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PACK OF LIES by Charlie Adhara

Werewolf meets human. Werewolf snubs human. Werewolf loves human? 

Julien Doran arrived in sleepy Maudit Falls, North Carolina, with a heart full of hurt and a head full of questions. The key to his brother’s mysterious last days might be found in this tiny town, and now Julien’s amateur investigation is starting to unearth things the locals would rather keep buried.

Perhaps most especially the strange, magnetic manager of a deserted retreat that’s nearly as odd as its staff.

Eli Smith is a lot of things: thief, werewolf, glamour-puss, liar. And now the manager of a haven for rebel pack runaways. He’s spent years cultivating a persona to disguise his origins, but for the first time ever he’s been entrusted with a real responsibility—and he plans to take that seriously.

Even if the handsome tourist who claims to be in town for some R & R is clearly on a hunt for all things paranormal. And hasn’t taken his brooding gaze off Eli since he’s arrived.

When an old skeleton and a fresh corpse turn a grief errand into a murder investigation, the unlikely Eli is the only person Julien can turn to. Trust is hard to come by in a town known for its monsters, but so is time…


Title : Pack of Lies
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Monster Hunt (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : paranormal LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Carina Adores
Release Date : August 30, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Sometimes, I swear you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. In this particular sense, I’m talking about rereads. I made a point to reread the Big Bad Wolf series prior to this spin-off series opener because I wanted everything fresh in my mind for any carry-over plots and characters. And I’m glad I did. I’m also glad I put two weeks between finishing those and starting this, just so there wouldn’t be too much of a good thing in my brain. But.. I think it also made me love this a little less.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to love here. Eli being the number one thing. Eli was perfect. His dialogue, his wit, his whole being. There was no wrong done. And while I liked Julien, and did think there was some chemistry in their intimacy, outside of it..? It just wasn’t as electric. I wasn’t desperate for them to interact, to bounce off each other, or even to bone — though hey, again, those were good times. There was really only one moment, where Julien asked to be friends (if you know you know!), that socked me in some feels.

Having said that, when I did my reread, I knocked some ratings up a star. So maybe this is another one I’ll love more in hindsight when it’s all said and done? Historically that seems to be the case with Adhara. We might eventually find out.

Oh, what’s this all about you ask? Well, it’s a queer paranormal shifter mystery! This new series (which, by the way, I would not recommend starting here; go back to the beginning and meet Cooper and Oliver!) features a secondary character from the main series, one who has not had an easy life (some backstory reveals in the main series, hint hint), and who is now part of a new start-up pack and is heading the running of a “retreat” (as far as humans know) which is a front for a shelter, or a safe place, for wolves. He’s barely there long enough to get the place running before hijinks ensue that have him threatened by a nearby pack, put a human who is clearly hiding things in his path, and more. Said human, Julien, eventually convinces Eli to team up and try to uncover.. well, more than a few things. How’s that for vague and unhelpful?

But yes, while I’m not shouting praise from the rooftops like I expected, this could just be me a little overwhelmed by my own expectations, and also too much Ollie and Coop too recently in my reading (and forever in my heart). It does not mean I am in any way not excited for more. I want Julien to grow on me. I want more hijinks. I want more Eli fullstop. And, in general, I just love this world and Adhara’s writing. Also, I’m clearly an outlier; just look at all those five stars! I’m not disappointed by this rating. And you shouldn’t be put off, either.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

CRY WOLF by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton never thought anything could be harder than solving murders. Until he had to plan a wedding.

After taking down an old adversary, Agent Cooper Dayton of the Bureau of Special Investigations has earned a break. Not that planning a wedding to his sexy shifter partner, Oliver Park, is necessarily stress free, but it’s better than worrying about the ominous warning, delivered months ago, that Cooper’s life is in danger.

When he’s dragged to an event by his family, Cooper braces for an awkward evening, but instead finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud between Park’s ex and a rebel pack leader. What was supposed to be a quick outing turns into a full-blown murder investigation after the pack leader ends up dead, Park’s ex goes missing, and Cooper and Park are sent a series of disturbing wedding gifts that are somehow connected to it all.

The list of potential suspects is long, and with the bodies piling up, Cooper must turn to the one person he trusts the least: the villain he’s already put behind bars once and who has nothing to lose by lying and everything to gain if Cooper is out of the picture—for good. 


