Audio Review: Cari Z – Off the Beaten Path

Author: Cari Z.
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Paranormal

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Narrator: Jack Wesley


When Ward Johannsen’s little girl Ava shifted into a werewolf, she was taken into custody by the feds and shipped off to the nearest pack, all ties between father and daughter severed. Ward burned every bridge he had discovering her location, and then almost froze to death in the Colorado mountains tracking her new pack down. And that’s just the beginning of his struggle.

Henry Dormer is an alpha werewolf and an elite black ops soldier who failed his last mission. He returns home, hoping for some time to recuperate and help settle the pack’s newest member, a little pup named Ava who can’t shift back to her human form. Instead he meets Ward, who refuses to leave his daughter without a fight. The two men are as different as night and day, but their respect for each other strikes a spark of mutual interest that quickly grows into a flame. They might find something special together—love, passion, and even a family—if they can survive trigger-happy pack guardians, violent werewolf politics, and meddling government agencies that are just as likely to get their alpha soldiers killed as bring them home safely.


This was a fantastic audiobook! It was not only well-written with a terrific storyline, the narrator, Jack Wesley, who was new to me, brought the story to life. His vocalizations were very varied and interesting—both male and female, and even the child’s voice. And then his treatment for telephone conversations, with a hollow sort of sound to indicate the lesser quality of a phone transmission, were unique and spot-on. All in all, before I even get into more detail, my advice is to hurry to Audible to get this one right now.

Ward Johannsen didn’t realize his life was going to be topsy-turvy when he dropped his little girl off at preschool one day—the day her first shift to werewolf occurred. Ward had no idea that she might be a werewolf, since her mother chose not to raise her and gave him full custody. And he also had no idea that it was mandatory to take werewolf children away from humans to a remote location where’d they be raised by other werewolves. He refuses to accept that, however, and pulls a few favors to find her location.

Of course, he’s not accepted by the wolves when he arrives there, freezing cold and nearly dead from hypothermia. But he’s determined to get in and he finds the soft spot in the heart of the sister of the pack alpha so manages to get into the compound. From there on out, it’s a battle of wits and desire between him and the pack alpha, as well as a long and patient struggle to get his little girl, Ava, to change back to human. The alpha, Henry Dormer, has returned from mandatory military duty, and though he resists his attraction to the human man, he can’t resist helping the little girl. Over time, the men become closer, and when pack politics and outside forces seem to combine to make life hell for Henry, it’s Ward who is at his side to offer support.

I loved the world the author built here, the characters themselves, and the family and pack dynamics. Both main and secondary characters were well-developed and the story quite believable. The chemistry between the two men is evident, and though this is very definitely a romance, it’s not a sex romp, which in my opinion made the story even better.

If you love paranormal shifter stories, stories of men with children, pack dynamics, danger and intrigue, this story should be exactly the right one for you. I very highly recommend the audiobook for this one as the narrator, Jack Wesley, made this so much better than it may have been if I only read it.


Dreamspinner Press

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