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Cornered (Holloway Pack) (Volume 5) Paperback – March 17, 2017
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About the Author
Best known for her Holloway Pack Stories, J.A. Belfield lives in Solihull, England, with her husband, two children, a cat and two dogs. She writes paranormal romance, with a second love for urban fantasy. And now she writes erotic romance, too. Because she can.
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The plot aligned somewhat with the preceding installment, so I was happy that Ethan, Brooke, Kyle and Gabe finally got some closure even though the means was kinda inadequate given the level of torture that they, and now Danny have endured. This was probably the darkest tome of the series, and other than boasting one impressively long lovemaking session, I found that the pacing was more sluggish than I would have liked.
Larsen was a walking disaster in this novel; from the immature way he dealt with his brother’s matehood, to his substance abuse, to his selfish refusal to follow his alpha’s orders which subsequently endangered the entire pack, to his irresponsible sexual relations. I wish I could say that he realized the error of his ways in the end, but it was more of a case of him left with no choice after painting himself into a corner.
There’s one graphic scene that some readers might find offensive however personally, after everything that Danny did in this volume, I was appeased that he suffered severe consequences for his actions. There were also a number of inconsistencies in this title; the protagonist pleaded ignorance a lot, but he’s a werewolf, how did he not smell the drugs in the cakes? Or that the blonde was a supe? Or that Liv was [spoiler]
CORNERED wasn’t the best that the HOLLOWAY PACK has to offer.
It's been a long time since I read the previous book in this series, but I still easily slipped back into this series. There was enough recap of important plot points where necessary to remind me of what happened. I really enjoyed reading Cornered, the pace was a bit slow at times, but not in a bad way and it was well written and kept my attention. It was so nice to be back into this world again. I liked how we get the sense of community with the pack and continuity through hints of what happened in previous books and knowing more about most of the side characters thanks to knowing their backstory. Although if you want to you could read this one as standalone you just would get the hint to their pasts less and know less about the side characters.
Cornered is Daniel or Danny his story. Daniel gets into a lot of trouble in this book and I really felt sorry for him. It was a bit frustrating sometimes how he got treated like a kid and I know what he did was stupid and dangerous for the pack, but it still felt like the others were a bit too harsh on him. And yes Daniel makes his share of not so smart decisions as well in this book, but not all of what happened to him was his fault. There were a few small things that didn't fully make sense, some small plot holes or decisions that just didn't seem right. No one was concerned when something happened to Daniel that no one could explain, although he never divulged everything to the pack I still felt it was strange they didn't make a bigger deal out of it, until it was too late. And a few decisions and actions at the end felt a bit off to me.
It starts of with focus on Daniel his life, his evenings spent away form the pack due to his issues with Brook and Kyle. I thought Daniel could've been more forgiving of them and didn't judge them so harshly, but it did make sense how he was hurt and now had trouble dealing with things. The story focused on how he gets into trouble, deals with the pack situation and interacts with Liv.
Only around the 60-70% mark the paranormal aspect got more attention when they land in some supernatural problems. There's a nasty villain in this book, who is pure evil and crazy. Also how did she time things so perfectly and twisted things while things didn't went to her plan, it just seemed like it went a bit too smoothly. I also never fully understood why she did some of the earlier things in the book and what her goal was with that. The reason just didn't seem clear to me and never gets fully explained.
And there is this scene, the one the blurb has a trigger warning for and yes that warning is totally justified in my opinion. That scene enough would've been enough for me to DNF a book if I wasn't that invested and far into the book by then and had enjoyed it up to that point. Because really the scene was that horrifying I wish I hadn't read it. Even skimming over it, I still got to many details and it was way too disturbing for my taste and I also don't get why it had to be in the book. Part of it felt like it was a bit rushed and could've used a bit more fleshing out the details and on the other hand it already was way too dark and disturbing for me, so I was glad it didn't last longer. So yes that part I definitely didn't like. And what happened next was a bit anti climactic in my opinion, part of it seemed to get fixed too easily and the other part was done realistically, but we still don't fully see it through. On the other hand I did like where the book ended, while at the same time I would've liked a bit more story too and see what would happen next.
Daniel is an interesting main character and I liked following his story. I liked getting to know him a bit more as I don't remember much details about him from the previous books, but that also could be because I read those so long ago. He has some trouble with Kyle and his mate and often escaped the house for that reason. I do think that Daniel basically got a lot of bad luck in this book, yes he makes some bad decisions, but mostly the things that happened aren't fully his fault and it just felt like the author put him through a bit too much. It was interesting to see how the pack reacted to what happened and dealt with his behavior and how his time away from the pack gave him the opportunity to meet Liv. This book mostly focuses on Daniel and his story, although we do see the previous main characters and side characters as well, which was fun.
