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review 2016-07-05 14:39
Unjustified Claims
Unjustified Claims - Kaje Harper

I really really liked the MCs in this one. The story too of course :)
I connected with the geek in Ethan and I really liked how different Brandt's experience of being a wolf is from the rest of the wolves we got to know so far, he had a certain connection and a kind of peace with nature we haven't seen in the rest of them.
I also liked the new development! I'm especially curious how

the whole coming out to humans went

(spoiler show)

since that part was kind of skipped with more focus on Brandt and Ethan. But I wasn't expecting it at all. And I can't wait to read the next installment because of it!

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review 2014-12-14 07:47
Kaje Harper – Unjustified Claims
Unjustified Claims - Kaje Harper

Reviewer: Barb

Genre: M/M Paranormal

 

Review:
Brandt Davis barely escaped from his pack when his Alpha, his Uncle Charlie, finds out that he’s not only gay, but that he enjoys dressing in women’s lingerie.Barely escaping with his life, he moves in wolf form over two states until he finds himself in the north woods of Minnesota. As he’s trying to decide whether to join up with a pack of wild wolves that he’s been following, he hears a human cry, followed by deep silence.

 

Ethan Sjulstad has gone hiking in the north woods by himself, primarily to escape the homophobic slurs that someone painted across the motel which he recently took over.It’s his parents’ motel, one that his brother Stephen had run into the ground before an overdose of drugs killed him earlier that year. Blaming himself for his brother’s fate, and guilty that his parents’ lifelong work would be lost, he’s agreed to get the motel up and running and profitable again.But the town he’d escaped years earlier still remembers him as the gay boy who ran away after townsfolk turned against him for his role in the accident that killed his brother’s football career.Carrying enough guilt in the first place, the cruel words spray-painted across the front of the motel are enough to send him to seek solitary peace by hiking in the woods.

 

But when he falls and a tree limb pierces through his leg, it’s a naked man who helps him to safety.A man, and possibly a wolf— a big wolf who is likely a part of Ethan’s imagination, but then again, how many naked men do you encounter in the woods?Brandt has decided that he needs to help this handsome young man.There’s something about him that draws Brandt to him and despite his own best interests in staying hidden, he feels that he needs to help.After assuring that Ethan is not going to die immediately from blood loss, Brandt leaves him to get help.He then ends up hanging around when he discovers that he has Ethan’s keys in the backpack he’s been carrying.This leads to being present when Ethan comes home from the hospital and is the start of a slow burn romance in which the two men begin to build a little trust in one another.

 

When Aaron (“Unexpected Demands”) and several of his pack members arrive to scout out the location for a pack retreat, it’s immediately evident to both he and Brandt that they are wolves. After getting to know Brandt, Aaron offers him a place in his pack.But Brandt’s ties to his own alpha have never been severed; why is unknown, but it complicates the issue and it’s finally decided that Charlie will be invited to the motel for the weekend when Aaron and his pack will be there.At that point Brandt can decide if he wants to go back or stay, and if he stays, he’ll be welcome in Aaron’s pack. But the big issue and complication is Ethan.Ethan has become suspicious of the behavior of the pack members, primarily Brandt, but others as well, and he’s taken steps to learn more about them.When he discovers that not only are they werewolves but that they generally kill any human who finds out, he finds it very difficult to act normally with Brandt.Add to that the complication that Brandt is expecting his alpha and hasn’t told Ethan that anyone other than Aaron and his “family” will be arriving this weekend, the tension between the two men comes to a head.


Without giving away spoilers, I can say that the balance of that weekend was both better than anticipated, surprising, and absolutely perfect.And for fans of the love between Aaron and Zack, there’s an additional surprise.

 

The author builds an amazing world with this werewolf series and has left an opening for a whole different type of danger and intrigue for any future books she may add.I enjoyed the fact that this was a complete story, easily a standalone, yet with links to the past two books in the series for those readers who want to devour the whole set.The love between Ethan and Brandt was a very slow build as the author was concurrently filling us in on their backgrounds, pack life, Ethan’s dreams, and Brandt’s secrets.The lighthearted times they had together were as important as the more serious issues, and the introduction of Aaron and his pack added another layer of complexity.And I loved the Epilogue!What a nice send off with a definite HEA for this couple.

