Tag Archives: werewolves

Review of Beneath a Blood Lust Moon (Rise of the Arkansas Werewolves #2), by Jodi Vaughn

I received and audible credit for a copy of Beneath a Blood Lust Moon, by Jodi Vaughn.

Description from Goodreads:

Werewolf Braxton Devereaux would do anything to protect his mother from his abusive father, even commit murder. Or so everyone assumes. Pack Law justice is swift and unforgiving when it comes to murder, and soon werewolf Assassins are out to balance the scales – Braxton’s life for his father’s. On the run, Braxton flees on his Harley to the anti-extradition state of Missouri, but before he crosses the border, he is felled by an Assassin’s bullet, and an unsuspecting blonde. Kate Wolph is in a legal battle to avoid losing her Bed and Breakfast to foreclosure. The last thing she needs is an injured wolf to care for, let alone a gorgeous man with blank eyes and a deadly smile. But the supernatural world of danger that surrounds him threatens to swallow more than just her life. Can Braxton track down the real killer before the Assassins find him, or will Pack Justice cost him not only his life but the life of the only woman he’s ever loved?

Review:

This is a perfectly serviceable werewolf-finds-his-mate story. It fulfilled it’s purpose and the writing is pretty solid. Unfortunately for me, it contained a number of my absolute most hated PNR elements that adversely effected my enjoyment of it.

For example, I cannot express how much I hate when characters (especially female characters) can’t tell dream for reality and use the “this must be a dream” as an excuse to bypass their inhibitions. I think it’s weak storytelling. As if the author couldn’t come up with a feasible reason to give the woman sexual agency (and/or time to develop feelings for the love interest), except to remove her from reality. What’s more, unless the author gives me a reason (mental illness, drugs, knock to the head, etc) for why a woman can’t tell fantasy from reality, I have to question the character’s intelligence and I don’t want vapid, stupid heroines.

I dislike that the pet name Baby was dropped into almost all the sex scenes, from the very beginning. It irks me when a female character is supposed to be sexually active, but have never had an orgasm or even experimented at all (so, a symbolic virgin). At least one fairly significant character was introduced and then dropped from the story. I noticed at least one inconsistency in the plot. It’s never explained why an execution order went out so fast without anyone ever verifying he murdered anyone or even trying. (As in it’s never even questioned by authority.) The heroine ran off in a cliched TSTL manner. The authors’ were seriously over the top, inappropriate (if male characters did 1/2 of what they did we’d be calling for blood), and felt self-indulgent on the actual author’s part. And the two villains were paper thin, one not even being part of the plot at all really and the second’s motivation being murky.

But those are personal pet peeves that might not bother me so bad if they weren’t already on my radar as annoying elements. Others may not mind them at all. Similarly, Jeffery Kafer did a great job with the narration. But I would have SO preferred a female narrator for this book. (Again, personal opinion)

All in all, not bad. Just maybe not 100% for me. I didn’t dislike it. I just also spent an above average amount of time going, “Oh, and there is another annoying inclusion.” It did stand-alone fairly well. I hadn’t read book one in the series.

Review of The Strip, by Heather Killough-Walden

I’ve been doing a lot of diamond paintings lately. (Repetitive, slightly obsessive hobbies are dangerous things for me.) As a result, I’m flying through the audiobooks lately. The Strip, by Heather Killough-Walden is the most recent.

Description from Goodreads:

Green-eyed Malcolm Cole is a cursed werewolf, an alpha in the most powerful sense who has given up hope for any kind of happiness or peace in his life.

Until he catches wind of Claire.

Claire St. James, Charlie among friends, is an amazing young woman with an incredibly special gift. Cole recognizes this at once and swears on the spot to claim Charlie as his mate.

Of course, he isn’t the only one with such plans. Charlie is too precious to let go without a fight, and one of the most powerful alphas in the world has already staked a claim, whether Charlie—or Cole—like it or not.