Daniel his relationship with Liv was one of the parts I liked most. I liked the slow build-up and how they just interacted with each other without acting on it at first. I liked their casual sort of meetings at the bar and seeing how it developed into more. There was a stage that felt like it went a bit fast, but that's probably just me. I thought they were a great couple, although I had hoped to learn a bit more about Olivia. And there's one sex scene which lasted almost a whole chapter, definitely impressive how the author wrote that one. Although I did cringe a bit at the fact his brothers were so close by, they never talked about protection or cleaned up in the middle of the multiple rounds. I liked that there was little drama in their relationship, and the drama that wast here felt realistic and not there just for the sake of it. There's also a scene at the end, which got solved pretty nicely. And I liked how it was realistic, but still little drama got involved and I really respected Liv for what she did there and how she handled things.
The book doesn't add much in terms of world building. In fact it's pretty light on actual paranormal scenes. There's only one shifting scene and besides that it is more about the implications of being a werewolf than them actually shifting into one. I do think it worked though and since a recent dolphin shifter series I read that handled the paranormal aspect in this way I have come to appreciate this way of handling the paranormal aspect more. I wasn't a fan of the paranormal trouble they run into at the end as it didn't feel fleshed out enough. I do like how we see how much being a werewolf changes their normal lives and how they live.
To summarize: I really enjoyed this book. It's one of those series that seems to get better with each book. I liked the writing style and the pace was done nicely if a bit slow at times, but not in a bad way. I did feel a bit sorry for Daniel in this book as a lot of bad things happen to him and I thought the pack treater him a bit harshly at times especially as most of it wasn't completely his fault. Daniel does make a few not so smart decisions that land him in trouble. There is one very disturbing scene towards the end, with way too many details for me and even while skimming it was too much for me. It's a good thing I was already committed to finishing the book by then and had enjoyed it so far. I liked getting to know more about Daniel in this book and seeing his relationship with Liv progress. There's little drama and I respected Liv for how she handled things. There's also one impressively long sex scene. I just had hoped to see more of how things go next, but at the same time the ending was well done. There isn't as much focus on the paranormal aspect, but I did like how it was handled. It mostly focuses on the effect of being werewolf while in their human body as opposed to actual shifting. I wasn't a fan of the supernatural problems they run into towards the end as it felt a bit rushed and bad decisions are made, and only added to more bad stuff happening to Daniel. Overall this is a great series and I enjoyed this latest instalment!
I really love this series, and there have been some pretty dark moments in the previous books, but CORNERED was really dark. Most of the story deals with Danny's internal struggles, and I have to admit, it was hard to read at times. I wavered between wanting to smack some sense into Danny to get him to finally open up and talk to his family, and wanting to just pull him in for a hug. Poor guy. He goes through so much!
I really enjoyed getting back into the world of the Holloway Pack, and I loved getting to see the guys and their mates again. It was like coming home! While I did enjoy Danny's story, it wasn't my favourite of the series. I think Jem and Sean's stories are still my faves just because it's where it all started. In these later books, the world that the pack lives in has changed so much. Their knowledge of the paranormal world has grown, and they've become entrenched in things that they didn't even know existed.
In CORNERED, everything comes crashing down and Danny finds himself in the midst of some pretty horrible stuff. At the same time, he's struggling to make things right with his family⎯his whole life is spiraling downward. He's turned into quite the lone wolf, and during his solitary outings, he finds comfort in Liv, a feisty redhead. She's snarky with him, and calls out all of his crap, which is exactly what Danny needs. I really enjoyed Danny and Liv together. Their dynamics were fantastic, and they had amazing chemistry. I did feel like their relationship was pretty rushed near the conclusion of the story, but I still really loved them together.
As for the plot itself, it was packed full of tension and extremely fast-paced! Danny's brooding does drag the story down a little bit, but I think it was a necessary progression after how things ended in UNNATURAL. There was a lot of unresolved tension and Danny bore the brunt of it. When it comes to this story though, expect the unexpected. It's one of those stories with plenty of twists, and they'll be sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!
I'd definitely recommend CORNERED to fans of the Holloway Pack series, and I'd recommend the series as a whole to fans of paranormal and urban fantasy. I'd like to give a warning though, CORNERED is the darkest Holloway book yet, and Danny encounters some situations that may be triggering to victims of sexual assault. While it is a dark story, I still really enjoyed CORNERED, and I'm looking forward to what happens with Danny and the rest of the Holloway Pack next. Here's hoping for Josh's story next!!! I absolutely love Josh!! Spoiler that isn't really a spoiler...he was listening to Ed Sheeran in CORNERED at one point, and I swear, my heart melted. I'm an Ed fangirl to the max, so that fangirlness definitely spread to Josh a bit there. :P
*I received a copy of CORNERED from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This review has also been posted on my blog and on other social media accounts.