Pack of Lies
A Paranormal Romance Mystery
by Charlie Adhara
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Pub Date 30 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 29 Sep 2022
Carina Press & Carina Adores (Harlequin), Carina Adores
Werewolf meets human. Werewolf snubs human. Werewolf loves human?
Julien Doran arrived in sleepy Maudit Falls, North Carolina, with a heart full of hurt and a head full of questions. The key to his brother's mysterious last days might be found in this tiny town, and now Julien's amateur investigation is starting to unearth things the locals would rather keep buried.
Perhaps most especially the strange, magnetic manager of a deserted retreat that's nearly as odd as its staff.
Eli Smith is a lot of things: thief, werewolf, glamour-puss, liar. And now the manager of a haven for rebel pack runaways. He’s spent years cultivating a persona to disguise his origins, but for the first time ever he’s been entrusted with a real responsibility—and he plans to take that seriously.
Even if the handsome tourist who claims to be in town for some R & R is clearly on a hunt for all things paranormal. And hasn't taken his brooding gaze off Eli since he's arrived.
When an old skeleton and a fresh corpse turn a grief errand into a murder investigation, the unlikely Eli is the only person Julien can turn to. Trust is hard to come by in a town known for its monsters, but so is time…
Carina Adores is home to romantic love stories where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.
Book 1: Pack of Lies
Big Bad Wolf
Book 1: The Wolf at the Door
Book 2: The Wolf At Bay
Book 3: Thrown to the Wolves
Book 4: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Book 5: Cry Wolf
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 101 members
Pack of Lies is the start of the Monster Hunt series by Charlie Adhara. This is a spinoff from the Big Bad Wolf series and while you don't necessarily have to read that to enjoy this, that series is amazing so I don't know why you wouldn't. 😄
When Hollywood actor, Julien Doran, finds a clue towards helping understand what happened to his late brother, he gives up everything in his life to hunt down the lead. This brings him to Maudit Falls, which houses a sanctuary "retreat" for werewolves escaping rebel packs and its current manger Eli Smith. Eli is trying to set up the retreat while the owners are on their honeymoon. He is trying to prove he can handle the responsibility but when someone is hunting in his woods, bodies start appearing, and the wolves' existence are at risk of exposure, he decides to get to the bottom of it. That means partnering up with Julien , neither can trust the other but they both have the same end goal. Before they know it, their lives are on the line and the fragile trust they have built can be shattered by lies of omission.
I have been fascinated with Eli since he was first introduced in the Big Bad Wolf series, and finally getting inside his head was wonderful. I was obsessed with his whole demeanor and all the snark. I loved the fact there was so much more to him than what was on the surface. All his insecurities and fears got me right in the heart. I'm also so glad that we were given dual POV so we could form bonds easily with both Eli and Julien. I really enjoyed Julien's personality and how he genuinely cared for Eli's feelings. The half-truths he gave Eli , however, not so much , I was definitely #TeamEli at all times in this book.
The intimacy between our two men was beautifully done. While Eli comes off as take charge and is quick with words in the world, when it comes to the bedroom he's submissive and lets Julien take charge. I loved that contrast between the face he showed everyone else and the the vulnerability he shows Julien behind closed doors. Julien is bisexual but everything physical with Eli is a first for him, but he gives it his all. The intimate scenes are intense and very steamy. Even though things are hot and Julien was all about the dirty talk, he was sweetly always checking in with Eli, the big bad werewolf, before during and after intimacy.
The mystery aspect of the story in my opinion was well paced, and I hadn't quite figured out all the working pieces before it was all revealed. On top of an entertaining storyline and main characters with depth, fans of the author are given much anticipated cameos, even one of the furry variety that put an instant smile on my face. The story itself ends on a peaceful note and the hope of a future for Eli and Julien, who have a lot of healing to do between them. Feelings that grew on shaky trust that ends up broken is going to take some time to rebuild.
Pack of Lies by Charlie Adhara was everything I wanted it to be and more with mystery, amateur sleuthing, lies, monster hunting, danger and steam. I can't wait to see where Julien and Eli's story goes from here.
Is anyone surprised that this is a 5 star read for me?
I think not. I could have slapped my 5 star sticker on this even before I read it.
The Big Bad Wolf series is one of my favourites of all time and I reread it not once, but twice already. Charlie Adhara’s way to creat interesting characters that are flawed in ways you simply fall in love with them is unmatched. I love her style of writing, how diverse and against all clichés her characters are and I never see the plot twists coming.
No wonder I couldn’t put this one down either.
I absolutely loved Eli in Cry Wolf, he is such an interesting, multilayer character. He’s mysterious and intriguing. But also extremely sweet and protective of the people he loves.
Now that he found a new pack in Park and Cooper (and Boogie ofc) and responsible of their rebel retreat, he is so eager to show he is good and worth keeping. He wants to belong so badly, my heart bleed for him.
He’s only on the retreat since two weeks and already a stranger appears in the middle of the night under his front desk, he’s got his first guest and a mystical being is haunting the hills. Doesn’t look very good for things to go right.
I loved that this was dual POV, finally we get a glimpse behind the scenes of life as a wolf!
The second MC, Julien, is grieving the death of his younger brother, who he acted as a parent for for most of his life. In search of his brothers last steps and possible secrets, he lands in Maudit Falls.
