Not the Leader of the Pack by Annabeth Leong
Published by Breathless Press
Publication Date: May 31, 2013
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When Juli Gunby left Missoula, Montana, she didn’t intend to come back. Not to her exacting alpha werewolf father, and certainly not to Neil Statham, the beta who rejected Juli’s girlish advances. Her father, as usual, has other ideas, using his dying breath to pass pack leadership to his daughter. Juli resolves to carry out her duty to her father and her pack, but the one man she wants on her side has made himself her enemy.
After years of loyal service to the pack, Neil expects to take over as alpha when his mentor dies. As good as it is to see Juli again, he knows he can’t trust her. After all, she abandoned both him and the pack years ago and never looked back. Neil determines to fight for his rightful position in the pack, even if that means going up against a woman who fills him with an overwhelming urge to mate every time she walks into the room.
Someone needs to lead, and the more Neil and Juli fight, the more they attract interference from those who would control the pack and destroy the ties between them.
Five years ago Juli Gunby put her heart on her sleeve and told Neil exactly how she felt about him. When she was rejected by him she ended up going to college in another state and then worked for the Werewolf Council – the incredibly strict governing board of the werewolves. She gets a call that her father, the alpha of her former pack in Missoula, Montana, is in the hospital and when she gets there she’s shocked at his declining health. He was too stubborn to call and tell Juli exactly how close to death he was. When she finally sees him in the ICU he wakes up enough to pass on his alpha ring to her and then dies.
Neil is the Beta of the Missoula pack and is beyond mad that Juli has “inherited” (as he puts it) the pack. He feels that since she’s been gone for five years and he’s been by her father’s side that he should have been the alpha. He tries to woo Juli into giving up the pack but she proves to be just as stubborn as her father. He tells himself that he doesn’t want to hurt her but in the end he challenges her to a fight for the alpha position.
The story has three components to it. The first being the problem of the alpha position between Neil and Juli. Yes, it was odd that Juli’s father had passed the position over to her but he obviously knew what he was doing. The fact that Neil couldn’t respect his former alpha’s decision didn’t sit well with me at all. The next component was the relationship between Juli and Neil. His rejection of her was because of the fact that it wasn’t legal for the pack beta to be involved with the alpha’s daughter. Here we come into the third component which is the Werewolf council. This governing board is all about the legal and keeping werewolves under their thumb.
Neil and Juli’s relationship…budding and otherwise played a huge role in the fight for the alpha position. Neil supposedly cared about Juli but he was such an ass to her about her being alpha! I just wanted to (using a term a friend used recently) junk punch him on a regular basis! For someone who supposedly respects this woman enough to be in love with her he certainly didn’t show it in any way shape or form. He was either acting like an ass, saying the wrong thing which either hurt Juli or downright pissed her off or wouldn’t say anything which had the same effect. In this story they were really fated mates who had to hold back but frankly I wanted Juli to run far, far away from Neil.
The Werewolf Council – geez…I’ve never read a shapeshifter novel that had a governing board that was so very strict! They had lycanthropy suppressants and they weren’t afraid to use them. Werewolves weren’t allowed to shift but 1 time a month and that was during the full moon. If they even shifted in the privacy of their own home, or partially shifted or got so emotional that just a tuft of hair on their arm showed they could get a citation and be a possible candidate for the suppressants. This was just one of the very, very many rules that were forced on the werewolves. The council representative in this book was such a starched uptight legaleez spew-er it was hard to think the woman had a heart.
Overall the story had a good premise but I just didn’t care for the execution very much. I couldn’t truly see Juli forgiving Neil for all the crap he’s put her through enough to actually fall in love with him. She was in love with him since she was 15 but when she was faced with the current Neil there just wasn’t much there. Alas this one just didn’t work very well for me and I found it to be just an ok read.
Rating: 2 out of 5