All Jack Tucker wanted was to come home for a little while and try to figure out where his life had gone wrong. Moving from Wyoming to New York hadn’t turned out the way he’d thought it would, and a bad breakup leaves him bruised in more than just the emotional sense.
He doesn’t expect to be glad he’s back on the Double T Ranch with his brother, Rhett, and he sure doesn’t expect to find the place crawling with coywolves, wolves, and coyotes. There seems to be some kind of animal-warfare going on, and he and Rhett are caught in the middle of it.
Coywolves—the hybrid of wolves and coyotes, hated by both, and more predatory than either. Add in the fact that all the battling species are shifters, and there’s bound to be trouble.
Ben Akers is part of his brother’s pack. The only coywolf shifters in existence, they find themselves under constant attack from wolf and coyote packs determined to make the Akers pack extinct. But coywolves don’t die out so easy, and when Ben’s life takes a surprising turn in the form of one sexy human named Jack Tucker, they’re both in for surprises, danger, and, if Destiny rules, an abiding love that most people—and shifters—only dream of.
As a HUGE fan of Bradford’s Southwestern Shifters series and a fan of several of the other shifter series she’s written, I was interested to see where the author could take yet another shifter series. It turns out, she took her cue from nature and built a pack of shifter hybrids, coywolves. Not surprisingly, the coywolf shifters are being attacked by both coyote shifters and wolf shifters for being abominations, with neither side accepting them. What was surprising, was who came to their rescue and why – or at least I found it to be an interesting twist.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed about the shifter romances of Bradford’s that I’ve read is that they all incorporate the concept of fated or destined mates – that one person born to be your other half. Destined Prey also operates on the destined mate belief and, considering his own parentage, it wasn’t difficult to accept that Ben, a coywolf, would have a human as his destined mate. With neither coyotes nor wolves accepting the coywolves’ right to exist, it’s actually rather fortunate that Jack is Ben’s destined mate. As for Jack, he’s lost all sense of direction, starting with him returning to the family’s ranch after his ex-boyfriend turned his world upside down with his drunkenness and violent behavior. When Jack stumbles into the midst of a shifter fight between the coywolves and wolves, Ben is unable to let him get hurt and shifts to his human form while Jack is unconscious, and returns him to safety. Yet Ben finds himself drawn to Jack, almost instinctively, and they eventually agree to take things slowly to see where it goes. And it goes exactly where it’s meant to be, it just takes a few sharp turns and detours to get there. As for support from the unexpected corner – the Barghest was not what I was expecting, even though I was expecting something from its human form. And Robin’s response to the Barghest was very interesting.
Had this been a contemporary romance, I would have felt as though things progressed too quickly considering what Jack endured at his ex’s hand. However, with Destined Mates being a paranormal romance, the relationship actually progressed much slower than I expected – and by that, I mean it in relation to other paranormal romances, not that the story dragged. Ben gave Jack the time he needed to process his shock over learning about shifters, to get comfortable with the idea of mates, and to accept that they were destined mates – well, he kinda did. The sex was hot, and I have to give a nod to the author for acknowledging the broken ribs during one of the scenes and having the characters adjust for them. Far too often performance hindering injuries disappear while the characters are engaged in vigorous bedroom gymnastics, only to reappear once the endorphins have worn off. The coywolves, destined matings, the Barghest, and the romance made this an enjoyable read; but it is Rhett and Casey who have me looking forward to the next installment in the Wild Ones series.