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 269
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : January 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So when I read initially this “finale”, I was so confused because it was an end but it wasn’t the end, you know? Which made reading it now, knowing there’s a spinoff, and knowing why it is shifting POVs, far more satisfying — not that I wasn’t initially happy with how this went! But it just lands better, knowing there’s more to come.. and what that might look like.

Is everyone you’ve ever dated an asshole?
Maybe I have a type.

Also, I think I maybe understood things a little better. I have a tendency to inhale books, read them compulsively quickly, and maybe I did that when I finally got my grubby mitts on this book the first time around. Because things have settled in my brain a little more and I like where we might yet see things go, particularly in a certain Moon-like direction.

You know, it’s never too late to call off this engagement. You’re a catch, you’ll find someone.
I was cursed by an old witch to find him charming.
That’s some dark magic.

Obviously there isn’t much I can say, even for a non-ending end like this book, but this had all the fun and swoons and feels and investigative hijinks as the previous books but in this case, specifically, the stakes are a little higher. But there wasn’t any need for artificial tension of drama because what drives those stakes, at least from Cooper’s POV (which is all we have), is.. meaningless. Or hard to grasp. Somewhere in there. Which makes it all kind of funny actually. And not at all typical for the genre. Again.

Also, [Eli] said to tell you you’ve been demoted to fourth rank.
We don’t do ranks. We’re not pirates. Fourth?
[The cat] took third already.

As mentioned before, Adhara really likes to mess around with expectations within paranormal/urban fantasy reads and I enjoy that immensely. But I also love that in a genre so highly saturated, this really does stand out. Because of the world, sure, but the characters. Even beyond Cooper and Park, there’s Eli, the other bureau agents, Cooper’s family, the cat (Boogie is best!), and more. 

Why did you reveal yourself to us in the first place?
Yes, I can see now that was my mistake. To be brutally honest with you, I thought Cooper had recognized me. But I’m beginning to understand this whole glaring, staring, nostril-flaring thing is less ‘I know that wolf’ and more of a permanent feature of his face.
Well, he’s not wrong.”

I can’t wait to see what new or familiar (and both) faces we get in the spinoff with Eli to come (out August thirtieth!) and I’m really excited to explore more of his backstory. As much as I love Cooper, and Park, their dynamic, their banter, and everything they’ve endured and earned over the course of their series, I’m excited for a new dose of freshness to this world and to shift (tee hee) into a new POV. 

WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton and his partner, Oliver Park, are going undercover—at a retreat for couples who need counselling. They do say the best cover story is one that’s close to the truth…

Agent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.

With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.

The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.

With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.


Title : Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book four)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 323
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : March 2, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Oh hey, another review I can cannibalize for my benefit! 

What the hell about him had Park seen and thought, Oh yes, anxiety-ridden loner with a temper sharper than a serpent’s tongue and a deep-seated fear of change whose longest successful relationship is with an equally judgmental cat? Swoon.

Our couple has come so far by the time book four in this paranormal shifter series rolls around. They’ve settled into life together, come to terms with most (all?) of the secrets and tragic backstories, and have successfully navigated a few sticky situations related to being in a werewolf-human relationship. But this relationship is still half Cooper, after all. 

Why does it feel like all our cases send us to the gloomiest places off the map?
High altitudes, high crime rates?
One day, we’ll get assigned to a nice, sunny beach murder. And it will be wonderful.
What nice, normal goals you have.

The excuse for this particular adventure, going undercover at a couple’s counselling retreat for werewolves, was genius. Who doesn’t love the ‘pretend relationship’ trope except it’s even juicier when they are in a relationship and get forced to work through some things. Delicious. But so much of the counselling element of this story, the various topics discussed, the trust, the trauma, it was all done so well. And so smoothly; nothing felt shoehorned in, which is how it could’ve easily gone a) for the sake of drama and angst but also b) to find time around the actual mystery of the story. But no, the balance was there.

Cooper felt oddly exhausted and tender this morning. Was this what talking about feelings for an hour did to a person? What a nightmare.

Also, I liked how Adhara introduced another element for the shifters in such a natural way. It seems to happen in each book, the total opposite of an info dump, and always relevant for the moment, not for a ‘maybe in the future you need to know this’, and it’s so perfect. The worldbuilding is so fabulous and so natural, so subtle. 

