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REVIEW: Primal Law by J.D. Tyler

Dear Ms. Tyler:

The first half of this book detailed a setup that I found pretty incredible, so much so that I set the book aside and didn’t finish it for 2 months. The latter half of the story worked far better, but only in isolation. Together, neither the romance nor the worldbuilding held up.

Primal Law by JD TylerThe premise is that there is a bunch of werewolves that were changed from human to shapeshifter after an attack 5 years ago in Aghanistan and they now all have special X-men like powers. Some are pre cogs, some can start fire with their fingers, and so on. Why shapeshifters get additional powers is unexplained, as it is also unexplained why there are other “gifted” people (such as the heroine) who have gifts that are not imparted by a random act in Afghanistan but are simply born with such powers. Someone within the government is gathering these gifted individuals in a compound in Wyoming. There is every sort of being one can think of in this compound: shapeshifters of different sorts, sorcerers, a blue fae prince, vampires, witches, gremlins, and a basilisk.

The story opens with a prologue with some of the Alpha Pack being savaged and dying. The implication is that they all die but Jaxon (I know, the names are ridiculous too). “Her scream of outrage, promising vengeance, and the moans of his dying teammates chased him into the darkness.” When I get to chapter one, though, nearly every member of his team is still alive. I kept flipping back and forth in the book to figure out which ones had died in the prologue and which had not. By the end of the story, I am guessing that none of them died and the point of the prologue is completely lost for me.

The heroine is Kira, a lab assistant at a gene therapy company. She’s stupid but everyone loves her. How stupid? She overhears some of the scientists discussing their evil experiments and sees some document on her boss’s computer that is not consistent with what they are supposed to be studying.

Her brilliant plan had included getting them out of here, not where to go afterward. Or who to give them to.

She decides she will break into her high tech gene therapy company and steal some samples. She has no plan for what she will do with these samples, of course, and her plan to abscond with the samples is no more complicated that waltzing in, taking them, and leaving the way she came in, even though she is going into a restricted area with supposedly high security. Inevitably, she gets caught stealing samples because she is somewhere she is not supposed to be. Having no real plan, she simply runs for an elevator and then drives her car out the front gate. Of course she is chased down and the security guards corner her in a dark Las Vegas alley where, instead of apprehending her, they decide to rape her in the alley. (Still in chapter 1)

Let’s recap. Kira’s escape plan is to drive out the front lot after breaking in. That’s her plan. Break in. Drive away.

Fortunately for Kira, Jaxon is nearby getting a blowjob from his regular call girl who he sees whenever his buddies and him make the trip south for sex. He hears her cries for help. He shifts, kills the two guys. His buddies come to help. She accepts that he is a) a werewolf and b) that she must go with them to Wyoming. On the flight to Wyoming, they explain that they are shifters with a secret government organization. She’s all “okay.”

Let’s recap. Still in chapter one. Kira is in an alley about to be raped. She is saved by a guy who shifts into a werewolf. He requires her to go with him and three other men to Wyoming. To a secret government compound.  She’s not only totally fine with it, she’s turned on.  Because her thoughts aren’t “what the hell is going on” but this:

All those rippling muscles, that soul patch, spiky black hair, and the wicked ear piercings lending the man that slight air of irreverence. Confidence. Here was a guy who knew how to handle his business.

She’d love to know whether he could handle himself as well in bed as he could out of it.

Once she is at the secret government compound, they just let her wander aimlessly in and out of the buildings until she stumbles upon a place where she supposedly should not be because there is apparently no security at this secret government facility. Keycards are beyond them? She finds a number of strange paranormal beings (see above reference to every creature under the sun) in cells. And they all look very unhappy. Oh noes, thinks Kira. This is just not right. “Why are those poor creatures locked away like criminals? What are you planning to do with them?” Kira demands.

Let’s recap. Kira just found out that there are shapeshifters. She is taken to a secret government facility. She finds crazy strange creatures, some that growl and bare their teeth at her, and she is incensed that they are being caged. Incensed.

While logic may make most people think that Kira should just keep her mouth shut for the time being until she learns a little more about this brave new world to which she has been exposed, this book allows Kira to decide who is going to be set free and who is going to be caged.

Let’s recap. After one day in the compound, Kira, who is a LAB ASSISTANT decides that one of the incarcerated beings, a fae winged creature, should be let free. Because she can sense he is telling the truth about being a good guy. She convinces the leader of this secret government compound that she should be in charge of rehabilitating these beings and she can rehabilitate them in three weeks! SHE IS A LAB ASSISTANT. She is not an expert in paranormal beings. She is not a counselor, therapist, or psychologist. She was a genetic lab assistant.

