Unexpected Demands (Hidden Wolves #2)


Title: Unexpected Demands (Hidden Wolves #2)
Author: Kaje Harper
Cover Artist: Winterheart Designs
Publisher: MLR press
Amazon: Buy Link Unexpected Demands
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Length: Novel/305 pages/100,000 + words
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A joint guest review by Raine and Sirius

Summary: In this book Aaron struggled both with being an Alpha for his complicated pack and his newly found love interest, but we had our own concerns.

Blurb:

Becoming Alpha made Aaron responsible for protecting his new pack against outside threats, but fighting his own desires might pose an even bigger challenge.

When Aaron took down a crazy dominant wolf and inherited half a pack, he knew the Alpha job wasn’t going to be easy. A week later, he’s finding out what an understatement that was. Having a gay wolf in his pack brings lethal threats from other werewolves. Then humans locate his wolves and move in to try to capture and exploit one of them. Aaron has enough pressure and demands without letting his long-suppressed sexuality escape his rigid control. But keeping his distance from a young man who appeals to all his senses could be Aaron’s biggest challenge.

Review:

Sirius: After we reviewed the first book in the series, Unacceptable Risk (reviewed here), I could not wait for the second one to be released, probably since the moment I heard it was coming out, and that it would be the book about Aaron. I have had my issues with the werewolves in this society, but I most definitely wanted to know more about this character because he was such a mysterious, sexy, powerful enigma, who takes charge and makes no mistakes … just the kind of werewolf Alpha I don’t particularly care for 😉 (the “takes charge and makes no mistakes” part, not the “sexy and powerful one” 😉 ). What about you Raine? Were you impatient to read this one and if so, could you tell us briefly whether the book worked or did not work for you – no details please, we will provide details later in our conversation?

Raine: I’m not always thrilled when a book ends up being part of a series, but with this one I was really excited. I love, but just love first person narration and with it being Aaron’s authoritative voice was really looking forward to Book 2. So yes it was a bit of a blow when I actually felt some things were unconvincing.

Sirius: For me the book both worked and did not work. What were your favorite parts?

Raine: Oh yes I know too well you weren’t quite happy with this one, you sent me a scary email………I quote…….”Sorry my friend, we may have to do dueling reviews, if this was a five star book for you…….”

The one important element that shone out for me in this book was the continuation of Simon and Paul’s relationship. I really loved seeing them through other people’s eyes, but in particular Aaron’s point of view was insightful, as when he talks about how beautiful Paul is. “All the more so because he seemed unaware of it. Simon, anything but unaware, practically pissed circles around him when other men came too close.”

Sirius: Oh absolutely for me Simon and Paul were the favorite part of the book. I thought they were just as great as they were in the first book and I was happy that we actually get to see the development of their relationship instead of just seeing them in a bliss of happiness and them singing “Oh we are happy forever” song (you know how in romance series the couple from the previous book gets to visit and show off how happy they are — annoying). Oh they are happy, but their relationship also gets further tested, somewhat strained, due to outside stress factors. It is a living breathing relationship, not a stale one if that makes sense, and I think for a romance book it is the best type of relationship to read about. But as happy as I was to read about these two, this book, as promised, was Aaron’s book. Were you happy or disappointed to get to know him more “up close and personal”? Did his first person narration work for you?

Raine: There isn’t really an easy answer to that, so bear with me while I mutter a bit. The thing is, as you know, unlike you I prefer my Alpha male heroes to have that very dominant know it all aura. At the end of the first book, Aaron displayed real statesmanlike authority. Unfortunately as we are seeing Aaron grow into the role as Alpha we heard a lot of self doubts, anxieties and uncertainties, which was very human and realistic but left him no hiding place. For me his voice worked really well when he was being empathic and caring for his wolves, but not when he needed to be more of a tactical leader and commanding presence.

Sirius: For the most part Aaron’s narration worked for me quite well, even if it meant that his mystery was pretty much gone. Instead of an alluring, powerful presence we get to meet a “man” who is still quite good and strong, and who really likes his wolves and wants to lead them by example, but who is new at being Alpha and who makes a lot of mistakes at it. I agree with Simon — in some ways it was very fun to see Aaron losing control in response to some of the plot events and hopefully learning from them and becoming a better person and better leader. Unfortunately, some of the plot events which were meant (I think?) to test Aaron’s leadership skills felt quite contrived to me and I was not sure why he would instigate at least one of those events in the first place, but since if I remember reading there are other books planned in the series, I am inclined to be in a forgiving mood about that aspect of the book (Aaron’s character development I mean). Now, we will not divulge the name of the guy Aaron falls for, but it is clear from the blurb that he does fall for somebody, so we can talk about it. 🙂 What did you think of his love story?

