Review of Salad On The Side (Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat #1) by Karenna Colcraft

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars

Kyle Slidell’s company offered him a promotion.  Taking it cost him his boyfriend but offered him a fresh start in a new town with a lot more money. Once Kyle gets situated in his new apartment, his life consists of work, home to sleep and more work, making his life very dull and his days repetitive until he looks out his window into the apartment complex communal garden and spies his gorgeous neighbor naked under the full moon.  He has seen Tobias around the building but has never worked up the courage to speak to him or hardly any of his neighbors really.

Tobias Rogan has watched the new tenant with more than usual interest.  Tobias is drawn to Kyle, and because of the attraction he feels along with his past history, he has intentionally stayed away from him. But on a full moon, standing in the garden, Tobias knows that Kyle is watching him,  wants him  and he decides to act on his emotions. Tobias “accidentally” runs into Kyle in the hallway and invites Kyle over the next day under the cover of meeting all the neighbors in the building.  The pot luck will accomplish several things, first to introduce Kyle around while indicating to those at the party that Kyle is under his protection, and the other is to simply get to know Kyle better.

Kyle finds the party awkward, his new neighbors a little on the strange side, and the actions of one new acquaintance hostile until Tobias intervenes in a manner even stranger.  Kyle realizes that there are secrets being kept from him and he  doesn’t like it.  But after being attacked by a wolf in the garden, Kyle wakes up a werewolf and finds out that he managed to move into a werewolf apartment complex and Tobias is the pack alpha.  What is a vegan to do?

Karenna Colcroft had me at vegan werewolf.  I thought that was an hysterical premise and an original one at that.  This story really shines when Colcroft is letting her imagination run quirky little circles around the typical shifter tale. Colcroft’s description of the pack trying to find vegan foodstuffs for Kyle to eat after he shifts for the first time is great.  Flashes of that offbeat take on werewolves throughout the story had me waiting in anticipation as I turned page after page.  Unfortunately, sometimes it appeared and other times it was submerged under too many words, too many repetitive passages and characterizations that felt a little incomplete.

The story is told from Kyle’s POV and while I appreciated his snarky, intelligent nerdlike outlook, I also found parts of his personality hard to believe in.   This includes his reaction to the fact that Tobias and his pack have just ruined his life, which would have been more believable if it had contained more anger and less passive acceptance, especially coming from a man who hours earlier had told Tobias he wasn’t going to have a relationship with someone who was closeted and obviously hiding something from him.  That man, pre werewolf Kyle, I believed in and understood.  I cannot really say the same about werewolf Kyle.  Tobias, pack Alpha, was another problematic persona. Tobias shifted from one type of character to another so fast that I thought he might have some schizophrenic tendencies.  In one scene, he is the mind controlling Alpha, in the next he is tender lover.  Yes, you can have both  in the same character if you make a good case for the changes in attitude, but the author never really did that with Tobias’ character.  To give the author credit, some of that did smooth out towards the end of the book, but it took far to long for Tobias to get there.  In this particular case, it would have benefitted the story to have told part of it from Tobias’ POV to give the reader  greater insight into the character.

Apart from some issues with characterization, I found the wordiness a little excessive, especially towards the middle of the story.  I appreciate that Colcroft is setting the stage for future stories but the constant dialog about pack politics, rules, etc bogged down the narrative.  Other authors have  woven such details into their stories without hitting you over the head with them, and I wish this author had found a way to do that here.  I hope that now which such backstory out of the way, the next book in the series will move forward at a more sprightly pace.  I would like to see more consistency in the characters as well, so their actions match our expectations given what the author has told us about them.  My last quibble? More of the wonderful humor Karenna Colcroft is capable of.  It’s here, from the great premise to scenes found throughout the story.  It is the reason I will come back for more and read the second and third installments of Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series.  The good here far outweighs my quibbles and make this book worth your while.

Great cover by Winterheart Designs.

Other books in the series available in eBook from MLR Press, Fictionwise, All Romance:

Salad On The Side (Real Werewolves Eat Meat #1)

Tofurkey and Yam (MLR Holiday Release)

Veggie Burgers To Go (Real Werewolves Eat Meat #3)