Review: The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara

Reviewed by Olive

The Wolf at the Door is the debut romance from Charlie Adhara and the start of her Big Bad Wolf series. The books follow a single relationship ARC and, unlike many urban fantasies with romantic elements, each instalment has hot sex and the critical HFN.

FBI Agent Cooper Dayton was attacked by …something… that left him only 70% of his intestine and stuck in the hospital for ages. In order to discover more, he took what he thought would be a lateral career move to the BSI (Bureau of Special Investigations) where he found out werewolves were real and living among us. That was six months ago.

Since then, he’s been partnered with a long standing BSI agent teaching him all about recognising wolf involvement in crime and tracking down the guilty wolves to remand them into local LEO custody. He’s learning that when there’s violent crime with wolf connections, the closest wolf you can find is probably the guilty one. Cooper is bummed at becoming a glorified bounty hunter but still glad to be doing his part. Until he gets called into his boss’s office on his day off to discover he’s been partnered with one of …them…

Not only is Cooper stuck working with a werewolf but the wolf in question is ridiculously hot, knows Cooper is into him, and had already rejected him sexually before the partnership began. As you can imagine, the angst levels in this are off the charts. The romance is definitely a slow burn as Cooper spends 75% of the book desperately trying to read Oliver’s interest (or lack thereof? or interest? or lack?) and too afraid of potential consequences to act himself.

It’s written as a procedural and that aspect is super shaky and my SOD wobbled a lot until I decided to ignore those bits. The mystery itself is solid and has loads of fun twists. The villain seems clear early on but Adhara takes the reader on a merry jaunt through a very small town seemingly rife with suspects. It doesn’t hurt that Cooper is so scared of wolves, thanks to his attack, and that his inherent distrust has been enhanced by his BSI training and quasi-bounty hunting experiences. Unlike many mysteries chock full of red herrings, I liked the way most of these were presented (and discarded due to evidentiary findings). There’s one early on that hit a little too heavily with the foreshadowing hammer but they smoothed out as the story progressed.

Adhara does a better job than most at shifters-as-analogy-for-racism. Each time Cooper wants to go after a wolf, or suspects a wolf of something, he questions his own motives to ensure that he’s not doing it simply cuz wolf. Oliver does some of the work there as well, of course, but not as much as you’d expect. Cooper, at heart, is a good agent and likes investigating and putting his profiler training to use.

The partner dynamic is also gorgeously written. How much of their working relationship is good due to Cooper’s growing attraction to Oliver and how much is bad due to Cooper’s fear/mistrust? Adhara writes Cooper as a bundle of nerves and overthinking that does best when he goes with his gut but is constantly hampered in this by himself. Since this is written as a single POV the reader really gets into Cooper’s turmoil. Time after time, something happens, Cooper reacts without thinking and it’s good, so Cooper freaks out and questions everything and/or lashes out.

When Cooper’s former BSI partner shows up to help out, all of these shifting (ha!) dynamics are thrown into stark relief and Cooper is forced to analyse in more soul searching and self-affirming and less wheel spinning ways. It’s great!

Side note: I love the fact that Cooper doesn’t turn after his attack and that most BSI agents were brought in through similar means. The werewolf mythos isn’t fully defined (I can’t wait to get more of that) and maybe there will be turned wolves at some point but I’m liking the lack so 🤞

Rating: A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Wolf at the Door
by Charlie Adhara
Release Date: February 19, 2018
Publisher: Carina Press

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