Cover Image: Pack of Lies

Pack of Lies

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Member Reviews

An exceptional new series from Charlie Adhara! Spinning off from Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series, Pack of Lies contains all of the things that have earned Adhara a place on my auto-buy shelf: clever, nail-biting mysteries full of twists and turns, intriguing paranormal world-building, flawed, lovable characters doing their best (and sometimes worst), and sharp, laugh-out-loud dialogue. 

Eli and Julien charmed me completely and I was so swept away in the story that I read this in one enthusiastic gulp. 

If you enjoyed Adhara’s other series, you won’t want to miss this one (for some familiar faces, if nothing else 👀)!
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There are few writers out there doing what Charlie Adhara manages to do without fail. She brings an incredible amount of depth, thought, and pathos to a humorous and thrilling paranormal adventure. This spin off of her triumph with Big Bad Wolf series keeps delivering! This time there is far more spice and a genuine look at grief. I would recommend it to anyone!
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I loved the Big Bad Wolf series so I was excited to see that Eli would be getting his own story. 
Truth be told, the book started off really slow and had me wondering if I would end up not liking it. However, by about 25% I was glued to the pages. I really liked Julien and Eli. I’m curious to see how their relationship will continue.
Also I totally did not see the twist coming. I was sure I knew who the culprit was but that twist… I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen with it. 
The second book, Den of Thieves, will come out in April 2023 which is waaay too far away. I need to know more, right now.
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This was my first Adhara book but for sure won't be last! While I unfortunately didn't remember that this was a spinoff to a popular series, I could still follow the plot and think that all the "cameos" from other characters will surely appeal to longtime fans of Adhara's novels.
Julien and Eli were so charismatic and riveting that I had a hard time putting this book down - from banter to steamier scenes, these two really seemed like a match made in heaven. There are also a few mysteries that kind of drive the whole story (next to the human/werewolf dynamic that I'm an absolute sucker for) and make for an undeniable dynamic story experience. 
Witty, well plotted and with characters you can't help but root for, this was a delight!
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This is my first book by Charlie Adhara, and I will definitely be back for more. I did not realize that this book was a spin-off to another series, but it stood well on its own with intriguing characters and a mystery. I liked both of the main characters and thoroughly enjoyed their banter as well as the reveals of their secrets throughout the book. This book also came with a supporting cast of characters with their own motives and secrets. Though not everything is revealed by the end, I did find the twist at the end to be shocking, and I was not able to correctly guess the murderer. 

In general, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for mysteries that have paranormal elements, a good romance, and a dose of mountain lore.
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Big Bad Wolf is one of my favorite paranormal romance series and always found the stories gripping and highly entertaining with a sweet romance.
This is a sort of spin off as Eli appeared in one of the stories, i think it's the first in a new series and it's a good story full of potential and promises.
The magic is there and the chemistry between the MCs is well done. I loved this story and it kept me hooked.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine
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A perfectly imperfect lead in Julien, who meets his match in touchy Eli. A solid read.

This book is a standalone, but is vaguely connected to CA's Big Bad Wolf series, in which Eli appears briefly as an ally of the leads. From what I recall, he was a bit dramatic and a bit precious, which suited him, and those traits hid a backbone of steel. And the start of this tale shows just how much backbone and how stone-cold he is when he needs to be. He's a consummate liar, a trusted confidante, a protector and the total opposite to Julien, who's admittedly washed-out and jaded and a bit of a loser who at first didn't seem like lead material. But, Julien's vulnerability and his past and that he cared so much about making up for what he wasn't there for, made me see him differently. I really liked his relationship with his ex-wife and that there was no stereotyping and no grand reveal regarding his sexuality and acceptance of himself. Too many books either have an unrealistic eureka! moment or pontificate about why parts of one's self had to be hidden until now, but this just made Julien come alive on the page, a rather ordinary, flawed but very human guy who was strangely likable. 

The tale itself, whilst different to the BBW ones, takes us into a newish world where there are possibilities for another longish-running series. You have a wolf and a human who never realised that there are others amongst us, and you have them working together to help others in need. At the end of the tale, there's the start of something sweet between them, but I wasn't sure that I sensed a HEA or even a HFN but perhaps more of a connection that would last, to be picked up as and when, but not something that drove them; it wasn't visceral enough, perhaps because Julien had been depressed and was only now slowly coming back to life? Refreshingly, there was none of the bonding that too often appears in this type of tale and the lack of cliche was refreshing. At the end, there's physical distance between the leads with much unspoken, and as I gather, that distance is still there at the start of book 2, which is one that I will be picking up. And, that's not a complaint in any way, shape or form, as CA goes for the tale first and foremost and with some romance if it fits in. This could've gone either way for me on the romance front and tbh, the guys made better collaborators than lovers, due to the lack of passion between them, which strangely worked for them. 

