by Lise MacTague
In Chicago’s dark underbelly, Snow, a solitary wolf, faces her greatest challenge yet. Leading the city’s remaining werewolf Alphas, she navigates a perilous path of survival. They’re haunted by a merciless enemy who’s not only murdered their leaders but also captured most of their packs. Snow’s task is complicated by the fragile alliance with four dominant Alphas—each battling for supremacy.
Cassidy Nolan, amidst this turmoil, clings to her vision of leadership. Confined in a van with rival Alphas, her determination never falters with Snow, her unwavering ally, at her side. Together, they’re on a relentless quest to rescue their kin, facing an elusive and cunning adversary.
As their journey grows more desperate, the bond between Snow and Cassidy strengthens. This alliance might be their only hope to unite the Alphas and save their packs. But with time running out and trust scarce, will their newfound strength be enough to conquer the challenges ahead?
Sequel to Winter’s Moons.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"I’ve often thought that authors must have a sadistic streak, and I find that I’m no different than my colleagues. When starting my outline for Moonbreak, I wondered how I could ramp up the conflict after having already done the worst I could to Snow and Cassidy in Winter’s Moons. After some thought, I decided I would channel a little Sartre, and the famous line “hell is other people.”
What worse fate could there be for a werewolf Alpha than to be stuck in a van with three other Alphas? The prospect of trapping four people used to being in charge in a situation where they had to work together filled me with glee. I felt a little bad for Snow, who as someone who had placed herself outside the hierarchical structure of the packs would be forced to be the adult in the room, but not enough to change anything.
The result was better than I could have hoped for. Delicious conflict abounds in Moonbreak as the characters must navigate the disappearances of their packs, each other, and the dubious alliances they’re forced to make along the way. I enjoyed writing this rollercoaster, and I’m more than satisfied with how it wraps up the story that was started in Winter’s Moons."
AJ S. - Another great installment of the Five Moons Rising series.
Shimere A. - The author excels not only in world-building but also in crafting well-rounded characters, featuring a diverse range from wolven and vampires to witches and fae.
Henrietta B. - The whole world-building is absolutely great and the writing superb…
The Lesbian Review
This deeply drawn world of fur and fangs and structured societal order is a thrilling read that has me looking forward to the series being complete so I can go back and read all of the books back to back and immerse myself in that world.
“You?” Cassidy stared at the ghost who grinned at her from the plushest office chair the world had ever seen. “You’re dead. Mary said you were dead.”
The last time she’d seen Stiletto, the Hunter had been less than thrilled to discover her existence. She’d been frightening then, in her form-fitting black combat garb, her short black hair slicked back from her face. She was even more imposing now, despite being in an exquisitely tailored pantsuit of deepest crimson that served to emphasize the androgynous lines of her frame. The sienna of her skin was only a few shades darker than her clothing, and her hair floated about her head in short strands now allowed their freedom. All of her considerable menace had been honed, distilled, then remade into this creature who was barely the right side of terrifying. It was a good thing Cassidy wasn’t human anymore either.
Stiletto’s smile widened until Cassidy was certain it would split her face, her obsidian eyes glinting with malice. “She should know.” Sharp teeth gleamed shockingly white against her dark lips.
Cassidy blinked as she tried to sort out what that answer could possibly mean. “She was there.”
“That she was.” Stiletto stood, pushing the chair back in a smooth motion. She made her way around the desk slowly, almost languidly as she trailed one hand along the sharp edge. “So what do you need from me, Alpha? What can the Lord of Chicago do for you?”
“So you’re a vampire now.” Cassidy stepped back, trying to keep out of Stiletto’s reach, but she kept coming. Cassidy clenched her fist around the black canvas jacket she still carried.
“And you’re the one who took over from Carla.”
“You catch on quickly.”
The statement was faintly mocking, and Cassidy flushed. “Then you know what happened to my pack.”
Stiletto kept advancing, and Cassidy kept backing away.
“I know things have gotten a little hot for you, recently,” the vampire said.
Anger sparked inside Cassidy’s brain, and her wolf snarled in response. She stopped in her tracks and held out one hand, stiff-arming Stiletto back even as she tried to close the gap. Cassidy hefted the jacket and slammed it down on the desk.
“You don’t know anything,” she growled around lengthening teeth. Her claws scored through the blotter on the desk’s top, gouging out little curls from the hard wood beneath. “My pack is gone. Taken.”
Stiletto stilled. She cocked her head and waited, as unmoving as a statue carved from petrified wood and carnelian.
“What kind of a ‘Lord of Chicago’ doesn’t even know about the goddamn military pulling shit in her territory?” Cassidy sneered, displaying teeth that rivaled Stiletto’s in length and surpassed them in number. “Carla would have known.”
“Military?” Stiletto’s gaze drifted down to the jacket on the table. She snatched it up so quickly that Cassidy almost didn’t see it. The vampire spun away, her form blurring until she stood next to the lamp on the top of the desk. “The design is consistent with the BDU the military uses for night maneuvers.”
“Why does the military want our wolves?”
Stiletto settled into her chair, her brow furrowed. “There’s been a contingent of black ops troops in the area. They’re available to support the local Hunter, and they take on their own missions against supras who get”—her face took on a pained smile—“out of control. They don’t have the firepower to take on a werewolf pack.”
“Wolven.” Cassidy’s correction was quiet, but no less intense for its lack of volume. “And it was four packs. Maybe five.”
Stiletto’s carefully shaped eyebrows climbed her forehead, and Cassidy found herself leaning forward, trying to catch a whiff of the vampire’s scent. Was she lying? It was impossible to tell. She might as well have been sniffing a stone.
The vampire tossed the fabric down while shaking her head. “None of this is conclusive. Just because it’s consistent with what my former employer’s foot soldiers might wear, it doesn’t mean it was them.”
“I couldn’t very well keep being a Hunter with all this going on, could I?” Stiletto gestured down the length of her body. “They don’t take kindly to the undead joining their ranks. Something about conflict of interest, I’d guess.”
“There’s a policy that covers this—” Cassidy shook her head. “No. It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. The only thing I care about is where the kidnapped wolven have gone and who took them. Not necessarily in that order. If you can’t help me, then you’re of no use at all.”
“I don’t have any current information, but that doesn’t mean I will never have something for you.” Stiletto leaned forward, steepling her fingers in a way that was so stereotypically villainous that Cassidy might have laughed if the situation hadn’t been so dire. It felt like someone had removed everything from inside her ribcage and replaced it with an ache somehow both dull and vicious that showed no sign of subsiding.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I’ll leave my number. If something comes up, you can call me.”
“I can do better than that.” Stiletto looked her straight in the eyes and reached into the desk. “These…events concern all of us. If someone was strong and organized enough to pull off the kidnapping of dozens of werewolves, then they could come after us. I will reach out to you if I find anything.” She pulled a necklace out of a drawer and pushed it over to Cassidy. “If you need anything, show this at any entrance to the building at any time of day. Someone will bring you directly to me.”
The blood-red jewel on the silver-disked pendant winked up at Cassidy. She licked her lips, wondering how much of her soul she would be selling if she took it. An intact soul wouldn’t bring her wolven back. She reached over to pick it up, then froze when Stiletto’s hand closed over hers.
The vampire’s skin was colder than its warm brown suggested. Cassidy wasn’t being held tightly. She pulled back, and Stiletto’s grip firmed.
“I would ask a favor,” she said, a quirk of a smile forming at the corner of her mouth.
“And there it is.” Cassidy let go of the necklace.
“Nothing you won’t willingly offer, I’m sure.” Stiletto turned Cassidy’s hand over and pressed the pendant into her palm, then let go. “If you run across my predecessor again, let me know where she is.”
“She went straight to your home after things got…messy here. I know you took her in.”
“I owed her a favor.” Cassidy shoved her ticket into the club deep in the pocket of her pants and hoped she never had to cash it in. “You know my den burned. It’s probably still burning. Chances are good she never got out.”
“Carla is too cunning to be caught by a group of mere humans, no matter how well armed they might have been.”
“Unlike my wolven,” Cassidy said flatly. She refused to leave the subtext hanging between them. If Stiletto was indeed the new Vampire Lord of Chicago, then she needed to know that Cassidy wouldn’t be pushed around or manipulated. Better to make that clear now than to have Stiletto try to keep stringing her along.
Stiletto inclined her head. It could have meant anything, but Cassidy chose to believe that the vampire was acknowledging her overstep.
“Whatever the reason, I won’t believe she’s dead until I have proof or the word of someone I trust.”
“I can’t promise anything, but if I hear, I’ll let you know.”
“And I have your word on that?”
Cassidy bit her lip. It felt like she was about to step off a pier into shark-infested waters. Still, Stiletto had phrased the request as if there was a favor in play. Maybe Stiletto was too new to nonhuman politics to understand what that meant, but Cassidy did and would hold her to it. “You do. I will do you the favor of letting you know where Carla is, if I ever find out. I promise.”
Stiletto nodded. “I’ll hold you to that. And if you see your sister…”
“Yes?” Cassidy asked when the silence had gone on too long.
“Tell her ‘thanks.’”
“Sure, I guess.”
“I’m sure we’ll see each other again.” Stiletto leaned back in her chair.
