Alpha Instinct

Alpha Instinct - Katie Reus Analena “Ana” Cordona’s shifter pack’s water supply was poisoned wiping out all their males and the pregnant females swiftly and mercilessly. As the eldest daughter of the pack Alpha, Ana stepped in as leader but she knows the clock is ticking. The North American Council governing wolf shifters will never accept her as Alpha due to the patriarchal rules governing their society. In addition, the neighboring, shifter’s vicious, deranged Alpha wants Ana and her pack’s land. Ana is strong, smart and realistic. She recognizes and accepts that if her pack is going to survive and flourish they will need the protection of males, but she doesn’t want to be forced to assimilate with a pack not of her choosing, especially Taggart’s.

In the aftermath of the loss of their family and pack to violence 50 years ago, Connor Armstrong and his brother Liam drifted from place-to-place. They stayed with the Cordonas for a time and Connor fell hard for a young Ana. The old Alpha however, would have no part of Connor’s request to bond with his daughter as he saw him as unworthy. Words were exchanged and a nasty threat forced Connor to leave the Cordona lands. Ana had strong feelings for Connor and was crushed when he left without a word. Now, wealthy with real estate and significant investment capital, Connor has formed his own pack. When he learns what has happened to the Cordonas he returns with Liam and his Warriors to claim Ana and offer her pack protection. He wants to bond with Ana, amalgamate the packs and assume the Alpha position. Ana accepts his proposal with one proviso–their union will be temporary.

Katie Reus crafts a fast-paced action packed story, integrating extremely appealing characters into a multi-layered paranormal world. Wolf-shifters are classed as Warriors: bigger in human and shifted form, built for battle and dominate–they are protectors; Alphas: strong and bigger then the Betas who are the smaller and more meek of the species. The Betas seek protection from the Warriors and Alphas. The classes are not gender specific, for instance, Ana is an Alpha. There is one other class of shifter called Enforcers, who are Warriors but much more lethal in human form, there is only one in North America. What is also unique about Alpha Instinct and Reus’s Moon Shifter world is humans know shifters and vampires exist–which presents a who other set of issues.

I’ve always loved wolf shifter stories, an author can create such a strong love match using primal mate bonding inherent to the species. Ana agrees to a temporary mating with Connor, meaning she agrees to having sex with him and will carry his scent but there will be no permanent marking. Connor wants Ana as his bondmate which is a permanent union and involves marking given during sex when the moon is full. Alpha Instinct offers plenty of sexual tension, and moderate sexuality between two powerful shifters. Connor is über hot and dominate, very protective of Ana and respectful which is expected within the societal structure of this race. The author spices things up with plenty of relationship conflict that churns between these lovers. Connor battles with his wolf predatory side who wants to claim his mate immediately, and his human side which promotes caution regarding pushing her too hard, too quickly. He proves to be a good Alpha leader but faces many challenges during the transition.

A sub-plot involves Liam who meets and instantly recognizes December (a human and the town Sheriff’s sister) as his mate. However, his attempts to romance her are thwarted by December’s protective brother, and December herself who is very leery of shifters for good reason. Poor Liam is driven crazy with the need to claim her but knows he must use caution if there is any chance of a relationship with December. I was excited to find out that the next book in the series Primal Possession, due out September 2012, will be Liam and December’s story. Reus pens an excellent story arc involving these two who have significant obstacles to overcome.

Alpha Instinct offers a three pronged threat to the pack, the devious, cruel Taggart is constantly causing trouble. In addition he is up to all sorts of nefarious business on his land that could potentially bring the human authorities to their door. Further, there is a psychotic stalking the shifters with a goal of exterminating the entire pack. The identity of this bad guy isn’t revealed until the conclusion of the story and Reus had me guessing as to his identity. Lastly a group of racists called the Antiparanormal League are organizing with a goal to rid the world of all shifters. I’m sure readers will be seeing more of these baddies in future novels.

I have to mention Jace Kazan North America’s shifter Enforcer. Readers don’t meet Jace in this book but his role as the muscle the Council sends in to deal with severe pack problems is defined. He is feared by Warriors and Alphas alike. I am so intrigued by Jace and hope we meet him in the next book. Reus establishes a storyline involving Jace so maybe he will be the hero of Book 3? ;)

Alpha Instinct is awesome, an engrossing page-turner that I enjoyed in one sitting. Katie Reus offers all the ingredients I love in a paranormal romance, suspense, action, emotion, and well developed, strong, endearing characters. Ana and Connor are well matched and readers can look forward to an intense, sensual romance. I’m looking forward to reading sexy Liam’s story!

Review originally posted at: Book Lovers Inc.