In Book I, Wild Evolution, Colorado rancher Dan Tucker’s life is turned upside-down.
After surviving a mutant canine attack, Dan discovers the animal he killed is not a wild dog, but a man. To protect himself even though it was a self-defense killing, he covers up the murder.
A werewolf by contamination, Dan finds his attitudes and appetites changing. His love of nature and the wild increases as he runs at night with a wolf pack in the nearby national forest. As a man, he becomes more bold and amorous, winning the heart of Angela Connor, a waitress at the local café.
Meanwhile his best friend, Grand County Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Ramirez, becomes increasingly suspicious, especially after Dan has several public run-ins with his cantankerous old neighbor, and the man later turns up missing. When the remains of two bodies are discovered some time later in a remote cave, Tony ceases to be Dan’s friend and goes to great lengths to prove him a murderer.
With his quiet life as bachelor rancher transformed into a constant battle of wits to keep his deep, dark secret safe, Dan finds himself at odds with everyone, including his girlfriend and his former best friend – and most of all, himself.
Narrowly escaping Tony’s murder investigation, Dan goes about eliminating threats to his future. Now all he wants is to pursue his dream of running a dude ranch with his soon-to-be wife, Angela. But as the wedding gets closer, he wonders how he’ll keep his nocturnal life a secret. He soon discovers that’s the least of his worries…
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In book II Dan tries to live a normal life by living the American dream of opening his own business with his new wife.
But things do not go right and he reverts to his old ways.
The night before the wedding, Elizabeth heads to bed early; the long flight has taken its toll on her elderly system. Dan sits nursing a beer, with Angela cuddled up next to him on the couch. He flips the TV off. They sit a little longer together; then Dan pulls her closer and gives a kiss on top of her head. “Maybe we ought to head off to bed too. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.”
“Just a couple of more minutes. We won’t have any time alone tomorrow until we leave for the honeymoon. I just want to enjoy a little quiet time together, okay?”
Dan kisses the top of her head again as she cuddles up a little closer to him. Angela may be enjoying her cuddle time, but in Dan can’t put aside the spiteful words his future mother-in-law spewed out earlier that day. The words keep replaying in his thoughts.
Angela uncoils from the couch and stands in front of him with her arms stretched out to him. “Maybe we should turn in too. You’re right; it’s gonna be a long day tomorrow.” Angela takes his hand, and he follows her up the stairs, but his mind is still recycling Ella Connor’s words.
Dan tosses and turns while Angela falls directly to sleep. He props up on his elbow watching her sleep. They named her right, she is an angel. I don’t think I am the man she deserves. He gives her an ever so light kiss on the cheek and whispers, “I’ll do my best.” He lies down again to try to get some sleep.
Sleep comes, but it is not restful for Dan. In his dreams, his subconscious releases its anxieties.
Everyone is seated; Dan and Angela are at the altar. The preacher is giving his wedding spiel. Suddenly his tongue seems too big for his mouth; his teeth protrude over his lips; his tongue dangles over his bottom lip and droplets of saliva drips down his chin. The preacher stops and stares with mouth hanging open in awe as Dan slobbers down the front of his tuxedo.
Dan’s face twitches, then blooms it into tingles with an irrepressible urge to scratch. When he digs at the stubbles popping out on his chin, the stubbles turn to fur.
Angela steps back in awe of his transformation. She drops her bouquet but doesn’t take her eyes off his bizarre changes. Dan sits back on his haunches and looks over the crowd in the church. Many have stood up and a few are backing up, ready to make a fast exit.
Ella stands and points her finger at him and yells out for all to hear, “I told you. I told you he has something to hide.” Angela joins the rest of the guests and backs away from Dan, who is standing on all fours at the altar. A few muffled screams can be heard in the crowd. Dan lifts his head back and gives out an ear-splitting howl. He looks over the crowd one more time, then bolts down the aisle in his altered state of being. All of the guest move out of his way as he runs out the church doors.
Dan eyes pop open, a cold sweat beads up on his forehead. He licks his lips; his mouth is cotton dry. He turns over and sees Angela still sleeping soundly. He slips off the side of the bed and tiptoes downstairs.
With the TV on and the sound down low, Dan stretches out on the recliner, mindlessly watching the infomercial on the tube in an attempt hide from his dream.
C. Fern Cook's first book, Wild Evolution, introduced us to Dan Tucker, a rural Colorado rancher who suffered a bite from what he believed was a wild dog, but was in fact a werewolf. In this second book of her paranormal Wild Series, Cook delves deeper into her main characters, Dan Tucker and his soon-to-be-wife Angela. Wild Justice picks up right where Wild Evolution left off, with Tucker still trying to come to grips with how to handle (and keep under wraps) his newfound transformation ability. Feeling removed from his pack, both in animal and human form, Tucker decides to focus his energies on his upcoming wedding and future business endeavors. Then things take a disastrous turn, and Tucker finds it necessary to transform into a werewolf once again.
Without giving too much away, it is important to note that Cook touches on a some hard-hitting topics in Wild Justice that force the reader to think about and face some disturbing but unfortunately common practices. Cook effectively intertwines this subject matter into the plot of the story, which ultimately gives more depth to Tucker's character.
As with Cook's first book in the series, her writing style will appeal to a wide variety of readers of different ages. It is a quick read, and leaves off at another great cliff-hanger for the next book in the series. After reading Wild Evolution and Wild Justice, readers will find it imperative to get their hands on book three to see where Tucker's choices and actions will lead him next. Wild Justice is an ideal book for a public library collection, and an absolute must have for small town, rural public libraries. Be sure to pick up book one in the series, as these novels must be read in order.
Contains: Mild violence & gore
Review by Kelly Fann
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