After talking to the Fae prince who is HANDCUFFED and in a cell, she decides he is sincere that he just wants to be free to live a life away from his murderous daddy. Based on a two page discussion with this guy, she convinces the Alpha Pack guys to LET HIM OUT. Then, as they are leaving the cell block, they run into the woman who is in charge, whom Kira refers to as an “alpha bitch”.

She turned her attention to Zander and Hammer as the others with her exchanged whispers. “Where do you think you’re going with Blue? I didn’t authorize any order for my patient to be moved.”

The woman’s chin lifted, dark eyes snapping with anger. Her tone left no doubt about who ruled this little corner of the compound. Behind her, Mackenzie gave Kira a nod, her expression encouraging.

Kira returned the gesture and turned her attention back to Mac’s friend. She immediately recognized this woman’s type from her own work experience. The names and address had changed but the song remained the same. This steely woman with the short cap of black hair would be the alpha bitch, the one who could choose to make her life here a living hell, or not. Whether or not she was also a fair-minded person and well liked among her colleagues, Kira would soon find out.

All the men in this book are hot and awesome, but a woman in charge is an alpha bitch? Oh no you didn’t! But on her say so, Alpha Bitch agrees that the Fae winged warrior should be let loose in the compound.

In sum, the world building in this book is ridiculous. There are no boundaries in the world. Every sort of creature is included. There are even other dimensions, like the fae dimension, although thankfully unexplored in this book. The melodrama quotient is high. For example, the leader of the Alpha Pack, is this precognitive talent only he never shares his visions because he doesn’t want to unfairly impact those around him. Instead, we are treated to dramatic scenes where the leader sits in his office bemoaning the sad fates that await those for which he cares.

As for the romance, this is a mate story. It’s the worst kind of mate story in that unless Jaxon mates with Kira, he is likely going to die. Fuck or die. It doesn’t matter one’s feelings because the mythical mate bond is stronger than that. Thus there is no romance. It’s lust brought on by the mythical mate bond that must be appeased or else.

Additionally, new characters are discovered because apparently there are not enough possible sequel baits in the Alpha Pack team. In all, this is very ordinary PNR and in a crowded field, it offers nothing new. It’s the same old group of guys who meet their breedmates and live happy ever after in one big military compound or they die. D

Best regards


Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. SonomaLass
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 04:15:58

    A friend just named her baby Jaxon. I agree.

  2. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 05:11:47

    My uncaffeinated brain just ran two tags together and thought, “Penguin shapeshifters??! Geez, WTH animal will authors use next?”

  3. Kerry Allen
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 05:29:31

    I request a “top-secret military facility where anybody can wander around at will” warning label. My gas station has better security measures than these top-secret facilities. Last time I pointed out how ludicrous that is, the author informed me that it doesn’t have to be realistic because “it’s only fiction.”

    I think it would be extremely useful to be able to tell at a glance which authors believe any sort of internal logic is unnecessary because “it’s only fiction.”

    @Jayne: My daughter was talking about weregoats yesterday. Excellent mountain climbers. Can eat anything. Bonus superpower of creeping out their enemies with their wrong-way pupils.

  4. Kaetrin
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 06:01:22

    Why do I feel like I’ve read this review before? I’m having the strangest deja vu. Anyhoo, it sounds like a book I would not enjoy so I think I’ll pass. :)

  5. LG
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 06:44:22

    @Jayne: I think I would read a penguin shifter book, just for the giggle factor.

  6. SHZ
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 07:18:36

    Hey, vampires with X-Men powers made Stephenie Meyer millions upon millions of dollars.
    Did these werewolves sparkle like disco balls in the sunlight too?

    But, Jaxon – come on! I’m just watching Sons of Anarchy, and Jaxon is very, very nice!

    Didn’t anyone read that Book Binge review with the Rhino shifter manroot? It was almost bad enough to make me buy the book!

  7. Jane Lovering
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 07:31:08

    Hey, I’m a lab assistant and I am AWESOME! Bring on the rehabilition of possibly dangerous, previously unknown species! I can also whistle and eat a whole packet of marshmallows in one sitting, and do not recognise your puny ‘security measures’!
    One book I shall not be reading, thanks Jane.

  8. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 07:32:35

    @Kerry Allen: Oh God, no! Wrong-way pupils! I surrender, I surrender!

    Also sighing over “it’s only fiction” authors. Makes me want to strangle them.

  9. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 07:38:12

    @LG: A friend of mine used to know someone who worked in a zoo and was responsible for the penguin enclosure. Apparently they have a malicious sense of humor though I’m not sure how that could translate into a penguin shifter being able to save a damsel in distress while in penguin form.

  10. Treasure
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 08:06:08

    @ Jayne But I really really want to read about the penguin shape shifters.

