Group Review: Out of the Ashes (Asheville Arcana #1) by Ari McKay

In their differences, they’ll find strength—and love.

Alpha werewolf Eli Hammond returns from a fishing trip to discover a nasty surprise—five members of his pack murdered and the rest missing. He needs help locating and rescuing his pack mates, but the supernatural council in Asheville, North Carolina, turns him away.

Except for one man.

As they work together, Eli is stunned—and not especially thrilled—to discover half-elf Arden Gilmarin is his destined mate. But as Arden and his friends struggle to help Eli in his quest, Eli surrenders to the demands of his body—and his heart. They’ll need to bond together, because the forces opposing them are stronger and more sinister than anyone predicted. The evil has its sights set on Arden, and if Eli wants to save his mate and the people he is entrusted with protecting, he’s in for the fight of his life.

3.91 Averaged!

SheReadsALot - 3.75 Hearts

The inaugural read of the Dreamspun Beyond line was a success!

When I learned the Dreamspun line was branching off into the paranormal lane, I was tickled pink and curious. Curious to see what book would start off the paranormal line.

And it's werewolf and elf fluff!

And I ate it up...mostly.

I loved the world building. I am coming off a True Blood binge (R.I.P. Nelsan Ellis) and this book perfectly fit into my paranormal crave. Contemporary setting, paranormal beings are known and living in harmony...mostly. The town of Asheville is small but the paranormal community is huge. Arden is a half mage/half elf business owner in that town. When werewolf alpha Eli leaves Georgia to Asheville to ask for assistance in seeking answers for his missing wolf pack, Arden is the only being who gives Eli a shot.

Arden asks his best friends and sometimes lovers, wizard Whimsy and vampire Julian, to help Eli because he can't help being drawn to him. Ahh... fated mates score!

The conflict for the story is that a certain someone tries to deny their bond. I wanted to reach out and touch him, because dude, don't you read shifter romance. Fated mates can't be denied. It's Shifter Freakonomics 101. (You know I got an A++ for the course, right?)

The band of friends use all sorts of magic and ask other paranormals for help like angels/demon hunters and dryads. So frigging cool. And though I'm not too keen on the baddies of this series (I happen to love the horns, is all I'll say), the suspense part was fully recognized and enjoyable to read.

But I didn't full out love this.

What I didn't like as much as the play into Arden's passiveness. I love me a good ol' power bottom but was the need to play up how pretty and nurturing Arden is necessary? I wished Arden was a little more stronger and less damsel in distress--ish. He knows he's a big bad 300+ year old half elf. Why is he getting carried around when it's not necessary. I would have loved it more if he showed more why he is equal to being a werewolf's mate than getting downplayed into a submissive role. He can be a power bottom who loves nothing more than getting held down in the bedroom (or wall) but he doesn't need to be a stereotype when a man is present. You feel me?

There were a few lulls but the pacing overall was quick.

I can't wait to read more from this series. Fingers crossed for Julian and Whimsy getting their own books!

Sara - 4.5 Hearts

What a fun debut for the new Dreamspun Beyond line! It’s no secret I am a fan of the Dreamspun Desires series and when I saw Dreamspinner was expanding that line to include paranormal reads within the same formula; let’s just say I was excited. Like really excited and then I saw who the authors were for the first book and the excite was too much to handle.

I love that this is listed as not only a Dreamspun Beyond book but also the first book in the Asheville Arcana series. This book gave us just enough information and world building to intrigue the reader and pull them in wanting more of this book and the others to follow. I don’t need an info dump of world building to let me know the layout of the supernatural as they come on the page nor understand the story of fated mates. What I do want to know what new secrets Asheville has and on what side of the deck of divination they will fall.

Eli Hammond returns from a trip to find members of his pack murdered and the others missing. As pack Alpha, Eli wants answers and he travels to Asheville to ask the supernatural council for help. But none of the council wants to help him but half elf Arden Gilmarin and he sets about to help the alpha wolf anyway he can.

When Eli and Arden sit down to discuss the situation they are just a wolf and an elf until they finally touch in a handshake and Eli’s wolf perks up and realizes Arden is his mate. Eli keeps this fact to himself though literally everyone around them can see they are true mates… excerpt Arden.

