Rating: 4 stars out of 5
On the run from his old-blood werewolf family, Tim Dirus finds himself in Wolf’s Paw, one of the last surviving refuges from the days when werewolves were hunted by humans and one of the last places Tim wants to be. Kept away from other wolves by his uncle, Tim knows almost nothing about his own kind except that alpha werewolves only want to control and dominate a scrawny wolf like him.
Tim isn’t in Wolf’s Paw an hour before he draws the attention of Sheriff Nathaniel Neri, the alphaest alpha in a town full of alphas. Powerful, intimidating, and the most beautiful wolf Tim has ever seen, Nathaniel makes Tim feel safe for reasons Tim doesn’t understand. For five years he’s lived on the run, in fear of his family and other wolves. Everything about Wolf’s Paw is contrary to what he thought he knew, and he is terrified. Fearing his mate will run, Sheriff Nathaniel must calm his little wolf and show him he’s more than a match for this big, bad alpha.
I have read most of the books in R Cooper’s Beings In Love series and have loved them all, Little Wolf included. I admit to laughing out loud, emitting more than a few snorts over the dialog and sighing over the very hot sex scenes with Nate and Tim. But I also recognize that this book also presented more challenges to the reader than I was expecting. Those issues impeded my connections to the story and to the characters, so let’s get to those first before we get to the story’s strengths.
What were those challenges? The main issue was the amount of time it took for me to become engaged with the characters and the town of Wolf’s Paw. Tim is our narrator and we drop into the story as Tim, our “Little Wolf” is watching the mounted tv at the cafe he works at. The tv is tuned to the soap opera, Dierdre’s Secret and it includes the first ever “known” werewolf actor. The opening paragraphs is jammed full of information about the soap opera, the cafe and its denizens, the town, and the world around it. We learn that supernatural beings are now a part of the “normal” world, and the cafe Tim works at is owned by a fairy named Robin’s Egg (for the longest time I thought that was the name of the cafe instead of the owner).
We find out that the town itself, Wolf’s Paw is full of supernatural beings of all types, but mostly populated by weres and humans. In fact so much world building is thrown at us that its hard to separate out the details we need at the time from the massive amounts of “universe building”being given to us and clump them back into piles of information that make sense to the plot and character. It took chapters to figure out that Wolf’s Paw, the town, has historically been a sanctuary for those in need. It has fed them, hidden them, and protected them at great cost to itself, a situation that continues to this day. But it is also, oddly enough, a town that puts on strange festivals, geared towards dating, and interspecies sex. Yep, a sanctuary that sanctions sexual relations between weres, humans, and the like during festival time. Think Tinder or Grinder as a festival, and you’ve got the picture. That’s just one of the puzzles the reader will have to make sense of when the book opens.
The thing is, Tim’s thoughts jumps around from person to person, from thought to thought that its hard at first to get a idea of his character and situation at Wolf’s Paw. His character, inner self, is elusive. To us and to the rest of the towns folk. And that fact makes it hard for us to connect with him at the beginning. I had to plug away at chapter after chapter before Tim solidified into someone I not only cared about but truly loved.
It should never have taken so long.
I understand why R Cooper fashioned Tim and presented him this way but, frankly, it hurts the narrative. Tim is in fight or flight mode…all the time. He’s unbelievably stressed out, he’s being hunted, he’s hiding, and against his better judgement, he’s coming to care for those around him…not that he would ever admit it to himself or others. Plus just the appearance of the town’s sexy Alpha Sheriff makes Tim’s sense go haywire and brings out emotions he doesn’t understand or know how to deal with.
It’s Nate that allows the reader to connect with Tim and begin to understand why he behaves as he does. Tim is rude, cavalier about peoples opinions (on the outside) and more than a bit of a jerk. But around Nate, that starts to change even while we still hear the snarky thoughts inside Tim’s head. Nate the were who appears perfect on the outside and yet is hurting deeply inside while still trying to behave with honor and respect. I adored Nate from the beginning, and through his interactions with Tim the story starts to jell.
From that moment on, most of the chaff of the plot falls away, and we are left with the grains, the story we wanted all along. As our understanding of Tim’s background and true personality fall into place, the dialog snaps with intelligence, verve and vitality. It’s funny, and poignant and, heartrending at times. And before we are even aware that it’s happened, our thoughts and hearts are fully committed to Tim, Nate, and the rest of the complicated people in this oh so unusual town.
This is a long story, 380 pages worth of complicated people and history. Most of which I loved. Parts of which frustrated me more than a little. For a smart, intelligent, and yes, naive young were, Tim makes you want to shake him most of the time. I think the author has his ignorance go on far too long. R Cooper has the other characters strewing clues about a certain situation all over the dang story surface, and yet, this brilliant young wolf doesn’t pick up on it? That got harder and harder to buy into as the plot wore on.
Yet for all these issues, most of the time I still wanted to give this perplexing story a 5 star review! Why? Those same characters and situations that made me want to gnash my teeth are the same characters that had me reading until early in the morning. I had to see the personal explosions I knew were going to happen, the clash of hunted vs hunter…to see evolve what Tim had been telling us all along…that the Little Wolf has teeth, claws and the predator abilities of a piranha, or werewolf as the case is here. What scenes those were! A white knuckle ride several times over, full of drama and action that had you holding your breath in suspense…it made that dense beginning so worthwhile to have plowed through.
R Cooper writes in the foreword that this story took her 2 years to write, and it shows, for good and for bad. With a firmer editor, tighter reorganization, and a little ruthless pruning, Little Wolf would be the 5 star read it has the promise of being. As it is, I give it 4 stars and the recommendation that, even if you want to stop reading several chapters in, keep at it. Both Tim, and the story are deserving of your attention and time. Have patience and you will be rewarded with a story and couple that will have you howling for more of them and this special town of Wolf’s Paw.
Cover art by Paul Richmond is perfect, at least for the little wolf. He has a feral quality that works.
Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press – All Romance (ARe) – Amazon Buy It Here
ebook, 380 pages, also in DSP Paperback
Published May 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
seriesBeings in Love #4
Books in the Beings in Love Series: