Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Desert Wolf by Heather Long @HVLong - New Release and Giveaway @Barclay_PR

Desert Wolf
by Heather Long
Series: Wolves of River Bend, #8
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: August 25, 2015

Cassius, Alpha of Sutter Butte, leads the most ruthless and dangerous pack in the United States. A pack comprised of misfits who didn’t fit in their previous packs, cast offs discarded by their packs and forgotten wolves who rose to create a pack more than a century before in utter defiance of the order of the day. Sometimes pitiless and cruel, he wants more for his people than a yearly bloodbath as they fight for a new place, a better spot in the pecking order. To change his pack, means to change himself and he will find rebellion on all sides, not the least of which is his own defiant heart.

Sovvan Stark, Omega of Delta Crescent, lives a cherished, beloved life in the center of her pack, a delicate and hard won balance. Though she is not the only Omega, she is the most experienced with the tremors of pack upset when power shifts from Alpha to Alpha. When her Alpha approaches her about Sutter Butte’s request, Sovvan considers the matter for several long months. While she might hold within her the key to helping the Sutter Butte Alpha, the undertaking could very well kill her.

Accompanied by a single Hound, Sovvan begins a journey to help Cassius rebuild the foundation of his pack, but first she will have to transform him…

     Heat rolled in waves from the blacktop of the old highway. Around him, the desert sprawled in its painted glory, seemingly melting into the horizon where it kissed the sky. The colors streaked past him as he accelerated, blowing past the old trading posts and bypassing the interstate with its smoother surface and promise of civilization in the distance. If one sought to journey through the decades, the old highway east of Holbrook was the place to start.
     Sweat slicked his back beneath the leather jacket and the motorcycle vibrated between his thighs. Clocking over a hundred, he barely noticed the machine’s growl echoing his wolf’s. Cassius Lucera del Alba, Alpha of Sutter Butte squinted to catch sight of the town he sought ahead.
     Though town was a generous description for the collection of ramshackle structures—of which a filling station with a decrepit market attached and a lone bar were clearly detailed. Time hadn’t forgotten the town, it had left it in the dust by doing a hundred and sixty and never looked back. If the location had a name, no map detailed it, not even Google. The poor bastards didn’t even have a ghost to call their own.
     Though they might when he finished.
     He didn’t slow until he reached the main drag, all eighty-five feet of it and parked his bike in front of the bar. A handful of vehicles were scattered amongst the cracked pavement and gravel. Three he recognized, two he didn’t. Like the bar, the cars were in sad shape and far more popular in earlier decades. Killing the engine, he dropped the kickstand and slid off his baby. Road dust coated her paint and chrome. With a stroke of his gloved hand over the seat, he promised her a bath later.
     Leaving the bike, he strode toward the building. No one moved outside, but one wolf stood inside the filling station. He was a smart wolf, he’d spotted Cassius, yet didn’t reach for a phone or make any move other than retrieving his newspaper and flipping it open.
     Inside, the cool air rushed over his sweaty face like a sweet kiss. The scents of stale beer, body odor, remnants of the blood spilled throughout the years, and fear stained the experience. The population of the bar—easily a dozen wolves though Cassius scented at least four more in the back—glanced up from their places scattered around the room. Three played pool, four others huddled around a card game while the rest sat in various spots including two at the bar drinking. A couple in the corner paused with her hand down his pants. The bartender—a tall, broad wolf with a balding pate and a world-weary expression raised his eyebrows in silent inquiry.
     “Beer. Cold.” Cassius said, and the bartender nodded. A moment later, he set a tall bottle of Corona on the weathered bar top. The sides frosted and a hint of vapor escaped the top. Condensation formed almost immediately on the sides, slicking along the glass in rivulets.
     Stripping off his fingerless gloves first. Cassius set them on the bar. Next, he peeled off his jacket. The old leather moulded him perfectly after the many years he spent wearing it. Only after setting it on the bar next to his gloves did he peel off three one hundred dollar bills and lay them next to the bottle. The bartender didn’t say a word as he took the bills, tucked them into his pocket then locked his register and exited through the double doors behind the bar.
     Leaning against the aged wood, Cassius swept the room with his gaze. “If any of you are still sitting on your asses, disobeying the direct orders I sent out when I finish this beer, I’ll kill you.” He didn’t raise his voice. Shouting accomplished nothing. Yelling indicated the battle was lost before it began.
     Chair legs scraping across the floor splintered the silence. The couple in the corner disengaged. The she-wolf grabbed her purse as she stood. Boots striking the floor punctuated her exodus. No sooner did the door slam shut behind her than the four wolves playing cards toss them down, abandoning their game. The men muttered, but they divvied the pot, then bowed their heads to him one at a time before hurrying out.
     Tipping the bottle up, he took a long pull of the cold drink. It soothed his parched throat. One of the pool players threw down his stick. One of the wolves tried to stop him with a hand on his arm, but he shook it off. Then like the other wolves before him, he hurried out the door.
     From nearly twenty to only ten—behind feet stomped on the stairs followed by another door slamming. Make that eight. One of the upstairs wolves strode into the bar, and stood in the center of it. Surprise filled his scent at the emptiness in the room. The others waited, their attention divided between Cassius and Finch.
     Stupid fucking name for a wolf. Another long pull from his beer, and Cassius was three quarters finished. One by one he met the gazes of the wolves around the room. The smarter ones lowered their eyes immediately, the dumbasses fought to hold his gaze—even Finch.
     Focusing on him last, Cassius studied him. Fresh beads of sweat began to trickle along Finch’s cheeks. The wolf swore, then stomped out and slammed the door with enough force, one of the hinges cracked.
     Then there were seven. 

