Author ~ Kari Gregg
Published ~ 19th February 2017
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance
When Nox was fourteen, his brother Joth murdered their older brother, their mother, and a human girl. Nox survived, but the attack wrecked his womb. Shattered, Nox rejected the pack who fumbled helping a barren, grief-stricken omega cope. He built a new purpose for himself as a master craftsman. Mating? No thanks. He’s better off alone.
Humans studied Joth in prison until his father’s death ended the weekly visits. Joth demands Nox in their father’s stead in exchange for resuming therapy and tests… thereby risking the destruction of Nox’s carefully ordered world. Again.
The pack drafts alpha fixer Dio to untangle the mess. One sniff of the wary omega convinces him Nox is his mate. New medical treatments offer a slim possibility Nox could bear children, but if the past years taught shifters anything, it is an omega’s value is greater than his fertility. Reconciling Nox with his pack is more important. Laying to rest the ghosts haunting Nox is too. Learning to trust? Vital.
Dio just needs to coax Nox into one last try.
Content Warning: Omega mpreg and fertility themes, dubious consent, shifter knotting, an omega who rejects labels, and a bewildered alpha who wouldn’t have it any other way
This is an interesting story. It’s very sweet, but chilling in its own way. Nox is a very damaged wolf omega. Scarred physically and emotionally when his younger brother goes berserk, murdering his mother and brother and seriously injuring Nox, he’s driven into himself until his world shrunk to one room and one person – himself. Everything else is kept away at all costs.
As soon as he was able after the attack, Nox ran and has been running since. When he first ran, his pack hunted him, intending to kill him as they were afraid he’d turn out like his brother. Nox has never forgiven them for this, or for the lack of support he received after he came back. Despite being a very talented craftsman, he lives in a shed and is effectively taken advantage of by the entire pack, who grow rich off the money he makes while giving nothing back to him – financially or emotionally.
Enter Dio, the new Alpha. At first, he throws his weight around, trying to woo Nox in traditional ways while insisting he sees a human psychiatrist for his mental issues and a specialist in fertility for his physical issues which he believes have left him sterile. While coping with the incredible stress of interacting with his brother in prison after the death of his father, and submitting to the invasive probing of the human doctors, Nox must negotiate the minefield of forming relationships again because this time Dio is not prepared to let him run.
Dio makes a lot of mistakes and I am frankly surprised that Nox didn’t react more negatively. In some cases I felt his reactions were not consistent with his character as it was built up. There are situations where he is under unendurable stress, and yes he reacts negatively but not as I would have expected. For example, when he comes home from a highly stressful, if not traumatic visit to the hospital to find strangers moving into his dead father’s house and all his worldly good being carted out of the one place in the world he felt safe and loaded on the back of a truck. His reaction was anger which very quickly dissipates when he sees the new workshop Dio built for him (incidentally in the middle of the community of people he is terrified of and once hunted him down to kill him), then calmly states that he needs to be consulted about drastic changes. At this point, the doctor had prescribed Xanex because he was concerned about Nox’ state of mind, yet his reactions are perfectly normal for anyone placed in that situation. In short either he is radically traumatized and broken or he isn’t. In either case some of his behaviour and thought processes are inconsistent, even when you factor in unpredictability during his recovery.
That being said, I found Nox to be a fascinating character. Getting inside his head was certainly an interesting and unique experience. The author built up an excellent picture of a young man broken by past events who has coped by hiding from a world he is terrified of. Much of what is written is consistent with this and shows a gradual acceptance of first his own feelings and then the feelings and intentions of others toward him. The journey is not easy and I felt for him at many places along his journey.
Dio, the Alpha who makes it his business to “fix” Nox, is also an interesting character. I find him far more consistent. He’s used to being “out there”, honest and fearless with his thoughts and actions. He realizes from the start that Nox is deeply damaged and starts out on the right foot. His main problem is that he makes assumptions and acts as an Alpha normally would – ie being entirely responsible for making decisions – rather than appreciating that “normal” rules don’t apply with Nox. Dio makes a lot of mistakes, but the key thing is that he learns from them. He starts off somewhat brash and cocky but grows as his understanding of Nox’ needs deepen and he is genuinely committed to making his mate happy.
For all its flaws this books was an unusual and satisfying read. The chemistry between the two was undeniable, even when Dio was behaving in an unacceptable fashion. The first once, maybe twice the two have sex, even though it’s softened by Nox’s conflicted need to submit to his Alpha, I don’t think there was any kind of real consent, which in my mind made Dio a heartless rapist and it took some work on his part to change my mind. In truth, I felt the scenes a little gratuitous and there was little emotional depth or true eroticism/romance to their couplings.
If I sound negative, that isn’t the way I viewed this book at all. As I keep saying it was a sweet read, with engaging, three dimensional characters and an unusual storyline that pulled me along consistently throughout. There were no pacing issues and I was always engaged with the story and the characters.
If you like your character couplings to be damaged/rough around the edges, your sex rough and your story complex and fresh, this is the book for you. I wouldn’t really say this was a hurt/comfort story because, frankly Dio didn’t do much comforting until the end, but there is a strong theme of recovery and redemption, although I think the rest of the pack got off too easily after the way they treated him.
My final word is that this book is absolutely and definitely worth a read and although there are flaws it deserves a solid 4* rating.