"The pack of outcasts and misfits in Elk Ridge, Colorado is back, and this time the focus is on Jason, the guy who works in the diner and cooks for the pack, and Riley, a stranger from out of town. Apparently, rumors of a supposedly extinct Argent of the royal wolf-shifter line being a pack member have reached the outside world. The idea of someone uncovering what Matt and the others have just discovered and begun to deal with in book one had me as worried as the shifters were. The royal line brings a lot of political power in this shifter world, so anyone uncovering their secret would bring a lot of political wrangling from power-hungry shifters to the pack. Not what any of them want or are ready for. Riley is in trouble, and not just because his job as a journalist is on the line. He has already failed at numerous other professions he has tried, and the idea of disappointing his father yet again is too much. Riley desperately wants to belong, but ever since he came out to his father, the man has ignored him. Still, Riley ants to please him so badly it clouds Riley’s judgment to the point where he loses track of morals, his principles, and the pain he will cause Jason if he does go public with his story. Jason is shy, hasn’t ever had a relationship, and wants so badly to have a partner he can love. Riley seems to be all those things, except for the fact he will lave town again once he finishes his travel guide, or so Jason thinks. Just when Jason begins to admit how deeply he is already in love, the sh*t hits the fan as he finds out it was all a lie. The depth of his pain and disappointment is palpable, and I was ready to wring Riley’s neck for what he did. I truly doubted they’d ever be able to put this behind them, but luckily, fate (and the author) had different ideas. If you like shifter stories with men who fall for each other before they really know who the other person is, then have to deal with the consequences, if you like reading about broken trust and the hard road back to a true relationship, and if you’re looking for a light read that is as emotional as it is hot, then you will probably like this novella." -- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews
4 STARS: "Welcome to Elk Ridge. What a great name for the setting of this story--evocative of this rural community, separate from the business of the world, protective of their wolf pack. And suspicious of incomers. With good reason, as it turns out. Elk Ridge welcomes Riley with a wariness that immediately informs Riley's fledgling journalistic instincts that there's far more that meets the eye in this backwater. Riley is an L.A. guy, somewhat out of his depth, both professionally and personally. Under pressure from a distinctly unsympathetic news editor, Riley is looking for a scoop, and he thinks he can get it by breaking the near hermetically sealed secrecy of who comprises the shifter pack of Elk Ridge. Things are complicated for Riley as it is, then Jason turns up, serving him great food, as well as being easy on Riley's jaded eye. Jason, a shifter himself, earnest, with an innocence to him that belies the fierce nature of his man-wolf persona, is instantly attracted to the handsome, alluring Riley. And the stage is set for passion, accompanied by the darker forces of deception and secrets. I enjoyed this read very much. The writing's pace is excellent, and as a consequence, the story moves along at a quick pace that doesn't detract from getting an angle on the characters of Riley and Jason. I found both of them very likeable, particularly Jason with his sense of taking life at face value, and taking a chance on someone very different from his everyday social interactions. Another character I liked, and would be interested in seeing appearing in a story of their own, is Elk Ridge's sheriff Matt. He brimmed with charisma and a raw sexuality. The only slightly dissonant element of this book was Matt's mating with Jesse, inasmuch as they didn't seem to fit for me as a couple. However, that's an entirely subjective issue and not a literary criticism of the story. I would definitely recommend this book for readers who like their M/M characters with flesh on the bones, so to speak, and who enjoy shifter stories involving themes of passion, betrayal and the courage to love. A book to curl up with, with a glass of red wine and a crackling fire. Just don't open the curtains if the moon is waxing high." -- Robyn Elliot, The Romance Reviews
4.5 Sweet Peas: "The second book in the series definitely is a worthy successor to the first, which was a great story. I’m enthralled with Jason. He’s sweet, sexy, considerate, and gets totally tongue-tied around Riley. He’s also a member of the local pack (all eight members) and is totally unaware of why Riley is there. Yet not everything is as it seems. Riley’s story unfolds slowly and you learn what makes him tick. He’s not what I was expecting, but when he finally gets his hands on the story of a lifetime, what will he choose? The fame he’s always wanted or the man he’ll lose if he reveals it? Joy Lynn Fielding weaves a great story for these men. And I’m looking forward to book 3! Shifters rule, ya know." -- Lucky, Mrs Condit Reads Books
Jason fiddled with the green beans once more, ensuring that they looked perfect on the plate. He had noidea what it was about that guy that had stolen all his higher brain functions. Sure, he was handsome—make that very handsome. His short and spiky blond hair and his battered leather jacket and Aviator shades made him look like a much better-looking Tom Cruise from Top Gun. And if Jason started thinking about the volleyball scene and that blond guy in a starring rôle, shirtless and sweating, just a pair of dog tags against his doubtlessly broad and tanned chest, he’d never be able to set foot outside the kitchen, let alone take the guy his meal.
