Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Wolf and the Holly
SERIES: The Rowan Harbor Cycle #2
AUTHOR: Sam Burns
LENGTH: 199 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 8, 2018
Five years ago, Jesse dropped out of college and came home to Rowan Harbor to find safety with his pack. A broken man, he’s been living as though the world is ending—allergic to responsibility and spending most of his nights at the local bar.
But he can’t avoid growing up forever. On the night of his thirtieth birthday party, he finds his childhood friend Isla unconscious, attacked in the middle of their peaceful hometown. The wolf inside him wants to protect its people from the slick-haired, smooth-talking vampire who’s brought trouble to town, and Jesse can’t run from his instincts any longer.
Now that his inner wolf is out of its cage, it’s picked the most inconvenient moment to find its mate. Sean Anderson—recently back from college and much changed from the skinny preteen Jesse once knew—is just what he never knew he needed.
Back to Rowan Harbor we go in this second book of what I believe to be a 9-book series (as the author explained it, The Rowan Harbor Cycle is a trilogy of trilogies, with the books circling (or cycling) through three sets of MCs as their stories and the story of Rowan Harbor expands). This book is basically the story of Jesse–the very reluctant would-be Alpha werewolf that was featured as a friend of Devon, the MC in book one. I really enjoyed his parts in Blackbird in the Reeds so was looking forward to getting to know him further.
For reasons that come to light later in the story, Jesse has spent the last few years trying his damnedest to convince the town–and more importantly his mother–that they have the wrong wolf for the job when it comes to who is going to take over his mother’s spot on the town’s Council. But wouldn’t you know it, fate–or more importantly Rowan Harbor–has its sights set on Jesse and isn’t going to let go so easily. And when he discovers the beaten body of a friend in an alley mere hours after a strange vampire waltzes into town, he might not be fighting that responsibility so hard. Especially if it means he can beat the bastard who put Isla into a comma, into the ground.
I found that with a lot of the set-up for this world taken care of in book one, that this book has a much better flow to it. Why I wouldn’t exactly call this a mystery, the questions posed in this–and the previous book–do get a lot more time to grow and be resolved (mostly) without constantly having to take time to fill the reader (and the MC) in on what exactly is going on around them. As a result it was a lot easier for me to sink into this story than it was in Blackbird. The character themselves–especially Sean Anderson, Jesse’s mate–don’t get as fleshed out as I would have liked, but seeing as how we are going to be getting to know them over the next seven book I don’t mind all that much.
As to the romance in this story…well, it is very much the beginnings of a romance, more than anything else. I do wish there had been a bit more to tide me over till we get the couple again as MCs in book five, but it was very sweet. I can’t wait to learn more about Sean, whose background is bound to make for some great scenes later on. Mostly I was just very pleased with what I got, even if what I got left me desperately asking “please sir, can I have some more?”
Overall this book was a bit better than the first one, though the characters in both books have me hooked into this series. I find that Burns way of writing characters makes it incredibly easy to believe in their stories and want to stick around for more. I’m really looking forward to the next book centering on Deputy Fletcher–a character that basically made me want to run after him with a blanket and a request to cuddle him to death, in this book. The story ended on a lovely hook for book three and his character. Can’t wait to see where it goes.