"Cinematic cowboy cool meets a hot and steamy paranormal romance for the win!"
Reviewed by Miranda Owen
Posted January 8, 2019
Romance Paranormal | Romance Western
COWBOY WOLF TROUBLE is the
first book in the Seven Range
Shifters series by Kait Ballenger. The first book in a series is
usually a mixed bag - a lot of basic info to convey to the reader while
trying to balance that with the fun stuff. However, Kait Ballenger
successfully gives readers all the relevant information about the main
characters, while also telling a sensual love story. Wes Calhoun and
Naomi Evans have a prickly and inauspicious first meeting but the
passion that develops between them, as this story progresses, packs a
The opening chapter of COWBOY
WOLF TROUBLE is like something out of an "old west" cinematic
classic with a tough cowboy trying to do the right thing and damn the
consequences. Wes Calhoun is a hot cowboy and a wolf shifter. Wes
has a past that he's not particularly proud of and drenched in a lot of
blood. After leaving the villainous rogue wolf pack called the Wild Eight,
Wes is trying to do better. While not a boy scout, Wes realizes his
mistakes and tries to prevent vicious and unscrupulous shifters from
ruining life for other shifters. Into his life walks Naomi Evans. Naomi is
human but tough as nails and a perfect match for Wes. The chemistry
between this hero and heroine is electric and the spicy banter is
terrific. Given the way Wes and Naomi meet, the short time they've
known each other, and the stressful circumstances, trust and betrayal
are themes in COWBOY WOLF
TROUBLE. As they get to know each other, trust is earned and
Naomi sees Wes is a hero, albeit a very complicated one.
COWBOY WOLF TROUBLE paints a
beautiful and vivid western landscape for readers to feast on. This
story has it all including men with evil intentions, a heroine with grit,
and a hero who backs up his tough talk with action. Wes is a cowboy
hero who takes on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the paranormal
world in order to protect the woman he comes to love. The sexual
tension and strength exhibited by the two main characters are what
make this story stand out and shine. I look forward to reading future
books in this Seven Range
Shifters to see what Kait Ballenger has in store for these
characters and how she continues to develop this world.
Seven shifter clans call the Montana mountains home.
But a new evil will stop at nothing to tear their world
For centuries, the shifters that roam Big Sky country have
honored a pact to keep the peace. Even bad-boy rancher Wes
Calhoun, former leader of a renegade pack, has given up his
violent ways and sworn loyalty to the Grey Wolves. But his
dark past keeps catching up with him...
Human rancher Naomi Evans cares only about saving the ranch
that was her father's legacy. Until a clash with Wes opens
up a whole new world—a supernatural world on the verge of
war—and Naomi, her ranch, and the sexy cowboy wolf stealing
her heart are smack dab in the middle of it.
ExcerptDamn that idiot brother of hers.
Naomi Evans' breath swirled in the cold autumn air as she
fumed at her brother's stupidity. The bulky weight of her
father's old breach-loader pulled against the already
stressed tension in her shoulders. She loaded two more
buckshot shells. As soon as she'd heard that trap snap
closed, she knew Jacob hadn't listened to her. She'd warned
him that animal traps were not welcome on her
ranch. That hadn't sat well. Jacob was still sensitive that
their father had left the ranch to her, the biologist,
instead of him, the born and bred cowboy. She shook her
head. Since the day their mother birthed him, Jacob had been
determined to be a thorn in her side, but she hadn't
expected him to step over the line. She'd made her message
clear: her ranch, her rules.
So much for that.
The sound of her shotgun's barrel clicking into place
resonated in the almost dead silence of the Montana
mountainside as she walked out into the night. The summer
crickets had long since left, leaving nothing but the
occasional owl's hoot or the rustle of the wind.
A deep sigh shook her. She didn't want to do this. But there
was no other choice now. She'd either have to call the
Defenders of Wildlife to come collect it, or put that pesky
beast out of its misery, depending on how bad its wounds
were. Though now a rancher like her father before her, she
respected the surrounding wildlife as the traditions of her
Apsaalooké heritage and her interests as a former biologist
had cultivated in her.
She'd tried everything. Extra fencing, chicken wire, a blow
horn, warning shots, you name it. Everything the local
environmental and animal protection groups suggested, but
nothing had worked. She couldn't afford to lose any more
livestock, and the carnage left behind had been unlike any
she'd ever seen. The thought made her shudder. From the
dismembered carcasses, this one was some sort of alpha brute.
