Alpha Instinct by Katie Reus
Series: Moon Shifter #1
Source: Personal shelf
Ana Cordona has been a strong leader for the lupine shifters who survived after all the males and most of the females in her pack were mysteriously poisoned. As tough as she is, with no Alpha male, the pack is vulnerable to the devious shifter Sean Taggart, who wants to claim both their ranch and Ana as his own. When Connor Armstrong comes back into her life, promising protection, it’s almost enough to make Ana forget how he walked out on her before—and reluctantly accept his offer to mate.
The minute Connor sees Ana again, it reawakens a raw hunger. He must have her for his bondmate—his wolf cries out for it. But his human side knows he must proceed with caution because of their complicated past. If he is to truly have her body and soul, he must go beyond his burning desire and win back her heart. Whatever it takes, he is determined not to leave her side again. But Taggart and his rival pack are not their only enemies. A human element in town is targeting shifters. Their plan not only threatens Ana and Connor’s future, but the lives of the entire pack…
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Although I’ve read some less-than-positive reviews of ALPHA INSTINCT, I was still eager to give it a try because I’d heard some good things about the world building. The Moon Shifters series is set in an open world, where regular folks know about shifters, vampires, and other things that go bump in the night, with varying degrees of acceptance. In the town near Ana Cordona and her family’s ranch, people are generally okay with their presence, though not many humans go out of their way to socialize with the shifters, who are much stronger and longer-lived. In fact, the main people who take issue with Ana and her pack are the neighbouring group of shifters, led by the completely sleazy criminal Sean Taggert. Ana and her pack are quite vulnerable, as the blurb says, because all of the males died after someone tried to poison the entire group; Ana is trying to lead because she knows that the remaining women and children could lose everything if she complains to the shifter leaders about Taggert’s behaviour. She’s completely on edge when Connor shows up to save the day, in his supremely Alpha way. I generally liked the way Reus constructs the world but it wasn’t terribly extraordinary.
The characters were also likeable but unextraordinary. Ana and Connor have history and chemistry and I enjoyed watching them do the dance but I wasn’t dazzled by any of the people in the story. I did like the incorporation of Native American people (as secondary characters) and belief systems, though, and I hope this is something Reus will explore more in future novels.
There’s also an overall mystery of who killed all of the shifters that led to Ana’s rise to leader and that part was well executed. Although we don’t find out the poisoner’s motivations until the big reveal, it was a logical storyline and one that may have consequences beyond ALPHA INSTINCT.
On the whole, this novel is a fairly average entry into the paranormal romance genre but I did enjoy reading ALPHA INSTINCT. I think there’s potential in this series and I hope that Reus will continuing developing her world and characters, so that the Moon Shifters series can become something truly outstanding.