Raine: I kept having doubts, and although I could line up points why they should have been good together and very boringly did inflict this on you…..sorry Sirius……. my gut feeling was that they just didn’t have the connection Paul and Simon have. You described them beautifully as having an “organic” relationship. Aaron and his partner never quite felt natural together to me.

Sirius: It did not work for me either — at all. I don’t know why it did not work, but they just did not click for me. I can try to explain it, though. I know that if I encounter a couple with a big age difference, usually the author has to work harder to convince me of the couple having a future. BUT having said that, I can name several couples with big age differences where it worked for me and very well. No, I think a couple either has chemistry or it does not, and while I really liked Aaron and his love interest as characters separately, together they left me rather cold and this is really unfortunate and my main reason for the significant lowering of the rating.

I think we covered pretty much all the major points we wanted to cover except one. I think you know that the tendency these werewolves have to solve their problems with murders really bugged me in the first book. As much as I hoped Aaron would bring change, I did not feel that his stance was strong enough, and I was curious to read more about what he really feels about it. I was happy to see that he does want to change things and really prefers to avoid violence if he thinks that it is at all possible. There was only one scene in this book that really bothered me for that reason, but having access to Aaron’s thoughts really did help. I also realize that the scene meant to be an additional bonding reason between Aaron and his man. Did it work for you?

Raine: I thought this situation was rather too contrived; I could see the strings being pulled and that took me out of the story. While I liked most of the action elements of the book, I don’t think they always revealed Aaron’s best side. What I did enjoy about the set up to this scene was the interaction between Aaron and Hanson, the experienced, very tough Alpha of the neighbouring pack. It showed that Aaron’s hopes and efforts for a more rational response to gay werewolves were having some results. Are you ready to start playing the numbers game Sirius?

Sirius: Sure. My favorite part of every review — not. I inflicted my calculations upon you already, so it should not come as a huge surprise.

Raine: Yes, but now you have to really share……..

Sirius: I found the writing to be very good and I really like her style. I did like the main characters a lot and I liked that they actually undergo growth and change. I thought that if the book was purely about Aaron learning how to be an Alpha during the trials and tribulations of his pack, I would have given it a much higher grade. Unfortunately the book is also a romance. I say unfortunately because as much as I liked Aaron and his guy separately together they left me cold as a cucumber emotionally. I am still not sure what they saw in each other as lovers. If I thought they sizzled on page, no rationalization would have been necessary, but on the scale of one to ten I would grade their chemistry as a zero. I think it merits at least one point deduction from the overall grade and if the writing overall was not as strong I would have deducted more. I hesitated a lot and could not choose between 3.75 and 4 stars, but I guess I can be okay with 4, even if my rating keeps fluctuating between these two numbers. 🙂

Raine: It was quite clear when we started emailing about this book, it didn’t quite do it for either of us. I had problems with Aaron’s fallibility and his relationship. At one point Paul was in real danger because of the situation Aaron instigated. Though on my third read through I was less skeptical about the guys together – but that might have been wishful thinking, because I wanted to love this book. Instead it gave me a mixture of pleasure and irritation. Which I inflicted on you as I tried to figure out why it wasn’t working, and you rightly said I was trying to rewrite it……..blush. I love this world of Kaje Harper’s, so even with my discomforts, it was still a 4 star book.

Sirius: Please, let’s not forget all those scenarios I presented and wondered whether it would have worked better for me or not, so I am guilty of “what if”s myself. But definitely I wanted to love this book, too. Let’s hope the third one would be a hit for both of us.

Hidden Wolves Series

16 comments

  • Loved the first novel in this series, and looked forward to book 2. It was disappointing for me and honestly didn’t have the same author feel to me, if that makes sense. I couldn’t click with these characters, especially (oh and this is not a good sign… I can’t remember Aaron’s young love interest). I don’t get the feeling that it’s a forever after scenario, nor should it be. They don’t gel at all.

    And the fact that I didn’t connect with them, made me not care much what happened to them.