 

If you like paranormal stories, shifters, sexy guys in women’s lingerie, survival stories and just plain love stories, then you’ll like this one.I highly recommend it to all lovers of M/M romance.

Source: heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=30741
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review 2014-10-25 02:53
JOINT REVIEW WITH RAINE
Unjustified Claims - Kaje Harper

REVIEW ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DEAR AUTHOR WHERE WE RECEIVED THE BOOK AS FREE REVIEWING COPY FROM THE AUTHOR

Review:

Sirius:
Dear Kaje Harper, I have been waiting for the next book in your “Hidden Wolves” series pretty much since I finished the previous book. And I wanted to review this book together with my former co-reviewer and good friend Raine for the sake of old times because we reviewed the first two books in the series together at Reviews by Jessewave. Hi Raine and welcome to DA!

For the readers who have not read these books yet, this is Book Three, and even though the main romance in this one is between completely new characters who had no previous relationships with wolves in Aaron’s pack, I do *not* recommend starting with this book. You will not miss much plot-wise, but you will miss the evolution of the werewolves’ society, which has been explained over the course of all three books.

For those who are not interested in looking at the reviews of the first two books, I want to briefly mention that in Kaje Harper’s world werewolves live in total secrecy, their society is harsh and brutal and secrecy is necessary. If you meet a human who somehow learned of werewolves’ existence, you kill him or you bring it to your Alpha’s attention and they will take care of it. Also, these awesome werewolves used to routinely kill their kids if they were found to be gay. This is despite the fact that in this world there are no female werewolves – the werewolf boy is born as a result of the mating between a male werewolf and a human mother. There are not that many births happening in the first place.

If you read the first two books you know that this intolerance is what started all the changes – some werewolves decided that they do not want to kill their gay packmates anymore. There was also a charismatic new Alpha who showed up, after which a certain pack split into two with that Alpha, named Aaron, taking charge of the second pack. That second pack is now known for being accepting of gays, as much as it is possible in this world. Aaron was also pretty sure that the secrecy was going to end soon and so all the werewolves need to at least try to prepare and work together to have some kind of the plan.

Raine:
The first book in the series was outstanding for me, with gorgeous main characters for the romance, very dramatic, believably vicious external threats and wonderfully imagined paranormal characters in a real world situation. I still ration my rereads. The next one was a bit up and down. I had problems with the next starring couple and some of the plot, but I still loved this wolf universe and the author’s easy flowing style, which has a lovely integrity of emotion behind it. However I have not reread it, which is the gold standard for me.

What do you think about the title of this book? Are the unjustified claims Ethan’s guilt over his brother and the more general pack claims against homosexuality?

Sirius:
I do agree with your interpretation of the title, but I think we can argue that what Brandt’s former pack actually wanted from him at the end can be called “unjustified” as well, same as what some town residents demanded from Ethan.

Overall I was very pleased to meet Brandt and Ethan. I ended up thinking of both men as complex and interesting characters. Brandt is running from his werewolf pack because he was outed for having gay porn on his computer and in the forest he finds Ethan, who has been injured, and eventually decides that he has to help him.

Of course nothing in this unexpected rescue operation is easy and Ethan is not always making things easier either:

“Brandt glared at him intently. Ethan returned Brandt’s stare equally hard, despite the fatigue that was making it difficult to see, and the sinking feeling that crazy was a legitimate question. “I can’t get airlifted out. Can’t”
“Why the ..... not?”
“Trust me.”
“Not unless you will come up with something really amazing for a reason.”
“Amazing?”
“Like, the airlift guy hates you and will push you out of the chopper. Or your head explodes above a hundred feet of elevation. Amazing”

But eventually Ethan is in the hospital and Brandt ends up staying with him for a while, because he needs a place to stay and a job, and Ethan as a motel owner gives him one.

I really liked the building romance between these two guys for many reasons. I liked the characters, I liked that it had such a delicious slow burn feel and I thought the balance of external and internal issues that kept popping up and then getting resolved was done really well.

Their insecurities made complete sense to me. Brandt identifies as bisexual and of course when he had to hide his sexuality or to be killed for it for a long time, he would be insecure when he met a guy he liked. At first he would not even tell Ethan that he was bisexual. I really liked that in this story we do not have a very prolonged angsting by Ethan – is he straight, is he gay? Is he bisexual? Oh he *must* be straight. No, Ethan calls Brandt on his denials and omissions pretty soon and we do not have the real issue become an artificial conflict, or mini conflict.

