Series: SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team

Wolf Rising by Paige Tyler

Wolf Rising by Paige TylerWolf Rising by Paige Tyler
Series: SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team, #8
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on 30th October 2018
Pages: 384
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three-stars

Werewolf SWAT Officer Jayden Brooks has yet to meet The One—but when he rescues teacher Selena Rosa from a hostage situation at her high school, he knows he’s in trouble. Her scent is irresistible.

There’s a reason for that powerful scent—and it isn’t an expensive perfume. Thanks to the traumatizing events at the school, the werewolf gene flipped on and Selena’s going through the change. Even scarier, she’s on track to become an omega—an out-of-control and violent breed. It’s going to take everything Brooks has if he wants any chance to pull her back from the edge…and ultimately win her heart.

Eight books on into Paige Tyler’s shapeshifter SWAT series, ‘Wolf Rising’ finally goes deeper to explore the idea of the omega wolf: the long, violent ranger as opposed to the Alpha wolf pack like the SWAT team this series revolves around.

In the same pattern that Tyler takes with all the SWAT books, there’s the prologue that begins with a violent incident that marks the start of a man-turned-werewolf, then a period of time later as we find them settled as a motley crew of growling, all-too-alpha pack within a SWAT compound in Dallas and searching for their one true mate. The journey to each HEA is as always, fraught with some kind of danger, and it’s no different for Jayden Brooks who finds his one and only here after a traumatic event that starts her shifting process into an omega werewolf.

Tyler juggles several points of conflicts along with the romance: the war on drugs and gangbangers, the looming hunters, the unpredictable and uncontrollable omega wolf. But clearly all isn’t quite resolved yet as issues with the wolf hunters look to stretch further on into the future with barely any progress made on that front seeing as the romance and the omega wolf are what take priority in the plot.

With Tyler going with the myth of each shapeshifter finding the one and only mate for himself is one that I always find rather hard to swallow hook, line and sinker nonetheless—there are several gaps in logic and unanswerable questions that keep coming up—but it’s a trope of shapeshifting fantasy that certainly and conveniently helps cement a pairing together the moment they find each other. It seems that having part-wolf genes provides enough grounding rationale for instant love (or rather, lust), and the quick way in which Selena/Brooks fall for each other—attributed mostly to a scent both can’t shake off that’s probably akin to the first flush of love—left me sceptical.

Still, the mythology of werewolves at least, tailored-to fit in Tyler’s SWAT series, is what kept the pages turning for me as each book reveals a little more about them, despite several predictable plot points. Apart from Selena’s somewhat uncharacteristic TSTL behaviour after finding out what she’d become (this gets back on track rather quickly), ‘Wolf Rising’ is quite a straightforward and decent read that isn’t weighed down too much with convoluted past history despite being the eighth book in the series.

three-stars

Wolf Hunger by Paige Tyler

Wolf Hunger by Paige TylerWolf Hunger by Paige Tyler
Series: SWAT, #7
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on December 5th 2017
Pages: 212
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four-stars

Wolf shifter and SWAT Officer Max Lowry falls hard for she-wolf Lana Mason, but things spiral out of control when wolf hunters track her down, and Max realizes Lana has no idea who--or what--she really is.

When I first began Paige Tyler’s SWAT series some time ago, I did not expect it to take several turns which just didn’t resonate enough with me from book 3 onwards as SWAT members one after another, fell for their one and only mate in a blazing fashion that pretty  much meant instalove, instalust and an insta-HEA all rolled in one.

With ‘Wolf Hunger’ though, the series seemed to regain lost ground and the story was pretty much a savagely entertaining ride throughout. I’ve always wanted Max’s story and Tyler definitely delivered, especially after the listless reads from the previous books in this series that meandered a couple of times around the ‘been there, done that’ patch of grass, with a mythos that got less and less convincing as it wore on. But for this one, I jumped straight into Max’s and Lana’s story, only to get gut-punched by his tragic history, before getting reeled in by the thoroughly engrossing journey of Max finding his One (who didn’t know she was a werewolf) just as the werewolf hunters closed in on them.

There was some instalove involved still—the attraction between Max and Lana is written as iron-clad, set-in-stone and pretty much unshakeable from the beginning—but because both are generally likeable characters who don’t lurch into TSTL territory. Coupled with the fact that the instalove was also quite well-balanced by the suspense, I didn’t find it too hard to get invested in this pairing hook, line and sinker.

Above all, Tyler’s expansion of her werewolf universe certainly gave ‘Wolf Hunter’ more nuance and depth while melding a little humour with a ton of paranormal suspense. I liked that the introduction of the hunters showed the SWAT team’s vulnerability—that they do have enemies that can develop effective weapons against them—and I’m already hoping that Tyler works along this line for the next few books to come.

four-stars

Wolf Hunt by Paige Tyler

Wolf Hunt by Paige TylerWolf Hunt by Paige Tyler
Series: SWAT #6
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on June 6th 2017
Pages: 352
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two-stars

A STORM IS BREWING...Remy Boudreaux is back in his hometown, New Orleans. He's there with three of his fellow Dallas SWAT officers for a week of training with the NOLA PD. On the eve of a tropical storm, Remy and his buddies prowl the French Quarter. One tantalizing scent captures Remy's senses, forcing him to follow until he is face to face with Triana Bellamy—his beautiful high school crush.
After reconnecting, Remy and Triana are close—very. Remy struggles to keep things casual. Ever since his partner—and first love—was killed on the job, he's kept women at a distance.
But when a mysterious wolf pendant ropes them both into danger, Remy's protective instincts kick in. He may have to reveal his true self...and hope Triana accepts him.

