Unsafe Exposure (Vallie’s Review)

Title: Unsafe Exposure (Hidden Wolves #4)
Author: Kaje Harper
Publisher: MLR Press
Release Date: September 9, 2016
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 393
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Stepping out of the closet as a gay man may be a walk in the park, compared to coming out as a werewolf.

From the moment artist Dylan Shore arrives in Chicago, his life gets twisted like a kaleidoscope. Why does a street gang he’s never met before want him dead? Why is a hot but odd mathematician stalking him? And how can half the things Alex Corwin says possibly be true, no matter how honest he seems?

Alex has a frightening dilemma. Dylan is attractive, appealing, out and proud. He’s also completely unaware that he’s a werewolf. It shouldn’t be Alex’s job to tell him, and warn him that gay wolves usually end up dead. But someone has to, before he finds out in blood and violence.

Chicago’s not Alex’s home town, but somehow he needs to protect Dylan from the local packs, protect the Packs from being outed by Dylan, and keep his cool around the first man to touch his own deeply-closeted heart.

The fourth book in the Hidden Wolves series is jam-packed with action, politics, amazing world-building, and stellar writing.

The story is really intricate and I was amazed at the author’s ability to weave this plot in a way that would actually seem plausible in an alternate universe. Dylan being unaware that he is a werewolf made for an interesting twist in the regular shifter trope and I loved reading about poor Alex trying to protect Dylan without exposing the truth. Alex was experiencing some serious anxiety throughout the book, especially because as a wolf, he is governed by so many rules and regulations, which he regularly broke in order to take care of Dylan.

While I enjoyed reading about the pack dynamics and the unveiling of the master plan for what came to be the equivalent of D-Day in the shifter world, I got quite bored with it eventually. The romance is a sub-plot here and the book was really long. So there was a lot of page time devoted to things not-romance.The fact that Dylan gave the impression that he was more like “Eh, why not?”, when it came to Alex for a good part of the book did not help matters any. I never doubted that Alex was completely infatuated with Dylan and wanted him badly but Dylan seemed to just be going with the flow.

I read shifter books because I love the desperate/mated/destined to be together co-dependent vibe that wouldn’t seem very realistic or healthy in contemporary novels and I missed that here. Even the mating bond, when it came, seemed to happen more for practical reasons so it felt quite anti-climactic to me. The emotional attachments came a little too late for my tastes and that took a lot out of my enjoyment of the book.

My personal preferences aside though, this is an excellently written book, with a solid plot and character development. Some of the scenes in captivity were brutal in their violence and it was jarring to see Dylan and Alex go through so much. The ending seemed more like an HFN to me, or a non-traditional HEA than what shifters in this universe usually get, at any rate, so there’s that.

If you are a fan of the series, you will most likely love this. I enjoyed it but it isn’t my favourite of the 4 books.

Hidden Wolves Series

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Galley copy of Unsafe Exposure provided by MLR Press in exchange of an honest review.

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