    What I enjoyed most was more of Paul and Simon and, of course, the action. Kaje Harper is one of my favourite writers, so this was all the more disappointing because of that.

    • Hi Madonna, I am definitely with you, at least for the most part, I could sympathize and relate to both characters individually, but they did not gel for me as lovers at all. As mentor and a student of the sorts, sure, but not as lovers, and yeah I did not get the feeling of forever after scenario myself.

      And absolutely, Paul and Simon were my favorite part of this book as well. Thanks for commenting.

  • I loved the first book in this series and so couldn’t wait to read this one. I also would have given it 4 stars.

    Before I started reading this book I was hoping Aaron’s partner would be a new character, but by the end of the book I did like the author’s choice for Aaron.

    I liked Aaron’s character, his struggle with being a new alpha and his self-doubt about his new relationship. However by the end I would have liked to see his partner kick his ass a bit more to show that they indeed are ment to be mates. Hopefully we will see that development in the next book.

    I’m still struggling a bit with the scene you guys are talking about, I get that the author used it to move their relationship forward. But if I think too closely about it I’m disappointed in how it ended up going down. I am in a wheelchair so that puts a little bit of a different spin on it too I guess.

    Like you I also loved that we got to see more of Paul and Simon’s relationship in this book.

    I like the authors writing style and over all it was a great read.

    • Hello mrb

      I think your comments sound like ours…….in that you too had to figure stuff out about the book, while overall still enjoying it!

      As far as the plot turned out- I’m with you about ‘ that scene ‘ -it gave them something awful to share, but emotionally I found it a lose / lose situation. I can really understand that it wouldn’t be a comfortable read for you.

      Book 3 we are all waiting for you…….. 😀

    • Hi mrb, you know in one of the scenarios which I played in my head 🙂 I wondered whether it would have worked better for me if Aaron and his guy noticed each other romantically at the end of the book when the other guy experienced character growth and to me did not feel like a kid anymore. I don’t know, maybe, but as I mentioned to Raine before I usually try to sit on my fingers when I have a temptation to do that – too close to grading the book I want to see instead of grading the book the writer already wrote. But I definitely see where you are coming from – that you liked them together at the end. Don’t get me wrong – I was not a fan of that scene, quite the contrary, it is just at least here because I was in Aaron’s head I did not want to kill him dead, because similar scenes in book one caused me to have very visceral reaction.

  • Hi Raine and hi Sirius,

    thanks for answering my reply.
    Perhaps you could do pro and con sections in your dialog next time? (If there are positiv sides, of course 🙂 )
    In this way we (the review readers) wouldn’t be so confused and you (the reviewers – is this a real word???) could discuss to your hearts content and wouldn’t get lost in the conversation. :wave: Only saying…..
    Thanks again for all your reviews and the work you invest.

    • By the way Eve, I have just checked out other reviews and if you want some more opinions there is a wide range on Goodreads and a 5 star on Amazon. Have fun. 😀

  • Thanks for the review, for both of you. It sure was an interesting experiment.
    But…after you read my reply I’m sure I will not be your favorit-review-reader:
    Could you please write the next reviews by yourself, again?! 🙁
    I’m really interested in this book, I loved the first in this series very much, but after reading your review I’m more than a little confused. Your rating is 4 of 5, which would be rather good but when I read your review I got the impression the book is lacking on so many fronts that I seriously ask myself if I really want to buy it. There is very little positiv in your review, only things you don’t like so much. I can’t understand where the 4 positiv points come from, when I read your conversation! 😕
    This conversation-review fragments everything and I’m sorry to say this, but I would have much more liked two different points of view than this dialog.
    I’m sure other people will feel different, but for me, that wasn’t it.

    • Hey Eve,

      I am sorry you didn’t get a clear idea of what I was saying, totally a failure on my part. 🙁

      I guess that although I had criticisms, my rating of 4 was meant to show that I enjoyed this book more than most I read and that it was because I was involved with the book that I felt intensely about it. As I said to Wave there is a lot to enjoy in this book, great writing, characters, development and action. If you want to know more details feel free to email me.

    • Hi Eve – no problem at all – I knew when I asked Raine to do a joint review that the format either works or does not. The first book was easier to review because we both loved it and here while we basically agree on the grade there were different things we did not like. We will try to do a better job next time – highlighting our likes and dislikes equally, for me working with Raine is just too much fun.