  11. Gennita Low
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 08:39:02

    I’m having an Alpha Penguin and March of the Very Angry Penguins moment while bravely drinking down my coffee.

  12. Kerry Allen
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 08:54:03

    I’m having difficulty visualing heroic penguin angst, though.

    “We’re out of fish! *seethe*”

    Oh, maybe “All I ever wanted was to fly! *rail at the gods*”

  13. Nadia Lee
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 08:58:35

    @Jayne: Were-lobsters? Were-toads?

  14. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 09:09:40

    @Nadia Lee: I’m trying to think of something clever to say about people who lick toads as a hallucinogenic. Alas my brain is failing me.

  15. LG
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 09:11:59

    @Jayne: See, if the effect stuck around for the toad shifter’s human form, then the book could have hallucinogenic sex scenes. Oh, what fun!

  16. DianeN
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 09:33:51

    The only problem with penguin shifters (okay, maybe not the ONLY problem!) is that penguins smell really, really bad and they’re incredibly noisy. I’m talking mega-decibels if there are more than one of them around–and they never shut up unless they’re asleep. They’re definitely funny, though!

    I can’t believe I just posted this.

  17. Nicole
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 09:36:31

    Penguin shifter…he’d be a mom’s wish come true. HE can watch the kids while I go out and actually do something.

  18. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 09:53:55

    @Nicole: OMG you’re right! After he nips his soulmate and turns her into a were-penguin, he’ll get to watch over the egg for weeks on end while she’s out fattening up on fish and krill. Toujours l’amour.

  19. Amy
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 10:07:38

    Why would anyone want to read these things that really really challenge their suspension of belief.

  20. Lynn S.
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 10:38:58

    @Jayne: You should make uncaffeinated observations more often. I’m all for the penquin shifter with the stipulations that the author must name him Burgess and must, under no circumstances, even think about naming him Danny. That would be a complete mood killer.

    Penquin wranglers of the world unite.

  21. Anne
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 10:48:37

    I love your “Let’s recap”— Ouch, that book sounds agonizing to actually try to read.

  22. Jane
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 11:02:18

    @Jane Lovering i have no doubt that lab assistants are awesome and that Kira is making all you look bad.

  23. Jane
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 11:03:01

    @Kaetrin I wrote about my pain in reading it on goodreads.

  24. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 11:34:13

    This is totally off-topic, but I think J.D. Tyler’s website needs work. The contrast on this page is so atrocious, it’s almost unreadable:

    I went to her web page because I was trying to recall her two other pen names. She doesn’t give them on her site, though. Anyone know?

  25. Lynn S.
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 11:43:14

    @Jackie Barbosa: Jo Davis and Jo Carlisle.

  26. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 11:48:38

    @Lynn S.: Thanks. I haven’t read/heard of her under either of those pen names, either, but then, she doesn’t seem to write any genres that I read a whole lot of.

  27. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 11:49:52

    @DianeN: ::tsk, tsk:: Diane, Diane, it’s only fiction here. Let’s not let messy details interfere with were-penguin lurve.

  28. Heather
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 11:57:49

    I saw this at Borders the other night and nearly choked when I read the back blurb. Something about Navy Seal shifters with psy powers.

    Even at going-out-of-business prices, I couldn’t do it.

  29. CK
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 12:07:36

    @DianeN: But it’s fiction! so they’d smell delicious, sound like sirens (without the death part) and look like this .

  30. Lynn S.
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 12:22:38

    @CK: Or the author could give the heroine a special scent memory. She smells that lovely penguiny smell and she knows it is fate. I have to stop now.

  31. Jeannie
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 12:59:13

    Jayne, I too saw Penguin and Shapeshifters and smooshed them together in my mind for a delightful WTF moment. I can’t seem to get through my day without at least one of those. Alas, I was wrong.

    Jaxon, Zander and Hammer … just…wow! Whatever happened to John, Paul and Bob? Too boring? Easy to spell? Doesn’t conjure up images of Vin Diesel, which, um, could be good or bad, depending on your tastes in men?

    See, this is one of the many reasons why I love my Kindle. I can download a sample then try and decide if I want to read it based on the first chapter or so. And given how much WTFuckery went on in the first chapter of this book, it would’ve been a pass for me. Jane, my hat is off to you for enduring.

  32. Christine M.
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 13:01:25

    Ok, call me stupid, but what’s a ‘soul patch’ supposed to be? Is that some body hair of sort?

  33. Jeannie
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 13:33:03

    @Christine M
    It’s that little square patch of hair in the dip beneath the lower lip. Think Billy the Exterminator, if you watch that show, then you’ll shudder. Or a reverse Hitler ‘stache.

