Paranormal stories have to walk a fine line between fantasy and believability. Readers enjoy the fantasy of supernatural creatures existing but need certain rules to believe they could be real in our mundane world. In Wolf Trouble, author Paige Tyler strikes a good balance between these two requirements while folding in a healthy dash of action and heat.
The Dallas PD SWAT team is at the top of their game; a tight unit trained to handle even the worst of circumstances to keep the public safe. It helps that this handpicked team is comprised exclusively of werewolves, with superior reflexes and senses as compared to the average human officer. Corporal Xander Riggs has been part of the SWAT team for six years and has been instrumental in training each new hire to fit into the team, or Pack. His pack Alpha has sought out the best and the brightest werewolves from around the country to add to their strength and Xavier is content with the tactical squad he leads.
Gaining national attention from the recent bust of a major criminal also gets the SWAT team noticed by local civil rights groups pushing for more women on the police force. When city politics forces Xander’s Sergeant to comply with the push to integrate a woman into an all-male team he is concerned about the distraction she may cause. The recent addition into their fold of a human woman, the fiancé to their leader Gage Dixon, has already caused a stir within the pack and a renewed belief in the idea of The One. This myth of a perfect mate for each werewolf is something Xavier just can’t get behind. He’s also never met a female werewolf before and isn’t sure what her abilities will add to their team dynamic.
Joining the Dallas SWAT was never going to be easy for Khaki Blake, but she’s left an even tougher situation behind her at her last precinct. Blacklisted by her fellow cops, Khaki was left alone in a life threatening situation that changed her from a mild mannered human and into something different. Approached by Sergeant Dixon with the opportunity to transfer away from her ex-boyfriend and the problems he’s caused her, Khaki jumps at the opportunity. From Dixon she learns that all of the new abilities she’s manifested since her incident are actually proof that she’s a female werewolf and a perfect addition to his Pack.
Khaki and Xander’s first meeting doesn’t go very well when she overhears him objecting to Gage’s plan to place her on his squad. Fearing another situation of being rejected by her fellow officers Khaki puts her all into training and pushes herself to prove she’s as tough as any Alpha wolf in the Pack. What she doesn’t know is Xander’s protest has nothing to do with her skills and everything to do with the fierce attraction he has for her almost instantly. For Khaki, whenever she and Xander are in the same room there is an incredible pull between them that she can’t explain. When their squad is assigned to an FBI taskforce to apprehend a crew of serial bank robbers the stress and close working relationship kindles their inner beast to fight for exactly what it wants from their partnership.
Werewolves in this series are born, not made, which makes for some interesting world building. Men and women with a certain gene become werewolves after a traumatic life event; however the shifting part from man into canine isn’t as prevalent to those who’ve been changed. Having the shifter aspects of a werewolf downplayed was something I enjoyed as it led to the thought about real life people who do extraordinary things in a crisis. Who’s to say that we don’t all carry some dormant genome that could turn us into something more than a normal human? Khaki’s abilities are different than the male wolves in SWAT and I thought it was a nice way to show female empowerment for her character. She is strong but isn’t asked to surrender the parts of herself that make her feminine.
On the relationship front the book read like your typical Paranormal shifter romance, with shades of the fated-mate rather than an extended courtship between Xander and Khaki. The idea of The One was introduced in the first story, with all the men of SWAT believing the concept to be more a folktale than truth, so Xander isn’t putting the clues together that Khaki is special for him. Thankfully there are enough scenes of them actually working or talking with one another that not everything is surrendered to lust or a mating instinct. If anything, it was more a push for them to work through any conflicts because they couldn’t put the other off in their minds.
I appreciated that the paranormal elements of Wolf Trouble weren’t over the top or layered with long drawn out passages to explain the intricacies of the world. The story is fairly straightforward that werewolves exist, they could be anyone, and they have high-risk jobs and lives that are just like the humans around them. This realistic approach is a great for a reader wanting an entertaining read but may be newer to the supernatural side of things.