ARC courtesy of Netgalley and Carina Press, for my reading pleasure.
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Interesting story, although I would recommend reading the earlier books in this series/following these characters before picking this one up!
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I’m not sure how I missed the fact that Pack of Lies was a spin-off of Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series – especially since one of the reasons why I picked it up was because of the author and the fact that it was another series about werewolves. I obviously wasn’t paying attention, so imagine my surprise when I realized that Eli was Park’s Eli. *sigh*

Although Park and Cooper were mentioned several times in Pack of Lies, they never actually made an appearance. That’s okay though, because this was definitely Eli and Julien’s story and both men had enough secrets between them to keep my attention.

Eli has been left in charge of the retreat created by Cooper and Park and he’s taking his responsibility very seriously. So when Julien stumbles upon the retreat, he’s more than a little suspicious and overly cautious. Julien’s first encounter with Eli and the retreat was totally innocent, but he was also a little intrigued by both the man and the area he came to investigate. Neither man really trusts the other, but they also find it hard to ignore the attraction between them.

There were a lot of twists and turns, some romance, and a touch of humor along with deceit and betrayal that came from several directions. It was kind of hard to keep track of who to trust. The final reveal of the bad guys took pretty much everyone by surprise. Things were far from over for Eli and Julien at the close of Pack of Lies. There’s still plenty of mystery to solve for both of them and somehow everything ties together. Hopefully readers won’t have to wait too long for the Monster Hunt series to continue with Den of Thieves. 😉
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I received an ARC of this book without having read the Big Bad Wolf series. Cue the gasps!

I immediately went to my ebook retailer and purchased the entire BBW series and this has been such a great summer. I loved getting to know the characters and the dynamics and getting to read Pack of Lies was no exception! This was lower heat than I'm used to, but the characters were so dynamic and I'm eager to see where the series goes from here. And I love a good mystery (even if I am getting better at solving the case before the end of the book heh).

I also want all of the books in paperback and I'm putting it on my Christmas wishlist. Maybe Santa will listen this year!
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I was sooo freaking lucky and received an ARC from the publisher. I might have sqeeeeeeeed a bit... ok, a LOT and then canceled all my books I was reading (or just put them down), changed my plans for the next few days, and JUMPED onto this one!  I LOVED every darn second of this book. I mean, it's ELI!!! He steals the show everywhere he goes. He's so snarky and sharp-tongued, I just can't not want to love the stuffing out of him!

First, a disclaimer. You do not HAVE to read the Big Bad Wolf series... buuuuuut... You might glean more from this book if you know the backstories of other characters. Like Boogie. And maybe Coop and Park, and why Eli is in Maudit Falls, NC, and why he's so suited to be there. You know, just a few small backstory things. (You should read the series, it's pretty good).
Also, full disclaimer, I LOVED the Big Bad Wolf series and consequently Eli from said series, so, I might be a bit of a fan girl and not really be able to give an impartial review.

So I will start by saying that I was ecstatic that we finally got some dual POV. I struggled at first with the prior series because I needed some feedback from Park (one of our prior main characters). And so I was just over the moon (pun intended) that we finally get a wolf's POV. 

Julien is struggling after the sudden and tragic death of his brother. In an effort to make peace with his emotions and with his unrelenting guilt he starts following his brother's last steps prior to his death, which leads him to his childhood bedroom and then ultimately to Maudit Falls, NC. Julien had never believed in his brother's Monster Hunting findings but once he treks to some remote part of the Carolina mountains, things start not adding up pretty quickly.

I can't say too much, because I will spoil the mess out of the book, but... yeah, needless to say, I very much enjoyed it. Julien and Eli have this beautiful chemistry with banter that is such a big hit for me. I love banter. Not stupid, inane rapid-fire, quips back and forth... but funny, sly, almost dry volleying responses. (I grew up watching Mel Brooks films and Monty Python's Flying Circus... I can't help it) Anywho, Eli has always been so elusive and sharp-tongued that Julien is such a wonderful counterpart. Oy, the banter. Plus, Julien and Eli are older characters and I love to see that representation here of people that have lives and have their own shadows to work through. 