What I probably did notice on my first read but don’t seem to have mentioned in my reviews is how Adhara continually subverts some of the expected tropes in these kinds of stories/series. I don’t really want to say how, not only because of spoilers, but because it’s a delight to watch unfold. So keep your eyes peeled. 

Also, this is what I always refer to, in my head, as the hug book. Because there is a hug that just puts so many other intimate scenes to shame. Curious how? Read these books! Really, I’m just throwing out all the reasons, trying to find that one sweet spot, that’ll convince you to do so. Let me know when I nail it.

THROWN TO THE WOLVES by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton is going to meet his boyfriend’s werewolf family. Unarmed. On their turf.

And he’s bringing his cat.

When Agent Cooper Dayton agreed to attend the funeral for Oliver Park’s grandfather, he didn’t know what he was getting into. Turns out, the deceased was the alpha of the most powerful werewolf pack on the eastern seaboard. And his death is highly suspicious. Regardless, Cooper is determined to love and support Park the way Park has been there for him.

But Park left him woefully unprepared for the wolf pack politics and etiquette. Rival packs? A seating order at the dinner table? A mysterious figure named the Shepherd? The worst is that Park didn’t tell his family one key thing about Cooper. Cooper feels two steps behind, and reticent Park is no help.

There are plenty of pack members eager to open up about Park and why Cooper is wrong for him. Their stories make Cooper wonder if he’s holding Park back. But there’s no time to get into it…as lethal tranquilizer darts start to fly, Cooper needs to solve the mystery of the alpha’s death and fight for the man he loves—all before someone else dies.


Title : Thrown to the Wolves
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 263
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : April 1, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

For the first time in this reread I get to take advantage of an unexpected joy : stealing parts of an already-written review from GR and getting to do a little less work for a review. Win!

Thrown to the Wolves is a perfect title for this one because both Cooper, and the reader, are well.. thrown to the wolves. This was the first time we actually got some real shifter action. And I don’t mean that in a pervy way. Up until book three, the shifter element was kind of background noise, even if the protagonists worked for a shifter-friendly/focused organization to police and investigate supernatural peoples and events. But book three throws us right into the politics, the families, and the fur, appropriately enough, goes flying.

I suppose you know why I’ve asked you out here.
Um, to tell me my engagement to your nephew, Mr Darcy, is impossible?

This book, as one expects (hopes?), had the most solid foundation for Ollie and Cooper. And as a result I loved them so much more than I ever have. Cooper is still a bit neurotic and twitchy but his internal voice, his concerns, are so much more.. stable. His observations, everything about him, felt more mature. More grounded. He’s secure in his relationship and that makes him more secure in himself. It was so nice to experience, so nice to see, so of course things fuck it all up. –> this is where I really started to appreciate Cooper the first time around but, as I’ve been saying all throughout this reread, he’s so much easier (for me) to love with hindsight. 

What am I supposed to be doing on this hike? Trying to start a.. a..
Investigation?
Threesome?
Okay. We’re obviously not a couple that should be trying to finish each other’s sentences.

Nonetheless, I loved both the story, the progression of their relationship, and their professional one, too. Cooper makes some big changes as a result of his deeper understanding of the world he now inhabits and I really loved that growth and understanding. On a less serious note, the sprinkling of humour that has been present in this series felt stronger in this one (so many lol moments) and aside from one weird roleplay sexytime (which culminated in a great great moment, not in a dirty way, stop side eyeing me!) I also thought the intimate moments were topnotch. Not just because it was hot but because it felt like an extension of the scene, the moment, the emotion. 

I love you. Really love you. I mean it.
That’s awkward, ’cause I’ve just been joking this whole time.

This book featured so many milestones both in the world and in Cooper and Park’s relationship. And it had the added bonus of breaking down so many barriers which, with the benefit of knowing what’s to come, makes for the perfect transition into the setting for book four.

Also, shoutout to the tiny reference that only Canadians might understand, when one character describes another as the “jewelry store commercial guy”. I died.

While I did add to and jazz this up a bit, additional shoutout to 2019-me for writing an excellently timeless review. I’m a fan.

THE WOLF AT BAY by Charlie Adhara

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.

When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.

