Alpha's Challenge by Lauren Dane
House lights dim.
Grace Pellini enters stage left.
Why the theatrics?
Because in Alpha’s Challenge Laura Dane brings her readers the contemporary paranormal equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. And is so doing, Dane has developed a wonderfully quirky and three-dimensional heroine that you will never forget.
Aside from being a brilliant medical doctor she is a perfect study in contrasts. Tiny in size, she’s fierce in loyalty. Humble to almost a fault, she’s quick witted and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
Dr. Grace Pellini is working for her brother, ostensibly helping him develop a biological weapon that threatens the existence of not only humans, but wolves as well. In reality, she is gathering as much research so she can develop an antidote. As she closes in on perfecting the antidote, her fears increase that her brother is beginning to get suspicious of her true motives.
She decides it’s time to gather all the research and leave. It’s the only way to continue to work on her antidote. Grace takes the information to the rival family the Wardens, knowing just how dangerous her brother is.
It’s a brave move because her brother killed a member of this pack. Not just any member, but the brother-in-law of the alpha. A strange thing happens when they sit together to negotiate. Grace and the rival pack’s alpha, Cade Warden discover the undeniable pull that they are mates.
Once a lone wolf, shunned by her pack – including her parents – and denied the warmth and love of a family and the security of being a member of the pack. In fact, she’s not just any member, but with her mating with Cade, Grace is now the female alpha. It’s both gratifying and humbling, but most of all she knows that she must work to gain the pack’s respect and trust. She needs to work harder than most new alphas because of her family background.
When her brother discovers her betrayal, he’s calls for her assassination and her ascension as alpha, the families’ rivalry escalates to a tense and dangerous declaration of war. There are several attempts on her life and in the twists and turns of this engaging plot, Grace risks her life to save her pack members, as she feels the weight of responsibility of being the female alpha.
Cade Warden, her mate and male alpha of the pack, in turn, does everything in his power to keep Grace safe. After years of personal isolation and questioning even the existence of a mate for him, he’s not about to lose her. He even accepts the challenge of fighting her brother in a death match. Only one wolf walks out of the challenge alive.
While the plot is excellent and Grace is a charming and one-of-a-kind heroine – one you surely can’t forget, Alpha’s Challenge has several flaws. Dane’s writing throughout the book can only be described as “loose.” Dane emphasizes over and over again through narration and dialogue that Grace is the female alpha. She not-so-subtly pounds this into the readers’ heads as the heroine continually reminds her pack of this.
Another problem with the writing is Dane’s apparent fear of escalating the conflict to the level we expect of a family rivalry in which lives hang in the balance. As we anticipate a strong build up to confrontations and tense scenes (You know the kind – those that keep you turning the pages and staying up until 2 am to discover the climax.), we discover the conflict is resolved far too quickly.
In doing this, Dane misses opportunities for the reader to bond tightly to this tight-knit pack of wolf shifters. And that’s a shame, because as wonderful and three-dimensional as Grace is, we could have gained so much insight to other members of this pack as well.
Despite the belabored and loose writing, Alpha’s Challenge is still well worth reading. You’ll love the plot, as it takes twists and turns of these two families at war. But more than that, you’ll fall in love with Grace.