5 STARS: "The people who smile the loudest often cry the saddest tears, but Christian Taylor isn't a man who is known for his smiles. Mated for five years, Christian and Dave slipped easily into their routine as a couple. Opposites that attract in a powerful way, their personalities complement the other. While neither man takes his mate for granted, it's easier to just live life day to day and avoid potential conflict than it is to communicate when things start to unravel between them. Slowly drifting apart emotionally, only the sizzle in the bedroom remains unchanged. Sent to investigate a mystery over thirteen years old, the change in routine finally brings the problems in their relationship to a head. When their questions bring them to the attention of the territory's tough and ruthless Alpha, Dave and Christian find themselves backed into a dangerous corner. They must find a way to face their fears and work together in order to survive. Failure isn't an option, because they may never have a second chance to repair the broken bond between them. RIDING THE WHIRLWIND is my favorite in Joy Lynn Fielding's Strength of the Pack series to date. As Dave and Christian were recurring characters in the previous books, I've often wondered about them and was thrilled to get a chance to read their story! The fast-paced and action-packed storyline does a fantastic job of revealing both the past and the present. Essentially telling two stories in one, questions are answered in regards to the mystery of Jesse's missing pack, and the full spectrum of Dave and Christian's relationship is revealed. A stunningly emotional and highly entertaining read, RIDING THE WHIRLWIND takes place during the same timeline as Shifting Sands (Strength of the Pack #4) and is an essential part of the series fans won't want to miss!" -- Carly, The Romance Reviews
"In this fifth volume of a series that absolutely needs to be read in sequence, the revelations about the mysterious Argents continue. They are powerful shifter royalty who vanished from existence thirteen years ago, with Jesse, from book one, the only survivor. Christian and Dave are sent to the Argents’ last know location, and I was very excited to find out that Christian is one of the main characters of this installment. He has been an enigma so far, tense and withdrawn beyond words, and always angry to the point of being aggressive. I couldn’t wait to find out more about his story, and the author’s revelations in this story had me fascinated. Christian is one of those men who are perpetually coiled with tension. I was never sure if it was anger or aggression, disappointment with the world or plain superiority for some reason, and as this story reveals, it was all of those and a few more on top. Christian is a very complex guy, and while his past and the need to survive extremely abusive parents partly explain why he is the way he is, they are by no means what makes him uniquely Christian. His will to survive and to never show weakness again had a lot to do with how and why he survived. And even now that he has discovered Dave is his mate, Christian doesn’t really change – which makes things very difficult for Dave and, as a consequence, Christian has to make a decision about who he wants to be now, rather than who he might be if his past determined who he is. I do not envy him the decision he has to make, and can only admire the strength he shows in choosing the path he ends up taking. Bravo! Dave is such a laid-back guy, he seems to be the perfect balancing factor for Christian’s sometimes volatile temper. What isn’t so obvious until this story unfolds is how hard-fought this equanimity is for Dave, and what it costs him to always be the one who gives in. At least, that is how he has begun to see it, and it puts his whole relationship in a questionable light. The thing is, he and Christian are mates, and he does love the man, but he has to find a way to deal with his own issues, his insecurities, and the mounting need he has to hear words from Christian the man may never be able to utter. Circumstances work in his favor though, and when things come to a head, he not only knows what he needs to do but actually wants to do it. If you like shifter stories with men who may be mates but their different characters make it tough for them to stick together, if you want to read about a mysterious past and the men who try to find traces of what has happened, and if you’re looking for a read that is exciting, suspenseful, and deeply emotional as the main characters battle it out, then you will probably like this novella. Personally, I definitely hope there will be another installment." -- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews
The directions Christian had been given led them to what looked like an old warehouse about three miles out of town. God only knew what it had been used to store out here. Christian thought the huge building looked abandoned, but the number of trucks, cars, and bikes parked outside indicated otherwise. The sound of conversation and laughter swirled out into the night air each time the door to the building opened.
The shifter standing at the door was huge. His eyes narrowed as they approached, evidently identifying them as shifters. “Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Christian, that’s Dave, and we don’t want any trouble,” Christian said. “Not outside the cage, anyway. Who do I see about getting in there tonight?”
The guy’s eyes ran over him, and the slight scorn that had been there because, well, Christian wasn’t exactly the tallest person in the room, faded as he took in the way his nostrils were flaring slightly. Christian was running hot with excitement and the first stirrings of violence.
“You need to see Tony,” the shifter said. “There’s no cover charge if you’re fixing to fight.”
“Saved us twenty bucks,” Christian muttered to Dave as they penetrated. There was quite a crowd gathered, mostly men, and evenly split between shifters and non-shifters. A makeshift bar was set up along one wall, selling beer and shots. It was doing brisk business, though it still wasn’t as busy as the guys who were giving out betting tickets. But Christian only glanced briefly at those distractions, because the most important thing in the room was standing in the center of the room—a cage, bounded by a black chain-link fence.
He tore his gaze away from the promise of the cage to find a tall, blond shifter in front of them.
“Tony wants to see you.” His voice was low with threat and Christian’s hackles rose.
“Sure,” Dave said. Whoever said that anger could be turned away with a soft word was obviously talking about him, because the tension in the guy confronting them eased at Dave’s instant compliance and slight smile. “Can you point us in the right direction?”
