Kari is cutting through a back alley when she is viciously attacked by large dog-like creature. She miraculously survives only to be kidnapped by the Cherchez pack of wolf-shifters. Andreas, the pack alpha is hugely conflicted as he never meant for Kari, who he feels is his mate, to be turned against her will but is compelled to protect her and help her through her first transition. I really liked Kari, who reacts sensibly to this whole situation until she sees proof and even then consistently stands up to herself, never hesitating to call out sexist crap behaviors, despite finding Andreas physically yummy.
Wolf's Ascension is extensively revised and re-edited version of Ascension (Cherchez Pack 1) originally published by Ellora's Cave. I know and love Dane for her later contemporary and urban fantasy series. This book has much in common with later Dane novels, dominating alpha-male hero and smart and independent heroine but story is structured differently than most of Dane's later novels. I loved the first 1/3 of the book when story was focused on the romance. I have real weakness for the fated mates trope,I love when the protagonists have to try to sort out their feelings against the unrelenting pressure of their attraction. I love it when the characters understand that despite their bodies wanting something, and it seeming inevitability, a romantic relationship needs to be more than frantic coupling.
The last two-thirds of the book were action packed but less engaging for me. The storytelling tension shifts away from the romance, towards Kari's ascension as the true alpha of the clan, Kari must negotiate a new life for herself while dealing with several assassination attempts, and relationship and family conflict. Kari confronts jealous ambitious exes, unfamiliar and somewhat confusing sexual mores. while sorting out who she can trust or not in this new family. Andreas lost serious hero points for me at points during this part of the book when he his avoidance & reticence to share uncomfortable truths endangers Kari. I loved the heroine and that carried me through to her hard-fought HEA but it will not be series I return to.
I received a review copy of Wolf's Ascension by Lauren Dane from Carina Press.