*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Kelly Meade has solidified my love of werewolves with her refreshing new alphas of Cornerstone, the McQueens are beyond SWOON-WORTHY!
Kelly Meade has definitely changed the game with her new world of werewolves. I’ve read plenty of books with werewolves, they’re my second favorite supe, but I haven’t come across anything like this fascinating world of loup garou and magic Meade’s created. World building can sometimes overpower a “first in a series” book, but I found myself devouring every detail shared about Cornerstone, its politics, inhabitants and history.
First and foremost I have to say how much I love the play on names for the McQueen Brothers: Knight, Bishop and Rook. I thought this was so clever and tied into the plot perfectly, like a strategic game of chess where each character has an important role. The usual werewolf myths do not apply in this world, I definitely feel Meade’s loup garou are in a class all their own.
A loup garou’s social standing and strengths are almost predetermined by their wolf’s color, each group has its own pros and cons; color can even play a role in mating and reproduction. For instance, all firstborns of families are alphas by default, their position can only be preempted by a black wolf, who supersede all other wolves when pertaining to alpha status. White wolves are intuitive and rare, therefore very special in the loup garou community which is referred to as a run and not a pack, I thought that was a cool new term. The white wolf’s mythology is the most intriguing to me but I’ll have to wait until White Knight is released to learn more. There are also no destined mates among the loup garou, only potential mates, which I found refreshing. While I love that I was immersed in this world of loup garou, I like that there is a good mix of supes with the vampires and Magi which adds diversity to the story. Each supernatural being has a distinctive scent to the loup garou which makes it easy for them to distinguish their enemies.
As the second daughter of Archimedes Atwood, a powerful Magus, Brynn Atwood is pretty much the black sheep of the community due to her lack of power and precognitive powers. When Brynn sees her father murdered at the hands of a loup garou in one of her visions, she travels to Cornerstone in order to find and stop the killer before he carries out his plan. What she finds instead is Rook McQueen, the son of Cornerstone’s Alpha, who stirs up all kinds of feelings and a sense of family for Brynn that she’s never felt among her own people. As they work together to find the real killer, Brynn and Rook uncover a dangerous enemy that threatens both their worlds and are faced with making a difficult choice for the greater good.
I wouldn’t call Brynn a bad ass heroine but she does have some kick ass qualities, if that makes any sense. She’s compassionate, courageous and loyal, even when it comes to her father who sees her as a disappointment. Brynn comes off as a naive and impulsive young woman, but her true strengths are shown as the story progresses. She’s like a fish out of water when she arrives at Cornerstone and it was great to see her hold her own among the loup garou, mainly the McQueens…she’s a tough cookie! There are a few secrets revealed about her origin I was suspicious about, but I was not expecting some of the things I learned. I’ll admit I wasn’t blown away by Brynn but she grew on me halfway through the book.
Rook was an unexpected surprise for an alpha, he’s assertive but not over the top. He’s a reformed “bad boy” rock star and struggles with who he wants to be and what is expected of him as a black wolf. He’s the youngest McQueen brother but as a black wolf has the choice of becoming Alpha or relinquishing that title to his older brother Bishop, who has been training for the position his entire life. I love how he does have all the qualities of a good Alpha but wears his heart on his sleeve, Rook is devoted to his family and will sacrifice himself for the ones he loves..if that’s not a hero I don’t know what is. The McQueen brothers’ bond is heartwarming, they have very different personalities but equally love each other unconditionally. I was expecting a little sibling rivalry between them but they were thick as thieves with no real drama among them.
The romance between Brynn and Rook is fun and flirty but minimal. The chemistry is there and I thought the sexual tension was going to make for a great couple of epic smexy scenes between these two, but I was left wanting, the romance took a backseat to the action and suspense. Normally I would be furious with the lack of sex in a book like this but I have to be honest and say that I was so engaged with the story and characters that I didn’t mind (this might be a first people!). I like the pairing of Brynn and Rook, they compliment each other very well and are really sweet together. I thought she also had a little chemistry with Knight before Rook came into the picture but that was obviously not going to happen. Those McQueen brothers really know how to steal the show from each other!
I would say BLACK ROOK has more characteristics of an Urban Fantasy with a dash of Paranormal Romance, just because there is more character development and world building and less smexiness between the characters, but that’s just my opinion. Kelly Meade has a gift for story telling that’s enviable, I couldn’t get enough of this paranormal world and its characters! Meade allows the reader to connect with each character, hero or villain, which is not an easy feat. I also feel the supporting characters in this story are just as engrossing and shine as much as the hero and heroine, I loved equally. Filled with mystery, action and a HEA, BLACK ROOK is a phenomenal series debut that will leave you hungry for more! The McQueen brothers are officially my new book boyfriends!