This book had a very different vibe than the first and a lot more depth, and I liked it so much more!
Even though the previous book was the start of the zombie(ish) outbreak and ended on a somewhat sad but hopeful note, this one was a lot heavier. Both main characters had their own individual struggles (Adam wanting some sort of family or community, Parker being too scared and wary of people to trust anyone anymore), their relationship had a bit more struggle at times, there were some new characters who had things of their own to deal with, and of course there were the general apocalypse problems. I even shed some tears at one point. The author did a great job of making me really care about all the characters and what they were going through, and a great job of giving the characters such real emotions and reactions to the trauma they were experiencing.
I also felt more connected to the characters this time. I felt their emotions more. They had more substance and nuance and complexity. We even got Adam’s POV this time in addition to Parker’s, and I really liked getting to understand both of their feelings and thoughts. Plus there were a few new characters, and they were all lovable too, especially the kid and teen. The new characters also added a really sweet found family element.
Parker and Adam’s relationship had more substance and complexity too, and I came to really love the two of them together. The relationship had a little more angst, a little more struggle, but it was still sweet. Parker and Adam may have disagreed about things sometimes, but they were always there for each other. Their relationship was super cute and also really healthy and supportive. Also, there was less sex and more other kinds of intimacy, other ways of showing the reader their feelings and love for each other. And the sex that was there had more significance, more to do with the story and relationship.
I feel like I should mention the fisting though, in case anyone is bothered by that (or into it). It was rather extreme in terms of how deep it was, but not extreme in any other way (no pain or BDSM elements or anything like that). Adam’s werewolf body worked a little differently than a human’s, so it was easy for him. And even knowing that it would be easy for him and that he had werewolf healing to fall back on, they didn’t just spontaneously start shoving hands into holes—they actually discussed it and how to do it safely, Adam had done reading about it, they communicated the whole time, etc. They were clearly very comfortable with each other and trusted each other. It was something Adam really wanted, and Parker wanted to give it to him. And I’ll admit, I actually love seeing different kinks (or just less common sex things) casually included in non-erotica books.
Anyway, the plot! That was good too. Now that I’m thinking about it, it was a little bit meander-y, and it didn’t really culminate into one big climax, more like incidents happening here and there, but it worked. It was also not the typical zombie apoc story that just involves a lot of running and hiding and fighting. This was a very character-focused book. It was about the inner struggles of the characters. It was about community and found family. It was about the issues that come up when you’re living through an apocalypse and the collapse of society. It was about the characters trying to figure out what to do, whether they should check out the island they’ve been hearing about or not since that would mean trusting strangers. But that’s not to say nothing happened or that it felt slow—things did happen, and it kept my attention the whole time.
I saw a third book vaguely listed for this on Goodreads, but I don’t know if there will actually be one since it’s been a while. I would love to continue this series, but I won’t fret if a third book never comes because I think this worked just fine as a good, hopeful ending.
I still can’t say I loved the audiobook narration by Tristan James. He might have done a slightly better job (or maybe I just got more used to his narration), but I still feel like he didn’t sound very natural and didn’t do the book justice in terms of emotion and voice acting. He wasn’t terrible, I think he might be an ok narrator for other books, but not for these.
Overall, I ended up loving this one. All the characters, new and old, were lovable and had a lot more complexity and substance. The relationship had struggles but was sweet and supportive. And the story was heavier but still hopeful and brought all the feels.
Fans of Book 1 in Keira Andrews's Kick at the Darkness series. Anyone who likes character-focused books, m/m paranormal romance, werewolves, zombie apocalypse, sweet and supportive relationships, a good amount of sex, found family (in Book 2), and lots of feels (also in Book 2).