The mystery and writing were just on point. I love how Charlie makes us almost question every single character for motives and whatnot. It was just so great to be back in the author's world. 

I really enjoyed reading Pack of Lies and I can't wait to snap up the audio for this b/c Joel Leslie has it this time and that man can do some great narrations. Gah, so many heart eyes.

So excited for book #2, Den of Thieves slated for publishing late April next year!

*I had the absolute privilege of getting an ARC from the publisher and Netgalley and I could not be more grateful. All thoughts and comments are my own.*
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If I were to describe this book in 3 words, it would be: werewolves, murder and romance. 

The suspense was great. The gradual build-up to the end was also great. There’s clearly more happening in the background and a nice way to introduce problems early on in the story. (And the series as a whole)

While I loved the sassy interaction between Eli and Julien. The romance felt a bit underdeveloped. But considering there are more books in the series.  I assume this will be adjusted as the story progresses. Which is why it wasn’t my primary focus whilst reading this story. 

Since this was an ARC when I received it. I did notice one typo in chapter 2. 

Overall, I enjoyed this story. I’m looking forward to the other books in the series. And I will be reading the authors' previous works!
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This is a great story. I was so interested in finally getting Eli's story and this did not disappoint. I loved seeing Eli and Julien work together to figure out what was going on while simultaneously getting closer. I would love more stories from them.
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For those who were fans of the Big Bad Wolf series, they will love Adhara's newest series following Oliver and Cooper's packmate Eli as well as celebrity, Julien. She continues with her signature slow developing queer relationship that is flavored with suspense, murder, and mystery. This all creates a story that is easy to get through in one or two sittings and leaves you eagerly awaiting book 2. I can't wait to see how Eli and Julien grow together and to see what further mysteries they find themselves entangled.
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Excuse me, did someone say paranormal MM werewolf/human mystery with a splash of cryptid hunting? Sign me up!

This is my first Charlie Adhara book, and it painfully shows. I'm aware that this is a spin off of another series by this author, therefore there's an established world and wolfy politics and tensions briefly explained, but it did make my head spin a little. Regardless, I think I picked up what was being put down and got by with what is presented in this book. 

I've read a couple of shifter stories at this point, and I really enjoy the lore the author creates in this world. The term "werewolf" is considered archaic (we just say wolf now) and Eli's ability to slip parts of himself from skin to fur and vice versa was fascinating. I'm deeply intrigued by the pack tensions described in this book, and am strongly considering going back to read Adhara's other series to get the full picture and an origin story of our retreat founders.

I absolutely adore Eli as a character, his demeanor and dialogue was witty, brazen, and suave! Julien unfortunately wasn't very impressionable, but I also didn't despise him, so that's saying something.

Now notice how I didn't include "romance" in my opener. I didn't feel sufficient chemistry between Eli and Julien to confidently label this as a romance. Yes, there are intimate scenes between the duo (and they are delectably spicy) but outside of the bedroom, there's an overwhelming lack of passion. 

Overall, I think the story opens a little slow, but gradually picks up as the mysteries begin to present itself throughout the book. I would recommend this to those looking for a paranormal shifter mystery. 

Rating: 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.
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Julien Doran has come to Maudit Falls, North Carolina, looking for answers about his brother’s death. Rocky was obsessed with hunting mythical monsters. He was a true believer and his attempts to find these creatures led him into non-stop trouble, with Julien bailing him out each time. And a month before his death, Rocky told Julien for the hundredth time that this was it, this time he had truly found the evidence to prove the monsters were real — and Julien didn’t believe him any more than he had any other time. But now, Julien has stumbled upon some of Rocky’s old papers and he is hoping they may lead to some answers about Rocky’s mysterious death. So he is in Maudit Falls, pretending to be there for a ski trip, so that he can do some digging.

Eli Smith has had a rough life, mixed up as a thief with a rebel wolf pack, then sold out to the humans and left to die. It has been hard pulling his life back together and Eli is nothing if not wary about just about everyone. But he is healing with the help of his ex-boyfriend, Oliver Park, and Oliver’s husband, Cooper Drayton. The couple has recently opened a retreat in Maudit Falls as a haven for wolves escaping their rebel packs, and Eli is managing it. He can’t help but worry he will mess it up like he does everything else, but this could also be his chance to find a place for himself.

