After cutting my teeth on the fifth book in this series, a story I gave 5 stars, I was excited to receive a review copy of Silver Moon. Ayla and Shannon are fantastic characters. It’s nice to read about an established couple, they’ve been together 6 years, and even though they are solid, being a were-shifter and human couple that union is often tested. There are a number of side-characters in this story. Sous chef, Vince being one of my favorites. This installment is full of mystery and suspense. The drug silver kiss is causing all kinds of havoc, the people distributing it need to be found and brought to justice! Watching everyone race to solve the crime, human and shifter working together, kept me turning the pages. I figured out who one of the baddies might’ve been, but never predicted the outcome. The characters in wolf form were wonderful, I could picture the pack. My heart warmed at the playful moments, and broke when one was maimed! Shannon is a private investigator and her skills are certainly put to the test throughout the story. Both girls’ loyalties are put to the test for various reasons… reasons I’m not going to reveal in the name of a spoiler free review. To find out what becomes of this cast of, good and bad, characters you’ll need to get your hands on a copy of this story. So as I said at the beginning I started with book 5. The plus side of that was even though I’d had a glimpse into their relationship, a very steamy one at that, I got to know so much more about their characters and became more invested in them. The downside, based on book 5 I expected more heat especially as Ayla and Shannon have been together for a number of years. However, I appreciate not every author throws their couple into erotic rapture in the first book of a series. I recommend this to readers who enjoy urban fantasy, wolf shifters, mystery and suspense.
Urban Wolf, 2
Ayla Hammond has come home. After years as a lone wolf in a self-imposed exile, she's rejoining the pack and trying to mend fences with her parents. She's convinced them to accept her girlfriend, but can a lone wolf change her ways? As if homecoming wasn't hard enough, Ayla also can't help getting involved in a missing person case. With pressure to solve the case mounting from the pack alphas, Ayla is starting to question where her loyalties lie—and if a return to the pack she left behind is really what she wants.
Be Warned: f/f sex
Nightfall brought a light snow shower and flakes melted on my skin like cold little kisses as I stretched, preparing for the bone-popping pain of the change. Although the waning moon was obscured by thick snow clouds, I could still feel her energy firing through my blood. I threw my head back and howled as the change took me, relishing the answering howls that echoed through the night. Other wolves, other Pack members, ran tonight and I was one of them again. Despite all my reservations, the glow of that knowledge hadn’t diminished yet.
I padded through the streets, claws clacking on the pavement. To my wolf senses, the night was alive with sounds and scents that were muffled and dull to my human body. I could smell the gravy from the meal I’d just eaten, hear the slam of a back door a few streets away. An owl hooted softly somewhere nearby and a cat yowled in response. As I passed through the estate, a few dogs barked and snarled at their windows, upset by the presence of a werewolf.
I picked up speed as I left the estate and entered the city again.
It was getting late and most people were inside. A few small groups drifted past me, snapping photos with their mobile phones.
Snow dusted my black fur as I paused to sniff a discarded pizza box. A few shreds of pepperoni remained in the box and I gulped them down before moving on. The change burned through a lot of energy, so despite Mum’s massive meal, my stomach was already growling. As a human, I’d have turned my nose up at cold pizza, but as a wolf it was a nice little treat.
I headed west, out of the city and towards the park that bordered Foxglove. I could get a proper run there before reaching home. I could already smell the slightly sickly perfume of the flowers that gave the estate its name and hear the muted yaps of two other wolves rough-housing together. The sound tugged at me, urging me on. I wanted to join in, tussle and wrestle with them.
I found the pair of them a few minutes later as I entered the park. One adult wolf, one younger—a tawny adolescent— chased each other round, snapping and snarling at each other in that kind of play-fighting that verged on real. That drew me up short and I dropped to my belly before they saw me.
My paws crunched in the fresh-fallen snow and I laid my ears back with a whine, no longer sure I wanted to play. The older wolf, a dusky blond, bowled over the younger and clamped his teeth round the other’s throat with a rumbling growl.
There was something different about this wolf. He didn’t smell like Pack, but wildly foreign, an odor that both excited and scared me. I crouched low, ears flat, tail tucked between my legs as I watched. When he released his grip on the younger wolf with a snarl, the cub flopped to the snowy ground, exposing his belly with a whine. The dominant wolf nudged at his flanks, tail held erect in a classic posture of strength and the youngster scrambled back to his feet and shot off into the park with a yelp.
For a second I thought the dominant wolf would chase after him, ignoring me. I stayed low, hoping to avoid notice, but the breeze was going the wrong way, carrying my scent straight to him. He swung his great head straight towards me, hackles high. I held my own submissive position, quivering with a cocktail of nerves and energy. He was a feral, there was no doubt about that. In all my years as a lone wolf, I’d never met a feral. They were almost mythical; werewolves who chose to live as wolves, cutting away their humanity in favor of the wilderness that lurked in us all.
