Thursday, October 13, 2016

Alaska Hunt by Shelter Somerset

For Alaska Wildlife Trooper Zanebono Fusca, it’s just another summer in Anchorage until a slew of inexplicable fatal bear attacks sets the city reeling. As far as Zane is concerned, the timing couldn’t be worse. He’s besieged with his own demons, coping with personal loss and an identity crisis that clutches him worse than a grizzly’s pickaxe-sized fangs. Ten years before, he hoped Alaska would bring him a sense of his manhood. Now the “last frontier” could put him in an early grave.

Zane’s role to protect Alaska’s teeming wildlife gets even more tangled when handsome twenty-five-year-old Joshua Gaffner arrives seeking the details of his uncle’s gruesome death. But Alaskan officials have few answers. Against his better judgment, Zane takes Joshua deep into Anchorage’s far-flung backcountry—populated with eccentric recluses and ego-driven ecologists—in search of the truth. As the bizarre attacks increase, Zane and Josh continue to push for clues to crack the mystery. Finally Zane unravels a shocking discovery that makes the pieces fall into place. The trouble is Josh stands in the perfect position to become the next victim.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

A great story needs good research, but great research isn’t enough to make a good story. The research here is meticulous. Alaska, Anchorage, bear behaviours – the author has done a careful study of every element of this story. Unfortunately, the central romance completely failed to engage me and the mystery felt like it was running round in circles for the first 75% of the story.

However, the last quarter of this book gets incredibly exciting. After wading through Zane’s daily routines for most of the book, I was surprised by a fast paced murder mystery at the end. The last action scene is genuinely frightening and the Alaskan wilderness lends an eerie, almost supernatural backdrop for the action.

Zane is a satisfyingly complex hero, even if he isn’t completely likeable all the time. The man has baggage, and lots of it. At 31, he is less than comfortable with his sexuality – even at the end of the story when he reluctantly concedes he’d probably be better off with a man.

Josh is a little more likeable, though the story is always told from Zane’s perspective. Josh is more confident, more out, and more independent – even when Zane wants to believe he is needy and clingy.

The romance between the two men feels convenient and opportunistic. Through most of the story, Zane evades Josh and attempts to keep his distance. Josh doesn’t chase him and he doesn’t even seem too worried when he moves back to Oregon. Zane is embarrassed about people finding out about Josh – or even the fact he’s bisexual. I struggled to feel any passion at all between these two men and it didn’t help that the sex was all off page and Zane’s relationship musings often sounded like those of an ageing spinster aunt.

So – I enjoyed the mystery at the end of this book, but I struggled with the characters, the romance, and the pace of the first three quarters of the story.

SHELTER SOMERSET enjoys writing about the lives of people who live off the land, whether they be the Amish, nineteenth-century pioneers, or modern-day idealists seeking to live apart from the crowd. Shelter’s fascination with the rustic, aesthetic lifestyle began as a child with family camping trips into the Blue Ridge Mountains. When not back home in Illinois writing, Shelter continues to explore America’s expansive backcountry and rural communities. Shelter’s philosophy is best summed up by the actor John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Alaska Hunt by Shelter Somerset to read and review.

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