Standoff by Lauren Dane

Standoff by Lauren Dane (a Cascadia Wolves story)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (180 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M
Rating: 5 Cherries
Review by: Xeranth

It’s the law of the Pack—or anarchy.

A Cascadia Wolves story.

For most of his life, Cade Warden has put the needs of his Pack first, setting aside everything else—even the emptiness he feels from having no mate. But Warren Pellini and his thugs have a biological weapon, threatening everything Cade holds dear.

Into his intensely focused, lonely life walks the woman he’s been waiting for.

Packless for many years, Grace Pellini has edged back into the good graces of her evil brother, walking a dangerous line to gather information to aid the Nationally Allied Packs. Cade is everything she could have hoped for in a man and a mate, even if he can be pushy and overprotective.

In the midst of their rising passion and desperate search for the key to disabling the weapon, Pellini raises the stakes by calling an ancient Challenge.

Now it’s Grace’s turn to put her protective instincts aside and stand by, Cade’s life in her hands, as her mate risks everything for his people.

Warning: Hot sexin’ of an Alpha-wolf type nature, some violence due to meddling werewolf mafia involvement, bad words that may end up the subject of a letter to the editor.

Standoff is the culmination of a journey for the Cascadia wolves that fans have been waiting for; the head-on clash with the evil villain, the love between a man and woman faced with surprising choices and a passion sure to sizzle and seduce you.

Cade is the alpha, the main wolf who puts everyone’s needs above his own because he’s that kind of guy; responsible, dedicated, stalwart, scary as heck when he needs to be …and lonely. Who’s got time to find love when he’s trying his best to save his people? Like the old cliché says, “The best things come when you’re not looking.” Okay, so I might have mixed up my metaphors but it sums it up rather nicely. He’s doing his job, getting ready to kick some serious butt – like waging a war; determined to win against the villain who instigated it. My first favorite moment came when the metaphysical whammy jumps him in the middle of all that seriousness. Ms. Dane presents a romantic and passionate love-at-first-sight scenario that is sure to please and perhaps drag a smile or two out of the reader. Cade falling in love was fun reading.

The lucky lady is Grace. She comes with a load of baggage – her being related to the ultimate villain notwithstanding. She heralds from a dysfunctional family and it’s a miracle she’s as well adjusted as she is. Grace has spunk, attitude and courage. She made choices in her life that held her in good stead and eventually ends up being vital in the life and death struggle between Cade and her brother. Grace’s emotional roller coaster involves having to deal with betrayal from a surprising source and it enriched her character making it very easy to like her, root for her and want to fight by her side.

Ms. Dane has a knack for dialogue. My second most favorite scenes were the dynamite conversations and by-play between Grace and Nina, the wife of Cade’s brother, Lex. If you’ve read any of the previous books you’ll remember Nina as being sassy and opinionated. Even if you haven’t, again Ms. Dane is able to provide a new reader with all they’ll need to get a feel for the relationship so the story stands alone just fine. Grace, being Cade’s mate, is the new alpha. And wow do the sparks fly between the two women because both are strong – in personality and their love for their men. I had a ton of fun reading those snappy comebacks and how the author had Grace navigate the verbal land mines Nina lobbed at her. The writing was strong and enjoyable.

Another area of strength Ms. Dane treats her readers to is the ability to give her characters plenty of opportunities to have sex fully loaded with emotional connections, romantic consideration and fiery spontaneity. It’s always a well-rounded experience.

A third favorite element of Ms. Dane’s writing is the talent of bringing a bunch of other characters from the previous books forward to populate and enrich the current story. Their personalities don’t remain static but continue to grow and evolve, which helps Standoff. I’ve read about Cade all through the story arc but this time the story is about him. His interactions with the other members bring depth, connection and continuity. I totally enjoy being in the world Ms. Dane has created.

I don’t want to make this review too long, but I must mention the villain. Sometimes the ending of a long running series lets me down because the bad guy gets offed too soon and you feel robbed of justice. Call me blood thirsty but the battle length was just right.

If a reader is eagle-eyed, they’ll catch a few editing misses in the beginning but the rest is pure gold.

All in all, Standoff tied up not only the HEA between Cade and Grace but a lot of other different perspectives as well. It was sort of like playing with a deck of cards; you never know what you’re going to get once the cards are shuffled but are thrilled when the results are satisfying. Ms. Dane has a winning hand with Standoff. Since I read this story in one sitting I have to say it was worth every moment of lost sleep.

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