Alaska Hunt

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Title: Alaska Hunt
Author:Shelter Somerset
Cover artist: TL Bland
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Buy Link:Alaska Hunt
Genre: mystery/suspence/ some romance
Length: 217 pages
Rating: 4.25 out of 5

A  guest review by Sirius.

Summary: Intense, well researched mystery and romance which features Alaskan wildlife as a very important character in the story.

Blurb:

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.

Review:

I have read and reviewed a historical by this writer and I enjoyed it enough that I wanted to read something else by her. I really enjoyed this story, but I have to say contrary to Wave, who recently reviewed the story with Alaskan settings on the site and wanted to visit after reading about the settings, I really do *not* want to visit Alaska after reading this one. Oh do not get me wrong, the writer seemed to research her story (especially the behavior of grizzly bears) very well and she managed to make a very suspenseful tale out of it. I also thought that she definitely wanted to show not just  the toughness, but  the wild beauty of the place, but all I took out of it is how very scary it is and how if you are not careful, bears will eat you ;) That was not what  the writer was saying in the story guys, that is just how I felt :).

As you can see from the blurb our main character Zanebono (Zane) is an Alaska Wildtrooper and they investigate bizarre attacks by grizzly bears, which ended up in deaths. Basically they are trying to figure out why this happened, why the bears behaved the way they did and as I said unexpectedly for me, I thought the mystery/suspense part of the story was really good. I said “unexpectedly” because I would have never thought that investigating the reasons for the bears’ acting murderously could be so much fun for me. Fair warning, the first scene describing how a bear attacked one of the victims was really gruesome for me, but I have a low bar for gruesomeness. I will endure such scenes if necessary for the story (and this one very much was necessary IMO), but I will skip upon reread. So basically the mystery had me glued to the pages,  and my only annoyance was how the most dramatic action scene in the story ended. It basically ended in the most dramatic place, and I suspect that the author thought that whatever she showed of the resolution was enough. She certainly showed some, but what she showed was not nearly enough  for me before the story skipped to the epilogue.

I really liked  Zane; - I understood his reasons for coming to Alaska, and I thought what happened in his past shaped his present in a very believable way and I just really would have love to meet him in real life, I guess. I also really appreciated that he was portrayed as bisexual instead of Gay for Joshua,  because for quite some time I have found myself getting tired of most varieties of GFY stories and often stare at the page and want to ask the writer why not just call the character bisexual. So I very much appreciated this development in the story.

I thought Josh was extremely well portrayed too, in fact I really liked that contrary to her other stories (the historical which I reviewed and couple others which I have not read but read the reviews), in this one the writer seems to abandon the contrast looks of the characters. You know the drill – one is huge alpha type and the other one is tiny helpless looking. To be fair in the historical romance I have read and reviewed, the characters may have looked that way, but the younger character was not a damsel in distress.  Regardless though, I find the characters looking that way to be tiresome – it simply too often leads me to wonder whether we will be treated to a ‘chick with a dick’ character and I liked that both of them looked pretty equal here.

Did I enjoy their romance? Yes, and I thought that amongst all the suspense it was appropriate that beginning of the romance was kind of understated. The romance was there though, or at the very least a lot of romantic elements IMO. Neither was Josh a damsel in distress at all, I admired his stubbornness in fact. He may have depended on Zane for help in the life and death situation, but I thought it was a lovely moment when at the end Zane realizes how much he depends upon Josh’s vulnerability too.

There is a female character in the story whom I really liked, and I cannot really say who she was because the blurb is silent on that matter and it would be just spoiling too much. There were several other secondary characters, which served their purpose in the plot, but their roles were just too small for me to really appreciate them. I think Alaska was so well (and for me scarily) portrayed that I would consider it a character in its own right.

Recommended.

30 thoughts on “Alaska Hunt

  1. Wave

    So, you’re saying that you’re not enticed into visiting Alaska by this story Sirius? :shock: Shame. :grin: Actually the story I reviewed was about Antarctica where it gets to -89C :)

    Great review and I will definitely read this book although I don’t really like stories about bears because they eat people. Thanks for the rec. I love it when a location is like another character – that’s what draws me into some stories.

    1. Sirius

      Ooops, now how did I confuse Alaska and Antarctica? Probably because both words start with “A” lol. I think you may like this story, but definitely let me know either way :)

      1. Dianne T.

        ***Oops, my second comment below has spoilers and I forgot to say that, hope this works as a heads up to anyone reading who doesn’t want them. Sorry!!***

        1. Sirius

          Diane we have wipe out spoiler tag do you mind if we ask Lynn (since I do not remember how to use it lol) to hide part of your post? I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed the book and I would love to discuss it with you, but would you mind if I email you off list? Discussing spoilerish I formation usually leads to more spoilers :). Thanks so much Dianne – I am especially happy to hear that research mostly rang true to you.

