Black Rook is the first book in the new Cornerstone trilogy by Kelly Meade (aka Kelly Meding). This new series centers around a Loup Garou run and the three sons of the Alpha. The McQueen brothers are all vastly different and each story will focus on one brother and give them their own HEA, but will have a story arc that spans all three books. Black Rook is about the youngest son, Rook, and the woman that journeys to his small town after she has vision of him standing over the body of her murdered father.
Brynn Atwood arrives in town unsure exactly how to proceed. She’s a low-level magus whose own father doesn’t have much faith in her abilities, but she knows that her visions are rarely wrong and she’s determined to save her father’s life. This is her first real experience with the Loup Garou and up until now only has rumor and the biased opinions of other Magi to go on. She’s quite taken aback to realize that the people from the Cornerstone Run aren’t anything like she was led to believe. They care about each other deeply and are intelligent and loyal. Even after Brynn accidentally causes an unfortunate accident that threatens the life of one of the Alpha’s sons, she is treated with respect, albeit suspicion, when she is brought into the McQueen home.
Rook McQueen is the youngest son, but he’s also the only black wolf born of his parent’s union and therefore is the logical heir. After spending his college years away pursuing his music career, he’s now back in the fold and ready to learn everything about leading a run and becoming an alpha. When he first meets the beautiful young woman who says she has a vision of him killing her father he takes her at her word, but quickly convinces her that her vision isn’t completely accurate. He also has quite the visceral reaction to her scent. He can sense right away that there’s more to Brynn that meets the eye (or nose in this instance) and there is more to her background than even she knows.
Once Brynn is taken into the McQueen home as a “guest” and learns of the involvement of half-breeds and their destruction of another run, she becomes determined to use her visions to help the McQueens, especially Rook, figure out what’s going on and hopefully prevent more innocents from dying. It’s not long before she and Rook find themselves falling for each other, even though they know the problems this will cause in both of their lives.
There’s a lot to like about the first book in this new series. The world building is very interesting and I enjoyed the different take on the werewolf mythos. The whole black, gray and white colored wolves and how those colors lead them to different roles in the run were very intriguing to me. Grays are the most prevalent and make up the majority of the populace of the run. Blacks are the strongest and fastest and usually become the leaders and protectors. Whites are the rarest of colors, every run usually only has one, and they take on a very specific role. They are the wolves who take on the aggressive emotions of their run-mates and keep everyone calm. The dynamic between the brothers really is the best part of this series so far as they are each raised to a different role according to the color of their wolf, and some times those roles don’t fit in with their personalities, desires or abilities. There are also the vampires and magus to consider, and even though they don’t play a prominent role in this story, I have a feeling they may in the next two books.
I was confused by a few things the further I read. For one, there’s a big revelation towards the end of the book that while I thought I saw it coming, I had previously ruled it out in my head because I understood that the wolves were able to scent whether someone was a magus, Loup or human and they didn’t pick up on it like they did other characters in the story. (I’m intentionally being vague here). So when it happened I kind of sat there like… hmmmmmm. Also there were some perplexing statements over which wolves can mate and breed offspring with species other than their own. Because the Magi/Loup pairing had never been seen before in this world before the events of this story I’m not sure how it was assumed that they could even breed. But that could be my confusion and since I haven’t heard any other complaints about this I’m assuming this is my issue and I might have misunderstood what I read. I’m chalking it up to this being a series starter and therefore having a lot of information to dump on the reader.
Unfortunately, my least favorite part of this story was the romance between Rook and Brynn. I’m not sure why, but I found them to be almost boring at times and their relationship to be predictable. I think their characters could have been better fleshed out and their chemistry developed a little more. They almost had the feel of YA or NA characters as some points. Knight, the middle brother and the white wolf of the run, is such a huge presence in this book that my interest in him and how his relationship will unfold in the next two books took over any enthusiasm I may have had for this couple. So while I did enjoy the world building, plot and some of the action scenes, for me the romance fell completely flat. Will I be reading the next book in the series? Absolutely. Gray Bishop is, you guessed it, Gray’s story and I’m very interested to find out how he overcomes the challenges represented by his wolf color in order to take over the run. Final Grade- C
“Follow your heart or choose who’s best for the run. That’s a terrible sort of choice.”