Jason wasn’t immune to attractive guys. Truth to tell, he fell in love with at least three movie stars a year. But he’d never met anyone in real life who’d had anything approaching this effect on him. He swallowed hard, then picked up the plate and marched out with it, his heart pounding.
The guy was still sitting with Ms. Taylor. They were laughing together, and Jason’s heart stopped at the sight. He wasn’t sure whether it was due to crushing disappointment at the way they were flirting with one another, or simple appreciation at the picture before him. The guy had been like every wet dream Jason had ever had—and as he was a twenty-seven-year-old virgin, that was quite a few—when he was just ordering food. When he laughed, he turned out to be utterly, breathtakingly gorgeous. His blue-gray eyes were dancing with humor as he leaned in close and said something to Ms. Taylor, who tapped him reprovingly on the arm in a way that somehow managed to be encouraging.
Jason took a deep breath and made his way over to their table. He shouldn’t be surprised, and he definitely shouldn’t be disappointed. The chances of some gorgeous stranger turning up in the diner in Elk Ridge were low enough. The chances of that gorgeous stranger turning out to be gay were infinitesimally smaller. And Ms. Taylor did like to flirt. He would drop off the plate and go back to the kitchen and leave them to it while he waited for Sam to return so he could go back to the ranch and forget whatever stupid sudden hope had raised itself in his heart.
“Jason, dear,” Ms. Taylor greeted him. “I’d like you to meet Riley Clark. Riley, this is our Jason Nichols, who cooks like an angel.”
Jason flushed as he put down the plate in front of Riley. “Enjoy your meal,” he muttered, finding sanctuary in clichés.
“Could I get a refill on the juice?” Riley asked. He was smiling up at Jason in a way that had Jason’s heart beating unevenly.
“Sure,” he said. Instead of fetching the jug from the fridge, he picked up Riley’s glass and took it back to the counter so he could take a moment and remember how to breathe. There was a slight smear on the rim of the glass where Riley’s mouth had been. Once Jason had noticed it, he couldn’t stop looking at it and wondering just how that mouth would feel on something other than a glass. Something like Jason’s lips, for example.
For God’s sake, what was wrong with him? He determinedly straightened his shoulders, composed himself again, and took the filled glass back to Riley.
“Would you like anything else, Ms. Taylor?” he asked.
“I’m fine, dear,” she said, a smile curving her lips as she watched Riley’s reaction to Jason’s food.
“My mouth just had an orgasm,” Riley murmured in awe after he’d swallowed his mouthful. And damn it, that really wasn’t helping Jason one little bit. Riley glanced up at him. “Did you cook this?”
Jason nodded. “I should—” he said uncertainly, gesturing back toward the kitchen.
Ms. Taylor grabbed his hand. “Oh no, you don’t,” she said. “Riley wants to know all about Elk Ridge and, much as I’d like to help him out, I have a date.” She stood up and smoothed down her black dress, causing Jason to glance away because it was kind of tight and clingy. “I was telling him it would be easiest for him to learn about the town if he was shown around by someone who lives here. Don’t you agree, Jason?”
Jason nodded. “Sounds like a good idea,” he said, and then ground to halt as he realized.
“I’ll leave my money by the till,” Ms. Taylor called on her way out, sounding way too cheerful for someone who’d just set Jason up.
“I’m sorry,” he started, not daring to look at Riley’s face, because if he did, he knew he’d lose the power of speech. “You don’t have to just because she—”
“Like you said, it’s a great idea,” Riley said.
When Jason raised his gaze, Riley smiled at him. There was something in his eyes that set Jason’s heart racing. “I’m beginning to think this town has more to offer than I first thought,” Riley said.
Jason stared at him, not sure whether he was being flirted with, or made fun of. The bell over the door jangled and he looked up to find Sam was back. He excused himself, only for Riley to call after him. “Pick you up here tomorrow at three? That’s when your shift ends, isn’t it?”
Was nothing sacred when it came to Ms. Taylor? “Fine,” he managed, and fled past a surprised-looking Sam into the sanctuary of the kitchen.
