HQN, $6.50, ISBN 0-373-77047-2
Fantasy Romance, 2005
Susan Krinard is one of the first authors to popularize werewolves in romance novels but if To Tame a Wolf is any indication, I fear she may be falling behind when it comes to remaining ahead of the pack when it comes to paranormal romances. This particular story has a mechanical and lacklustre quality. It’s readable but far from memorable.
Simeon Kavanaugh and Tally Bernard have secrets that they hide from each other. Both meet when he offers his services as a tracker in the Arizona wilderness in her quest to locate her missing brother André as well as her missing foreman Elijah. André never returned to the ranch after leaving to purchase some cattle and when Elijah went off to look for André, he never returned as well. Tally now ventures to Tombstone with the ever-present Handy Male Buddy fellow Fredrico to ask about her brother. She learns that her brother isn’t just missing, he’d apparently gambled off her life savings before going MIA. Sim shows up just as Tally and Rico are wondering what to do next.
They eventually locate an injured André and the story then moves to the Bernard ranch where Sim bides his time until he can collect a treasure map which he believes is in André’s possession. Sim is a werewolf as well. However, Tally has a few secrets of her own. However, someone from Sim’s past will show up looking for the map and threaten our main characters.
To Tame a Wolf is full of cliché from paranormal and Western subgenres. Sim is the tortured hero from the wrong side of the tracks with a sad past (his mother was a prostitute and he grow up without a father in a whorehouse) finding some nobility inside him as he protects the heroine from the villain, the heroine is a familiar vulnerable heroine trying to be strong as she indulges her irresponsible younger brother (a heroine needs a reason to play the martyr, you know), the villain is an over-the-top cartoon character, there is the usual “See your heart, follow your soul!” secondary sage character playing matchmaker and all, the younger brother, the protective ranch hand… this story is like an encyclopedia of predictable clichés.
As a result, while the story and the characters are fine, they are very predictable and therefore forgettable. This story seems to operate on autopilot. Everything falls into place as expected and the characters say and do things as predicted. To Tame a Wolf may not be a bad werewolf romance to readers new to such stories or readers hoping for some kind of comfort read, but perhaps it’s time for Ms Krinard to rejuvenate her werewolves by perhaps creating new rules or new mythology for them instead of merely continuing a series that is in danger of becoming stale and repetitious. One has to stay ahead of the pack after all.