Author: Kari Gregg
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 3 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Drugged, bound, and left as bait on the cusp of the lunar cycle, Wyatt Redding is faced with a terrifying set of no-win scenarios. Best case: he survives the coming days as a werewolf pack’s plaything and returns to the city as a second-class citizen with the mark—and protection—of the pack. Worst case: the wolves sate their lusts with Wyatt’s body, then send him home without their protection, condemning him to live out the rest of his short life as a slave to the worst of humanity’s scorn and abuse.
Review: Wyatt was dumped by his brother in wolf territory. Escape is not an option. The rape starts not long after Wyatt is found by the wolves. What does surprise him is that it’s not as awful as he expected. As far as rapists go, they seem to take pains to insure Wyatt isn’t unduly hurt and even enjoys the process in some ways. Wyatt’s real problems come from another human the wolves have. Between his brother’s actions and this human the wolves have, it quickly becomes apparent humans are terrible to each other. The wolves, on the other hand, seem to like Wyatt quite a bit. The alpha wolf in particular seems to like Wyatt. Wyatt’s best hope for a life at the end of the lunar cycle is to walk out of the forest with a token of protection from the alpha in his ear. Unfortunately for Wyatt, he had no idea at all what that really meant and he never imagined how much he’d ever want to stay in the forest.
This was a rape fetish story. It was more than that, but rape is what this story is about. This was like a scraped raw version of a story where some young virgin is either kidnapped or sold by evil family members to pay debts and they’re ruthlessly introduced to their own sexuality, then they fall madly in love with their captor/husband and live happily ever after. Actually, that’s pretty much exactly what happened to Wyatt. He was left for the wolves and they raped him until he loved them. Personally, I wasn’t emotionally invested in the character enough to really by affected by the rape scenes.
For me the title was evocative of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in which a young virgin was given by her family to a man she didn’t want, she was ruthlessly introduced to her romantic side, then she fell madly in love with her husband and they lived happily ever after. In return she gets a ring signifying her husband’s protection and ownership and all the fruits of her efforts become property of her husband. Well, Wyatt gets an earring showing the pack’s ownership and protection and all his salary will become payable to the pack. So yeah, arranged marriages are bad, but it sure was a lot funnier when Shakespeare wrote it. Unfortunately, I really felt the financial situations as described in the book made no sense. If the wolves were super powerful and able to command the salaries of their bitches, why did they hide in the city? As they seem to take any man in the age range they like, how is it possible someone powerful in the human world was not taken, yet the ridiculous financial rules stood? If a powerful politician had their adult child taken by wolves would that child’s salary really go to the wolves? Really? That was where the interesting commentary took a hard fall. As intriguing as the premise was it didn’t stand up to scrutiny.
In addition to the marriage comparisons, there was a lot of talk about the inherent badness of humans and how the wolves are more evolved than the humans. Much like Swift’s Houyhnhnms and Yahoos. Although the wolves kidnapped and raped people. It was a kinder, gentler rape, but they were still rapists. They took parents from children and tormented a whole society. As portrayed in the story the humans were pretty bad. There was a selfishness and greed that overtook all their rational actions. Whereas I have no problems accepting man’s inhumanity to man, I don’t get that it’s the rapists and kidnappers who are inhuman but are the humane ones in this scenario. It just gets weirder for me if I try to merge the two dominant themes in the story. Husbands are superior beings? Yeah. No.
Overall I’d say this story was almost good. There seemed to be a definite attempt to make it rape fetish with meaning. I don’t feel that was accomplished. The meaning broke down. More than anything the impression I was left with is the stories of kidnapped virgins where the hero or heroine is raped until they love their rapist are even creepier than I felt they were before.