  • Hi Wave

    With all our criticisms and boy, did you high light them….. 😮
    We obviously didn’t do a good enough job of saying what we liked about the book.

    When I engage and commit to a book it becomes a bit like family so everything is more highly defined……it matters more to me, and I suspect I become more sensitive to what might be wrong!

    So from my point of view- in spite of all those highlighted problems I got a lot of pleasure from this book- my value of enjoyment was a 4 star read.

    I love KH’s writing, it flows- there is rarely any language that jars. Her characters are varied, often complex, always interesting. Although this is Aaron’s book, Paul and Simon’s story is a significant part of his story, which helped balance the load. I was as you can tell really involved in this world and for an escapist read that is what I want and appreciate.

    My other quality standard is will I reread it? Given that I’ve read it through 3x for review……oh yes in fact I’m planning a reread back to back. 😀

    • Thanks for responding to my comments Raine. I appreciate how hard you and Sirius worked on this review and how long it took you to write it. I just love the way your thoughts crystalize – sometimes not in their similarity but their differences.

      As I was reading the review I was thinking that somewhere you would indicate why you rated the book as 4 stars rather than say, 3.5, and you just explained why – you got a lot of pleasure from the book and you love this author’s writing, so despite your reservations and criticisms you felt it deserved 4 stars.

      Wonderful job guys – I do appreciate you AND your minds. 🙂

    • Forgot to answer your last question…. Sirius had the first book for review and given my obsession with wolves very kindly asked if I wanted to review it with her. It is scary fun, the time difference adds an element of adventure too. 😀

  • Hi Guys

    Wonderfully written joint review and it makes me anxious to read the book now that you have resolved your own conflicts, sort of. 🙂

    I’m curious about a few things, especially the rating, since you both admit you were disappointed by some critical areas in the book, yet you’re recommending it.

    1. You indicated that the romance left you cold – on a scale of 1 – 10 it was a zero

    Aaron and his partner never quite felt natural together to me.

    Sirius made a similar observation:

    I think a couple either has chemistry or it does not, and while I really liked Aaron and his love interest as characters separately, together they left me rather cold

    2. You were unconvinced by Aaron’s first person narration (Raine)

    3. For Raine the one important point that stood out was the continuation of Paul’s and Simon’s relationship – yet this is not supposed to be their story but Aaron’s

    4. For Raine who loves dominant wolves, seeing Aaron with feet of clay was a real downer:

    Unfortunately as we are seeing Aaron grow into the role as Alpha we heard a lot of self doubts, anxieties and uncertainties, which was very human and realistic but left him no hiding place. For me his voice worked really well when he was being empathic and caring for his wolves, but not when he needed to be more of a tactical leader and commanding presence.

    5. Neither of you liked the tendency of these weres to solve problems with murder and thought that Aaron was doing a good job by getting away from it but … Sirius indicated

    I thought this situation was rather too contrived; I could see the strings being pulled and that took me out of the story. While I liked most of the action elements of the book, I don’t think they always revealed Aaron’s best side

    I could go on but I’m sure you’re tired of my comments by now. 😀

    I really loved seeing both points of view and mostly the similarity of your thoughts but it really came down to the fact that you felt that Unexpected Demands had fallen far short of the first book.

    What can I say guys, it’s Saturday morning and I had a few spare minutes.

    BTW I loved your thought processes and how you came to your individual decisions. You have to do this joint approach with another book in the future.

    One last question: (yes I have one more) 😮

    How did you decide under whose name to post the review?

    Okay I’m done now; back to work for me.

    • Boy Wave you do like to ask tough questions in the morning, don’t you? For me rating fits because of what Raine said and because as you could see there were some things she liked and I did not and vice versa. Basically for me everything But romance worked. For me first person narration showing Aaron’s weaknesses worked because it also showed his strengths, I loved both guys just did not feel they clicked as lovers and thought that Simon and Paul were perfect part of the book.

      • Sorry have to add – romance was main beef with the book, I also thought that some plot points were contrived but overall it worked. There is also the writing of course. I try my hardest never to grade the book by comparing with another but few days after we did this review I was torturing Raine by sending her quotes from another book I am reviewing soon. I am sure Raine found the torture to be painful and most of the book was written that way. So sometimes only by reading truly awful stuff one can appreciate the writing of this quality – whether certain things worked or did not work in plot or characterization.

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