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: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.0 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.
Premise of the book is Alex is a closeted gay wolf from Seattle, temporarily working on a project in Chicago. He happens to be in the right spot at the right time and saves Dylan from the local pack bullies, only to realize Dylan is also wolf and doesn’t even know it. As a wolf from outside local packs, Dylan is supposed to go acknowledge the local Alpha, but Dylan has no idea he’s now deeply offended the Chicago pack.
Dylan is down in Chicago visiting his sister in college when he’s beset by bullies at the zoo. He’s saved by one very hot Alex, and quickly the attraction becomes mutual. Dylan understands this is just a fling: he’s heading back to Montreal and Alex back to Seattle. But when they find themselves first on the run, then kidnapped by a nefarious government agency, the two unwittingly set in motion plans that have been in the making for a very long time.
I am all over the place in reviewing and rating this book. I struggled to get into the story, then it started to capture my attention, and lost me at the government sanctioned kidnapping and people being used as test subjects, then kinda picked up again about the 200 page mark – where I will be purposely vague so as not to ruin the story for someone else.
This is my quirk – I really don’t care for the whole concept of kidnapping for purposes of secret labs and testing. It’s a frequent plot devise in paranormal books and I guess I prefer stick with the illusion that the US government wouldn’t do that.
I did like how Harper explored the idea of a wolf not raised in a pack, near a pack, or have anything to do with wolf culture and society. Dylan has no compulsion to bow his head, to defer to an Alpha, totally doesn’t understand pack hierarchy or behavior and so he’s treading hard on established norms and stomping on wolfie egos.
What was also interesting was the automatic assumption that if someone is wolf, they know these things so the wolves demonstrated a level of intolerance as well.
I didn’t care for the Special Snowflake status that Dylan and Alex inadvertently created with their lopsided bond – a bit too much silvery energy flowing around for my taste. It also seemed out of place with the rest of the series where there is mention of bonds, and the act of creating those bonds, but I really don’t recall quite so much emphasis on color, texture, feelings, thoughts, etc. being transmitted across.
So by the end of the book I both struggled with the plot and was entertained. A strange combination, yes, but sometimes it’s like that. Still, a fairly solid installment in the Hidden Wolves series from Kaje Harper.