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Standoff by Lauren Dane
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Cade Warden is the Alpha of the Cascadia Pack. Feeling what it’s like to have a mate secondhand through his anchor bond to Nina, his brother Lex’s mate, is no longer enough for him. He’s lonely and wants a mate of his own, but it’s still a surprise, to say the least, when she turns out to be Grace Pellini, the sister of his biggest enemy.

Grace hasn’t had a real home and Pack for years. Even now, she's only gotten closer to her brother again in order to spy on him and analyze the dangerous virus he’s been testing out on random humans and werewolves. Although she hasn't yet managed to create a vaccine, she finally has enough info to help the National Aligned Packs in their war against her brother and his people. Her plans to continue spying on her brother are derailed when she realizes that Cade is her mate. Grace may have finally found the home and family she’s been longing for, if Cade’s pack members will accept her, and if they all manage to survive this war.

I need to state upfront that this is Book 5 in Dane’s Cascadia Wolves series, and I haven’t read the previous four books. It was pretty clear that I’d missed out on a lot of character relationship developments and details about how the war got started. Based on reviews I’ve read, I gather that at least one of the previous books had a lot more info about Cade, Nina, Lex, and probably several of the other wolves. Also, world details that would be familiar to those who'd read the other books took me by surprise (to put it mildly).

I was willing to ignore the gaps in my knowledge about Cade, Nina, and Lex. They felt like characters with a lot of history. However, I’m pretty sure Grace was a new addition to the series, and I felt that Dane could have given her more page-time before sending her off to meet Cade. It was jarring how quickly she and Cade went from being complete strangers to having lots and lots of sex. And yes, I know this is a thing in soulmate stories, but dang. Grace was the sister of Cade’s biggest enemy, and he trusted her instantly. He was calling her “honey” after having known her for, at best, a few hours.

Lex’s more cautious attitude and Nina’s outright hostility were both more believable. That said, I felt that Nina and Grace became friends way too quickly considering the situation. Which brings me to a world-related detail I wasn’t particularly fond of: anchor bonds.

I assume one of the earlier books explained anchor bonds and why they were necessary, but this one didn’t. All I know is that they seemed to be an excuse for threesomes. The female of a newly mated pair has to form an anchor bond with another male whose power levels are similar to those of her mate, or something like that, and the anchor bond involves having sex with that other male. Her mate can either be there or not, and Cade chose to be there. Cade knew the other werewolf, but Grace didn’t, so it was basically her having sex with a stranger while Cade helped things along. So very not my cup of tea.

Grace was jealous of Nina, Cade’s anchor bond, which I felt was perhaps a bit unfair but also understandable. Grace had only just met Cade and wouldn’t have had the kind of history with Cade that Nina had. However, everybody kept saying that Grace would understand once she had her own anchor bond. Never mind that the other guy was a stranger to her, while Cade had known Nina for a while. And the thing was, people were pretty much right - Grace developed a magical bond to this complete stranger that, while not as strong as her bond to her mate (as readers were repeatedly reminded), helped her understand and be less jealous of Cade and Nina’s closeness (which readers and Grace were also told only involved sex just the one time).

All right, moving on. The story itself was mediocre - mostly Grace and Cade having sex, Grace dealing with her insecurities about Nina and her worries that Cade wouldn’t like her small breasts, characters snarking at each other, and Grace working on a vaccine. Grace’s work was so vaguely described that I found myself wondering if Dane had done any research at all on virology and how vaccines are developed.

The writing was not good. There were cringe-worthy phrases and word choices, like this:

“She danced around like she had to use the bathroom.” (39)

This was intended to indicate Grace’s urgent desire for the upcoming sex scene. Okay then.

Later, Grace, an ER doctor, referred to Cade’s penis as his “doo-dad” (59), never mind that she was able to use the word “dick” just a few sentences prior. And Cade called her nipples “juicy and puffy” (59) during sex. I started skimming the sex scenes at that point.

