Book Reviews

Off the Beaten Path by Cari Z.

Genre Gay / Paranormal / Military/Former Military / Shifters / Romance
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 11-January-2021

Book Blurb

When Ward Johannsen’s little girl Ava shifted into a werewolf, she was taken into custody by the feds and shipped off to the nearest pack, all ties between father and daughter severed. Ward burned every bridge he had discovering her location, and then almost froze to death in the Colorado mountains tracking her new pack down. And that’s just the beginning of his struggle.

Henry Dormer is an alpha werewolf and an elite black ops soldier who failed his last mission. He returns home, hoping for some time to recuperate and help settle the pack’s newest member, a little pup named Ava who can’t shift back to her human form. Instead he meets Ward, who refuses to leave his daughter without a fight.

The two men are as different as night and day, but their respect for each other strikes a spark of mutual interest that quickly grows into a flame. They might find something special together—love, passion, and even a family—if they can survive trigger-happy pack guardians, violent werewolf politics, and meddling government agencies that are just as likely to get their alpha soldiers killed as bring them home safely.

First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, September 2017.

Book Review

“The law was ironclad: werewolves weren’t classified as human. They were a dangerous subspecies, and they were the property of the government.”

What a terrific beginning to some very innovative worldbuilding the author created in ‘Off the Beaten Path.’ So fascinating, in fact, that I had difficulty putting it down in order to feed myself but, meh, who needs food when you're caught up in a world like this one? Werewolves came about when the government was going for a supersoldier but instead of having strength and senses like a wolf, they became wolves. The first ones escaped and in their fear and excitement, bit humans, killing some but some transitioned back to human, and some never turned at all but carried the gene.

That's how Ava came to shift at the age of four on her first day of preschool. Apparently her mom carries the gene, but Ward never knew this, and she left them shortly after Ava’s birth. Ward knows it can't be him because he'd be the epitome of perfect health if he were a carrier but instead he suffers from an intense number of allergies and severe asthma. I thought it was crappy the way the government treated him by just taking his daughter from him, and hunting her pack down and going there is highly illegal. In fact the alpha, Henry, is within his rights to kill Ward but they've all been worried about Ava’s refusal to shift and her inability to thrive. Hands down one of the best scenes I have EVER read in all of my shifter books, is when little Ava realizes her dad is there.

Outside of the worldbuilding in terms of the werewolves and their way of life, what I found particularly intriguing was the role of the United States government. The wolves are, literally, the property of the government. The wolves live in their packs on land designated by the government, fenced in and monitored by cameras, and have a permanent human guardian living right outside the front gate, ostensibly to prevent humans from getting in to cause harm, but also to keep the wolves from getting out. All alphas are conscripted into the army and run black ops missions for the government. In order for the alphas to request anything for their packs such as recruitment of new members like Ava, papers for a wolf to go away to college or to get married, or any of another numerous situations, the alpha must go through his handlers and bargaining is almost always part of the discussion.

“We toe the line, yeah, because if we don’t? Everything we have can be broken apart with very little trouble to the folks in command. So no, I’m not okay with how things are, but I abide by the rules because that’s part of how I stick up for my pack. I get sent to the worst places in the world so we can—” I bit my words off before I went any further.”

I don't have words to describe how thrilled I was about my first read by Cari Z. The love story was wonderfully done, the father-daughter relationship was beautifully written, and the worldbuilding was exceptionally well done. All in all, ‘Off the Beaten Path’ delivered on the promise subtly hidden within the description and I couldn't be more pleased. Well, actually that's not true. If the author decided to make this a series I'd be a whole lot happier. I would greatly enjoy reading more of this world.





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 188 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 11-January-2021
Price $2.99 ebook
Buy Link