July 31, 2009

Jacket Copy:

When Alexandria’s car goes off the road in a terrible blizzard, she has no idea night will bring a powerful rescuer and the start of an ecstatic sexual awakening. The moment Xandi wakes in Stefan’s muscular arms, feels the heat of his body pressing against hers, she feels no fear. Instead, she allows herself to be taken by one who is more than a man, whose primal nature is never far from him. As their connection grows, and as Xandi gradually loses her sensual inhibitions, experiencing pleasures she never dreamed possible, she is drawn deeper into Stefan’s mysterious world, meeting the alluring beauty, Keisha, as well as the dominant and sometimes ruthlessly commanding Anton, who can have any man or woman he wants…in any way he wishes…

WOLF TALES comprises 5 parts. The first 4 parts focus on the introduction of the main characters: Xandi Olanet, Stefan Aragat, Anton Cheval and Keisha Rialto. Part 5 is called THE GIFT and, as I suspect, is the closing part of this introduction of a group of characters that will play important roles in future books of the series.

The Chanku are a poly-amorous, female oriented (it’s the alpha female who leads the pack), ancient race of Wolf shifters. They were thought to be almost extinct with the few Chanku left scattered all over. Powerful wizard and Chanku Master Anton, who learns of his heritage by accident, is locating the ones left in order to bring them back together and rebuild the once powerful race. In this first installment of the series we get acquainted with Stefan, Xandi and Keisha. They are the first members Anton discovers and brings into the Pack.

I am starting this review by expressing my utter disappointment in this first book of the series of which I had high expectations and now have been forced to dial that down a bit. This book did not bring me the things I look for in the books I read, not emotionally, not in the plot and not even in the eroticism. I think what bothered me most was the way things were set up in this book. First impressions are important and the first look I got was hot, heavy and very explicit sex with an absolute stranger, without exchanging a single word within the first 10 pages of the book. This set up bothered me and made a rocky start to say the least.

Throughout the entire book I had the feeling something was missing and I am very frustrated because I can’t exactly put into words what it was. But I will give it a try. As I have mentioned often in other reviews I like my erotic romances to be more than just a string of erotic scenes held together by a meager or non-existent plot and I was very afraid it was going to be just that with WOLF TALES after the first few chapters. But about 20-30 pages into it started to get better and a story began to unfold in between the sex scenes. And just when I thought all wasn’t lost after all there was the scene that was the absolute deal breaker for me. Stefan being forced into sexual submission, practically raped by Anton was what went beyond my comfort zone and I can honestly say I can take a lot when it comes to erotica but rape is not one of those things.

The fact that I kept on reading and finished this book after that scene was solely because I hate not finishing books and because this was a book I chose for my reading challenge. If this hadn’t been the case this would have been a DNF for sure because at page 10 I was ready to give up and at page 60 I was completely done with it. This was not a book for me.
I kept putting the book aside, only able to read small portions at a time. This rarely happens to me when I read. I missed characterization, background, connection and emotional development. It was all over snowed under by eroticism to an extent that is not what I look for in erotica. But I kept on reading and despite my misgivings it got a bit better after Anton’s explanation of the Chanku culture and Stefan and Xandi’s roles in it. At least this offered me some background and motivations for some to the events that were taking place. Preferably I would have liked this explanation earlier and a bit more elaborate though.

For the first time ever I actually skimmed through some of the sex scenes. I did not skip them but did not read them as intensely as I normally do either. Why? They just didn’t do it for me and there were just too many of them. As I have stated before in reviews I prefer quality over quantity when it comes to sex scenes and these felt too forced and too detached to me. This is not the type of erotic romance that I crave. It was too sexually aggressive and I couldn’t emotionally connect with the characters. Sincerity obliges me to admit that I missed intensity that is able to captivate me.