          1. Dianne T.

            Oh I am relieved you saw this. Yes, please spoiler it. I am sorry, I’m usually careful about that – got caught up writing about the story. Thanks! Would be happy to discuss via e-mail. :smile:

            1. Sirius

              No problem – am on my phone now, but will email Lynn. Will email you later tonight from my desktop.

          2. Aunt Lynn

            This only works in the reviews themselves, not the comments. I whited out the copy and added a spoiler alert.

            1. Sirius

              But it worked, I cannot see the spoiler in the comment now from my desktop, it is whited out? Anyway, thanks so much Lynn :) You are technical genuis :)

  2. jeayci

    Wow, this sounds fantastic! Thanks, Sirius! :smile: Like you (are you surprised? :lol: ), I have a very low threshold for gruesomeness so I appreciate the warning. Somehow I’d managed to not even have heard of this book, and this review has me wanting to run off and read it right now. :grin:

    1. Sirius

      See I am already pleased that I helped you discover the book you missed :) Fingers crossed hoping youb will like it )

      1. jeayci

        I’ll let you know either way. After all, I’ll need to either thank you or blame you. :lol: I’m looking forward to reading it, it sounds great. :smile:

      2. jeayci

        I read it, but sorry to say it didn’t really work for me. :sad: I didn’t really like any of the characters, and odd word choices kept pulling me out whenever I started to get engrossed. For example: He held the phone, an object reeking with disgust, away from his face.

        What does that mean? Is he disgusted with the phone? Is an inanimate object somehow feeling disgust? Is the phone suddenly reeking with a foul smell that disgusts him? :???:

        I was curious about the mystery so I skimmed through rather than giving up entirely. I figured it out pretty early on – well before Zane (which made me think he was pretty obtuse) – but I was curious to see how it played out. I did enjoy that, and the virtual visit to Alaska. :smile:

        1. Sirius

          Sorry it did not work for you :(.

          I figured out the mystery earlier than Zane too, but I do that in the vast majority of mm mysteries lol, as long as it is entertaining, I try to ignore the fact how stupid even the most likeable investigators behave.

          Let me tell you this – I love Cut and Run (the first book I mean), but I thought that Ty and Zane were one of the most incompetent investigators out there, seriously. As I said elsewhere, I had that urge to shake them and point to the killer from the middle of the book lol.

          1. jeayci

            An urge to shake Ty and Zane? I have no idea what you’re talking about… :wink: :hysterics:

            I think the key is that I couldn’t really get into this book. I can forgive/overlook a LOT when I love the characters and am into the story. When that’s not the case, even the stupidest little things can bug me. :curse:

  3. Dianne T.

    Thanks for the review Sirius, I can’t wait to read this – not just as a reader but also as someone who makes their living with animal behavior and has been to Katmai in Alaska to spend time quite up close with some Alaskan Brown Bears . I also love historicals so will be checking out this author’s other work :smile:

    1. Sirius

      OMG Dianne, then you would be able to do much more detailed fact checking than I ever could. Please, please let me know if you found research good or not and whether you liked the book :)

      1. Dianne T.

        *****SPOILER ALERT!!!*****

        Read this over the weekend and enjoyed it. The story had a different tone than most I have been reading lately and I loved how vividly life in Alaska – and Alaska in general- were portrayed. I can see how it would not be for everyone, the bear attacks were quite brutal and detailed (which really proved essential to the plot) while the interpersonal relationships were treated in a more subtle and understated (yet effective) fashion.

        The plot was unique, and as I said in the previous post, as someone who has worked with animals her whole life, including in the veterinary field, I found the details about bear behavior to be interesting and accurate. One thing that niggled me though was the anthropomorphizing of the bears’ thoughts. I guess humans will never be 100% positive what goes on in animals brains, but I’m not convinced their thought process is that rational. Certainly bears are capable of bonding with humans, and there is lots of success with shaping their behavior. Not convinced that would really mesh with the bear high on cocaine, meth or loaded with testosterone, but hey, it worked within the story. Another niggle was Julie, she seemed to just kind of be floating out there. SPOILER (highlight to see copy) –> Why did she stay in Alaska? Also, unless I missed it, why was her marriage to Zane apparently over even before the incident where she was injured? Maybe some of the subtlety did escape me?