When Julien’s car runs off the road after he almost hits some sort of strange animal, he ends up at the retreat looking for help. He and Eli are both wary of one another, as both men have secrets they most definitely need to keep. But they also keep ending up in each other’s path, as strange things are happening on the mountain and each man can’t help but wonder if it ties to their own secrets and mysteries. Neither man quite trusts the other, as each are hiding plenty and wary of anyone else. But there is also an attraction between the two, one that they act on despite themselves.

Both Eli and Julien have good reasons to stick close to the investigation into the mysterious happenings. And when someone is murdered, and another body found, it is clear that things are even more serious than they once believed. Both Eli and Julien want answers, and both are finding themselves in danger. Now, they must each take a chance trust one another with their secrets if they have any chance of making it out alive.

Pack of Lies is the first book in Charlie Adhara’s Monster Hunt series, a spin off of the author’s fabulous Big Bad Wolf series. While this book features new MCs in Eli and Julien, this is all part of the same world as the main series. We have met Eli in past books, and we saw Cooper and Oliver investigating another mystery at Maudit Falls in Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. We do get some backstory here on past events and the larger world building, so you could probably jump in here if needed, but I think this one works best after having read the first series (which is fabulous, so check it out).

The title of this book fits the story so well, as both Eli and Julien are full of lies and secrets. For Eli, it is not just keeping hidden the existence of wolves, but also fear about exposing his own past as a thief for a rebel pack. He wants to stay off the official radar as much as possible. He also has something to prove to himself, a determination to show that he can handle the responsibility Cooper and Oliver gave him over the retreat before leaving for their honeymoon. For Julien, he wants to find out what happened to his brother, and he is pretty sure someone in Maudit Falls has answers. But he doesn’t want anyone to know why he is really there, nor know about the mysterious papers that Rocky left behind. So both men are coming into this connection wary of one another, determined to keep their own secrets, but also completely charmed by the other despite themselves.

Eli and Julien start falling for each other, even as they know they shouldn’t. The chemistry between these guys is so great, I could completely feel the pull they have toward one another. There is a bit of a power exchange, with Julien asserting a dominance that drives Eli crazy with lust. Eli could tear Julien apart if he wanted to, so letting go and giving Julien control totally gets him going. Both men are aware the other has secrets, and that becomes a complication at various points throughout the book. Neither man thinks things are going anywhere either, particularly with Julien living on the other side of the country. But they have such an incredible dynamic, I just loved them together and found the way they interact so much fun. This story ends on a soft HFN, with the guys interested in seeing each other again, but not in a relationship or anything serious at this point. Given this is the first in the series, I assume we will see things continue to develop over future books. But I felt like they end up in a good place here that feels realistic for the characters and the situation.

The mystery itself is fun and plays well with both the larger lore we have learned from the main series, and some of the specific events of Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. There is an element of house party mystery here as they all get snowed in at one point, but also some engaging interplay as we meet this cast of characters who are all interconnected and we are learning how they all play into the mystery. I found the investigation interesting, with some really thrilling moments, and it’s nicely twisty. I did find the timeline a little confusing upon reveal, as the things some people knew and actions they took felt a bit off with the sequence of events. But overall, I really enjoyed the mystery and particularly liked how it picked up on some of the existing world building, while still opening up new avenues for Julien and Eli. As with the romance, things aren’t all settled here, and while we get closure in some areas of the mystery, others are still unresolved until future books.

I really loved the original series so I was thrilled to see Adhara had started a spin off. And I am happy to say I enjoyed this one as much as the main series. I am super excited about where things are going here and definitely can highly recommend both series.
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Grade: A

Charlie Adhara’s paranormal/romantic suspense Big Bad Wolf series is one of my all-time favourites. With clever plotting, excellent worldbuilding, fantastic characterisation and a beautifully developed central relationship, those books had it all, and were always going to be a tough act to follow. I was delighted when I learned the author would be writing more books set in this world and that we’d get to spend more time with the snarky, enigmatic Elias Smith – a major secondary character in the earlier series. Eli was introduced in Thrown to the Wolves, where we learned he’d had a very troubled past, running with rebel packs who used and betrayed him until he was rescued and taken in by the Parks. He’s my book catnip – complex, flawed and damaged with a sharp tongue and an attitude for miles.

