Black Gold (Takhini Wolves, Book 1)

Black GoldBy Vivian Arend

Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Author

Lone wolf Shaun Steven’s automatic response to the words “happily ever after”? Kill me now. Yet with all his friends settling down he’s begun to think there may actually be something to this love-and-roses crap.

One thing’s for sure: his dream mate will have to out-cuss, out-spit and out-hike him. So he never expected the one to push his forever button would be a blue-blooded Southern debutante with a voice as dark and velvety as her skin.

When Gemmita Jacobs steps off the plane in Whitehorse, Yukon, it’s about more than her research project. It’s her declaration of independence from an overprotected upbringing. Except there’s something in the air she can’t quite define—something that unexpectedly rouses her mating instincts.

Moments after their eyes lock, the deed is done—and done thoroughly. When the pheromone dust settles, though, all the reasons they don’t belong together become painfully clear.

It’s enough to make a wolf learn a whole new set of cuss words…

Warning: Two strong wolves getting exactly what they deserve. Includes wilderness nookie, shifters being naughty in public places, the Midnight Sun as a canopy for seduction and grizzly shifters on the loose. Oh, and don’t forget the sarcasm.

Goodreads Summary

Looking to spread her wings and prove to her very wealthy father that she’s more than just his pampered little girl, Gem Jacobs has made arrangements to travel to the Yukon on her own for a research project. It doesn’t take her long to figure out that she’s a little out of her element – her hotel bathroom doesn’t have a bidet and she never thought about checking in with the local alpha to let him know she’d be passing through his territory, a shape shifter faux pas. Fortunately she brought her southern manners and a lovely cashmere sweater because she found herself escorted to see Evan, the regional alpha wolf, in his bar shortly after she arrived. She’s hit with something completely unexpected there – what she thinks is the scent of her mate, but it’s not Evan (who’s pretty amused by what he sees going on).

Earlier in the day, his pack-mate Shaun was mired in self-pity and getting a pretty good drunk-on with some quality moonshine with Evan in his office. He’s unmated, lonely and feeling a little unchallenged with his job as a pilot and guide.

Now back at the hotel, Shaun is sleeping off the mother of all hangovers when he smells something utterly delicious in the adjoining room. Instinct sends him through the door and literally on top of Gem, who recognizes that this is the mate she’d scented in the bar. Willing and eager to accept him, they spend the night together – Shaun has a little morning-after problem though. He doesn’t remember a single thing. When neither can agree to compromise on where to live, they decide to hold off on completing the mating bond.

Shaun is less than thrilled to find out the crazy researcher who hired him to fly them out into the wild is actually Gem. He’s sure she’s unprepared and if he can stall her long enough, she’ll change her mind and he can take her back to his home which works about as well as you’d expect. Gem proves more determined and resourceful than he gives her credit for and when the two of them get stuck in a plot than endangers their lives, they find out how much they’ve come to depend on and trust each other.

This book is an offshoot of Arend’s really terrific Granite Lake Wolf series (Wolf Signs, Wolf Flight, Wolf Games and Wolf Tracks with Wolf Lines to be released next summer) and characters from there are woven up a little here – and TJ from Wolf Tracks makes a little cameo. While this reads perfectly well as a standalone, it’s really a pleasure to have some extra background with the Wolfies.

I usually take notes when I read and the top line on my notepad for this one is, “1% – laughed out loud.” The book starts off with a barroom brawl between a bunch of drunken bear shifters that Evan and Shaun are breaking up while casually talking. It’s so funny and playful – exactly one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed all of the Granite Lake books and now this one. There were little moments sprinkled through the book that would just catch me off guard and make me laugh (they often seem to have involved those bear shifters).

I loved both Gem and Shaun a lot. She’s a total fish out of water in the Yukon. Not just Daddy’s Sheltered Princess, she comes from an area where wolves just don’t shift for pleasure, so Shaun’s entire way of being a wolf is alien to her. She’s still determined to make the most of her time away from home and is entranced by the places Shaun shows her but there’s always a question in her mind about whether this is a place that she can make a home in. Shaun starts out confident at least that Gem is his and if he keeps her around long enough she’ll just give in to him. He’s feeling pressure from his alpha to actually do something and surprises even himself when he finds the opportunity. They come together perfectly as people in search of something who find what they were looking for and more – but then each has to figure out what they’ll give up to keep the other.

This is a step up on the steamy scale from the other Wolfie books. I always appreciate that the author never gets super-explicit, but the scenes are still extremely hot and sexy. The bonus with shape shifters is they’re pretty uninhibited and don’t mind having a little outdoors fun. Gem and Shaun are very energetic. Need I say more?

Arend does a superb job as usual with bringing her setting to life. You can’t possibly come away from one of these books wondering if the author has been there although I may question if she’s ever had a beer in a bar with a bear. There’s a hilarious little town mentioned here called Chicken – named that because Ptarmigan was too hard for everyone to spell. I have no clue if that one’s real and I don’t care, it was funny.

There’s a little side story involving Shaun’s alpha Evan and a human woman that he’s involved with. It has the makings of a pretty nice book itself, but I never jinx myself (well, I do, but I’ll try not to this time).

My Summary: I already was pretty much in love with the Granite Lake series, so this was destined to be something I’d probably at least find interesting. It went beyond that though, delivering characters that were on a journey I wanted to follow in a setting that’s now familiar but always exciting to explore more. I love the sexy playfulness of Gem and Shaun and their happily ever after was perfect. Now when are we going to see the Takhini Bears series?

My Rating: A

Barbara

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