        As far as Zane & Josh – the bulk of the romance developed largely off page, but it really worked. Kudos to the author. Don’t know that I really “fell in love” with Zane, but I did sympathize with him. He had quite a bit of baggage and a high stress job on top of it. Handled differently by the author, I may have had a problem with how Zane reacted with being labeled, however his actions and words to Josh spoke volumes. Again, the romance was understated (which includes no explicit sex) yet it worked really well for me. This leads me off into the current conversations about what readers want in M/M. IMO with this story, gratuitous sex scenes would have been an eye roller. However, even one explicit scene between Zane & Josh accompanied by some meaningful dialogue would have been welcome. I say this as Zane apparently had never had an emotional/romantic relationship with a man prior to Josh, so insight into his feelings during their lovemaking would have been interesting. Not a criticism, just an observation! I’ll be checking out more of her stories as I enjoyed the writing style in this one.

  4. Majken

    I loved the two Amish books, but hated the historical, I hope I’m going to love this :)

    Thanks for the review

    1. Sirius

      Hi Majken. I have not read Amish books. Was there any specific thing in historical that you hated or it just did not work for you overall? The reason I am asking is because if there is something similar in this book maybe I can tell you and save you money?

      1. Majken

        It was the characters, they rubbed me the wrong way, the plot was OK but I reeeally wanted to slap at least one character at all times
        Boyfriend has the book, if I don’t like it, I wont have wasted any money ;)

        1. Sirius Post author

          I feel better Majken :). Re: characters – I have not noticed many similarities, but please let me know what you thought.

            1. Sirius

              Hey Majken thanks for coming back and letting me know. Sorry plot did not work for you – for me it was different from the usual and worked well. Thanks again.

                1. Sirius

                  LOL, sorry Majken – lost in translation, when I read in the review that story was wierd, my brain does not categorize it as good. Myself, I usually put “good wierd” when I want to stress that story was unusual :)

  5. Hellga

    I am tempted to buy the book, but not sure,
    Have any of the attacks occurred in Anchorage? If so, it will most certainly put me off.
    First of grizzly bears really do not venture into Anchorage, only brown and black do mostly to scavenge some food. Any kinds of bears do not attack people in town, most of the attacks happen on the trails – to hikers or bikers.

    “I really do *not* want to visit Alaska after reading this one.” – Too bad, rumors about “wilderness out of control” are highly exaggerated :) Nothing scary, really :)

    1. Sirius

      Lol I am pretty sure the author was not trying to convey that feeling – I am just scared too easily heh. I actually do not remember. – main attacks were not within the city limits for sure and I am pretty sure others were not either but couple were briefly mentioned as newspaper headlines and I cannot be hundred percent sure on those, but pretty close. If you get the book I would be very curious to hear your thoughts Hellga. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Leslie S

    Hey Sirius, I read this one last night and I enjoyed it *so* much more than The Rule of Sebastian.

    The stuff about the bears was really interesting and although it was obvious who the baddy was almost from the start, it added to the mystery rather than detracting from it. It’s a completely different (and IMO more effective) way of constructing the pacing to the mystery than the author did with the other book.

    I wasn’t drawn to any of the characters but was interested enough to see what happened to them. For me the characters in both books are rather detached, which works in this setting but really didn’t work for me in the monastic setting. Also because of the detachment the romance aspect was less interesting for me, but I know I like fairly intense romance so this is just a question of preference.

    The bear attack on the cabin at the end was really scary :shock: but was probably my favourite part, I could see it happening like in a movie.

    I’m glad I read this one – it was unusual, Alaska was depicted very well (not sure I’d like to go there either – the huge flies! My brother was practically eaten by flies when he went to western Canada, ugh!), and though I didn’t connect with Zane I thought his motivations were clear and believable.

    So it’s a shame that The Rule of Sebastian wasn’t half as good. Or maybe it is, because I’d give Alaska 4 stars and I gave Sebastian 2 stars, LOL. I just had too many problems with Sebastian that weren’t present in this book. But thanks for recommending this one, I’m glad I read it :smile:

    1. Sirius Post author

      Hi Leslie, I am so glad you enjoyed this one. I liked the characters but I would not have minded a closer, more intimate look at their romance (and no, I do not mean I wanted more sex). But the way it was written I found it lovely too. I thought settings were really well done.

      I am going to read Sebastian tonight or tomorrow I hope and let you know what I thought in details ;)

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