Two early works by Patricia Briggs (of Mercy Thompson fame), or rather a very early work and a later sequel featuring the same cast of characters in the same alternative fantasy universe.
“Wolf” is a great wolf which Aralorn saves from death in a pit full of spiked stakes in the prologue to the first story, Masques. But Wolf turns out to be a shape-shifter, and the only son of the evil sorcerer who is holding the country in thrall.
It is hard to say much about this book without spoiling it for you, but I loved Aralorn and identified with her immediately. Patricia Briggs describes Masques as bearing all the signs of an early work by an author still learning her craft, as opposed to Wolfsbane, the sequel, written twenty years later. Maybe so, but I saw little difference. She is still there in that world, still totally at home in it, still completely familiar with each character and scene.
Now I would like a third story, please. Make it a trilogy, Patricia!