“Yeah.” Turning on her heel, even though it made the hairs on the back of her neck prickle to have Stiletto behind her, Cassidy left the room. The vampire greeting party had dispersed and the hallway beyond the door to Carla’s—no, Stiletto’s—study was empty. A bass line thudded dully, the sound matching the rhythmic press of her brain against her skull.
She’d gotten little from Stiletto but had somehow given up much. How was that even possible? The vampire might be new, but she’d pushed out the decades-old previous lord, and already Cassidy was dancing to her tune.
She strode through empty halls. Those in the nightclub were nearly as desolate as when she’d reached them. Even those most committed to late-night revelry were dispersing, some in the arms of vampires, others alone or in pairs. She smelled as much disappointment as anticipation among them as she wove her way around the various groups. Why someone would be crushed not to be a vampire’s late-night snack was not something she could understand. She was already drained, and Stiletto hadn’t even hinted at putting her teeth to Cassidy’s flesh.
After the oppressiveness of the club, the cool night air was a welcome balm. Cassidy paused at the top of the steps at Faint, wondering what to do next. Snow had the Kenosha Alpha and Beta in her van and was going to drop them off somewhere. The remaining Alphas who had made it out of the ambush in the woods had dispersed to their dens to see what awaited them.
Her gaze shifted, focusing north toward her own home. She had nothing else to do until noon. That was when she would meet back up with the surviving Alphas. Technically, Marrow and Bone were Alpha and Beta, or maybe it was the other way around. She hadn’t had enough time to figure out how to differentiate them before soldiers overwhelmed their meeting. It was something to dwell on, rather than allowing her mind to delve back into the dark memories of that brutal skirmish in the snow. Her recollection was already fragmenting into stark shots of muzzle flashes in the dark, blood splattered on white, the glare of the helicopter’s light piercing the night, then the brutal end of the same copter in fire and heat. It was a miracle they’d made it out with as many as they had.
Cassidy blinked, trying to make sense of her surroundings. She was wandering, her feet taking her back to the hotel, where more fire awaited her.
She chewed on her lower lip, disregarding her wolf, who tried to tell her that obsessing over the previous night’s events wasn’t helpful. If there was a better argument for how ill-fit she was for leadership, Cassidy couldn’t see it. Wherever her wolves were, they were there without her. It might have been better if she’d been taken with them. Her head exploded in sharp pain as her wolf scored the inside of her brain with sharp claws of fierce disapproval. As long as they took breath, they would search out those who had been taken from them. Retrieving their own was much easier from a position of freedom than it would have been from captivity.
Cassidy shook her head, trying to clear it both of the pain and her own concerns. She’d gone to try to clear up the reason for the disappearance of a few of her wolves and had ended up losing them all.
The wolf nipped at her, more gently this time, herding her thoughts away from the abyss that threatened to pull her in. The adrenaline of the previous night had allowed her to coast, but now that she was alone…Now that Snow wasn’t there…
It was a lot easier to be optimistic with the lone wolf around. To think that Snow had only been in her life a couple of weeks, and now Cassidy was lost without her. Oh, she’d fallen hard, far harder than she’d intended. She’d been told lone wolves were dangerous and never to be trusted. With no pack loyalty, their motives when they showed up in pack territory was questionable. What they wanted was to worm their way into a pack, any pack, but there had to be a good reason they weren’t already in one. The members of the North Side Pack certainly clung to that belief, but they could be forgiven their suspicion. After all, a lone wolf had killed their previous Alpha, then had taken over the pack, treating those wolven who hadn’t been able to escape with cruelty and neglect.
She shook her head. She hadn’t met MacTavish, which was just as well. Her wolf snarled inside her head. They would have taken him down if they’d ever crossed paths. Dean was another matter. The true former Alpha had been beloved by all his wolves, who still felt his loss with a keenness that Cassidy wished she could blunt, Snow most of all. As Dean’s sister, she had the most reason to be angry at Cassidy for her bungling of the situation. Cassidy had truly proven what a fantastic successor she was to Dean. Her tongue curled at the bitterness of her sarcasm. Still, it wasn’t a misplaced emotion. She’d managed to lose them all.
Somehow, she still had Snow. That was something she could cling to. She wasn’t part of the pack, but she’d put her neck out just as far as any of Cassidy’s packmates. If she ever wanted a place in the pack, Cassidy would offer it to her. For now, she was going to have to settle for putting aside a place for Snow in her heart. The lone wolf might be amenable to that. She wasn’t going to be into mating—Snow had no desire for physical intimacy—but she wasn’t averse to cuddling. They’d gotten pretty cozy, and Cassidy could only hope that she wouldn’t change her mind.
Her feet took her across city streets lined with slumping piles of rotting snow. Every step took her closer to the remains of her den. The least she could do was witness the end of the place she’d called home since October. After that, she would meet up with the others and work on moving forward. She would allow herself to wallow until then.