Beneath the Skin. (The Wolf Within) Amy Lee Burgess.
Having been given book three in the series for review and loved it I had to buy books one and two. This review is as always independent of whether I’ve bought it or received for free. Integrity is important to me, and the views I’ve given are personal and honestly held.
First in a paranormal romance series about shifter wolves. Its an excellent introduction introducing Stanzie who lost her bond mates in a terrible car accident two years earlier. She was blamed by her pack mates, even though she was cleared by the Council as they believe she was drunk and they chose to ban her from their pack. Two years have passed and Stanzie can apply to rejoin another pack if she finds a new bond mate. She is at a Regional gathering in France for this purpose when she’s reunited with an old lover. Everything is going well and she feels promise for a new future when tragedy strikes her again and she is accused of his murder. She joins forces to clear her name with Liam Murphy, a former Alpha who also has a complicated past. Guided by Councillor Allerton they investigate several other accidents as he wants some discreet enquiries made to see if there is more to these than meets the eye.
Stanzie is a lovely character who has been caught up in events through no fault of her own. Liam is a typical alpha needing to help someone who he can see will be blamed for an event for which she is clearly innocent. The book centres on both the events and the characters. Stanzie and Liam are both working on how to get along, Stanzie has been abandoned by both her pack and her family and is struggling to understand Liam. He’s a fantastic man – trying hard to help her and yet victim of his own sad story. Initially they don’t appear to get in and yet are thrown together by events (and the manoeuvrings of Councillor Allerton ) and gradually become closer.
The characters are so well described that even though I’ve now read this book three times and know what is coming I’m still moved to tears for poor Stanzie, and understand Liam’s withdrawals when he’s feeling angry over events he’s trying to put behind him. Stanzie has a controlling bully of a father, difficulties from her former Alpha who disliked her and then lost the two people who were her loves. Her wolf is very childlike and known and laughed at throughout the Pack and she struggles with confidence because of her troubled past. Despite this she’s very intuitive and intelligent and thus Councillor Allerton see her and Liam as being a good team to help him in his investigations. The book is centred around the people and how the events interact with them – that’s my favourite style of writing. Its written from the viewpoint of Stanzie and again that’s something that always makes books more real to me – I feel as if I’m actually in the novel and get lost in another world. The plots centre around the tragedies but also flashback to past ones to give a fuller picture. Its a very easy to follow story, well written and edited and going to become one of my favourite re read series. There’s something new to find on each subsequent reading and the story remains fresh even though I know what’s going to happen.
It does have some sex scenes although not graphic and they are integral to the story. It also has some swearing and again it fits within the characters feelings at the time. Its 175 pages for £3.67 as an e reader and to me real value for money being one I’ll keep to re read. Its not currently available as a print version.
Stars – Five stars, its a gripping story that I can’t fault and real value for money.
while waiting for this one what about reading some of the earlier ones…well worth it. I’ll add my reviews of those too soon.
Across the Line. Amy Lee Burgess.
ARC supplied by Netgalley.
Regular readers of my reviews will know this series is one of my all time favourites. Each time a new one is out I wonder how it will measure up to the past novels, and if Amy can keep up that high standard she’s set. Well, once again a real five star book! I don’t know how on earth Amy manges to take these people, put them in situations that are so real and dangerous and yet keep the storyline fresh and new. But she does. This time Stanzie is sent to England to investigate a territory dispute. Simple eh? But of course it soon escalates into more, and we meet people from past books. Amy manages once again to get me feeling differently about them, I hated some of them in past books, and yet here she shows us some of the reasons that shape their behaviour, and I ended up feeling more sympathetic to them. Even almost liking Colin – and I thought he was a real jerk. Its that ALB magic with words woven once again….and just as how I wondered about Murphys reasons for walking away from Stanzie in book one, when one of the group of diners brings up her accident with Grey and Elena, and suggests she’s a murderer, then my mind was changed in a later book, and in this one I learned even more about why Murphy may have acted as he did, and it wasn’t anything like Stanzie thought but a reaction to another person. I’m horribly self conscious – Stanzie seems to have the same problem, and I’ve read that actually self conscious people have a form of arrogance thinking everything borders around them, ( and of course that doesn’t help, we still stammer, blush and get clammy hands…its not something we can control). Here in this book I can see that played out in action, as with this one incident where Stanzie thinks she’s the cause, and in fact she’s not and as when she gets upset over things, brooding and mentally thinking them over, ( yep, very familiar actions, I do that, and as she does I replay conversations over and over) and it comes out later that she’s just incidental to the action and not the cause. It’s really cleverly done, and opens the reader to a different viewpoint, there’s Stanzie’s thoughts, then whoever else is involved. Throw in some past history and what results is nothing like I’d envisaged.
So, Stanzie gets sent to investigator, the problem goes from trivial to dangerous, Murphy comes along in a new role (hurrah, I felt at first he wasn’t going to be able to come) and the ever calm and Machiavellian Jason Allerton takes a large part too.
I love Murphy, he’s upset Stanzie in the past though his motives were good and he tried to help. Jason Allerton, well he such a schemer you know when he’s involved things are going to turn out nothing like you imagined, and yet his intentions are for the good of the pack and the members. Stanzie- I feel for her, I really do. I share lots of her fears, never quite fitting in, always trying to do the right thing but feeling very self conscious of how others perceive her. I love her, and yet at times she’s so frustrating I’d like to shake her. She opens her mouth and you never know just what’s going to come out. She shreds poor Murphy at times with her words, though he makes mistakes he doesn’t intend to hurt her, he loves and wants to protect her. She’s still struggling to get past Sorcha however much he tells her she doesn’t need to compare herself. Sometimes when they’re in the midst of another blow up I think “oh god, this is it, they’ll say things they can’t take back” and yet one will laugh and they both see the funny side and then…woah – some smoking hot sex results. They’ve a very volatile relationship and yet very hot and loving too.
It was fascinating to see the way Amy once again weaves some seemingly disparate events from past books into major plots in this one, and how the history of different characters and their involvements has such an action on what happens here. I’m fascinated by how I feel I know so well many of the people in the book, and yet they do things I just wouldn’t expect, and I’ve never yet guessed who’s behind all the events played out. This book caught me out once again, I had my mental list but as much as I could make up motives I also found reasons why each person could be innocent. I guess its hard to believe people will stoop to the level they do 😦 much as in real life.
Well, I’ve rambled on forever on my thoughts about Across the Line, so I’ll sum up – once again a cracking adventure, with almost all my favourite people ( I missed Kathy, though liked the snickerdoodle reference, like Murphy that name makes me snigger) and a book that’s not heavily US biased in language but that uses UK idioms. I get so fed up of supposedly British people calling each other “Baby/Babe…” we don’t – I’ve never been called it, called anyone that or heard anyone called it. Honey, as Murphy calls Stanzie ( and it warms me each time ) is much more natural and appropriate. Equally we don’t have side-walks, elevators, SUV’s, gas for cars, garbage etc. and its so good to read an author that takes time to research these things. It adds so much to the feel of the novel, I felt I was in England not some US version of a generic place.
Stars: Once again a full well deserved five 🙂 I haven’t price info but past books have been very reasonably priced and its a massive 100.00 words (yay!) 264 epages.