While this is the first in a new series, I really would recommend reading the previous books first so as to gain an understanding of how this world works; pack politics and how wolves interact (or don’t) with humans are key elements in these stories, and you’ll get a bit of background information on Eli. Plus – they’re marvellous reads and I assure you, you won’t regret backtracking!

Pack of Lies opens just a couple of weeks so after the end of Cry Wolf. Cooper and Park are on their honeymoon and Eli has recently moved to the retreat for runaways they’ve set up in remote Maudit Falls, which they’ve asked him to run. Late one night, Eli makes his way downstairs to the reception desk to find a very bedraggled man crawling around beneath it. Annoyed and suspiciouis, he suggests perhaps his interloper is a housebreaker, but before the man can do more than indignantly contradict him and explain that he’d had an accident a way back along the road, furious knocking at the door heralds the arrival of a woman dripping with blood and frantically insisting she’s seen the monster – she’s seen Sweet Pea, and this time, she’s got proof.

Once the chief of police shows up, Annabelle Dunlop, owner of the ski resort on the other side of the mountain, explains how she’d hurt herself running through the woods and then shows them some very grainy images taken from wildlife cameras that she insists show a figure that is not human. Chief Bucknell is sceptical and says he doesn’t really see much of anything, but Eli immediately recognises part of the image as a wolf in mid-shift. He has no idea who it is or what they might be doing there, but every wolf has a responsibility to maintain the secret of their existence – and clearly, there’s someone out there who isn’t being as careful as they should be. When everyone has left, Eli’s new medic tells him they’ve got their first guest, a young woman named Gwen who has left her rebel pack in search of sanctuary. When Gwen tells Eli that she, too, had felt an ominous presence in the woods and had run from it, Eli realises something is very wrong. Wolves are being hunted, their very existence threatened with exposure – and he decides to get to the bottom of it.

Mid-list Hollywood star Juilen Doran is grieving the loss of his younger brother Rocky, who drowned some fourteen months earlier. At the suggestion of his therapist, Julien goes into Rocky’s childhood bedroom – one they’d shared for a few years – which is where, tucked away in an old hidey-hole only the two of them had known about, Julien finds a flash drive, a notebook and a crudely drawn map of somewhere called Maudit Falls. His brother was forever off on some wild goose chase or other, convinced of the existence of all manner of cryptids and mythical beasts – Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, Nessie – and Sweet Pea, a bipedal creature reported to inhabit Blue Tail Mountain, and Julien frequently had to bail him out of trouble. He tried, repeatedly to get Rocky to see sense, but those conversations always ended in an argument. Three days after their last one, Rocky was dead. He’d taken a boat out on a perfectly clear night and never returned; there was no storm that night, the boat wasn’t damaged, and there was no real way of determining exactly how he died. After finding the notebook and map, Julien isn’t so sure his brother’s death was an accident so, filled with guilt and self-recrimination, Julien turns his back on everything – his career, his family (such as it is) and even his common sense – to follow the trail Rocky has left for him.

Eli and Julien’s shared goal of finding out exactly what is going on in Maudit Falls isn’t the only thing that draws them together, but getting to the truth is more important than an inconvenient attraction to someone they can’t afford to trust. When murder comes to their doorstep along with rumours of hidden treasure and more late-night creature sightings, they form a wary alliance – but as the secrets they’re keeping threaten to destroy their fragile connection, Eli and Julien are going to have to find a way to work together if they’re going to stand a chance of survival.

Pack of Lies is a compelling combination of clever, intricate mystery and expertly crafted slow-burn romance, and I was glued to it from start to finish. Eli and Julien are fascinating, layered characters who circle around each other amid half-truths and lies-by-omission, who yet manage to be likeable and evoke sympathy and understanding. I’ve been intrigued by Eli since his appearances in the earlier series (I said in my reivew of Cry Wolf that he was “crying out” for his own story!); his snarky, prickly demeanour obviously hides a deep vulnerability, and despite his appearance of casual confidence, he worries about being the right person for the job at the retreat and about letting Cooper and Park down. Life has been far from easy for him, and although we learn more of his history here, there’s clearly more to be revealed.

