Title: Lord of the Wolfyn
Author: Jessica Andersen
Genre: supernatural/paranormal fiction, romance novel-ish
Series: Royal House of Shadows #3
Pages: 281 (nook edition NetGalley ARC)
Published: expected October 2011
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden.To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance.
Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out.…
For practical Reda Weston, nothing could explain how reading a sexy version of "Little Red Riding Hood" catapulted her into another realm—face-to-fang with the legendary wolf-creature who seduced women. A wolf who transformed into a dark, virile man….
Dayn cursed the Sorcerer that turned him wolfyn and damned him to a lonely fate. As a beast, he mated with women to gain strength.
Strength he needed to rescue his royal parents. But as a man, he craved Reda's heated, sizzling touch. With little time left, Dayn had to either embrace his wolf to save his kingdom…or fight it to save his woman.
The third in the Royal House of Shadows series has thus far been my favorite by a wide margin. Steady to form, the third book centers on a third scion of the House of Elden: time time the tale is that of the Forestal/vampire/wolfyn Dayn by a new, fresh author. I hadn't read anything by this author or the previous one (Jill Monroe) and I can say I'd be interested in another book from this one, just judging by Lord of the Wolfyn. Andersen does a more-than-admirable job of selling her individual retelling of Red Riding Hood using a formulaic romance novel outline and hampered by an obviously limited length. The rebellious, headstrong son is the only male protagonist thus far in this series to really catch my interest - Dayn's brother Nicolai and brother-in-law (? I'm assuming/paraphrasing) Osborn from the first two didn't do it for me with their passive-aggressive and will-I-won't-I-kill-you attitudes, respectively - and I have Ms. Andersen to thank. Some basic elements still need fleshing out - are there realms: human, wolfyn, Elden. . but what about the Abyss? The Always? - but hopefully the fourth will include more details.
On the whole, I was way more than impressed with the style, voice and story in this third volume. I did find the time-limit to find the Blood Sorcerer a bit off, in the general scheme of the four book series - surely it could've been introduced earlier, as a more natural progression of the storyline rather than a random acceleratant? - but I appreciated the added tension to the atmosphere of the story. I liked the differing views of the realms (human, wolfyn, Elden) - knowledge of this "world" is uncovered more with each successive tale, with each author leaving an individual style and flair.
Dayn is a thrice-natured man (as he points out in his discussions with Reda, he is a man, just more so.) But even so, he's an obviously conflicted one - ashamed of his wolfyn-acquired powers, fearful of showing his vampiric nature and unsteady as just a regular human - and even more appealing for his confusion. [Just an FYI: A wolfyn is basically a werewolf shifter with distinctive red and gold markings and an unavoidable enthrallment to human women.] Compound that with the deadly allure of vampires, and Dayn is a hard man/character to top in abilities/attractiveness. With his guilt issues (he was away on a fit of pique when his parents died), inner conflict and isolation so easy to understand and empathize with, it's no wonder I found Dayn a more well-rounded person than previous male characters. He's not all anger or negative emotion 24/7; he experiences grief and darker emotions, but he doesn't kill all the lighter moments in his life. He's just so controlled a la Christian Bale (c'mon imagine all that [[focus]] right on you.. oooo) I find it sexy and I don't find many vampires sexy. I also appreciated the differences between Dayn and his brother Nicolai: not only in personality but abilities and powers.
Alfreda "Reda" is also the first female character I've really invested in so far this series. They even brought a smile to my face at their inevitable, predictable, sweet interactions. I identified with her much more than the two previous girls, even though some of her attitudes wore on my nerves (I really dislike the "it's all a dream"/hallucinations ploy of denial for characters.) Like Dayn Reda suffers from guilt and massive amounts of self-doubt over deaths of loved ones - that's a hard bond to shake and understandable for two characters trying to rebuild. She's also delightfully bitchy without overdoing it, vulnerable and searching for a one-of-a-kind book named Rutakoppchen from her childhood -- one that leads her to wolfyn realm and naturally to Dayn.
Let's talk about Reda and Dayn together. Finally! a couple I genuinely liked - both individually and even more for each other. They were genuinely good together and good for each other. Unlike Jane and Nicolai, Breena and Obsborn where the women are obviously the protected and the men the protectors, it's more a partnership of equals with Dayn and Reda. Reda even saves Dayn's bacon on numerous occasions, and though he returns the favor he never credits her with less bravery/skills than himself.
"'He'll have a good second in command,' she returned.
'So will I.' His lips turned up as glanced over at her. 'Or am I your second? I'm never sure.'
'We can trade off......'
It didn't feel like a random pairing of types (outdoorsy woodsmen Prince + fiery petite independent woman) but a real, nurtured relationship. By far the most original -- and best! -- sex scenes occur in this novel out of the entire three books. They also felt like a natural evolution of the affection between the two, rather than scenes tossed out to keep a reader interested. Similarly their predictable/eventual intense conflictdid not come across as trite or contrive but as appropriate for the events happening, to put it in the vaguest of terms. I never wasn't interested: besides the chemistry, the ups and downs of Reda and Dayn there were creatures and villains aplenty to keep the pages turning with alacrity. An evil woods witch as amusingly creepy as she is dangerous keeps the two lovebirds on their toes in the absence of the immediate presence of the Blood Sorcerer they race toward. I also loved the addition of a dragon (who doesn't like dragons? You're lying if you say you don't) Feiynd - and the accompying fight was particularly excellent.
I'll admit to feeling slightly underwhelmed by the first two that this series had to offer - obviously not so here with Lord of the Wolfyn. Each book is obviously edited/written to a specific length and it works better for some authors than others, and though I appreciate the variety of voices and styles this was the first to my taste entirely. I had read a book by Gena Showalter before Lord of the Vampires (it was titled Catch a Mate, a cute if generic chick lit) and felt the lack in her first effort. Lord of Rage also failed to engage me (Breena just wasn't a character I'd ever relate to... and Osborn though possessing certain admirable/attractive qualities just wasn't for me) and with a somewhat truncated feel to the conclusion. Not so for Lord of the Wolfyn: a male lead I genuinely like (and like like), a fulfilling and satisfying conclusion, and all within the stated 281 page limit.