After being introduced to the Cornerstone world in the first book, Black Rook: the characters, the complicated plotting both for the suspenseful action and the near impossible romantic situations of the characters, I was ready for that heady, excitement for what I was reading to continue.
This is an interesting trilogy in that most of the main players are introduced in the beginning and their stories all start at the same time and are tied together. Several even get narration roles in each book so that it’s not just the hero and heroine featured telling what’s going on. There are three wolf shifter brothers all representing a different level of wolf hierarchy based on power and all getting the chance to be the lead protagonist in each book. This is the second book and is Bishop, the gray wolf’s story. It needs to be read after book one because it’s really an ongoing segment of the same overall story.
Bishop’s life is in turmoil now after all that has come before and he’s not the only one. Their whole community is still reeling from the enemy attack that brought sorrow, death and destruction down on them with the purpose of wiping his people from existence and using the uniqueness of his brother, Knight’s white wolf nature to create a new super race of paranormals. The town is fearful and Knight is nearly ready to break. Bishop knows that something has to give. He, himself, is strung out from everything. It doesn’t help that his wolf side recognizes Jillian Reynolds, the alpha female from another pack, as his mate. He’s pretty sure she feels the pull too, but they are destined to lead their father’s separate packs so cannot give in to the pull of their wolves.
Jillian has come to Cornerstone at her father’s orders not just to lend aid to the beleaguered pack, but also to look about and find a worthy mate to help her lead her home pack. She lost her husband and child and now she is just coming out of her grief to try again. Nobody from home attracted her in this way, but the minute she encounters Bishop McQueen everything in her sits up and takes notice like nothing she has felt before. The only man she wants it the one she can’t have. She can’t dwell on it though as much needs to be done and their enemies are still out there.
Then the unthinkable happens and the attacks start again with this time the death and grief happening much closer to home for Bishop. Bishop is suddenly faced with trouble on all fronts and it is only Jillian beside him and the determination to hold what remains of his family and pack together keeping them as safe as he can that gets him through the horrors that come. Knight might be beyond aid and Rook is prepared to step in and put his life on the line too. The vampire hybrids have struck back with a vengeance and someone else with an ax to grind have Bishop and the others of Cornerstone backed into a really tough spot.
What else to say…this was a true middle piece to the story. I knew what was coming when I saw the direction of the storyline, but I still bawled my eyes out nonetheless. My heart grieved for what these people had to deal with. Bishop was the one holding the point on it all as the natural leader, but it’s not just him that is pushed beyond what he should be able to take. It’s a family- a community that experiences it all. Knight has such personal demons to deal with that it was hard to see him struggle. The romance plot was one of those ‘doomed before it starts’ things for Bishop and Jillian, but it didn’t get angsty. They are both strong, passionate people, but they are hemmed in by duty. I hope their story arc continues into the next one because I felt the need for a bit more even though the end of the book left them in a good place. Now the last big twist right at the end wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger in that it was almost expected, but it still leaves me frustrated to have to wait for the final book.
As to the characters, I really like them all. Well okay, I love to hate the bad guys, but the good guys are all characters I can really root for and care about their stories. They are all like family whether they are blood related or not and I love that camaraderie feeling.
Bishop was actually a favorite from the beginning back in the other book. Maybe its the oldest child connection, but I totally got him and was glad to get his story. Unlike his brothers who are both gifted in ways he is not- Rook’s power and position came from being born a black wolf and Knight’s being a rare white wolf makes him absolutely integral and essential, Bishop is a gray wolf and forced to work twice as hard as the black wolves around him to establish his place as the alpha’s oldest son and heir to the leadership of his people. Bishop has the heart and head of an alpha and the people respect and follow him, but with it comes such burdens and responsibilities. He also carries a personal guilt and grief over each instance he feels that he failed to protect others particularly his younger brothers. He wants to keep everyone safe and now he is faced with the fact that safety is an illusion at best. He knows Jillian Reynolds is his mate and he already respects her as a friend and fellow fighter, but in true alpha fashion he must set aside his own happiness for the good of his pack and hers. He must let her go.
Now Jillian is basically Bishop’s counterpart just female so it was easy to appreciate and like her too. She has had personal tragedy just pile up in her life too. It is being near Bishop that gives her the strength to keep it together and do what she has to do. Unfortunately part of what she has to do involves turning her back on what they could have had together. Jillian is a refreshing heroine. She is smart, strong, fiercely loyal, vulnerable at times and loving. She stands beside Bishop even through her own grief and she doesn’t go weepy and wailing when faced with some pretty tough situations.
In the end, this was a strong sequel that kept the story progressing forward as things get graver and the stakes get higher which is exactly where things need to be setting up for the grand finale. The romance is a balanced equally with the action and the characters are developed and engaging. I would recommend this series for paranormal romance lovers who like that sort of balance and a passionate, though understated romance between two strong characters.
My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review.
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