I was once again drawn into the world that Heather Long has created and found it hard to put this one down. This book was a bit darker than the others in the series that I have read, but that wasn’t a surprise since the Sutter Butte pack itself is dark. Even though this the eighth book in the series you can definitely read this as a standalone, but of course starting from the beginning will give a bit more insight into the dynamics between the packs and the alphas.

Cassius rules his pack with little tolerance for disobedience or challenge, using the threat of violence and consequence to keep everyone in line. His cold and ruthless rule results from the discord in his pack, but he wants to change that by finding a way to change how his pack operates and, if necessary, eliminating those who will stand in his way. As the story unfolds and we get to learn about Cassius’s past and his rise to alpha, it’s easy to see why most fear him. But it was also easy to understand why he would want more for his pack – a better way of life that will allow the pack more freedom and less bloodshed. And even though he can be ruthless, he also cares for his pack and takes care of them.

Sovvan was just perfect for Cassius. Her being an Omega was a critical part of Cassius’s plan to change his pack, but she didn’t let him push her around or force her into a decision she needed to make for herself. I loved that she was fierce and able to take care of herself and she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she wanted. You could sense the need in her from the beginning to find herself, and it was clear the trip from her pack to Sutter Butte was her own journey of self-discovery. I loved her loyalty to her pack, but also her ability to see the bigger picture and do the right thing.

Cassius and Sovvan together were fun to watch and from their first encounter I knew these two would match up well. Sovvan never backed down from Cassius, yet she knew when to give just enough to soothe his alpha side. From the first moment they meet you could feel the chemistry between them, and I loved how their relationship evolved with the story and played into the events that unfolded.

You could definitely feel the darkness in the pack and the tension that always seemed to be present whenever the pack was around. There were many things happening in this book, from all of the pieces that Cassius had to put in place for his plan, to the internal issues of the pack. Heather Long did a fabulous job weaving all of the parts together to create a story that came together to leave me totally satisfied but wanting to know what is going to happen to next. Even though this can be read as a standalone, there is an overall story arc that seems to be coming to head and I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us.

I just love the world that Heather Long has created and find it so easy to get wrapped up in her characters and their emotions. Another great read by Heather Long that I would highly recommend.

Start the Series

Book 1: Wolf Bite

Series Reading Order:
 Wolf at Law (Prequel)
Book 1: Wolf Bite
Book 2: Caged Wolf
Book 3: Wolf Claim
Book 3.5: Wolf Next Door
Book 4: Rogue Wolf
Book 5: Bayou Wolf
Book 6: Untamed Wolf
Book 6.5: Wolf with Benefits
Book 7: River Wolf
Book 7.5: Single, Wicked Wolf
Book 8: Desert Wolf

National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.

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