Tony turned out to be a big guy with salt-and-pepper hair. His dark eyes were hard as he looked them over. “What are you doing here?” he asked, walking around them in a way that had Christian itching to turn and face him, to keep an eye on the threat that was rolling off him. “This is our territory.”
“We’re just passing through,” Dave said, sounding calm yet unapologetic. “We met a girl in a bar who told us about your fights, and Christian wanted to have a go.”
Tony looked at Christian appraisingly, observing his fists clenching and unclenching as he tried to dispel the adrenaline running through him at being studied like this by a strange shifter. He nodded. “Fee’s fifty bucks. Winner gets a hundred and fifty and the chance to fight again. You in?”
“Well, hell—I didn’t know we were going to make a profit on the night,” Christian drawled. “Sure I’m in.”
He looked at Dave, jerking his head slightly to indicate the crowd that Dave needed to start mixing with, and followed Tony. He knew Dave would be better at getting information out of people than he was. Dave listened, whereas Christian got bored. He just wanted to know the facts, not how people felt about them.
Tony took him to a table where he had to pony up his fee and get his name into the draw. The guy in charge of the money, who had a couple of large shifters standing close behind him, was called Mal. He was small and slight, and very talkative.
“Have you got a ring name? Because it sounds better and the crowd like it and if the crowd like it, they’ll come back again. Not that that’s a problem—guys come for miles for the chance to take on a shifter, or even one another. And you know what, after working all week and putting up with the boss’s shit, who doesn’t want to let it all go?”
“No ring name,” Christian said. “Just Christian Taylor.”
“You could come up with one now,” Mal said. “We got Bear and Tank and then there’s the Terminator—”
“Christian Taylor,” he repeated, leaning forward over the table in a way that had Mal shutting up fast. God, what was with those idiots that they needed to hide behind dumb names? Like he was going to fight better if he called himself Verminator. Huh. He kinda liked that one.
“Okay, okay,” Mal said. “That’ll be fifty bucks, and Colt will take you through the rules—basically, there aren’t any—and then in another five minutes we make the draw and the first fight starts.”
Christian smiled, and it seemed Mal found that even scarier than his looming because he swallowed as he counted the bills Christian had given him. Christian was so focused on the anticipation unfurling deep in his stomach that he forgot to check where Dave was.
He rolled out of bed and padded through to the bathroom. Dave was just wiping the remnants of shaving cream from his face when Christian stole up behind him, sliding his arms around his waist and putting his chin on Dave’s shoulder. Who cared if he had to reach up very slightly to do that, when it meant he could breathe in the scent of Dave and press his very awake cock against the warm curve of Dave’s ass? “Morning,” he said against Dave’s ear, his voice deep with the remnants of sleep.
“So I see,” Dave said, and the fond smile in his voice was almost as good as the way he pushed back slightly against Christian in apparently unconscious invitation.
He nuzzled into Dave’s neck, nipping slightly at the warm skin there, and looked into the mirror just long enough to see the way Dave’s eyes had gone dark and his mouth was slightly open. He returned his attentions to Dave’s neck, and this time when Dave pushed back against him, it was less like invitation and more like demand.
When he raised his head again, Dave’s lips were parted, little sounds puffing out with every breath as Christian rubbed against his ass, his cock so hard and hot he thought he might not last long enough to give Dave what he so obviously wanted. His hands swept up over Dave’s chest, short, blunt fingers pausing to tug gently at his nipples, then pinch them in the way that had Dave making little choked-off sounds. He loved those noises Dave made almost as much as he loved the way they looked together in the mirror—his hands on Dave’s body, and the strength of his arms binding them together.
“Where—” Christian started, because there hadto be lube. They were in a bathroom, for God’s sake.
He hadn’t even finished his sentence before Dave was rooting around in his shaving kit and passing the bottle back to Christian. And then he was hissing and shuddering as Christian’s lubed finger pressed inside him.
“Fuck, that’s cold,” he said, but the complaint in his voice gave way to a gasp as Christian started working him, and his head hung down between broad shoulders, body trembling as Christian started to open him up properly. There was nothing Christian loved more than Dave coming apart for him like this.
He could just see the top of Dave’s head in the mirror and the way his arms were braced. Dave was pushing back onto Christian’s fingers, so eager for more, and Christian cradled his chin in his free hand, bringing his face gently up till he was looking at Christian in the mirror, eyes so intense, color in his cheeks and flushing down his chest. He looked beautiful—shameless, and every last part of him Christian’s. And when that mouth of his opened on a silent gasp as Christian added another finger, it was too much.
“Hands on the mirror,” he said. God, his voice was hoarse and wrecked already and he hadn’t even got inside Dave yet. But Dave obeyed, just the way he always did, and Christian lined up and pressed home, deep inside, torn between watching the way Dave opened up so beautifully for his cock and the way he was staring at himself in the mirror, eyes dazed and dark. “That’s it,” Christian whispered against his ear as he slid fully home. “Oh God, you feel so good.”
And he did—tight and slick and hot, and Christian couldn’t wait another second. His hips were moving before he knew what he was doing, falling into the rhythm he knew Dave loved in the mornings, slower than usual but merciless, not giving him a chance to back off from the edge Christian was keeping him on. Christian reached down and swept his fingers over the head of Dave’s cock. He was wet as hell already.
The groan that shook Dave had Christian looking at him again in the mirror. His mouth was lax, his eyes fluttering closed every time Christian pushed all the way in, only to open again as he pulled back.