|By Linda O. Johnston|
When Dr. Melanie Harding comes to rural Maryland to open a veterinarian clinic, she has no intention of buying into the area's absurd werewolf legends. Until she rescues an ordinary dog shot with a silver bullet, and meets his sexy owner, Major Drew Connell.A founding member of the Alpha Force on a nearby military base, Drew has developed an elixir that helps werewolves control their shape-shifting abilities. Drew has always tried to keep his distance from the civilian population, but Melanie's sweet and gentle nature soon wears down his defenses. With the attacks on people and animals in the area mounting, can their fiery attraction withstand their toughest challenge?
Alpha Wolf (#56) is the first book in Linda O. Johnston's Alpha Force series published by Harlequin/Silhouette Nocturne. I picked this one up because I enjoy paranormal romances with werewolves (my favorite otherworldly creature), and I thought the book's premise was intriguing - a secret military group comprised of shape-shifters is trained to be "a last resort in national security situations were special undercover skills were needed." It made me wonder how a group of shifters could pull off a hush hush undercover mission without being detected. Wouldn't demons or vampires be a better choice? They seem more stealthlike than werewolves. Unfortunately we never get to see the team in action. I got the impression this book was more of a set up for things to come.
The story begins as Beverly Hills veterinarian Dr. Melanie Harding moves to the small, rural town of Mary Glen, Maryland, and takes over the practice of the town's previous vet who was shot and killed - with a silver bullet. Not long after her arrival, she saves a dog outside of her animal hospital who almost met the same fate. When the dog's owner Major Drew Connell comes to claim him, Melanie becomes entangled in the craziness of Mary Glen's werewolf legends that are somehow tied to the secret operations happening at the nearby Ft. Lukman. Locals become enraged that the town's new vet saves what they believe is a werewolf, and Melanie becomes the target of an anti-werewolf group. Though she is sure the rumors are false, Drew knows paranormals do exist as he and his teammates are shifters. In order to protect Melanie and the secret operations at Ft. Lukman, Drew must risk exposing his true nature in hopes she can be trusted with his secret.
While I did like the premise (I love the idea of shifter military men!), the overall story and characters didn't hold my interest like I'd hoped. Drew and Melanie fell a bit flat, and chemistry between them was lacking in a story that was meant to be a paranormal romance. Drew spent most of the story pushing Melanie away because of trust issues from his past, and then suddenly everything is fine and they're discussing marriage and kids/puppies? Not likely. The story was enjoyable with a few exciting moments though no big surprises. There were a few times I was scratching my head over how unsecure and understaffed their military base was! I think the author did a good job of building the world of the Alpha Force and introducing us to characters we'll meet in future books.