Ellora’s Cave, $17.99, ISBN 978-1-419956-36-2
Fantasy Erotica, 2007 (Reissue)
Cry Wolf is actually the dead tree compilation of two stories that were released and are still sold separately at Ellora’s Cave, Wolfsbane and Bain’s Wolf. This one has a much nicer cover than the covers of those two individual stories, although it is also a bit misleading because I don’t remember any of the two heroes dressing up in leather and going to a The Matrix fan convention.
Wolfsbane is set in… well, I’m not sure what year it is, but there are carriages and castles so it’s some time in the past, heh. We have our heroine, Scarlet, seizing a chance to better herself and avoid being forced to prostitute herself by an unpleasant pimp by accepting a job offer from the mysterious Lady Katrina. She is to take care of Lady Katrina’s sick relative, but one look at the chained (and still pretty hot) Master Fredrick in the remote German castle has Emma realizing that something is really, really dreadfully wrong.
I remember this one far more for its skanky sex scenes than anything else, to be honest. Scarlet is a heroine who can quip and take care of herself pretty well, but her relationship with poor captive Fredrick is overshadowed by the nasty antics of the bad guys. Not that this is a bad thing, really, as I find that there is an enjoyable over the top campy quality to the proceedings, the same way I enjoyed some of Jackie Collins‘s sleazy soap operas back in the late 1980s.
One thing, though: I feel that the author has done the story a grave disservice by starting the story with a skanky chapter one that reveals what a major skanky witch Lady Katrina is. I think the story will be better if we have left the reader guessing along with Scarlet as she slowly peels away at the many secrets of Castle Innsbruck.
Bain’s Wolf takes place centuries after Wolfsbane. How typical, the skanky female villain from the previous story gets her permanent desserts while her male counterpart gets to live on to have his own romance story, hmph.
It’s present day in this one. We have our Erica Bain making an unauthorized change of flight to accommodate her passenger’s wishes, only to encounter an unexpected fire that causes her to be temporarily stranded in the Yukon wilderness with Lothar, our big bad guy from the previous story. Your enjoyment of this story will depend on how you can accept Lothar’s redemption. He was really, really nasty in the previous story, bordering on being a cartoon villain, so it can be a pretty tough sell.
I like Erica, although her reaction is unbelievably sanguine given the fact that she is stranded in the wilderness and she may not even have a job when she is rescued due to her unauthorized antics that caused the situation she is in at that moment. Still, she is pretty smart and funny.
Lothar is a bit of a hard sell for me. On one hand, I appreciate the fact that he is pretty much over all that angst. He does have plenty of self-loathing and guilt, but he doesn’t keep moaning and whining non-stop about his heinous past. This makes sense in a way, given that he has hundreds of years to whine until his face turned blue in the past. I’d be really worried if he still hasn’t stopped whining after all that time has passed. On the other hand, Lothar being a romance hero is like having the demon villain in a bad hentai cartoon showing up as the hero in a Love Hina special. I have a hard time taking Lothar seriously. Come to think of it, I like him better when he’s being skanky and evil with Lady Katrina – now that’s one couple I don’t mind reading about, heh.
The best parts of Bain’s Wolf are when Ms Gray have her characters plunged into the heat of action. Action scenes are definitely Ms Gray’s forte if you ask me.
Both stories are pretty enjoyable in their own very separate ways. Wolfsbane is definitely guilty pleasure material as it is high on skank often at the expense of everything else, while Bain’s Wolf would have been an otherwise enjoyable romance if Lothar has been portrayed as a more realistic villain in the previous story. I suspect that you will probably enjoy Bain’s Wolf better if you have not read Wolf’s Bane, so if you do happen to own these stories and haven’t read them yet, I’d suggest that you read the former first.