Title: The Last Wolf
Series: Sapphire Ranch Wolves – Book One
Author: Sue Brown
Cover Art: Meredith Russell
Length: 32 200 words
Editors: Erika Orrick and Jason Bradley
The only good predator is a dead one, as far as Joe Lowther is concerned.
That is until the day he shoots a wolf, only to watch the animal turn into a naked Callum Pope. Cal is being hunted by a group of humans who eradicate shifter packs for sport.
Joe makes a decision to help Cal and discovers a deeper connection with the young shifter. One which he’d like to explore. If they live that long.
The barn door was ajar, and from Joe’s position just inside, he had a good view of the whole yard. He sighed and shifted restlessly, his ass already dead, and he’d only been there an hour. It was gonna be a long night. It was hot and stuffy inside the barn, and he sipped at iced tea in the vain hope of cooling down.
“Show your face, you son of a bitch, and your hide will be gracing my floor come fall,” he muttered. Joe hated wolves for the sheep they stole. The ranch was making little enough profit as it was. He couldn’t understand his father’s soft attitude to wolves. It didn’t extend to other predators.
Two hours gone, and his back, still sore from the hospital visit, was aching even more. He was rubbing his lower back in a futile gesture and contemplating seeking his bed when his attention was caught by the whisper of movement in the far corner of the yard. Without hesitation, he aimed and fired. The animal hit the ground with a startlingly human cry.
Worried that he’d shot a person instead of a wolf, Joe approached cautiously, keeping the gun trained on it, intending to dispatch the creature if it wasn’t dead. To his shock, the animal, definitely a wolf, rolled over to look at him, its eyes glowing in the half-light. The almost human expression of fear and pain in the wolf’s eyes made him uncomfortable, but it had to be done. If it came back once, it would come back again, and Joe couldn’t have it hunting the livestock. The wolf wriggled, futilely trying to get away from the gun.
Joe took aim. “It’ll be all over soon, bud.”
Before he could pull the trigger again, Joe heard a metallic clink. He paused, unable to place the sound, then he took aim again, only to be confronted by a naked man on the ground and no sign of the wolf. Joe blinked rapidly, convinced he was hallucinating, but the man was still there. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. Hell, every hair on his body stood on end. He squinted into the darkest corners of the yard, expecting to see the predator slinking away.
“What the fuck just happened, Lowther? Where the hell’s the wolf gone?” Joe tugged at his hair in confusion as he looked around. What had he seen? A wolf? A man in a wolf suit? His subconscious told him he was being stupid. He’d shot a damn wolf, not a man in a freaking furry suit.
Joe blinked at the unknown voice in his head. “Now I know I’m going insane. Voices in my head? Where’s the wolf?”
“Bleeding at your feet!”
The voice was more urgent that time. Joe’s attention snapped back to the young man at his feet. Shit, he’d forgotten that he’d shot him. But he’d shot a wolf! Brain whirling at what the hell he had shot, Joe dropped to his knees. There was a bullet hole although it didn’t seem to be bleeding that much. He turned him gently and cursed when he saw the bullet hadn’t gone straight through.
“I’ve got to get you to a hospital. You need a doctor.”
Joe was shocked when the man grasped his wrist with surprising strength, staring at him with huge eyes. “No.” In the dim light, he looked lean, and, Christ, Joe’s mind had to be playing tricks on him, he looked wolf-like. What the hell did a human/wolf—werewolf—look like?
“You need a doctor to get the bullet out or the wound will get infected.”
“Wolf. Don’t… need… a doctor.” The boy gasped as he tried to get the words out.
“Don’t be fucking ridiculous. You’ve got a bullet inside you.”
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Title: The Hidden Wolf
Series: Sapphire Ranch Wolves – Book Two
Author: Sue Brown
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Cover Artist: Meredith Russell
Length: 32 700 words
Sheriff Milo Clarke has met his mate, Eli Watkins, and now they’re conducting a long distance relationship while Eli runs Cavalry, the security firm protecting Joe and Cal at the Sapphire Ranch from the hunters.
The long distance loving is hard on all three of them, Eli, Clarke and Clarke’s wolf, who is becoming more restless as Clarke refuses to shift. When Clarke going to give into the other side of him and how will Clarke and Eli resolve the distance between their lives?
Sheriff Milo Clarke leaned against the kitchen cabinets as he watched Eli Watkins and his team, the Calvary, remove the remains of Randy Streerson from the kitchen of Sapphire Ranch. He’d offered to help and been told firmly to stay the hell out of their way as they committed a felony.
