Cole Harker, son of an alpha werewolf, is bigger and more powerful than most wolves, tongue-tied in groups, and gay. For 24 years, he's lived to please his family and pack - even letting them promise him in marriage to female werewolf Analiese to secure a pack alliance and help save them from a powerful gangster who wants their land. Cole then meets Analiese's half-brother, panther shifter Paris Marketo, and for the first time, Cole wants something for himself. When Analiese runs off to marry a human, Cole finally has a chance with Paris, but the solitary cat rejects him, the pack, and everything it represents. Cole discovers the gangster wants Paris, too, and won't rest until he has him. What started as a land dispute turns into World War Wolf! But the bigger fight is the battle between cats and dogs.
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This is a unique shifter book in that Cole is no typical alpha. He stutters, he’s awkward, he’s shy, and – he’s mated to a panther! Paris, his mate, is extremely cat like, shifty, sinuous, slinky and … solitary. This makes his being mated to Cole very hard, and forms the crux of their dilemma. Tara Lain likes to give us quirky, sometimes odd MCs and then show us why we should love them. It takes some doing – Cole is really stiff and sometimes hard to read. Paris is very cocky and stand-offish, hard to wrap your mental cuddle around. In the end, however, we see their soft-underbellies and they manage to worm their way into our hearts. I had to combine the audio and book review together because the unique nature of the book influences the audio version’s palatability. When I read this book earlier in the year, I loved it straight away. Gave it 5 of 5 stars. Then I read the second in the series, and loved it even more! I was therefore excited to listen to the audio very much. Ugh!
At first I had to stop listening and go back to the book. Was it the narrator or the story that was bothering me so much? So, I went back to read the book again. Ahhh – I get it! The rhythm of the book, the writing style, mimics animal thought and impressions. Something that translates really well on paper, but would take a discerning eye/ear for to read aloud. Tara does a funny play on words, uses sounds and pauses that work to put you in the mind of a wolf running through the woods. Maybe no one could do it well, hard to say, but the unique wording and timing just didn’t translate well when read aloud by Max Lehnen. Max’s voice is sort of garbled, like he has a mouth full of marbles, and the lack of clarity bugged me. Then there was his inflection. I tried to tell myself that not everyone needs to “act” a story out. A good narration can be one where the narrator disappears leaving us only the words, not his interpretation of the words. But Max didn’t do that either, at least not real well. He had just enough inflection to draw notice to himself, but not enough to do justice to what he was reading. To appease my curiosity, I looked at some of Max’s other reviews and read similar complaints, and some high praises. Some people really liked his style – thought he was genuine and sincere, others thought he sounded hokey and patronizing. I have to agree with the latter. I won’t say he isn’t a good narrator, just that he didn’t do this book justice. I so wanted to like this audio book! I wanted to get the next book in the series on audio, too but… I won’t. Not now. So overall- I highly recommend the book The Pack or the Panther, I give it 5 of 5 stars! As for the audio version, I’d say listen to the sample on audible.com – if you’re the type that likes that sort of “old timey” voice, then you’ll love Max’s interpretation, but it didn’t do it for me. I gave the audio version a 2 of 5 stars.