What the hell was one doing in the city limits, bullying a Pack youngster?
He bounded over to me with a sharp bark, warning me to stay put while he thoroughly investigated me, cold snout poking at my groin and belly. I closed my eyes and put up with his nosing, even if the human part of my brain was screaming in outrage. The wolf part of me knew better than to protest. He was twice my size and weight; there was no way I’d beat him in a fight. So I stayed still while he sniffed me over, fighting to ignore the hot flush of fear he gave me.
After a minute or so he backed off, letting me up. I rolled to my feet, keeping my head low. We huffed at each other, breath fogging in the night air. His hackles were down, but his amber eyes were narrowed, wary, like he didn’t know what to make of me either. I probably smelled as alien to him as he did to me: a muddle of city scents and the earthy signature of Pack.
We faced each other for a long, dark moment and then I took a cautious step forward. He rushed me, snapping at my neck with an angry yowl. I yelped as his fangs tore into my skin and dropped back into my crouch. Hot blood dripped from the wound, sending a spike of panic through me. I cowered, assuming the meekest pose I could. I didn’t want to fight him.
He chuffed at me, shaking his thick ruff, then pressed his nose to the ground, snuffling through the snow. Picking up the other wolf’s scent, I decided when he turned toward the direction the youngster had run. The feral wolf gave me one last look, feigned a snap at me, then trotted off after the youngster. In seconds he was gone, hidden by the curling mist.
I collapsed onto my side, as exhausted and shaken as if we had actually fought. Adrenaline rode me hard, the thrill and fear of the encounter twisting my stomach. I tried to crane my head enough to examine the bite on my shoulder, but it was impossible. I’d have to get Shannon to look at it.
With a grunt, I forced myself to my feet and headed home. I had to pace myself. My shoulder pulled as I walked, a tight line of pain all the way down my right foreleg. I hoped feral wolves didn’t carry any diseases. The last thing I wanted was a raging case of rabies.
Where to start? There are so many good things to say about SILVER KISS. One could start with the delight inherent in finding a novel where werewolves don't play second fiddle to hawt 'n' sexy 'n' angsty vampires. One could go further back and dwell on the rarity of a book starring werewolves which is set in a world where vampires don't even exist. One could take a moment to enjoy finding an urban fantasy novel set in England rather than the US. One could mention these, and many other things that make this novel a great find. However, to do so would be to do a great disservice to the author. What makes SLIVER KISS such a rollicking good read is not these details. Rather, it is the skill of the author. Clark weaves a tight story around believable characters and delivers a novel that balances action and suspense with emotion and deep, engrossing world-building. In a world where werewolf birth rates are declining and young pack members are under great pressure to marry and start popping out pups, a lesbian pack member would have a whole unique set of problems. This is the world Ayla finds herself in. The fact that her girlfriend is human is beside the point. Several years after she left the pack she's coming home. Have the pack's attitudes changed? What about her parents? What about this missing person case? And, of course, there's this new drug doing the rounds of the werewolf community. It's harmless. So why are so many wolves going loco? If you're a wild child with a secret hankering to run across the grass on paws and in fur, but hate the way your lupine brethren (and sistren!) always end up overshadowed by the bloodsuckers, SILVER KISS is for you. Join me in howling at the full moon, won't you?
Some books wrap themselves up in the trope of a genre like a comfortable blanket, and others seem to transcend genre and theme with their very nature. Silver Kiss is one of these. Labeled an "urban werewolf novel" not true urban fantasy it's the tale of Ayla, a werewolf, and Shannon, a human, together trying to make a new life with Ayla's Pack and family. Except the recent murder of Ayla's cousin Adam (which drew her back to the Pack in the first place) might not be an isolated event. To top it off there's a new street drug out there that's highly addictive to werewolves and triggers their animal instincts, making them rage filled animals ready to fight. Sure enough Shannon and Ayla get dragged (and blackmailed) in, ending up way over their heads. Silver Kiss is a werewolf mystery, not an urban fantasy or paranormal romance, with a strong overlying theme of community and family acceptance, how it relates to humans, werewolves, and lesbians. Ayla is a high strung character, possibly the book's only flaw as her nervous energy infects a book that otherwise has very much normalized the concept of werewolves and werewolf culture. Her emotionality does, at times, distract from the main plot, or close it down as her independent streak leads her to not trust the people around her, not even family and friends. However Clark has spun an interesting balance of world elements, the paranormal and the struggle for normalcy in what's considered deviancy even in our supposedly modern and accepting culture. Highly recommended for library collections, with a good mystery and moments of surprising depth, Silver Kiss is the sort of stand out, inclusive fiction that more collections should be proud to have on their shelves. Contains: sex, violence, cursing