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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Wild Refuge by K. Panikian is the second book in the Yellowstone Shifters series. Sienna has a talent for keeping secrets and has excelled in keeping her beast-nature from the other shifter packs in Yellowstone, specifically from a handsome alpha named August. She's finally found peace in her life and a home for herself since she discovered her third form. The story begins with a dead body - it springs the plot into a mystery that deepens with a wildfire started by arson and puts Sienna directly into the middle of a pack war. It is the body of an elk shifter and when a wildfire hints at arson, she teams up with August to catch the one responsible before a war breaks out between the packs. To add more complication to her life, her ex-boyfriend keeps calling her and, despite all the times she tries to ignore him, he makes a surprise visit to Yellowstone. She can't help but be suspicious of why he's visiting. Being in the middle of an impending war risks exposure of her darkest secret but if she doesn't get involved, she risks losing her home and her life is threatened with ruin. The root of her journey is her internal conflict between the three sides of herself.
The fear of being exposed is something K. Panikian uses as a significant part of who Sienna is. The tensions between the packs create a conflict in her life that ruffles the peaceful foundation Sienna had created for herself. Panikian balances these elements with romantic tension with three men that appeal to the three sides of Sienna. Nick Ryan is a Yellowstone ranger and being completely human, he appeals to her humanity while alpha August has an unusual ability to soothe her beast side and the ex-boyfriend who knows her secret returns like a blast from the past. Each of the three has a significant place in her life with the ranger being a comfortable human element and August being the alluring alpha that she's drawn to trusting. Her ex-boyfriend pushes her to confront her beast side by reminding her of the time in her life when she was first discovering herself. Her wild nature is part of her journey which is rooted in self-discovery, control, empowerment over each side, and working to achieve unity within herself. The story has a humorous undertone to it which is first seen through a delightful opening that pulls you into the tone of the world, the mystery, and the personality of Sienna. Set against the stunning backdrop of Yellowstone, Wild Refuge is a worthy read about warring packs, and internal struggles with murder, mystery, romantic tension, and shapeshifters.