Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2019
I thought I'd really dislike this due to Tao being a giant jerk in most of the other books, but it was a good read. I liked the spin on the shifter romance with Riley being a raven when most of the other books involve wolves. If you've read other books in the Phoenix series, you might remember Riley popping up recently as the pack offered to make her a permanent member along with the two children that were in her care at the lone shifter centre. Riley goes out of her way to frustrate Tao as he was a douche canoe to her when she first arrived and was resentful of her presence. He continues to rile her in order to get close to Riley, worming his way into her affections.
A lot of this book is set in Riley's flock's territory. She's invited to celebrate her uncles' anniversary and decides to attend, accompanied by Tao. While there, Riley and others are shot at leading the pack to investigate who is out for blood. Tao and Riley's relationship moved along at a good pace. There's wasn't too much back and forth which was good and Tao was actually likeable for once. I also liked Riley's character, being typical of the lead females in this author's books - strong, funny and resilient.
I took a star off this book, which I hate to do to this author because I love her work, but the drama added to this story was just ridiculous in parts. * Slight spoilers below * While Suzanne Wright's characters always have a troubled backstory, this book's was really left field. Riley hadn't returned to her pack for years because one of her best friends had had enough of being bullied one night, got a gun and shot a bunch of his peers at a party. Some of the pack, particularly his mother, blamed Riley and said she had put the idea in his head. Erm, what? Tao's parents were against Riley because his mother had been in a pack where his father had had an ex that had made her life hell, so they'd always given him the advice not to date within his pack. As a result, his mother was a giant cow. There was also trouble for the pack because a infamous drug dealer's brother was dying and he was trying to bribe and then force Taryn into healing him, resulting in him threatening Riley and Tao. This was just as ridiculous as the elements above. It was a shame because the writing and core of the story was good - this stuff was just so over the top it was crazy and added little to the story. The other reason I took a star off was because of the female protagonist in the book who was from Riley's flock. While I'm used to Wright's book having a horrible ex/female in them to create drama (which I hated in the other books as well), the villain in this book was dating Riley's ex and had slept with half of the flock so that she could flaunt to the other females that she's had their man. I hated it. I see enough of women putting each other down in life without escaping to a book to see it happen there as well. Having another woman causing trouble and spoken about like she's a slut just isn't for me, especially when these females are added purely to create relationship drama and try to make the heroine jealous as well as make the hero dribble how she's the only one he wants. I found it demeaning and catty and, to be blunt, the book is no better for it as it's too over the top and dramatic. I hate being this negative in a review, but it's a gripe I have as it's been done to death and I prefer female empowerment (which Wright also does in her stories to her credit).
The person who was targeting RIley was pretty ordinary, but I still mostly enjoyed the book. I'll continue to read this series and even though I was a little harsh in this review (sorry, Ms Wright, please forgive me. I still adore you and you're one of my favourite authors!), the positives outweighed the negatives.
On a very positive note for me, Greta didn't feature too much in this book. Don't get me wrong, she was there and had a moment where she was her typical painful self, but her character wasn't excessive like she is in other books. This was great because I find her character super repetitive, over the top and annoying - not in a cute way, but in a done to death way. I also loved the start where RIley woke up with a wicked hangover with Tao in her bed. Normally with this author's book, there's the dance beforehand where the characters skirt around each other before taking the plunge. This was a great (and funny!) change with the story starting with them both having slept together after too much tequila. No judgement here lol.