Unlike the Big Bad Wolf series though, Pack of Lies is written in dual PoV, so we get to hear from Julien also, and while Charlie Adhara is one of those authors who can make a single PoV work spectacularly well, I really appreciated that. I liked Julien and enjoyed the way he so clearly cares for Eli and Eli’s feelings – and that he doesn’t hesitate when he decides to go for it with Eli. Julien has always known he’s bisexual, but has never had the opportunity to act on his attraction to men; what he’s really worried about is letting his inexperience show and not Doing It Right – but Eli soon assures him he doesn’t need to worry on that score! Their chemistry is fantastic, and the love scenes are intense and very steamy, with Julian letting out his inner dirty-talker and Eli prepared to let Julien take control.

The book ends with a firm HFN for Eli and Julien, which feels exactly right; a full-blown HEA would have felt inappropriate and I’m happy with the way things are left – with with promise of more.

Pack of Lies is a wonderful blend of mystery, romance, action and intrigue and is a superb start to this new series. I can’t wait to find out what’s in store for Eli and Julien next!
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This new Goodreads is a trip!

Obvs, someone hasn't been around the GR block much lately but since today is RELEASE DAY!!!! I thought I would actually review this book instead of the pitiful excuse for a "review" I dropped a couple of months ago. I even reread it for the occasion!

So let's do this. What I sometimes find in spin-offs is the original couple kind of steals the limelight. No one wants another book featuring Cooper and Oliver more than I, but I'm happy to say this wasn't it. I wanted Eli and his paramour to be the star of this dope show and really get to know Eli better. And I did.

In my opinion, no one does boneheaded characters better than this author and I don't mean that as a slight, I mean it as a compliment because it makes her characters relatable. Eli and Julien both fumble, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing but despite all the awkward and beneath all the bumbling I believed in their connection. The tender, sweet and vulnerable moments we get to see via the story being told through both of their perspectives was what convinced me of it.

Julien had the absurd, delirious thought that they'd kissed all the way into spring, and the murders and the lies and all of Rocky's secrets that were Julien's secrets now had melted away with the snow and he could just be here with Eli like this.

The murder mystery was a whirlwind and I thoroughly enjoyed trying to sleuth out the killer. My sleuthing skills need some work, evidently but no matter I still enjoyed myself and the atmosphere this author created in this snowy and sleepy North Carolina town of Maudit Falls. 

And lest I forget, somewhere amidst all the Hardy Boysing by Julien and Eli they very industriously found time for some fairly kinky seggs that I was not mad at. At all. I'm just going to say their bedroom dynamic *might* prove to be more entertaining than Cooper and Oliver's. We shall see. 

At any rate, I am staying tuned to see where their next adventure takes them and plan on being along for the ride as their relationship takes its next evolution.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Well, this sucks. I have a book hangover AND idk what to say.

I'll come up with something before release day which I didn't realize was still a coon's age away which also means I'll have to wait a coon's age & a half for the sequel which makes me sad in my face.

Anyhoo, 4.5 (rounded up)
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I deeply loved the Big Bad Wolf series, so while I was happy to see Cooper and Oliver finally get their HEA I was sad to say goodbye to the world. Well, luckily we have a new spinoff series starring Eli. While he was a character in past books (and there’s more cameos as well), I’d say you could pick this up as a standalone, though seriously, go read the other series!

“It seemed absurd, a monster going monster hunting. But why not? Just for a couple of days. What could possibly go wrong?”

With Oliver and Cooper away on their honeymoon, Eli’s been given the task of getting the retreat for wolves escaping from rebel packs up and running. It’s a big job and the last thing he wants to do is screw it up for them. But between someone making trouble at the ski resort over the hill and a snooping actor, proving that he can take on this responsibility may be harder than he thought. That actor, Julien, is in Maudit Falls chasing a cryptic clue from his dead brother, and while the other goings-on don’t seem connected, he’ll do anything that gives him more information about his brother’s last days. When pranks turn to murders, the unlikely team of Eli and Julien are drawn into the investigation. Will they catch the murderer before they catch them?

“Talk about a backfire. Last month the most abnormal thing grief had me doing was drinking an extra couple glasses of wine at night. Now I’m running around after cryptozoologists and digging up skeletons and—and—having vacation sex with strangers.”
“On the other hand, who are we to question the process,” Eli drawled, surprising a real laugh out of Julien.

