Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-968-7
Fantasy Romance, 2010
In Vivian Arend’s Wolf Games, when Erik Kostanov catches the woman who is his Omega’s sister when she falls into a faint, his body goes ding-ding-ding and he realizes that at last, he has found his mate. Of course, Maggie Raynor is gorgeous instead of having a face that is indiscernible from her rear end, because in romance novels, the whole mate-mate-mate lottery happens only to beautiful people. Oh, and I nearly forgot: we are talking about werewolves here. But I bet you know that already, don’t you?
We are back in Vancouver, the setting for Ms Arend’s Granite Lake pack werewolf romps, and this time, we have Maggie who has spent her whole life avoiding her kind. Alas, the first time she encounters Erik, the Beta of her sister’s pack, her body turns into a randy locomotive of passion. She tells Erik that she isn’t ready for a mate, but don’t worry, she can’t fight fate, especially not when she and Erik are chosen by the tribe to represent the tribe in that year’s Wolf Games.
Depending on how you look at things, heh, you may be pleased or disappointed to know that we are talking about a serious Wolf Games tournament – which means that it contains actual sporting activities instead of kinky sex games. I personally think that the Wolf Games backdrop saves the story from being yet another formulaic mate-mate-mate yarn. It is an unusual but fun backdrop for a story of this kind, and even better, it allows the main characters to interact and learn how well they work, laugh, and love together. Therefore, when the author talks about love in the end, I can believe that even with the whole biological component of the mate thing in place in this story. It also helps that Maggie is not too whiny and Erik is actually an easy-going nice guy instead of a pushy alpha male stereotype.
Therefore, while there isn’t anything here that will take any veteran reader of werewolf romances by surprise, there is enough spin on an overused formula here to make the story worth a look.