From the BLURB:
Miniwa, Wisconsin is under siege, but not by the usual summer tourists. The area's normally shy wolf population has begun stalking human prey, and their victims have been disappearing...or worse. Something is happening in the woods. Something brutal and primitive...
Officer Jessie McQuade has seen plenty in her years on the force-but nothing as intriguing as the gorgeous, naked man she encounters while tracking a rogue wolf. Professor Will Cadotte is a Native American activist. He's also the only man capable of distracting Jessie from her work. And for a cop, distraction-no matter how pleasurable-can be deadly. It's against Jessie's better judgment to accept Will's help in her investigation, yet she soon finds herself doing exactly that-and more. Will's dark, penetrating eyes see into a part of Jessie's soul she never knew existed. It's exhilarating...and terrifying.
Now, as a town's deepest secrets come to light, no one is safe: not friends, lovers, or strangers. And as Jessie follows a bloody trail to the shocking truth, she'll have to decide who she can trust when the moon is full...
This is the first book in Lori Handeland’s ‘Night Creatures’ series, which currently stands at eight books.
At first I really enjoyed this book. Will Cadotte and Jessie McQuade have a very auspicious first meeting that sizzles on the page. Jessie is in pursuit of a wolf that bit a human woman; while trekking through the woods she comes across a small cabin and its supposed owner, a very naked Will Cadotte.
“You’re chasing a wolf, alone, through the woods in the middle of the night, Officer…?”
Suddenly he was right in front of me. Had I been so entranced with my fantasies that I hadn’t noticed him slip in close? Obviously.
A slim, dark finger reached out; the white moon of a nail brushed the nameplate perched on my left breast.
“’McQuade,’” he read, then lifted his eyes to mine.
I liked Will straight away. He’s part Ojibwe, the local Native-American tribe and he teaches indigenous studies at the University. From the get-go Will is flirtatious and shows a keen interest in Jessie – who doesn’t believe an Adonis like him would be interested in a too curvaceous officer like her. From their first meeting onwards there is a definite parry going on between the two; Will, in hot pursuit, and Jessie disbelieving in his advances.
Unfortunately the romance didn’t hold my interest, because halfway through the book Handeland strains the burgeoning lust between Will and Jessie.
Jessie has a very strong narrative and from page one I had an idea of who she was – a very independent woman, self-deprecating and believing herself to be unworthy of love. Handeland did such a good job of communicating Jessie’s whole persona that when she started lowering her defences and falling for Will, it all happened a little too soon and fiercely for believability.
Further adding to the strained romance was Handeland casting Will a dubious light. As more people are attacked by wolves in Jessie’s town and she uncovers a plot to turn the whole town into werewolves, Handeland has the reader (and Jessie) suspecting that Will is behind the attacks. So convincing is the evidence piling up against her new lover, it’s hard to believe Jessie would still be falling for him while he was under suspicion.
Handeland has written a very intriguing werewolf lore that is very different than any other I’ve ever read. Handeland’s werewolves are experiments gone wrong during WWII under the maniacal hand of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Jessie discovers that Mengele had another surgery outside of Auschwitz, located in the Black Forest where he did experiments on gypsies to turn them into human/animal hybrids. In Hitler’s last days Mengele became nervous and abandoned his surgery, letting the experiments roam free – and that is how werewolves were born in Handeland’s universe.
I was very intrigued by this werewolf mythology; I appreciated its grain of believability and the fact that it’s grounded in recent history. Unfortunately Handeland concentrates so much on the Jessie/Will romance that she doesn’t give enough props to this storyline of the werewolves’ origin and ends up skimming over it. I actually would have preferred a book that used the werewolf back-story as the crux of the plot; perhaps a series that was more heavy-handed with Urban Fantasy rather than romance?
I started out really liking this book. However, I felt that Handeland was pushing the romance a little too hard, and she would have done better to concentrate on the very unique werewolf mythology she created.