Brandt also likes a little kink (He likes to wear lingerie) and he is even more insecure about that and constant reassurance from Ethan was very sweet and made sense to me. Ethan was not repeating it gazillion times, but he did repeat it and I thought it was done just the right amount.

Ethan’s issues were connected to his past and I thought it was extremely well done, because I could understand why Ethan would blame himself for something like that even though I knew it was not his fault at all.

Raine:
I found Ethan slightly less successful overall as a character. Just to contradict myself, while I disliked his passivity in accepting guilt for his brother’s actions, I really hated the method he used in his proactive stance on finding out about his guest’s mysteries. It left me feeling so anxious. However, I liked the real life scale of his acceptance of the limitations of his composing ambitions. The quirkiness of his fantasy daydreams added another piece to the puzzle. I thought his competence with tech and computers reinforced the inevitability of the change coming to the hidden wolves. The possible strategy the author lays out is similar to the one used in Patricia Briggs’ wolf books and always struck me as being particularly inspired.

There were a couple of little things about Ethan and Brandt as they start to interact sexually which felt a bit off to me, mainly why Brandt needed to be told that having dried come stuck to his pubes would be uncomfortable…… I also found Brandt’s coitus interruptus nocturnal woodland running trips made me sigh a lot.

However, in the main, Brandt is another success for the author in nicely drawn werewolves. His inner voice was very appealing, a mix of self-doubt and awareness combined with an interesting physicality expressed both as a wolf and with his sexual kinks. By the way, when he is outed by his porn, not just gay porn but gay porn with a lingerie kink, this was an interesting side issue because it gave us a chance to look at how Brandt’s traditional pack reacted to shades of grey in their black and white rules of sexuality. I got a nice warm glow from Brandt’s very protective stance over Ethan and his property. The scene with Mara, full of forthright home truths, was also satisfying,

“You can’t just walk into town and tell people who’ve live here all their lives what the hell they should do.”
“Well if you all haven’t figured out yet how to be decent human beings, maybe you need some telling.”

The slow build to their relationship ended up balancing on the edge of irritation for me, but this might have been because I was anxiously waiting for Aaron’s pack to come into the story somehow. I loved catching up with these guys, especially Paul and Simon, and how their pack is developing. Aaron felt much more at ease with being top wolf and there were no more exhausting vacillations about his role. He had all the strength I am unashamedly addicted to in Alpha werewolves.

Sirius:
Until the book hits about the halfway mark we do not even meet Aaron and his pack – Brandt and Ethan’s story unfolds without their appearance. Did I think the connection was a little artificial? Yes, I did, but because they do live in the same werewolf society and because that society is not that big I could buy the reason for their appearance at Ethan’s motel well enough. At least I did not have to work hard to suspend disbelief that much.

I loved meeting Aaron and Zach, Simon and Paul and other guys again. Especially Simon and Paul; I loved their banter and it provided some rare humorous moments for the book.

“There’s good running here. Lots of fat rabbits.”
Simon grinned and put his hands over Paul’s ears. “You didn’t hear that, babe”.
Paul pulled his hands down, but held his wrists. “I thought it was one of your goals to teach me that wolves aren’t Rin Tin Tin, or Lassie. Nature, red in tooth and claw, and all that.”
Simon’s smile became soft, looking at the human who was his mate. “You’d have to be pretty dumb if you were still figuring that out. But you like rabbits.”
“Also rabbit stew.”
“What! A traitor to pet bunnies in your care.”
“Watch out. I’ll actually become a vegan and there’ll be no more bacon in your house.”
“No, no. I take it back. Eat all the pet bunnies you like.”

Now when Aaron’s pack and Aaron himself learned Brandt’s story of course it made sense that they would not shy away from Brandt and would try to help him with his troubles in one way or another. Also, in the second half of the book the theme of “when will the werewolves come out to the humans” picks up the pace a little bit and there are some interesting developments at the end of the story.

I keep thinking about whether the mix of the two storylines was done well – Bran and Ethan and Aaron and his pack – and I would have to say that I think it was done well enough. Granted, there was no urgent need for them to meet initially, but if the writer needed that meeting, I do not see how it could have been done any better. I was a bit disappointed though because I thought Aaron escaped too easily out of possibly taking a stand on a certain moral issue. I was *extremely* disappointed how he handled a similar issue in the second book, but at least one could make strong arguments for him not having much of a choice. And in this book the issue came up again, and we are having a “saved by the bell” moment? I wanted him to put his money where his mouth was and shield an innocent human, instead of a convenient plot event doing it for him.

