Passion is always worth fighting for…
Jori Garrison trains dogs for Warrior Wolf Pack, which provides service animals for disabled veterans. Four years ago, she was wrongly convicted of a crime—thanks to her no-good ex-fiancé. Now she just wants to live her life in peace with her beloved dogs. No men, no complications. But it’s hard to play it cool when a lethally hot male is on her tail—and the attraction is fierce, mutual, and dangerous…
Lauray “Law” Batisse is a Military Police veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan. Haunted by the loss of his K-9 partner in combat, he’s reluctant to accept a service dog named Samantha into his life. But once he meets her trainer—the gorgeous Jori Garrison—he can’t fight his primal instincts. And neither can Jori. This sexy alpha male might be the only man strong enough to unleash her desires. And when unseen enemies start hunting them down, he and his new K-9 partner might be her only hope… to survive.
Source: ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley
This book didn’t really work for me, and I’m struggling to work out why. On the surface this should be right up my street – I love stories with military vets and complicated heroines, while the addition of a service dog should have been an absolute bonus. Yet this book didn’t grab me.
Part of the problem is that I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. Jori is an ex-con who has completely turned her life around to become a dog trainer for the Warrior Wolf Pack. Part of this is because she was totally innocent of the crime she went down for. Normally this would rouse all my protective instincts and put me firmly on her side, but I found Jori really bland. She’s been through plenty and yet I didn’t much care about her. I didn’t dislike her – there’s nothing inherently unlikeable about her – I simply wasn’t that interested.
As for Law, again, I wasn’t that interested. I really hated the way he constantly played Sam down, ignoring her good points because she wasn’t Scud, his K-9 killed on active duty. Yes, he has PTSD and is struggling with his fitness thanks to his lost leg, but mostly I didn’t like him much. Part of that is his legacy from his father over the way he treats women. Part of it is just like Jori – he didn’t keep my interest at all.
Both of these issues might have been caused by the lack of consistent POVs in each scene. I really hate when you can be in the head of one character in one line, then in a completely different one the next, without any particular warning. It’s confusing and distracting and I mostly found it annoying. I love multi-character viewpoints, but I prefer to stick with one per scene, or at least stay put for a decent amount of time. Constant switching for no good reason weakens a story for me.
Then there’s Sam. I’m not much of a fan of animal POVs in contemporary tales, but I could see why it was used here since Sam has some pretty specific skills and it definitely helped to highlight these by having a couple of scenes from her perspective. However, strangely, despite actually being inside her head at times, I found her curiously lacking in personality (canine-ality?). Perhaps this is because Law barely interacts with her, but even Jori seems to just ignore her. It made her seem really flimsy to me, and when she does appear she’s usually anxious or whimpering, which didn’t help. I felt like she got a raw deal in this book and it didn’t help my reading enjoyment.
The plot itself is okay. It starts off pretty slow, with the criminal aspects slowly creeping in to dominate towards the end. Actually, I did quite enjoy the last few chapters because there was a pace and immediacy that’s largely missing from the rest. However, for me, the whole crime side of things wasn’t very strong (until the end) and I grew impatient waiting for it to make an impact.
So, overall, I wasn’t that fond of this book. It’s an okay read, but I found it a little dull at times and bland at others. I didn’t connect with any of it like I hoped and it took me longer to read than expected. It’s not a bad book, but your enjoyment may vary depending on your view of switching characters constantly mid-scene. Also, if you’re reading this for the dog, you might want to try a sample first. I did read it for the dog and that side of things definitely didn’t live up to my expectations. I loved the sound of this book, but I’ll be thinking hard before I try any of the others in this series.
Primal Force is out September 1st.
Visit D.D. Ayres for more details.