Julien immediately became a new favourite too. He was so cute and blushing and protective of Eli, even though they only knew each other for such a short time! He fell head over heels for Eli, without even wanting too (who wouldn’t). He was perfect for him!
Also a character in their 40s living out his queer life for the first time? I love it. It was so relatable and I rooted for him a lot!
The story was very gripping, the plot twists were mindblowing and I didn’t see anything coming at all. I suspected everyone and had very wild theories, and in the end I was completely off anyway. I loved the story, I couldn’t put this book down and I am super excited for the next book! Can I please have it now?
Also the cameos? Thank you!!! I couldn’t have asked for more.
This was marvellous: exactly what I was hoping for, but at the same time, so surprising and utterly unexepected. I've loved every single word Charlie Adhara has written in her entire career, and her latest masterpiece is no exception: the plot was wholly compelling and its protagonists? Nobody does characterization like she does, nobody.
First things first: the story. Murder mysteries are one of my favourite genres, but murder mysteries combined with paranormal elements? *That* is my absolute jam and the one thing I'd happily read for the rest of my life. I've loved every single mystery Adhara has concocted for Cooper and Oliver, but I still remember the Maudit Falls mystery being one of my favourites. I was very excited to be back there, and I was not disappointed, at all. The murder mystery was totally riveting and it kept on the edge of my seat the whole time; and, as usual, all the twist-and-turns and reveals came as a complete shock to me. The mysterious, secretive atmosphere of Maudit Falls and of all the characters (and potential suspects) that populate this book were equally riveting. I loved how this book has a bit of Agatha Christie-esque/Cluedo vibe going on, with the usual fixed set of suspects, and I also loved the small-town vibe of Maudit Falls, with its charm and myths and all the quirky, gossip-y side characters that made the story even more interesting.
And, although the wholly compelling mystery was a definite bonus, the absolute best thing of this novel (and of any Charlie Adhara novel) were the protagonists, Eli and Julien, and their relationship.
I'm 100% sure Charlie Adhara is some sort of character magician: I clearly remember thinking that, thinking "wow, this is some good stuff she's written", while reading Cooper and Oliver's story. I don't know how she does it, but all of her characters are so complex and multi-dimensional, layered and flawed and realistic, and Eli and Julien were no exception, especially combined with her usual flawless and beautiful writing.
I've wanted to read more about Eli since the first time he appears on page, an unrepentant flirt, snarky and strong, but also strangely vulnerable at the same time. I knew I was going to adore whatever Charlie Adhara had plotted for him, but I was not expecting the sheer degree of wonder I'd feel as soon as his many, many layers were being peeled off and the sheer amount of love I'd also feel for his counterpart MC, Julien.
Eli was, as I'd expected, an utterly fantastic protagonist: he's a peculiar combination of flirty and insecure, of flighty and indifferent and eagerly selfless. He's really magnetic, charming and funny, and I could totally see why half of the characters in the book were madly in love with him. I adored every single side of him and although he was a biiiit too quick to judge in some instances, I got why he reacted in that way, and just the thought of the pain and trauma he's been through made me feel somewhat murderous.
Julien, on the other hand, was a complete surprise, a wholly wonderful one at that. I don't know what I was expecting, maybe a bit of a Stern Brunch Daddy or somebody overly responsible to counteract Eli's more flighty disposition, or maybe the complete opposite of that, a bumbling but sweet love interest who'd love Eli half to death. What I actually got was a ridiculously endearing, utterly complex and contradictory character that managed to completely own my heart. He's hilarious, in a self-deprecating way that was 100% delightful; he's insecure and flawed, for sure, and fast-approaching a midlife crisis, but he's also absurdly charming and sexy and lovely; he's also a very, very good liar and an obfuscator and a tiny bit ruthless, and I was not expecting him to keep up with Eli's lies and obfuscation so well.
And their relationship? Inject it into my veins, please and thank you. I adored every single one of their interactions: I loved their chemistry and their sexual tension, and the banter and the sleuthing they shared was totally top-notch. I'm so damn curious to see what will happen next with them. I'm also so looking forward to discover more about the underlying mystery and theme of this series: some of the things that were left hanging are intriguing, to say the least.
Pack of Lies is everything I wanted it to be and more! I've been obsessed with the Big Bad Wolf series (starring Cooper Dayton and Oliver Park) and my expectations for Pack of Lies were high, and they were 100% met and exceeded! The characters - Julien and Eli - jumped right into my heart and made me smile, laugh, and tugged at my heartstrings. I really love that we get both POVs - Julien the grieving, unaware human stumbling into a retreat for werewolves; Eli the lovable enigma of a werewolf who is confident on the outside but riddled with insecurities on the inside. Together they make a great team as they set about sleuthing in a setting that is peak mystery goodness - a mostly empty ski lodge in the winter with a small cast of dubious characters. The dual mysteries - unearthing the truths Julien's brother uncovered and looking for the mysterious mountain cryptid - kept me guessing right up until the end. Heart-pounding action, sizzling sexual tension, wrenching revelations, banter for days, and excellent character development kept me reading long after midnight! The book hangover is REAL and I'm already pining for book 2.
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!