I loved that Mark’s wife Megan was shown to be such a strong mate and someone who did not hesitate to ask inconvenient questions and insist on something when she thought it was right. One of the issues I had with this society from the book one is how horribly misogynistic it was. It all fit with the violence, killing gay kids and humans who learned about them, and I understand that the idea was that even such a society could slowly change. I do not hold it against the book, but because the writing is so good, I was so furious every time I thought about the world where these wolves could kill the kids and not even tell their unbonded wives why they killed their sons. That is why I really like that Megan does not back down if she feels she is right, even if Aaron keeps telling her that “pack is not a democracy” and I really liked other female characters in this book. Mara was not always likeable, but she was complex and interesting and she seemed able to learn at least somewhat from her mistakes.
My grade is B.

Raine:
Overall I liked this third book, lots of good storytelling detail and character development, and if the juxtaposition of new guys and old guys was a bit wobbly in the plot department it was no big deal for me either. My biggest problem was the use of the deus ex machina to get Aaron & Co. out of a very deep hole. I don’t think it is cute to acknowledge a cliché and then still use it. So I was disappointed with the anticlimactic finish to this part of the long-term plot arc. The romantic conclusions for the new couples and the old, in contrast, were well up to scratch and finished things off for this book very neatly.
Grade: B-

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review 2014-10-20 00:00
Unjustified Claims
Unjustified Claims - Kaje Harper This book didn't have as much wolf stuff as I was expecting. Well, it had a lot but most of it didn't really become as issue until half way through the book. I sure hope we see more of the repercussions of the wolves coming out.
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review 2014-09-19 23:47
Unjustified Claims (Kaje Harper)
Unjustified Claims - Kaje Harper

Hidden Wolves is one MM shifter series that I really love – although my loving Kaje Harper’s stories might also contribute to it. Unjustified Claims is the third book in this series, and for me, it’s another solid one.

Slightly different than the previous two books, this story takes place ‘outside’ the pack environment. Since Brandt is a runaway wolf – he left his Michigan pack immediately after they find his stash of gay porn and secret kink – and he is basically ‘stranded’ with Ethan, the human he saves after suffering a bad fall, the story lacks some viciousness of the previous books. I don’t mean that as a bad thing, it just feels different.

Both Brandt and Ethan had this sadness in them and of course I fell for that plot like a moth to a flame. See, Brandt has a kink – he likes to dress in lingerie and garters and corsets and feels the smoothness of the material on his skin. In the eyes of his pack, that is worse than just being a gay wolf. I really loved how Kaje Harper explored this. Being a wolf with its non-human strength, it was easy to picture Brandt as the dominant. However, the truth was, when Brandt wore the lingerie, he always pictured himself being bent over and the one being f*cked. I loved this contrast – the strength and the vulnerability. It made such an intriguing characterization.

Ethan’s sadness came from guilt – there was a back story about him, which included the death of his brother and why he returned to Minnesota. It was good but at the same time I didn’t find Ethan as layered as Brandt. I did like the relationship between Ethan and his sister-in-law. Somehow, Kaje Harper can make bigotry or homophobia not just simply black and white, there’s always shades of grey (oh, except maybe for the wolf pack).

I loved the slow-built relationship. Brandt did keep his identity as wolf a secret – and the fact that he was still connected to the Michigan pack became sort of a ‘threat’ that clouded his relationship to Ethan. It was also part that kept the tension for me as a reader because I wondered what would happen when Ethan found out. And he did find out.

For those loving Aaron’s pack, no worries, they were still here. They become guests at Ethan’s motel and of course, they played an important part in Brandt and Ethan’s life and whether or not they could be together. By the way, if you ever wonder about Cord’s sexuality (was he gay, was he not gay), well, you will get your answer here *laugh*.

There was also a huge progress update on Aaron and Zach’s relationship and it made me so damn happy. And there was quite a twist in the end related to the identity of wolves and the Council’s decision. I figure this will be very important plot should there be more books coming our way. I wish that there are more written here about that, because the epilogue seems, well, jumping in time a little bit. I do hope for sequel *cross fingers*

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