Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: Unsafe Exposure
SERIES: Hidden Wolves #4
AUTHOR: Kaje Harper
PUBLISHER: MLR Press
LENGTH: 393 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 9th, 2016
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.
I do NOT know why the hell it took me this long to read this series. I am an idiot. I’ve seen them for several years here and there, I’ve read other books by this author, yet managed to not pick up the first one. I’m not even sure what prompted me to get it a couple of months ago, but there it was, on my tablet to read. I think it may have been the length, I’ve been in a phase of 200-250 page books, and these are all bigger, all well over 300 pages. But I started the first one, and holy crap. Loved it. Then I realized there were more, plus a few short stories, and a new one coming? Wow. Happy girl. It’s taken me a month to get through them, due to the length and needing to break to read other books for review. I’m sorry this review is a month after the release of the book, but I needed to finish the first three before starting this one. I can’t even tell you how glad I am that I started these books, and was able to get this one to review. Here we go!
Unsafe Exposure it the fourth book in an amazing series featuring werewolves. Each book follows a couple, but all of the characters intertwine, eventually. The first book brought us Simon and Paul, and lots of drama around their mating. Gay werewolves are not accepted by pretty much any pack any where, but Simon was able to survive for some time. Until he gets the shit kicked out of him, and dumped in the road, where he is rescued by Paul, a human vet. Big introduction to the werewolf pack system, lots of drama, death, sex, and a bond between Simon and Paul. There is a splintering of the pack Simon was in, and he goes with Aaron, a new Alpha of a small pack. The second book features Aaron and Zach. Again, lots of drama, centered around the gay werewolf issue, and the potential coming out of werewolf packs, and the relationship that develops between Aaron and Zach, both wolves this time. The third book starts off with unknown characters. Brandt, a bisexual wolf with a fetish he has hidden for many years, and Ethan, a human caught in a bad situation. Brandt rescues Ethan, who in turn saves Brandt. For some time in their book I wasn’t sure how it was going to connect to the previous books and characters, but it did! Ethan owns a resort, which Aaron and his pack come to use as a safe place to be wolves. There is lots more drama about werewolves coming out as well…
Now on to the this new book. It also starts off with new unrelated characters. Dylan is an artist from Canada, visiting Chicago to get his little sister settled in college. He has no idea he’s a werewolf, his father dying when he was young, and his mother keeping them on the run for his whole childhood. His mom is gone now, and he’s been caring for Frankie, his sister. He’s sitting in the zoo drawing when he is accosted by a group of teenage looking boys, harassing him about a pack, and checking in. Poor Dylan is completely confused, and scared, as the boys chase him. He is rescued by a man in a car, and taken to the guys house to get cleaned up. The man is Alex, a visiting werewolf from Seattle, in Chicago for work. Alex knows Dylan is a werewolf, and eventually figures out that Dylan doesn’t know. Alex also knows he should take Dylan to the local Alpha, but he doesn’t…. Eventually it all goes to shit and they are caught. Alex is forced to tell Dylan what they both are, and it goes down hill from there. Also tangled up in this drama, is the developing relationship between the two men. Dylan is an out and proud gay man, Alex is a 38 year old virgin. A sexual relationship does slowly happen, and it was perfect.
So something bad happens (trying to be vague…) and the two are rescued and sent to Aaron. This gets all of our couples together at Ethan’s property. I loved the interaction between all of them! The dynamic between all of these characters is amazing. Each is so individual, these books are long so we get a good long look at each character, then each couple, now they are all together. You still see that individuality, then the couple relationship, and then see how they all show that individuality among the bigger group. Not sure that makes sense… I guess I’m trying to say that each character has his own voice and personality, even when there are eight of them together. This is a big plot with lots going on. The werewolves are forced out, partly due to some things that Dylan and Alex do. It really isn’t something anyone chose, and certainly not something either of them wanted to be a part of. They have their own internal issues, Dylan has never shifted, Alex works him through that. Alex has never been with a man, Dylan works him through that. Alex takes on the role of Alpha, but he is so not suited to it. This causes some drama. Bad things happen to them and around them, they are pushed and pulled, and have very little control of their lives. Dylan has no idea about any of the pack/werewolf rules, and tromps all over them, Alex trying to keep him from making things even worse. It was all a wonderful mess!
I loved this book and this whole series. This is seriously one of the best paranormal series I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot. Sometimes I find myself drawn to short, cheesy werewolf books with m-preg, and magic, which are fun and fluffy, but totally unrealistic. Then I come across a series like this and I’m blown away. This is perfect. longer books allowing for a more complex plot, better character development and world building. This felt like something that could really happen. No, I know, werewolves aren’t real, but the way the humans react to the unknown is so real. I liked that the four books all linked together in a long developing story. There was lots of time for drama and angst, and a bit of death and violence. But under it all is the love of the characters. Some are stuck together whether they want to be or not at the beginning, but all are happy and in love at the end. The sex was off the chart hot, but also emotional and meaningful between each couple. Especially for Alex and Dylan due to their issues. Alex is so tentative and nervous, Dylan is so caring. I loved that they struggled with the Alpha thing, and their odd bonding. It was perfectly messed up, and led to some great sex scenes.
Basically this book was nearly perfect. I will say there were a couple of editing issues I noticed, which surprised me a bit, but nothing big enough to detract from the story. But it had everything I love about a book. Strong characters with a deep emotional bond. An intense plot with lots of details. A perfect happy ending. Excellent writing.
I so hope there is more to this series, this felt like a good ending point, but I’m greedy and I want more! I loved it!
All fans of werewolves or anything paranormal need to read this series immediately. They are not stand alone books, you have to read them in order to get it all. So worth it, I promise! Go get the first one RIGHT the fuck now, and start reading!