Posted in *****4.5 Stars*****, ARC Review, By Rating, Dreamspinner Press, Home, LGBT Books, M/M ARC, M/M Book, Promotions, Release Day Review, Reviews by~Simone~

~Release Day Review~Off the Beaten Path by Cari Z.~


36095814Title: Off the Beaten Path
Author: Cari Z.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Page Count: 200 pages
Genre(s): M/M Romance, Werewolves/Shapeshifters
Release Date: September 18, 2017
Reviewer: ~Simone~
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5


When Ward Johannsen’s little girl Ava shifted into a werewolf, she was taken into custody by the feds and shipped off to the nearest pack, all ties between father and daughter severed. Ward burned every bridge he had discovering her location, and then almost froze to death in the Colorado mountains tracking her new pack down. And that’s just the beginning of his struggle.
Henry Dormer is an alpha werewolf and an elite black ops soldier who failed his last mission. He returns home, hoping for some time to recuperate and help settle the pack’s newest member, a little pup named Ava who can’t shift back to her human form. Instead he meets Ward, who refuses to leave his daughter without a fight. The two men are as different as night and day, but their respect for each other strikes a spark of mutual interest that quickly grows into a flame. They might find something special together—love, passion, and even a family—if they can survive trigger-happy pack guardians, violent werewolf politics, and meddling government agencies that are just as likely to get their alpha soldiers killed as bring them home safely.

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“It’s not your place to take care of me.”
“It is now, though,” I said earnestly. “You’re my pack.”
“You feel like pack. You might feel like more.”

The Eye of the Werewolf

Granted, the circumstances under which Ward Johannsen and Henry Dormer met are not the best, to put it mildly.

Ward lands on Henry’s doorstep -literally-, on the brink of drawing his last breath -also quite literally- in search of his little daughter, Ava, who got snatched from under his nose by the government and sent to Henry’s pack after turning into a werewolf. Ava is all the world to Henry and with nothing else to lose, he moves heaven and hell to find her, his own delicate state of health notwithstanding and fully intent on not letting himself be put off by an intimidating alpha werewolf.



Henry, who is not only the Alpha of the La Garita pack but also due to some strange and dishonest regulations forced to work as an elite black ops soldier for the government, is hanging almost by a thread after an assignment gone wrong. He came home to recuperate, just to find himself not only confronted with a sense of estrangement -topped off with some territorial fights- and the government always breathing down his neck, but also face to face with a tenacious human who refuses unwaveringly to show his fear, much less leave his daughter’s side.

What begins as a growing respect and a weird sense of protectiveness for each other, turns slowly but surely into some deeper feelings which threaten to alienate the pack even further, while at the same time, a sense of impending doom is looming over their heads…

I must admit that I’m a bit nitpicky when it comes to shifter stories, but the blurb intrigued me on the spot and since I enjoyed every book I’ve read so far from this author, I was not able to resist this story. I did not get disappointed this time around, either, so I think it’s safe to assume that the author and I just click.

The world building is very different from everything I’ve read so far, not to say unique in its own way, with a distinct approach to the origin of werewolves. Did I like how the werewolves were treated by so-called socialized human beings? No. But it’s not different from how society treats outcasts in our real world and the author spells our manners out for us, in a metaphorical sense.

What really drew me into the story, though, were the characters. I just loved Ward’s sense of humor…

“Horribly long teeth in a distorted jaw snapped less than an inch in front of my face, and I did what any rational person would in the face of a supernatural nightmare.I screamed loud enough to raise the dead, and fought back.”

… and I adored him for his strong soul. There is lots of steel under his apparently weak exterior which leads to him meeting Henry head-on and me chuckling more than once when he did not take any shit from the Alpha.

I loved Henry for his protectiveness towards Ward, but also for his vulnerability. I so do have a soft spot for a seemingly big tough guy with a violable core, which is always a win for me. Throw in a healthy dose of hurt/comfort and happy Simone is happy. Oh, umm, you might think now that it is the ‘weak’ human who needs it, right? Wrong! Speaking of a different approach… 😉

Admittedly, I’m always a bit torn when kids are involved, which can be a hit or miss for me, but Ava just rocked and -let’s be honest- who can resist an adorable wolf puppy? Yep, not me.

Oh my gosh! Soo freakin' cute!!  (And I would still definitely have the cutest kids ever!!)

The romance was really slow burn, with more emphasis on the relationship development and sweet moments than being overly steamy, but it just fits the story and sometimes too many hot scenes can distract from everything else.

“Was it love? Or was it just my desire not to be alone surging through my veins? It might be either, but whatever it was, it was real. I looked at Ward and knew I’d found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I didn’t trust easily, but I trusted him. I wanted him. He was my partner. My mate.”

The whole thing was supported by strong side characters and I would love to see more of them. Maybe…probably… hopefully…Tennyson’s and Davis’s story?!

Recommended for everyone with a penchant for out of the ordinary shifter stories!

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