• Wolf Heart, by T.J. Nichols

Wolf Heart, by T.J. Nichols

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Wolf Heart, by T.J. Nichols

Book Info

Book Series
Outcast Pack, Book 1
About the Author
TJ Nichols is the author of the Studies in Demonology and Familiar Mates series. They write mostly gay fantasy and paranormal romance, but sometimes gay action/horror as Toby J. Nichols.

After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Newsletter: http://tjnichols-author.com/lp/

You can find TJ on
Twitter: @TobyJNichols
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TJNichols.au...
follow me on Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/tjnichols or Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tj-nichols
Publication Date
March 28, 2022
Available Formats
Kindle, KU, mobi
Content Warning
mentions of homophobic families, disownment, abandonment by family, mild violence, mentions of paramedic work
Paramedic Con Albury loves nothing more than spending his time off either as a wolf or at night clubs. He’s always looking for a good time, and he usually finds it. While he has aligned himself with the Outcast Pack for protection, he tells himself he prefers to be alone.

Zach Ellis has spent his life preparing to take over the pack just like everyone expects. Pack and family come first. But he needs more than duty and giving into temptation and falling into Con’s bed is easier than it should be.

But the fallout will threaten everything the Outcast Pack stands for: freedom and found family.

The Outcast Pack is part of the Familiar Mates world but stands alone. For readers who enjoy steamy gay wolf shifter romance.

Editor review

1 review
Interesting Spin-Off
  3rd person, dual character POV
 Themes: MM Romance, Shifter, Paramedics, Alpha Male, Fates Mates, insta-lust, outdoor sex, one-night stand
 Triggers: mentions of homophobic families, disownment, abandonment by family, mild violence, mentions of paramedic work
 Genre: MM Romance, LGBT, Shifter, Paranormal, PNR


World-Building: ★★★☆☆
Heat: ★★★★☆
Chemistry: ★★★★☆
Plot: ★★★☆☆
Romance: ★★★★☆


 Wolf Heart is the first novel in the Outcast Pack series, which is a spin-off from the Familiar Mates series, by T.J. Nichols. The Outcast Pack were briefly mentioned within Book 5, The Detective's Familiar.
 I originally read The Detective's Familiar exactly a year ago, so I thought it would be a good idea to re-read it, first, then I could decide whether it was required reading, or if Wolf Heart could genuinely be considered a standalone spin-off.
 The verdict?
 Yes, it absolutely can be read as a standalone. The Outcast Pack were briefly mentioned throughout the Detective's Familiar, but only Kyle and Jo got on-page time. Wolf Heart is about Con, who gets about one line in Detective's Familiar, and the dynamics of the Outcast Pack are nicely explored throughout this story, meaning you don't have to have read any of the Familiar Mates books to follow this.

 Due to the Fates Mates aspect, there's an insta-lust and attraction between Con and Zach, so things move fast. However, I did feel that the emotional bond moved faster than I expected. Probably because they only had each other to trust and rely on, with no other support system, which almost forced them into a position of holding tightly to what they had with each other. But, it did feel fast, even for me, and I love a good fated-mates, insta-connection.

 As for the characters, I liked Con but sometimes felt he was a bit of a swing. One minute he was this tough-guy persona, the next he was soft and gooey on the inside. He definitely had a lot of baggage and unresolved personal drama, and while he admitted it, he was often openly judgmental of people making the exact same mistakes he was making. Zach, on the other hand, had this huge decision to make, but came around to it more naturally, for my taste. I really felt his struggles, but also how strongly he felt towards Con and how that seemed to be enough for him, to really make a definitive choice for his future.

 The relationship is very bittersweet and sad, which makes the story quite heavy. I actually thought this about the Detective's Familiar, and the same applies here – the story is heavily relationship focused, with no real outside drama. It's all internal, relationship-related, and with their family, which means that it's far more emotionally heavy than the Familiar Mates series. There are few light moments, and I felt quite down and bittersweet about the entire book. I would have loved some more of Drew, on page, as he was a great mood lifter, but not mentioned often enough to lighten the darkness.

 I did love that there were no familiars, this time. The world-building explored a new dynamic, and I can see why it was made a spin-off rather than included within the Familiar Mates series. The struggles are all internal, with both characters fighting to finally be free and be true to themselves, but paying a heavy price for that freedom.
 While an urban fantasy novel, the shifter dynamics were vaguely explored, and I think it might be better later in the series. Familiar Mates was similar, in that each individual book didn't have much world-building to explore, but that each book added to the world being built throughout the series. I normally like that, but here it felt a bit like we were supposed to already be familiar with the world, maybe because we're already familiar with the Familiar Mates series.
 For example, there is a snide mention of being a familiar to a witch, but it's never explained in this book what that means. The term is obviously related to the Familiar Mates series, but if you came to the Outcast Pack without reading that first, then you might wonder what exactly that entails, as it's not explained here, though it might be later in the Outcast Pack series. There's also little explanation of what the Coven are, what they do, etc. This was explored in depth in Familiar Mates, particularly within Detective's Familiar, but though it's mentioned that characters need to speak to the Council, there's little real explanation of what that means, why, or what the consequences are. It's limited to a vague “cover up unfortunate accidents” and vague mentions of intervening with rogue wolves.

 In terms of execution, this was an ARC, so there were understandably a few mistakes. Some small things like “took a swing” instead of “took a swig” and misplaced punctuation “of safety . that”. But, overall, it was really clean and exactly what I'd expect of Nichols.



 While being emotionally moody and heavy, with a strongly relationship-centric plot, I did enjoy the book. It felt a bit short, as I was able to read both Detective's Familiar and Wolf Heart in one day, without stretching myself thin, but I feel like Nichols accomplished everything they set out to include in the story. It felt complete, well rounded, and – other than my few niggles with it – a great start to a new series.
 I would have liked more lightness, just because it was so emotionally heavy. Between Con's work as a paramedic, his family situation, Zach's self-discovery and family situation, there was little room to breathe and recover from the constant drama. Even their relationship wasn't smooth sailing, so their times together weren't the relief I needed it to be.
 Plot-wise, I can see that it's similar to Familiar Mates, in that each book will have a focused couple, but there will be an overall series arc, and I'm excited to see how that will expand. I'm very excited that Drew's book is next, and I'm hopeful it will have more light relief with his preppy personality.
 While I really wanted to give it a stronger 4.5-into-5 star review, I felt it wasn't quite as strong as I'd hoped for.


 Favourite Quote

 “Did he even know who he was? Or had he spent so long being what was expected that he no longer existed?”

 “Everything was broken and twisted, so what was wrong with taking apart everything and starting over? Was it possible to extract something good from this mess?”
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