Alpha Instinct by Katie Reus
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Thriller
Paperback: 368 pages
Release date: February 7, 2012
Series: Moon Shifter #1
Source: Penguin Canada for review
Reviewed by: Tynga
Fear has a scent. So does desire…
Ana Cordona has been a strong leader for the lupine shifters who survived after all the males and most of the females in her pack were mysteriously poisoned. As tough as she is, with no Alpha male, the pack is vulnerable to the devious shifter Taggart, who wants to claim both their ranch and Ana as his own. When Connor Armstrong comes back into her life, promising protection, it’s almost enough to make Ana forget how he walked out on her before—and reluctantly accept his offer to mate.
The minute Connor sees Ana again, it reawakens a raw hunger. He must have her for his bondmate—his wolf cries out for it. But his human side knows he must proceed with caution because of their complicated past. If he is to truly have her body and soul, he must go beyond his burning desire and win back her heart. Whatever it takes, he is determined not to leave her side again.
But Taggart and his rival pack are not their only enemies. A human element in town is targeting shifters. Their plan not only threatens Ana and Connor’s future, but the lives of the entire pack…
Ana Cordona, is the pack’s Alpha oldest daughter and her life wasn’t perfect, but damn close to it, until all the males and pregnant females of her pack died from poisoning. The culprit still hasn’t been found and with half her pack decimated, and both her parents dead, she has to stay strong for the females of her pack. It’s not easy though, Taggart, the misogynist alpha of the neighboring pack wants her – and her territory- for himself and nothing will stop him. But like it wasn’t enough, women are being attacked in town and naturally, suspicion falls on the Shifters.
I’ve been really excited about Alpha Instinct ever since I first saw the cover, and I have to say, the novel fell a little short for me. It’s not that it’s bad, because it’s not, but I was hoping for something along the lines of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series or Rachel Vincent’s Shifters series and Katie Reus’ first novel in her new series didn’t meet my expectations for a couple of reasons.
First of all, I can see where Reus wanted her characters to be. Ana is suppose to be fierce and strong for her pack. A real Alpha figure. Yet, she came out to me as kind of weak. Yes she is stubborn, yes she wants to protect her pack at all cost, but the way she handled things felt a bit childish at times. I liked Connor though, he left her 50 years ago and came back to protect her when she needed him. He is strong-minded, fierce and commanding – all the right qualities. The interactions between the two though felt off sometimes. He wants her, yet he is very clumsy about it (which is fine, really) and she wants him but she’s scared he will leave her again and refuses to see what’s right in front of her eyes – he loves her to death. Really, Ana is an ostrich. You’ll tell me this a pattern we see often in romance novel, and yes you’d be right, I don’t really have anything against the pattern per see but the execution needed a little more polishing I think. On a more positive note, I really liked the relationship between Liam (Connor’s little brother) and December (a human female). It felt real and the awkwardness between the two of them was just the sweetest thing and I wish we saw more of them.
Another issue I found was how slowly and I’ll dare say boringly, the plot progressed. I know it' sounds weird to say the plot bordered boring, because there is actually a lot going on, what with poisoning, sabotage at the farm, Taggart treats and illegal activities, human females attacked and whatnot but I never felt a thrill with the action, the excitement of the chase or fear for one of the characters. All of Katie’s ideas were good, but I didn’t really feel immersed in the story. I wanted my heart to pound, my palms to sweat and have the urge to throw the book when crap happened, but it just didn’t work out.
The third element that baffled me, and it’s not the author’s fault, is the cover. I was attracted by this strong female image, yet Ana is nothing like it. She is not a badass, she would never wear an outfit like that and her tattoo is also at the wrong place. I know the art department wanted to draw readers to the book – and it worked for me – but it doesn’t really reflect to book so it just added to my disappointment.
All that being said, Katie Reus’ Moon Shifter series has potential. She sets a world where great things could happen, has great secondary characters and if she can polish the main characters and make the action as real as it gets, then the Moon Shifter could become a great series. A couple of things didn’t work for me, but I think you should give it a try. Maybe borrow it from a friend, the library or at least read an excerpt before you buy it because you might like it. I started this novel with high expectations, so maybe it’s my own fault I was a bit disappointed. All in all, I don’t plan to read the second book unless I read raving reviews about it once it’s been released.