Staying to one side was a damned sensible move. What used to be Randy Streerson, the head of a group of hunters that pursued and killed shifters, now covered the kitchen walls, floor, and dripped from the ceiling after young shifter Callum Pope shot him with one of the hunter’s bullets.
Cal was a distant shifter relative of Milo’s. His father had been related to Milo’s mother. Cal’s father and two elder brothers had been killed by a band of hunters led by the Streerson family. The pack had splintered in an effort to survive, and Cal had turned up on Sapphire Ranch after running hundreds of miles to get away from the hunters, only to discover the owner of the ranch was his mate. A lot had happened in a few days. Eli’s men took away what remained of the body and now they scrubbed the kitchen, surprisingly efficient. Milo didn’t have to be a cop to know this wasn’t the first time the Cavalry had cleaned away evidence that a murder had taken place.
He was stuck between duty and likely survival. On one hand he’d witnessed the struggle between Cal and Streerson for control of the gun before Cal had pulled the trigger. On the other…
How the hell would he explain to his deputies what had just taken place? They would want to know where he’d been hiding for the past few days, why he’d been lying to them, who the victim—who was no fucking victim—was, and what the hell was a shifter?
He was a shifter. At least a half-shifter. His mother had been a werewolf and Milo could change, he just chose not to. Instead he lived among the humans as a sheriff and hadn’t given in to that side of him for over five years except for one glorious moment a few days ago. Milo tried not to think about it even as his wolf grumbled inside.
Milo watched the team—at least he watched Eli. His whole attention was focused on the dark-haired man. Just watching him made his mouth dry and his dick hard. From the second Milo had shifted to prove the existence of werewolves to Eli and his assistant Ross, he’d realized that Eli was his mate.
Unable to resist, he’d trotted up to Eli and laid his head on his lap. Tentatively Eli had stroked his head, and Milo leaned into the caress, wanting Eli to touch him more. Eli filled his wolf senses. He smelled woodsy with a touch of citrus. He smelled good.
“Good doggy,” Eli had murmured.
Doggy? Milo gave a low growl at the insult, grinning in wolfy satisfaction as Eli snatched his hand back. He wouldn’t have hurt him—much.
And Eli had seemed equally drawn to him, finding it hard to take his eyes off Milo, even as they’d talked strategy with Joe, Cal’s mate and the owner of Sapphire Ranch.
But they hadn’t gone near each other, hadn’t touched each other at all beyond that one brief contact. Milo had been relieved because they had needed to focus their minds, not their dicks, to defeat the hunters. Relieved—and frustrated beyond belief to have his mate so close and not be able to touch him.
There was another issue. They hadn’t connected telepathically.
Milo had thought that happened immediately. But he was only a half-shifter, with limited shifter abilities in his human form, and Eli was a human. What would happen if they didn’t connect? Could they walk away from each other? It would make life so much simpler.
Milo caught Eli frowning at him, and he looked away, feeling guilty. Eli didn’t need to know. They hadn’t connected. He need never know. Milo’s wolf howled inside him at the thought of walking away from his mate, and for once Milo didn’t try to hush him. The thought hurt his human side just as much. But Milo had spent his whole life hiding his true nature, and now, through no fault of his own, everything he’d worked to hide was liable to be exposed. Among humans he hid the fact he was half-shifter. Around shifters he tried hard to fit in, even though his human side affected his wolf senses. And with both communities he hid the fact he was gay.
Milo had spent his whole life in hiding and with one phone call Joe had exposed him to humans—both as shifter and as gay. He wasn’t fucking ready for it. And didn’t that suck?
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I haven’t read many shifter books as yet, so I don’t have a wealth of knowledge to compare the themes and plot. One thing I do like is the idea of the mating bond and the insta-attraction/love that comes with it, along with the need to protect the mate. Because these books are fantasy, it’s sweet and plausible.
The telepathic communication was a nice twist, saving a lot of phone calls, and added to the connection between the mated characters, along with some amusing interaction.
There’s also the fear of being torn apart due to aggressive hunters and this adds to the tension in both books. There are features in the series that require you to suspend belief in the reality we know and accept some coincidences without question. That being said, I enjoyed reading these books and found the characters endearing.
Sue Brown writes in an engaging manner, immediately drawing the reader into the dialogue and action. Both stories are fast-paced, without too much detail or backstory, and easy to read. They each end on a sort of cliffhanger, plus Book Two has several plot lines that need resolving. Book Three is due later in the year. I would have liked the tale in one complete novel, but appreciate writers need to earn a living and this method of writing a series works well in terms of earning an income and balancing writing schedules.
Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has gotten expert at ignoring the orders.
Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.
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