Another thing that bothered me was the easy acceptance by the characters of the events, the mental connections and sexual acts. I understand that it might work that way in a pack of wolves with the alpha male/alpha female stuff but a little reluctance or hesitation or doubt would have made it a better and more acceptable book for me. I was definitely not in sync with the kindred-spirit stuff because I just didn’t “feel” it all. It was all mentioned but it didn’t resonate with me. From the first this book and I started off on the wrong foot and with the lack of background and foundation for the characters and events in the beginning it just never got back on track completely.

I enjoy ménages, I enjoy M/F/M stories and even F/F doesn’t really bother me but still the poly-amorous ways of the Chanku kept bothering me. Why? Maybe because of the disconnection and detachment I felt from the beginning. Things happen and are accepted so fast that for me they lost their credibility. Everything was too easily accepted and kept too much on the surface making it unable for me to feel emotionally connected to the characters or the writing.

The things that bothered me kept getting in the way of letting me enjoy the rest of the story, which definitely had potential. The world of the Chanku is fascinating and I think with a bit more emotion and character development it can be a background for great stories. I will definitely give the following installments a try since I have heard that it gets better along the series and I have read a novella (in an anthology) of the series which I really liked, so I am not giving up on Kate Douglas’s WOLF TALES series and will consider this a small bump in the road to more satisfying reads.

She should have been terrified. Should have felt some sense of fear, well aware she was essentially acting as an agent in her own abduction. Instead she was pure anticipation and untempered lust. Her body ached with the need for him.

“Open your eyes, Stefan. Look at me the way you want me to see you. Please? Open your eyes.”
Slowly his breathing eased, and he settled himself between her legs, then he looked at her. There was a wild gleam in his amber eyes, a look that told her he was close, so close, to the edge of whatever kept him human, whatever remnant of his soul controlled the beast.


Heather Long said...

Sorry to hear that Pearl. But I think you just summed up why I'm always worried about writing erotica or reading it. I've read some great stuff with great stories, but it's just not my thing.

Kate Douglas said...

Hi Pearl--I'm sorry you were disappointed in the series, though I hope you won't give up on it. That first book was comprised of the first five chapters of an online serial, which might explain some of the disconnect. It was not originally intended to be a book, or a serial that has continued now for so long. (I'm currently contracted for more stories through 2011) The next story, Chanku Rising in Sexy Beast, ties up the loose ends from the first book--that was not my choice, but it's how my publisher decided to release the original stories. It's not until Wolf Tales II that I was able to begin writing it as a novel, albeit a tightly connected series, and the stories and characters have gained depth in succeeding books.

If you're at all interested in reading more, please contact me and I'll see about getting some copies to you. I don't have all of them, but would love to see what you think of the series as it has developed. I certainly appreciate your point of view--my writing isn't for everyone! I thank you for taking the time to give such a well thought out opinion.

Pearl said...

Hi Kate,

First of all thank you so much for your reaction to my review. And thank you for the explanation of how the first book came to be.

Thank you for respecting my opinion. I really appreciate that because I know there are many authors who don't react well to reviews like this one was. I tried to convey what the book did with me and am glad it came across.

I was going to mention in my review that I was so sorry that I had this reaction to one of your books because you are one of the nicest people I have met online and now I am sorry that I didn't mention that because this just proves it!

Thank you very much for your offer! I will contact you via email about it.


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On My TBR Shelf

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  • Kink - Saskia Walker/Sasha White
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  • The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
  • Vampire in Atlantis - Alyssa Day
  • Vampire Dragon - Annette Blair
  • Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor
  • Chosen by Blood - Virna DePaul
  • Rebel - Zoe Archer
  • Stranger - Zoe Archer
  • A Taste of Desire - Beverley Kendall
  • Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson
  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • To Tame a Dangerous Lord - Nicole Jordan

Digital TBR Next

  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
  • Shifting Gears - Jayne Rylon
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  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Jazz Baby - Lorelie Brown
  • Playboy Prankster - Pamela Britton
  • Just Like That - Erin Nicholas
  • Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
  • Breathe - Donna Alward
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  • Scent of Persuason - Nikki Duncan

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