It was strange in some ways to have both POVs after being used to only having Cooper’s POV in the last series. I think it does increase the dramatic tension: both men are fascinated and wary of the other, and both have plenty of secrets they’d prefer to keep hidden. Where Cooper had some (mostly erroneous) knowledge of werewolves, Julien’s only knowledge comes from his younger brother. He was obsessed with hunting down cryptids in various locations, something that had gotten him into mundane trouble (trespassing on a drug gang’s land, etc) that Julien had to bail him out of more times than he could count. A somewhat has-been actor, he’s still grieving his brother’s loss, though he’s skilled enough to put on a mask to most people – but not Eli.

“I have nothing to hide.”
“Neither do I,” Eli purred. “Look at us. Two open books.”
“Sure. Except yours is written in code. And invisible ink. And has one of those paper snakes that pop out and scare the shit out of anyone who picks you up.”
Eli made that odd huffing sound again. “I assure you, Mr. Doran, I’ve never received a single complaint from those blessed enough to pick me up.”

Eli’s completely over the top in the best way possible. He’s snarky and sly, a shameless flirt – but underneath that mask, he’s afraid that once anyone knows all of his secrets, they’ll abandon him. He’s not proud of his past and quite frankly calls himself a monster more than once. Both men have secrets, and both have scars from past trauma. Watching them open up bit by bit, trusting each other enough to be vulnerable, was amazing. They’re not fully truthful – this is, after all, only the first book in the series! – but there was enough of a crack in both of their facades to truly connect with each other. The sex scenes were amazing, mostly because of the dynamic between them – dominant Julien who’s new to this and very anxious about doing it well, and Eli, who, well, is Eli. While Julien’s bi, due to two marriages to cis women (and the subsequent divorces) he doesn’t have much experience with men – make that any experience. Of course, he doesn’t explain this to Eli beforehand, and that’s just one of the many misunderstandings between them. While either man may react strongly initially, they’re also both mature enough to talk things out.

“Solving murders isn’t in the job description, is it?”
“With Ollie and the whippet? It should be,” Eli muttered.

And that talking is one of the best parts of the book. As I’ve come to expect from Charlie Adhara’s books, the dialogue is crackling and hilarious. Eli in particular is outrageous, even in his own head – he repeatedly refers to Cooper as “Ollie’s whippet” and I lost it every time. It would also not be a Charlie Adhara book without a tense suspense plot as well. It’s got bits of a house party mystery (a small number of guests snowed in) and revelations of past friendships and greed and well, you get the picture. It was delightfully twisty and kept me guessing til the end. There’s also a good deal of new world building, from Sweet Pea the local cryptid to more revelations about how rebel packs work from Eli’s past. As for cons, It’s slowly paced and it took quite a while to really get the mystery going, though the chemistry between Julien and Eli was evident from their first meeting. But even with that, I didn’t identify as strongly with either man as I did with Cooper. Perhaps it was the dual POV or the fact that neither held a candle to Cooper’s anxious do-gooderness, but I still enjoyed the book.

Overall, an excellent start to a new series that leaves plenty of interesting leads to follow up on!

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Big Bad Wolf is one of my favorite series ever and I feel like I've been waiting forever for this spin-off, which means I had high expectations. Charlie Adhara's ability to develop an intriguing mystery plot while keeping the focus on her flawed but loveable characters shines through in Pack of Lies, and I feel like most fans of the original series will also love this book.

Pack of Lies is the first book in this series that features Eli, Oliver's werewolf ex from the first series. I already loved Eli and felt very protective of him. He's someone who never fitted in anywhere because his special werewolf abilities make him a target. He hides his dark past and his loneliness behind a carefree attitude and lots of amusing one-liners. I was scared that Eli's love interest would be no match for him, and I was a little doubtful of Julien at first, as he seemed similar to every other "uptight guy on a mission" type. I'm glad Charlie Adhara went with a double POV (in opposition to the single POV in the previous series), so we could understand Julien better. I ended up liking him a lot. I loved how easily flustered he was when Eli was simply flirting, even though he was the one in control during the sex scenes (the praise alone...). Their chemistry was amazing, their flirting was so fun and the banter was top-notch. Both of them are honest with each other about how they shouldn't be trusted, but they still went ahead and trusted each other.

I really liked how this book balanced the mystery and the romance once the story hit its stride, but the first part of the book drags a little, as a lot of things are being set up and all the side characters are being introduced. Once that's out of the way though, the story captivated me until the end. Like Big Bad Wolf, at the end of this first book, the couple is not solid yet. What we are getting is really the beginning of their story, but we get a solid foundation and lots of romantic and sexy moments still.
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