I also had problems with Dane's comma usage, which led to lots of sentences like this one:

“She’d always felt like a boy, her breasts were small, for a wolf she was especially diminutive, just barely five feet two.” (41)

The writing either needed to be tightened up a lot, or Dane needed to stop using commas like periods. Considering how repetitive parts of the book were, the former probably would have been best.

All in all, this book didn’t work for me at all. My issues with the writing and the anchor bond thing make it unlikely that I’ll try another one of Dane’s works.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Jan 7, 2017 |
So happy Cade finally found his mate!! I loved this ending to the major story arc. Plenty of steam to go along with a great story!! ( )
  grapeapril75 | Oct 18, 2014 |
Goodreads ate my first review. Grr.

I enjoyed the continued progression of the overall story arc and the development of the relationship. I was glad to see Grace put Nina in her place. As the series has progressed, I've found myself liking Nina less and less. Her overall attitude has seemed to get worse, and her actions toward Grace were completely out of line.

I love that Case respected Grace and pushed her to be herself, as well as a part of him. And come on, how cute is it that he bakes when he's upset? ( )
  cranberrytarts | Sep 22, 2013 |
Finally we get Cade's story and what a shock it was to find out who his mate was. She is the perfect match for him and when you find out who she is you will understand why we had to wait for this story. This the the conclusion of the Pellini story and the war he starts. There are lots of tense moments through out this story but in true Lauren Dane fashion there is lots of hot steamy sex. The end of this arc is well done however you are left hoping to see these wonderful characters again soon. ( )
  LadyIsis | Nov 1, 2011 |
I had a very hard time waffling between four and five stars for "Standoff". This is book five of Lauren Dane's 'Cascadia Wolves' series and the hero, Cade, has been a favorite of mine since he first appeared in earlier books. The heroine for him that I had imagined in my mind turned out to be NOTHING like the one Ms. Dane wrote for him; but once I got over myself I enjoyed the story and was disappointed there weren't more pages.

Cade is the Alpha of the second largest pack in America. As such, his life has been dedicated to the safety, happiness, and general well-being of his wolves. He's recently decided that as soon as this crazy war is over, he's going to begin seriously searching for his mate. The good news is: he just found his mate! The bad news is: she's the sister of the wacko that started this war. Now Cade will have to fight the enemy, his own pack, and sometimes even his own Alpha nature to keep her safe and within his paws...I mean arms; ok, both!

Grace is nothing like her insane brother. Although she spent many years packless because of his actions, as soon as she realized exactly what he was trying to do, she began quietly investigating...putting her own life in danger to do so. When time runs short, she decides to take what she has to the allied packs in an effort to help them defeat her brother. She knew she would be distrusted, she knew she would face hostility, but she never dreamed she would find her mate.

This whole series in on my keeper shelf and "Standoff" has already made its way to its own spot, next to its series-mates. The story of the relationship between Cade and Grace was sexy and touching, but for me, the storyline relating to the war was rather anticlimactic. That's really my only beef with the book...the ending. Instead of flowing, it seemed sudden and sharp to me. But hey, that's just me and my opinion.

The rest of the book was bang on. The cast of characters were all familiar as stars of past books appeared and advanced the storyline. The sex scenes were stellar (as usual) and I did fan myself once or twice. And the pace of the book and growth of the relationship between the main characters was about as good as it gets. So I finally had to give it all five stars in spite of my heroine bias and whine about the ending. I'll read this series again, and maybe next time I'll get over myself sooner! ( )
1 vote jjmachshev | May 21, 2009 |
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Cade Warden has put his Pack first for most of his life and now Warren Pellini and his thugs threaten everything he holds dear. Into that life of intense focus and increasing loneliness walks the woman he’s been waiting for.

Grace Pellini isn’t just Cade’s mate, she’s the sister of his greatest enemy and she’s been putting herself in grave danger to gather information to aid the Nationally Allied Packs. Cade is everything she could have hoped for in a man even if he is overprotective and pushy at times.

Against the backdrop of their increasing passion and deepening bond, they race against time to find a key to stop Pellini’s biological weapon. And then the stakes rise again when Pellini calls an ancient Challenge. It’s up to Grace to stand by and let her mate risk everything for his people. And his life is in her hands.

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