Title: Winter’s Trial
Publisher: Torquere Books
Author: Darren Endymion
Cursed to be a Three Form, blessed to be a True Mate, Austin’s life is a nightmare. He is hated and bullied by his pack because under his timid exterior lies the strength and savagery of a Hybrid werewolf. Only the thoughts of his True Mate, and his desperate desire to escape his pack, sustain him through the daily abuse.
When Cristiano finds Austin, things go from bad to worse. The True Mates must keep their connection a secret as Cris is inducted into a conspiracy for rebellion. The pack’s trust in Cris grows even as their loathing for Austin spirals into escalated violence. Soon Cris and Austin are drawn into a battle for control over Austin’s pack. Both sides will gladly exploit Austin — his strength, the venom in his claws and bite, and his inability to leave the pack.
However, though Austin is both gentle and savage, more than anything he is vulnerable. He and Cris have one last chance at getting away and finding a new pack to take them in. Because unless he and Cris can get out, neither of them is likely to survive the coming storm.
Winter’s Trial is a contemporary paranormal story centered on Austin, a werewolf with three forms, and Cristiano, a werewolf from South America hoping to find his True Mate.
This is an outstanding story that will pull you in from the beginning. The story starts out with Cristiano preparing to leave Brazil for a job in Minnesota. While he is leaving in order to help a library with their remodeling project, he is also hoping to pick up his True Mates vibe so they may finally get together. Cris is a strong individual, and he will need this strength once he meets Austin.
Austin is his pack’s omega. He is also a three form who carries the sign of a True Mate. While being an omega and True Mate is supposed to be special, in Austin’s pack it is anything but. The abuse Austin suffers at the hands of his pack is close to destroying him and unfortunately his being a three form means leaving is out of the question.
The chemistry between Cris and Austin is intense, and I loved the way their first meeting pulls the True Mate connection into place. But, there are many obstacles in the men’s way that keeps them from finding their happily ever after right away. There are some little twists and turns, and while you may see some coming, there are a few that you won’t. One really threw me, and I was so shocked I ended up re-reading that section just to make sure I read it right the first time.
The author throws in a wide variety of secondary characters. Two of those secondary characters provide some of my favorite scenes. One of those characters is a little girl in Austin’s pack. Elena has a mouth on her and the attitude to back it up. More than once she had me laughing and I loved when she gave some of the other shifters in her pack the riot act. The other one is Taylor. Taylor is the omega from the pack that Cris and Austin are trying to move to. This young man also has a bit of a mouth as well and while I laughed at some of the things he said, it was the way he shows Austin just what it means to be an omega that I really liked.
I would strongly recommend Winter’s Trial to anyone interested in the paranormal/shape shifter sub-genre. The story has just enough changes to give the book a fresh feel. It has a variety of characters that readers will either love or hate, but all of whom are important to the story. While Mr. Endymion is a new author for me this will not be the last of his books I read. I also strongly hope that the author has plans to write more stories from this world has I could easily see it becoming a series.
Reviewed by: Lydia