The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.


Title : The Wolf at Bay
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 262
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 24, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Once again, I sit here shaking my head a bit. Past me was having such a struggle bus time with Cooper. Current me? J’adore.

Also, this one got me reaaaallly in my feels. Woof.

So book two in this instalment continues the trend of being the least paranormal-paranormal series ever (thus far). While it’s obviously built into the world, but limited to those in the know, it really just is a procedural sprinkled with an extra something-something. And in this case the procedural takes a trip home.

Cooper finds himself bringing Park to visit his family — not as a boyfriend but just as a coworker and partner. But when they discover a body buried on Papa Cooper’s property, well. Suddenly they are the ones under investigation. And it brings all sorts of secrets to light. Whilst simultaneously forcing Cooper to unearth and stare hard at his feelings for Park and what it might mean for their future.

So, yeah, I mentioned feels? There were two big scenes that got me. One was between Cooper and his dad. And the other was between our main men. The hotel scene? Yeah.. you know the one. 

When I think back on this series there are two books that stand out to me : the third and fourth, for two different reasons. The next book is a favourite because it was where, in the past, I had turned the corner and fell absolutely in love with this series. The fourth is because that book is pretty much perfection. So I’m so excited to pick up the third and see whether the reread bumps that one up, too (also, worth noting, I’m pretty sure we meet the star of Adhara’s upcoming spinoff in this third book. So that’s exciting, too!). 

Why I was so stingy or so reluctant to love these back then.. well, yes, again, I know why. Cooper. I’m just so happy it’s not going that way on this second go round. I needed this. 

THE WOLF AT THE DOOR by Charlie Adhara

A former FBI agent is partnered with the enemy in this suspenseful male/male shifter romance from debut author Charlie Adhara

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.

Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.

When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.


Title : The Wolf at the Door
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 24, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m so happy to be back in this world I could cry. Also I’m so happy to be reading something that I’m enjoying. Rereads can be risky but I knew (okay, hoped) this would go well. But I’m even happier to be able to say I enjoyed this even more the second time — which, I mean, was kind of a gimme as I only (for some reason!) rated this a three the first go around. And okay fine, I know why. Cooper.

Cooper’s our only POV and he’s a little prickly and is even affectionately referred to as a porcupine. And clearly his prickliness was a factor that worked against his favour on my initial read. Now? Now I just love him to bits. Possibly the benefit of hindsight.. but also possibly not because I know many of my friends did not struggle with him the way I did.

He was starting to wonder if Park bothered to argue with anyone. Not because he seemed like a doormat but because he had been beyond even-tempered all day. An almost annoyingly laid-back, Zen sort of person who didn’t so much as avoid confrontation as he seemed uninterested in it entirely. Bored by it, even. There was something about that kind of self-control that simultaneously drew Cooper and made him want to break it.

But aNyWaYs. What’s this about, you ask? It’s a queer paranormal investigative series. Werewolves are the particular flavour here and they are also.. partially out of the closet. In a way. A select group are aware of their existence and thus have created an offshoot of the FBI to help manage any issues that come up, as well as investigate in cases of supernatural crime or worse. Which is where Cooper comes in. A particular brush with said supernatural had him making the change from FBI to BSI and, when the agency’s reputation starts to sour and their PR takes a hit, Cooper is paired up with Park — a representative of the Trust, which is basically the werewolf equivalent of the BSI as well as the ruling/governing body — to try and ease tensions and promote teamwork and unity. And boy does it ever.. sorta. Eventually. Maybe.

Should’ve known you were a cat person.”
Why, because I don’t like you?”
Because you’re an antisocial asshole.

Investigations, mysteries, and hijinks ensue! Also sPaRKs.

I loved watching these two interact. The hesitancy, the lack of trust, the occasional glimmers of banter and respect, and then how they would have to start all over again when inevitably someone (Cooper) would mess it all up. It was extra fun watching Park be so amused by it all — when he wasn’t nursing a pout or legitimately (and adorably? I don’t know, it was sad but cute) wounded feelings. 

So many things make this series different but one of those biggest differences was how this focused more on the procedural element than the supernatural. I actually loved that. I loved so much. And in fact, I’m going to shut up and just recommend you pick this up. Find out for yourself why there’s so much love for this world and these characters. Do it! I dare you.