I love Arden. He is pocket worthy and so damn adorable. His pull toward Eli was immediate and he was in awe of Eli’s aura and dumbfounded that no one else could see how amazing the colors were. Well, they couldn't see them because they aren’t Eli’s mate. Sigh. Arden was so clueless about Eli but I loved that he followed his feeling of simply needing to help the alpha no matter what.’s a mark of an especially strong bond when a werewolf’s mate’s not another werewolf. Something about each of you completes something about the other and does it so well that things like your outsides don’t matter. It means you’re marked to do something special.”

Eli is gruff and perfect for an Alpha but he doesn’t want a mate and even if he did, the timing isn’t right for him with his murdered and missing pack members. Plus, he just never thought he’d find his mate and didn’t think it would be in someone as seemingly delicate as Arden seems but fated mates are fated and cannot be denied. The moments we get with Eli and Arden once Arden realizes they are mates were so yummy I could have eaten them with a spoon. I love the banter and the UST between these two. It was so much fun for both men to fall into their roles as mates without even realizing it. Arden is the caretaker and Eli is his protector and defender. Eli wants to push Arden away but his wolf wants to get down and cuddle with his mate. It was great to see the natural reaction both men had to one another and to see them get advice from friends to take a chance on the bond. When we, along with Eli are told how special their bond is I fell further in love with the story. But still, Eli is unsure about going all the way with Arden but he knows it’s not just his life he’s messing with denying Arden his chance at a true and fated mate and so… what’s a wolf to do.

Goodness. I feel like the biggest dork as I write this review because all these moments are coming back to me and I can’t help but smile. I seriously love that we get Eli who is like a cowboy with the way he talks/acts wrapped up in the gorgeous body of an alpha werewolf who calls his elf mate “Itty Bitty” as an endearment. Color me happy and clean up the puddle of goo I melt into when he uses that. The man is gruff but the man is sexy as all get out when it comes to Arden. And Arden, his need to take care of everyone was super sweet and the man lives in a treehouse. Need I say more?

So yeah, this book was so much fun and I love how the authors translated the Dreamspun formula into this paranormal line. We get the romance with fated mates, we get the mystery of what happened to Eli’s pack and we get a world full of beautiful supernatural beings that intrigued me and some that were mentioned briefly that made me take note and wonder.

I have to say I am in love with Arden’s mage friend Whimsy and I think I highlighted some of the best lines from the book because they were his. I, like Arden, want Whimsy to find his perfect romance and I really hope we get his story. Then there is Julian, Arden’s Vampire friend and he was so mysterious with his past and I don’t know why, but I want Julian to go back to Micah's house and meet his grandson. Can that happen? A natural born demon hunter and an elder vampire??? Please?

Anyway, this is one jumbled mess of a ramble but that seems to happen to me when I really like a book and I really liked this. I can’t wait to see whose book we get next in the series and if any of my theories – that are not bunnies – are true.

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

The paranormal genre is such a perfect fit for the Dreamspun Series of stories and I was soooooo excited to jump on the Dreamspun Beyond train. Out of the Ashes is an excellent intro to Dreamspun Beyond and the Asheville Arcana series. I could tell while reading it was the beginning of something bigger, it’s an intro to the Asheville Arcana world. I love, love, love the idea of an Alpha Wolf and Half-Elf pairing, the whole opposites attract/balance each other is a delicious trope for me in the paranormal world. Arden and Eli were the perfect representation, but maybe just a little too perfect.

Since this is the first of a series there was a lot of focus on the world building, history and secondary characters and less on the main characters themselves. While I loved them, they were a little one note and I would have loved a little bit more nuance to them so that they didn’t fit into their molds (top/bottom, alpha hero/submissive damsel) quite so neatly.

Beyond that, I really like where the story is going and I will happily revisit Asheville along with the various and sundry supernatural folks who live there. I’m anxious to see how the new dynamics work out with the realigned wolf packs and new members of the Asheville community. I want to see where the authors take Whimsy and Julian. Julian is so very contrary and his dry snark is going to make for a great tale. I hope we get to revisit Arden and Eli too. I would love to have some more time with them and get to know them both together and separately in the context of their new lives.

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