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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

****½ Touch a Dark Wolf by Jennifer St.Giles. Contemporary paranormal romance.

Wow. I picked this one up cold, having no expectations whatsoever. Okay, that's not true. There's a half-nekkid man on the cover and a wolf in the background--that along with the title made me think "werewolf romance"--just a wild guess.

In fact, that's one of my few quibbles with this story--it's a bit of false advertising. Yes, the hero does shapeshift, but that's not the main point of the story. Or rather, it's not your typical werewolf story, which is what I was expecting.

Instead, it's more comparable to Angela Knight's Mageverse. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Erin Morgan is confused, frightened, and on the run after discovering that the doctor she worked for, who she thought was working on an innovative cancer cure, is actually a murderer. Then her car is hit by a creature that's subsequently attacked and driven off by a wolf. She crashes, passes out, and when she wakes up, there's a naked man on the hood of her car.

Jared is the Shadowman who, in wolf form, protected her from the Tsara that attacked her. Unfortunately, in defending her, he was bit himself, and the poison from the Tsara's bite will spread until he becomes Tsara himself, dependent on the blood of humans, especially a particular kind of human--the Elan, like Erin.

Erin's torn between two goals: help Jared, who's injured and apparently feverish, and expose Dr. Cinatas. Jared's goal is to protect Erin, not only from the Tsara, but from himself and what he's becoming. Unfortunately, touching Erin is the only thing that eases his pain, even while his desire for her blood grows stronger.

Which brings me to my second quibble, and only major one: I got confused. Which is no doubt evident in my attempt to summarize. To be fair, I probably shouldn't have read this when I did--I was exhausted. The night after I finished it, I slept 11 hours straight. So a re-read would probably make it much clearer. Still, I loved it anyway, so that's saying something.

This is an exciting, action-packed story in an intriguing contemporary fantasy world, but what really makes it stand out for me are the characters. Erin's character rang very true to me--she was neither too good to be true nor too stupid to live; neither was she too credulous or too doubting. She was determined, but she was also scared. The force keeping them apart--Jared's fears that he was a danger to her--was likewise believable. While in his POV, I could feel his conflict and desperation.

There were several secondary characters I'd like to see more of; not to mention that I'd like to spend more time in this world. I hope this is just the first of a long series. In the meantime, I'll be looking for Jennifer St. Giles's backlist.


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Great review, Darla! Much better than mine! ;P

LOL! I liked yours better. For some reason, it always sounds better when somebody else writes it. :)
LOLOL! You're sure right on that one! ;)

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