I started out with high hopes for Paige Tyler’s SWAT series, liking the idea of a police SWAT team comprising alpha wolves and the surprising levity that came with Tyler’s storytelling. The idea has sunk in no…few books later and when it comes to setting up action and suspense, I’d be the first to say that ‘Wolf Hunt’ does well. I liked the New Orleans setting for one—the mystical bits especially seemed to gel quite well with the whole werewolf mythology and the unsolved case of Triana’s father’s murder that fell in line along with it. The bigger plot here is that there is an ongoing drug war that SWAT is facing as they fight to keep it off the streets. The cases are peripherally linked in some ways and Triana’s werewolf father adds a twist to the mix.

There are pitfalls though with this series—which is clearly something that affects just me.

I think the problem is that the idea of the werewolf’s soulmate—at least in Paige Tyler’s mythology—conveniently permits ‘destined’ couples to hook up early and without much of a period where even the possibility of being together is considered. But the insertion of paranormal elements, while exciting, reduces the impact of the romance itself because these elements seem to justify the existence of stereotypical character behaviour in this SWAT series and compromising character depth in favour of plot and action.

Tyler’s SWAT men are macho and testosterone filled—more so because they’re wolves—with a sexual appetite to boot (and therefore can tomcat around because their ‘primal sides’ need it), yet fall prey to the One woman (instant love) who can and will tame them after they’ve sampled all that other women have to offer, succumbing to several of the biggest clichés in romance in one fell swoop. It’s all attributed to fate rather than deliberate thought or action on the part of the characters, which just feels like a rehash of the romance trope of the free-swinging manwhore who is downed by one woman in the end.

In the opening chapters, after a brief explanation of being each other’s high school crushes that ultimately went nowhere, Remy and Triana dance, kiss and already plan for a hookup, effectively cancelling the sexual tension or at least some kind of build-up that could have had the readers on tenterhooks. Much of it is explained as though this hookup is merely a way of seizing the opportunity when they’d missed it so long ago and the chemistry that somehow instantly fizzled between them wasn’t entirely believable, especially not after a huge period of separation and losing touch.

Yet it’s as though the years have disappeared and suddenly, physical attraction is king when Triana is no longer the awkward, gangly girl that Remy can find himself ‘safely’ attracted to. Their background is pretty much angst-free, but I had the feeling that getting Remy and Triana together quickly was something get over with (coupled with typical descriptions that no other woman felt like her despite having slept with plenty), rather than it being the main part of the story, considering the action and the werewolf revelation to come, which made their underdeveloped, straight-to-sex relationship sort of trite.

Remy’s confession that he’d loved her since high school however, ruined the romance for me as it seemed not only to cheapen his previous relationship with Jess (whom he’d first claimed was the love of his life) but also the ‘one true pairing’ with Triana which he didn’t do a thing about back then.

Again, these are clearly my own issues with the SWAT team; ‘Wolf Hunt’ has disappointed me in several ways but my fondness for this series means I can’t quite let it go…just yet.

two-stars

A Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler

A Wolf Unleashed by Paige TylerA Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler
Series: SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team #5
Published by Sourcebook Casablanca on December 6th 2016
Pages: 352
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three-stars

Wolf shifter Alex Trevino has fallen hard for veterinarian Lacey Barton. Getting her to agree to a date is a lot of work—and winning her heart proves even harder.
Lacey can’t deny her crazy attraction to Alex, but she has no intention of letting herself fall for him. In her less than stellar experience, men don’t stick around.
When Lacey’s sister is kidnapped, it’s up to Alex to crack the case—and prove to Lacey that he isn’t going anywhere.

What seems like surface attraction really isn’t, it seems. Alex Trevino can’t get his eyes off Lacey Barton for reasons he can’t explain and wouldn’t stop until she agrees to a date with him. There are several peripheral issues that seem unrelated however, until Lacey finds herself involved in a sprawling, complicated case of drugs, kidnapping and abused dogs that calls SWAT into action.

‘Wolf Unleashed’ isn’t a bad read—far from it, in fact— but I struggled with keeping my interest in it because it dealt with very similar issues that had been rehashed over the past few books: the rather clichéd myth about finding ‘The One’ proven to be the werewolf’s soulmate and the eventual acceptance of it, the predictable fallout when female lead character discovers that the guy in question is a werewolf and the rather staid case of dogfighting with the ongoing drug war which seemed separate from Lacey’s and Alex’s developing story.

The story isn’t quite a standalone as well as it does pull many references to the plots of Paige Tyler’s previous books which I imagine could pose some problems for those who jump straight into this story without having read the first few installments. Tyler juggles a huge cast of characters—the SWAT team and their significant others do make repeated appearances—so ‘Wolf Unleashed’ can get confusing at times, especially with a winding plot with threads that only come together loosely towards the end of the book.

I wished though, that other aspects and characteristics of werewolf-ism could have been explored further, like the issue of dominance of the werewolf with dogs, why the ability to scent is stronger than others and whether Lacey’s profession could have contributed to dealing with werewolf anatomy (and not in a dirty way!). Would the werewolf secret be blown open though? I do hope Tyler will take it in this direction, rather than keep this an open secret that seems to be the case in all the books so far. That said, there is a plethora of action and behaviour that thankfully doesn’t quite veer into TSTL territory, which are good enough reasons to take this up.

three-stars