Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-847-X
Fantasy Romance, 2008
Unless I am mistaken, Lauren Dane’s Wolf Unbound is a continuation of her Cascadia Wolves series that was published by Ellora’s Cave. I have not read those previous books so this is my introduction to the randy werewolf law enforcement body called – what else? – the Enforcers of Cascadia Pack. This story is set in an alternate world where humans and werewolves live together and the Enforcers are the guys in charge of keeping the werewolves well-behaved.
But it was time to live again.
“I had three dreams in the last month and one a year ago. Lucas was in all of them. The first ones were sort of hazy, but I got the feeling he was telling me something. The one I had two weeks ago was clear. We were in the kitchen of our old house and he was peeling potatoes. He turned to me and he told me to move on. He said that I was wasting my life and my heart and that he would be ashamed if his death was the reason I never found love again.” She stopped, hands trembling a bit as she took a sip of water.
“Anyway, he said it was coming. A bunch of big stuff and that I had to be ready for all of it. Told me to live my life again and that love was out there and a piece of him would always be there but it was time to let him go. And so I have. Or I’m trying. I’ll always love him. He was my mate. But I went out two nights ago. And I liked it. I’ve had dinner with our old friend Ryan and his boyfriend. It feels like what I’m supposed to do.”
That’s Tegan Warden. When she decides to try to move on with her life by heading over to the local BDSM club run by her vampire buddies to get some play, that’s when I scratch my head and decide that these werewolf folks sure know how to live it up big time. She’s a regular at Club de Sade, but the guy holding the flogger is new. His name is Ben Stoner – hey, don’t laugh – and by the end of the session, he’s asking her out. While he may be human, he’s also very good with the flogger, so she’s inclined to say yes. Life seems to be looking up at last for dear Tegan.
Ben is also a cop and he happens to be working with the Enforcers that also happen to be Tegan’s brothers. The Enforcers and the FBI are currently working to thwart the plans of the big bad hairy Warren Palleni and his hairy Mafia. I don’t want to explain what these plans are because to be honest, a part of me is still not getting the whole big picture of what is going on here.
As I’ve said, I’m new to the series. Therefore, I am not really sure what is going on when Tegan feels this immediate “metaphysical” bonding thing with Ben. The background of the characters here can be quite scanty, as if the author is relying on my familiarity with her previous books to fill in the gaps. The death of Tegan’s mate Lucas, for example, is often brought up and described in a rather off-hand manner for an event that drastically affected Tegan that I wonder whether this event was more fully depicted in a previous book. The good guys here are on to Warren Palleni from start, so I also wonder whether these people have clashed before in a previous book. On the whole, the story here can stand alone decently – in the sense that I am not completely lost – but I am also at the same time missing some details here and there that would have really helped me understand the big picture more and made me appreciate the story better as a result. As it is, I like Wolf Unbound, but it’s like a having delicious meal that is at the same time missing some key ingredients that would have made it taste even better.
At the risk of coming off like a most superficial type of person, I must say that the best thing about this story is the love scenes. Usually, flogging and other BDSM-type antics are not my cup of tea but here I find such scenes written just the way I like them – playful, sensual, and descriptive. On the other hand, I find that the main characters fall in love way too fast, with Ms Dane using the usual overplayed shortcuts like metaphysical/mental connection mumbo-jumbo to get her characters to jump from hot sex to true love. I find these two characters’ sexual chemistry more believable than their supposed true love.
I also like the camaraderie between the characters which feels real and spontaneous. I’m still not entirely sure of their roles and places in the overall world of the Cascadia wolves, but, barring a jarringly gratuitous scene involving a ménage à trois from a previous book, I like how Ms Dane manages to integrate the secondary characters into the story very well to bring out the best from Tegan and Ben. Also, I feel that the author has handled the balance between plot and erotic scenes pretty well here.
On the whole, I like what I find in Wolf Unbound, but at the same time, I feel that the author also relies too much on my familiarity with the previous books in the author’s series to plug in the gaps when it comes to details here and there in the story. As a result, as much as I like this story, I find myself feeling rather… well, only half-full, if I am to use the meal analogy here. Maybe I should look up the previous books in the series after all. If you are new to the series but want to give this book a try, well, do go ahead as it’s a sexy and pretty enjoyable read, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.