July 2012, Paranormal Romance
Forever, $7.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446585122 Part of a series
Sometimes authors can craft the characterization of vampires, demons, and shapeshifters so they do actually seem truly genuine and real. The characters in Secret of the Wolf are not one-dimensional, but they never felt truly authentic. I felt detached from their plight for most of the story.
Victoria Joseph and her brother Randall are from another dimension. Punishment for crimes there is to strip the offender of his body, and then place his soul in a holding cell for decades. During certain periods of time, like the passing of a particular comet, a rift is created between that dimension and Earth. Throughout this phase as part of their punishment criminals are thrust out of their realm to Earth much like the 1800’s British penal practice of sending criminals to Australia and the U.S. Of course these souls need a body to survive, so they take over a human body.
Unjustly punished for a crime their cousin committed, Victoria and Rand experienced this treatment. Victoria enters the body of a woman making a living on the streets in 1866 London. Her brother enters the body of a man in Manchester. Victoria was able to move away from that lifestyle and move to the States. Now a hundred and fifty years later she and her brother are finally reunited in Victoria’s home town of Scottsdale. Victoria is ecstatic to have family again, but her brother doesn’t appear to be as enthusiastic. But Victoria questions why, if he didn’t want to spend time with her, did he seek her out.
As the werewolf liaison to the council of Preternaturals Victoria works with many other representatives. One of those individuals is Dante MacMillan, Special Case detective for the human population. She has done everything she can to indicate that she finds him sexually attractive. While he appears enticed and interested, he always backs away to preserve their professional association.
Dante MacMillan is indeed very attracted to Victoria. However, after a divorce and almost losing his sister to breast cancer, he realizes that he doesn’t want to risk the heartbreak. Victoria as a werewolf is a bad risk, since her werewolf species virtually condemns her to a life of violence. In fact right now a rogue werewolf is biting humans, releasing a little bit of his soul into his victims’ blood and changings them to Preternaturals, an offense punishable by execution. However, once Victoria and Dante are thrown together, working to decipher the schematics and mechanics of a small device from the other dimension, Dante finds it easier and easier to ignore his qualms and surrender to his feelings.
This is the second book in the series called Warriors of the Rift and while the author recapped the major points of the world building it felt incomplete. Why would a werewolf, even if she was a woman, have to make a living on the streets? Why is Scottsdale, Arizona humid? Why did Victoria not try to find her brother? Both her cousin Stefan and brother Randall were able to find out Victoria’s name. Did she go through the rift first and they were allowed to see her descension, giving them clues as to the name of her host’s body? Victoria is one hundred and seventy-six years old, and except for twenty-six years she has been separated from her brother. Why is she so mawkish about family? And if it was so important to have family why didn’t she change her name back to her family name making it much easier to be found?
Besides those questions the conflict keeping the heroine and hero apart in the beginning of the book is both contrived and weak. Dante shuns any type of involvement with Victoria because there is a greater chance that she will die due to the encompassing violence associated with her job, rather than because she is a Pret. I do understand the author didn’t want him to appear bigoted against another species, but the hero worrying about losing her before he even begins an intimate relationship seems straight out of “he's just not that into you” especially with Victoria making most of the moves. I don’t have a problem with a woman bagging her man, but with Dante backing away diminished the chemistry between the two.
The hints of future pairings appear interesting - more so than the mystery device and the rift. If the world building had captured my imagination more, I might have been tempted to read further in the series. While this is not a bad book, it didn’t excite me either. The foreshadowing is a little heavy handed in the beginning and ends up diminishing the suspense of the story. If you are a fan of this series, then you might enjoy it, otherwise I would give it a pass.
-- Leigh Davis
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