Review:

There is a little bit of a story to why I read (or listened to) this book. I recently borrowed The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) through Hoopla. When you get to the end of a book, Hoopla often gives you a pop-up asking if you want the next book in the series. I really like The Wolf at the Door, so I said yes. However, when I started the book, it was an entirely different series altogether, just one with the same name. 

I decided to give it a try though. I like to give pure chance a chance on occasion. Very early on I could tell this wasn’t going to be a winner to me. And I wasn’t all that surprised. I’m often wary of older PNR. I find A LOT of the content problematic. (The industry is getting better, but anything more than 10 years old is chancy for me. And this one is from 2011, so borderline.) But I stuck with it, determined to finish it so that I could write a full review. 

I’d planned to talk about how angry it makes me when what is important about the fated female mate is WHAT she is not WHO she is. How this was strongly highlighted in this particular book by the fact that Charlie probably doesn’t have 3 dozen lines of dialogue in the whole thing. What she has to say or think isn’t important, only what she is to be possessed. I’d intended to discuss how she and he literally don’t know one another, spend no time together and he used magic as mystical rohypnol to remove all agency from her. Thus, making women out to be mindless, malleable objects, rather than people with their own power and desires. I was going to put strong words on paper about how this IS NOT ROMANCE, not matter what the author says. 

But the honest to god truth is that after clawing my way through the book and gritting my teeth through sex and sexual scenes that read more as abuse than anything else, I just can’t be bothered. It’s exhausting and demoralizing to find romance framed in such a way that (if you removed the names) I literally (LITERALLY!) would not be able to tell which scenes involved the sexual sadist who tortured Charlie and which was the ‘sexy dominant’ mate who was some how supposed to love and cherish the woman he’d never had so much as a conversation with. Both were ‘rough.’ Both were described using words like “cruel.” Both emphasized being unconcerned with hurting her. With the exception of the first scene in the book, with the best friend with benefits, in which it was made explicit that he checked in with her and made sure she was ok during rough sex (involving strangulation), every other scene was rage-inducingly abusive. And I read plenty of S&M, kink-laced, BDSM books. I’m not kink shaming. But that’s not what it book contains. 

By the time I got to the end, my desire to write an intellectual review of it had withered to despondency. So, I’ll just call this tuture/rape porn and be shut of it. 

Gildart Jackson did a fine technical job with the narration, minus a tendency to swallow a lot. However, I found that having a man read a book that involved quite so much pseudo-rape and torture of a woman made it feel extra pervy and skin-crawlingly dirty.

Review of The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) ,by Charlie Adhara

Cover of The Wolf at the Door

I borrowed an audio copy of Charlie Adhara‘s The Wolf at the Door from Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park. 

Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner – even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating. 

When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one – or both – of them could be the next to go.

Review:

I generally really enjoyed this. I liked that it was mystery first, romance second. Honestly the romance barely develops. There is plenty of lust, but love….maybe not yet. But it’s coming and this book set the stage. I liked the characters and the theme of a guy trying to do the right thing and floundering a bit. I thought Dayton’s experience in the BSI could easily be read as an analogy for the way good people can enter a racist environment and slowly become so inoculated by the hate that he doesn’t even notice when he’s drowning in it. Here it’s human/werewolf, but it could easily be read more realistically. 

I had a few small niggles. I disliked that the first time they had sex it was while one was drunk. Consent was plainly and purposefully established (which I liked). But I dislike the get drunk, lose inhibitions to move plot along trope. The mystery also wasn’t hard to figure out. Lastly, I listened to the audio version. I thought it was a little too fast and flat. I wouldn’t say it’s bad by any stretch of the imagination. But I don’t have a lot of praise for it either. The story however is a winner for me. I’ll be looking for the rest of the series.

Note: Though I didn’t write individual reviews for them, I read and enjoyed The Wolf at Bay and Thrown to the Wolves too. I just haven’t been sitting down at the computer to review things for the last couple weeks. And if I don’t write a review shortly after finishing the book, I forget what I might say, especially with sequels.