She stared out into the abyss of her ranch's land, nothing
but the swirls and bursts of twinkling stars and the stark
white moonlight overhead to light her path, but the cold
seeped into her skin at the thought of the wounded animal on
A small rustling noise sounded. Immediately, she hoisted the
gun to her shoulder. Adrenaline pumped through her. She
should turn back now. Something inside her screamed this
with pure certainty. There was little she could do for the
animal at this point. Unless she wanted to get herself
mauled, she couldn't free it from the trap, and she didn't
need to see the extent of its injuries to report it to the
Defenders of Wildlife. But she wanted to look this beast in
the eye. As gruesome as the remains it left behind had been,
the biologist in her marveled at a predatory animal that
could hold such power, and the size of its tracks indicated
this wolf to be some sort of anomaly—way larger than typical
for the kinds that roamed this mountain range.
"You couldn't stay away, could you?" she whispered into the
darkness, the question as much for herself as for the animal.
A snarl answered back. She crept toward the noise, eyes
glued to the rustling animal just out of reach of the porch
light. Only movement and a vague outline to her eyes, but
she knew it was him.
As she reached the edge of the darkness, her eyes adjusted
to the lack of light. The grey wolf lay hunkered down in the
dirt. Canis lupus irremotus, her mind instantly
catalogued. A Northern Rocky Grey Wolf. Yet, much larger
than what would be typical for the breed, especially since
their reintroduction to the wild. They'd been almost extinct
barely twenty years earlier. The trap anchored the wolf's
front paw. Around the wound, blood pooled black in the
moonlit mountain dirt. From the looks of it, the Defenders
of Wildlife would be able to patch this beast up, and then
hopefully release him back into the wild. Maybe by then, he
wouldn't be as fierce and brazen about slipping fences to
She stepped forward. At the sight of her gun, the wolf snarled.
But she held the gun steady for her protection. She may not
want to kill the creature, but if it came down to its life
or hers, she'd pull the trigger, no matter how it would
break her heart. Examining the large majestic beast before
her, a heavy weight pulled on her conscience. Animals like
this withered in captivity, if not treated right. "Sorry,
bud. I didn't want to do this," she mumbled.
The wolf's golden eyes held her gaze for a prolonged moment.
It examined her with equal curiosity. When it finally broke
eye contact, the air surrounding the wolf suddenly shifted
and bent. Fur retracted and limbs shifted.
Naomi's breath caught in her throat. Two seconds ago she'd
been face to face with a large, angry grey wolf. Now, a man
crouched before her. Before she questioned her own sanity
and whether she'd accidentally mixed the glass of Cabernet
she'd drank at dinner with medication she'd somehow
forgotten she'd taken, she lifted her gun again, clinging to
her only means of protection.
His deep, graveled voice rumbled through her chest. "Don't
shoot." He lifted a hand in surrender.
Gun at the ready, she stepped backward. "Get up." She said
it because she wasn't entirely sure what else to say.
He remained on the ground.
She brandished the gun. "I said, get up." She fought to keep
the terror and shock from her voice, to keep her tone even,
though her heart pounded against her chest.
Slowly, he extended to his full height. Instantly, she
regretted it. Now, at the end of her gun's barrel stood a
man, a very large, very naked man.
"I'm not going to harm you." His gaze followed hers to his
bloodied arm. "We're at an impasse."
Funny, considering he was the one in her animal trap. "I'm
the one holding the gun, asshole," she retorted.
Slowly, he nodded. "Fair enough."
She stood there, gun poised on him, unmoving. Her breath
swirled around her face in the cold night air. She'd barely
been prepared to kill a wolf, let alone a man. As she
calculated her next move, he stood naked before her, both
hands lifted in surrender. The trap clamped onto his forearm
failed to faze him, despite the blood running down his arm.
The expression on his face remained unaffected, distant,
rather than panicked or aggressive.
She needed to subdue him. Right?
Briefly, she considered calling the police, but she quickly
reconsidered. Predominantly white law enforcement had never
been kind to her people. And a young Apsaalooké woman
reporting a naked, unarmed Caucasian man caught in a wolf
trap seemed like a recipe for harassment. Her idiot brother
was out of town for the week—so there'd be no help there.
She could call someone from the Nation, she supposed, but
the nearest tribal police on the rez were an hour away and
they didn't hold sovereign authority outside their lands.
Not to mention she'd be damned if she needed a man to save
her. This far into the mountains, it was just her and her
father's shotgun on this one.
"Where did the wolf go?" she asked.
The slightest lift of his eyebrow questioned her sanity. But
not in the way she'd been hoping.
"That's not humanly possible," she breathed.
He smirked as if she amused him. "Good thing I'm not human."
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