Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book 2 in the Raised by Wolves series
I liked this even better than the first book. I thought that it had a lot more going on- the characters are more fleshed out, and there is a lot more tension and action. Actually, just when you think that the trouble is all over, that all the battles have been fought and everything is going back to normal, another complication springs up, and everybody is in danger all over again.
This books starts off not long after the end of book 1. Bryn has broken from Callum's pack and is now the alpha of her own small pack with her own territory, determined to run her pack fairly and justly. Since werewolf girls are so rare and Bryn's pack has 9 of them, she becomes the target of political scheming from the other werewolf packs. Bryn is highly aware of how vulnerable her pack is- it is a very small pack consisting mainly of children being led by a teenage, human girl. Rival leader Shay especially has his eye on the prize of Bryn's pack, and sets in motion a chain of events to try to take her down.
Bryn finds a wolf from a rival pack, Lucas, tortured and bleeding on the porch of her house begging to be accepted into her pack instead of Shay's. But Bryn has to decide whether she can trust him- whether he has been sent by Shay as an act of agression, whether Shay is using Lucas as a political pawn to gain access to Bryn's territory, or whether there is another underlying threat to Lucas's presence. Bryn has no right to claim him, but her natural desire to be different from other werewolf alphas, and to help those that she sees being abused leads to her delaying and considering the best course of action for the situation. Should she hand Lucas back over to Shay to be tortured, or claim him and risk a war? As a coven of hunters with psychic powers determined to destroy all werewolves also moves close to Bryn's territory, she has her hands full trying to cope with assault from all sides.
Again in this book though, as in book 1, Bryn's boyfriend Chase is a very 2 dimensional character, he is just there- just Bryn's boyfriend Chase, occasionally leaping forward to her defence, and not contributing a lot else- the strong silent type I guess. Chase is always there for Bryn though, whether she needs someone to fight to defend her, or just someone to hold her and tell her that is going to be ok, or to comfort her after a bad dream. I also love Bryn's two best friends, musical-loving Devon, and feisty gun-wielding Lake, two people who you would never think would get on, but who actually complement each other perfectly, and make an excellent 2nd and 3rd in command for Bryn. Together they are a perfect team.
This series is completely engrossing, really delving into the idea of a pack mentality, and pack bonds of loyalty, protection, dominance and belonging. Even though they are not related they are all family to each other. I love the snarky humour between the characters, and the fast pace of the plotline, the constant sense of danger and threat, but all wrapped up in this warm pack bond. I really want to see where the story is going to take Bryn in book 3.
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