“Want to see you,” he said, his hands tugging Jason’s T-shirt up, until Jason got the hint and pulled it off over his head. And then Riley’s hands were on his skin, long fingers exploring his chest, his nipples, stroking over his abs, and making little circles with the back of his knuckles below Jason’s navel, just above the waistband of his jeans. Jason’s knees threatened to give way at the sensations jolting through him. It was like nothing he had ever felt before and he didn’t know what to do, because right now he was just standing there like an idiot when he should be making Riley feel as—oh, God, as good as Riley was making him feel right now.
“I don’t—I haven’t—” he stumbled.
Riley looked up at him. The darkness in his eyes slowly cleared to be replaced by utter shock as his hand stilled on Jason’s skin. Jason flushed, and if he didn’t want this so damn badly, he’d look away in shame.
“You—really?” Riley asked. Although he was obviously shocked to the bone, there was no mockery there. At least, Jason didn’t think there was. “Hey,” he said softly, reaching up and pressing a quick kiss on Jason’s lips. “If you don’t want—”
“I do,” Jason bit out, because Riley’s knuckles were rubbing lightly against his cock through his jeans and Jason had never wanted anything so much in his life.
“Thank God for that,” Riley said on a half laugh. He stopped teasing Jason’s cock to flick open the button on his jeans, before drawing the zipper down, his eyes on Jason’s the whole time.
“Tell me if this is going too fast,” he said.
“Yeah,” Jason said, strangled.
Riley’s gaze dropped to where Jason’s jeans were open, his cock swollen against the front of his boxer briefs, and then his hand was on Jason, through the cotton. Jason whimpered and clutched at Riley, burying his face in his neck and panting. As Riley started to stroke him through his underwear, Jason began licking the sweat on Riley’s neck, nipping at the skin that was so tempting, and Riley jolted.
“God,” Riley said, pulling back. “Sit down.”
Jason backed the few steps to the bed and sat. His chest was tight and he felt dizzy as Riley knelt in front of him. Scenes from every porn flick he had ever watched raced through his head. Riley, however, was intent on taking off his shoes and his socks.
“Learned the hard way,” he said, when he glanced up and saw Jason’s surprise. “There’s nothing worse than being stuck with your jeans half-on and half-off because you’re in too much of a hurry to take your shoes off.”
Jason would have said something but his throat was too dry, his heart racing, and then Riley surged to his feet and pushed him back onto the bed and kissed him. Jason’s hips tilted, pushing himself up against Riley, and his legs opened, cradling Riley there, as if his body knew exactly what it wanted.
Riley pulled back and took his T-shirt off in one smooth swift move, and the body revealed to Jason was everything he had imagined and more—golden smooth skin over hard muscle. But even as he reached out greedily, Riley was moving back to toe off his boots. Jason, thwarted for an instant, got with the program and shuffled further up on the bed, causing a delighted grin on Riley’s face when he looked up from shucking off his jeans and underwear to find Jason lying in the middle of the bed so there was plenty of room for them both. Okay, so this might all involve a few more mechanics than Jason had thought through in his many fantasies, but God above, it was so much better in so many ways, because Riley, gorgeously and unashamedly naked, was kneeling on the bed and pulling Jason’s jeans down. And then Jason stopped breathing because Riley was carefully taking off his boxer briefs too, leaving Jason’s hard cock revealed.
“God,” Riley said reverently, kneeling astride Jason’s thighs. “You’re gorgeous, Jason.”
He reached out and touched the smooth skin of Jason’s cock, tearing a sound out of Jason’s throat. And then he bent his head to it, and licked across the head where Jason was so wet, so excited, so ready. Jason’s hips bucked and he wrapped his hands in the cover beneath him, because otherwise he would fist them in Riley’s hair as sensation surged through him. Riley’s mouth was sliding down on him, hot warm wetness surrounding him and his cock nudged at the soft back of Riley’s throat. Jason was arching, his head moving jerkily on the pillow behind him because he couldn’t—oh God, if Riley kept doing that he was going to—and it would be over too fast.
“I want to touch you,” he got out, guttural and needing.
Riley stilled, and then pulled his mouth off Jason’s cock—and was Jason insane, wanting him to stop?—and moved up the bed. Jason couldn’t read the expression in his face as he settled himself on top of Jason, slowly pressing against him all along their bodies. “God,” he said, as their cocks slid together, hard and heated. “Jason.”