  34. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 13:34:07

    @Jeannie: I think of Apolo Anton Ohno when I think of soul patches. Much preferable to Billy the Exterminator or a reverse Hitler, lol.

  35. May
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 13:43:18

    Fuck or die. It doesn’t matter one’s feelings because the mythical mate bond is stronger than that.

    OH MY.

    Yeah… I’m REALLY glad right about now that I passed on this one. Yes, it’s fiction but if it’s not done well it ruins the reading experience making it BAD fiction. yikes.

  36. Jane
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 14:27:57

    @Christine M. It’s the hair on a man’s chin that should be shaved away but is often not because guy’s look in the mirror and think “that’s hawt”.

  37. Jane
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 14:28:38

    @CK I’m swooning. Surely there has never been a more fierce and attractive shapeshifter!

  38. Jane
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 14:29:09

    @Heather Right because it isn’t enough for them to be Navy Seals. Or Navy Seals who are shapeshifters. But they must also have PSY POWERS.

  39. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 14:51:16

    @CK: Damn straight! Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout. My girly parts are getting all tingly.

  40. Isobel Carr
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 14:53:37

    Penguin shifters. Hmmmm. My college buddy who worked with the ones in San Diego was very clear about the fact that he didn’t wear hip waders in the enclosure because it was cold. Suckers are mean and, well, beaky (like fat little geese).

  41. Sue T
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 15:13:47

    Ohhhh! Snort. I had to go up and look again to find out where all the penguin references were coming from. You mean the publisher. Sigh. Guess I have not had enough caffeine. Very funny, these comments on were-penguins. Thanks for the laughter.

    As far as the book. Well, since I’ve had it with vampires and shifters, I wouldn’t have picked this up anyway; however, it’s good to know I wouldn’t have liked it.

  42. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 15:23:56

    @Jane: Shouldn’t Navy Seals shift into…well, SEALS? With Psy Powers, of course…

  43. Christine M.
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 16:31:30

    @Jackie Barbosa:

    Thanks ladies! I’d never heard the expression in English and the common name I know in French is…. well, let’s say it doesn’t relate to souls.

  44. Christine M.
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 16:32:22

    @Christine M.: Gah. I meant to reply to Jane and Jeannie, not Jane and Jackie! Apologies!

  45. Heather
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 16:56:46

    @Jackie Barbosa: OMG! Shifting into seals is awesome. Totally cracked me up!

    @Christine M.: What does it mean in French? I must know! In the absence of an answer, my brain is coming up with all sorts of pervy things. :)

  46. DS
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 18:09:43

    @Kerry Allen: Not to mention the bonus super power of being able to overwhelm their enemies with their smell and really bad hygiene– A friend had a Billy- AKA William Jefferson Clinton Goat and I learned why they have the reputations they have. But the kids are cute.

  47. Lynn S.
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 18:36:44

    @Christine M.: I won’t spoil the grand reveal but that is so gross yet also remarkably accurate.

  48. B. Sullivan
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 23:58:09

    I’m holding out for the wereslugs. No wait, too phallic and they’d never be able to make them into action figures. How about Aussie werewombats? Great marketing potential, and that accent!
    [And omg yes was that sarcasm. Though I’d at least have to read the blurb for the wereslug book.]

  49. Jane
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 07:03:28

    @B. Sullivan: We actually had a request for review involving space slugs that were possibly shapeshifters. I think Lazaraspaste took a deeper look. It was hard to tell by the blurb what role the space slug played. Possibly hero. Possibly sidekick BFF.

  50. Treasure
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 20:40:02

    You know I think penguin shifters were just meant to be. I opened aol tonight and the blurb I saw is
    ‘Should I Just Keep Chasing Penguins?’

    It’s a isquote from the Adele song about chasing pavement

    And yes Navy Seals should def shift into Seals.

  51. Christine M.
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 21:54:51

    @Heather: It roughly translates into “p*ssy-scratcher”. But it’s really crass in French (“gratte-noune”). I actually don’t know the real name, and I totally blame my SO for that knowledge. =D

  52. Christine M.
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 21:56:01

    @Lynn S.: It is, isn’t it? *grins*

  53. Heather
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 19:25:03

    @Christine M.: That is supremely awesome. I love it. Is that wrong?

  54. Christine M.
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 22:29:39

    @Heather: It’s not wrong, it’s just that the terms used are crass so it’s not something I’d use with, say, my grandma. Like Lynn was saying it’s a descriptive and accurate way to describe it but in a formal situation? Heck, I wouldn’t even know what to call it. *G*

  55. What Jayne is reading/watching in mid August - Dear Author
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:15:29

    […] Slugs by Frances Pauli – After our recent fun discussion about penguin shapeshifters, I remembered that I had this ebook arc loaded on my ereader and decided, “WTF why […]

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