant but it reads like a normal human response like lust, not animal instinct. Elias’s wolf doesn’t instantly trigger into a mating frenzy and he never loses touch with what his priorities should be in coming to Salvation. What he feels instead is an overwhelming need to protect Sue. As a human, Sue wouldn’t have any mating instinct but she knows that the connection she feels with Elias is something special. Her inhibitions give way to passion when he’s around but she always puts the needs of her son first before surrendering to that feeling. The intimate scenes are sexy but not too graphic, showing Elias’s wolfish side in a unique way without resorting to the tropes of the overpowering male and the submissive woman.
I enjoyed Wolf on a Mission and it left me in a comfortable spot to either pick-up the earlier books or continue forward with the series if I choose. Introducing two young members of the pack in Reece and Sage gives Ms. Walters an easy way to expand the series and give her readers the chance to see where older characters end up years later. Very rarely will I recommend a book so far into an established series, but if you’re in the mood for a good shifter romance then this one is worth picking up.