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Thursday, September 16, 2010


Author:  Lydia Dare (pseudonym for co-authors Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson)
Plot Type:  HIS, SMR
Ratings:  V-2-3; S-4; H-3
Publisher and Titles:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
     A Certain Wolfish Charm (4/2010)
     Tall, Dark, and Wolfish (5/2010)
     The Wolf Next Door (6/2010)
     The Taming of the Wolf (11/2010)
     It Happened One Bite (3/2011)
     In the Heat of the Bite (7/2011)
     Never Been Bit (9/2011)
     The Wolf Who Loved Me (4/2012)
     Wolfishly Yours (11/2012)

       This post was revised and updated on 12/6/12 to include a review of the ninth book in this series: Wolfishly Yours. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and summaries and/or reviews of the first eight books:

          BOOK 9: Wolfishly Yours          
     The ninth book tells the love story of the youngest of the roguish Hadley brothers, Grayson (“Gray”), who falls for Liviana (“Livi”) Mayeux, an American woman whose lycan  (werewolf) father has sent her to London so that her estranged human grandfather can find her a suitably wealthy and prestigious husband.  Livi is furious with her father and determined to get on the next ship back to New Orleans—that is, until she meets Gray. Gray is just as rowdy and licentious as he’s been in all of the previous books—spending his nights gambling, whoring, and getting foxed. (If I never see that word in print again, I’ll be very happy because the characters use the word seemingly hundreds of times to refer to the state of being extremely drunk.)

     The story follows the progression of the romance from lustful attraction to passionate kisses until Graylike all of the other "heroes" in this seriesruins Livi's reputation. At that point, both Dash and Livi's grandmother order Gray to marry Livi. He's ecstatic about that, but she is hurt when she is led to believe that Gray is marrying her under orders, and not for love. Of course the two do love one another, but neither one shares emotions with the other, and the slapstick results of their romantic stumblings make up most of the plot. Livi's ruffian lycan brothers arrive near the end of the story to liven things up, and a sad-sack villain makes an appearance near the end just to serve as a minor plot interruption.

     Once again, the heroine is controlled, one way or another, by the men in her life. Livi's father sends her off alone to a foreign country on a husband hunt. Dash seduces her, pulls back from her, romances her some more, and threatens to break her heart. Her grandfather treats her like a piece of trash, and her brothers bully her around. The previous heroines (especially the witches) were able to deal with the male bullying better because they had the coven behind them, but Livi is all alone, and I really felt kind of sorry for her. Even though she has a scrappy, feisty attitude, the odds are continually stacked against her.

     If you don't mind the top-heavy male dominance of the series, you'll probably like this book because it's very similar in tone and content to all of the previous books in the series.

     Simmering on the back burner in this book and the last one is the passionately antagonistic relationship between Archer, Viscount Radbourne (the eldest of Dash's half-brothers), and Lady Sophia Cole, a woman of noble birth who lost her fortune in the previous book and is reduced to working as a social tutor whose job it is to civilize Archer and Graydefinitely a losing battle. In Wolfishly Yours, a new romantic interest emerges for Sophia in the person of Etienne, one of Livi's brothers, so we'll see how that works out.

    In this world (Regency England), three lycan (werewolf) brothers of noble birth have spent their youth drinking and carousing in the brothels of London, all the while drowning in angst over their love-hate relationship with their inner wolves. All of the heroes are womanizers, and all of the heroines are virgins. In the early books, one of the brothers (and in later books, their friends), meets his one and only and each couple starts down an extremely rocky road to their inevitable HEA. In the later books, we have the SMR stories of a coven of Scottish witches who have ties to the original brothers.

      The supernaturals in this series are all hiding their supernatural existence from the human population. Generally, the hero forces his heroine into marriage by "ruining" her, so a rather unsettling machismo attitude runs through the entire series, with the women being very much under the social control of the alpha men, while the women are almost always completely naive about sex (but they learn very quickly). This "ruining," by the way, sometimes takes place before the hero 'fesses up to his mate about his lycan status. And they wonder why their women have trust issues! The women, of course, fight back in subtle, underhanded, and humorously devious ways. Plots focus on the ups and downs of the lead couple's romantic relationship, with a few small roadblocks to temporarily interrupt the romantic flow (e.g., a rival suitor).

Here is a book-by-book list of the couples who achieve their happy endings  in this series:

   Ø  A Certain Wolfish Charm (Lycan  Simon Westfield [Duke of Blackmoor] & Lily Rutledge
   Ø  Tall, Dark, and Wolfish (Lycan  Lord Benjamin Westfield & healer witch Elspeth Campbell)
   Ø  The Wolf Next Door (Lycan  Lord William Westfield & Prisca Hawthorne)
   Ø  The Taming of the Wolf (Lycan  Dashiel Thorpe [Earl of Brimsworth] & seer witch Caitrin Macleod)
   Ø  It Happened One Bite (Vampyre James Maitland [Lord Kettering] & battleborn witch Blaire Lindsay)
   Ø  In the Heat of the Bite (Vampyre  Matthew Halkett [Earl of Blodswell] & weather witch Rhiannon Sinclair)
   Ø  Never Been Bit (Vampyre  Alec MacQuarrie & plant witch Sorcha Ferguson) 
   Ø  The Wolf Who Loved Me (Lycan  Weston Hadley [Dash's half-brother] & Lady Madeline Hayburn)
   Ø  Wolfishly Yours (Lycan Grayson Hadley [Dash's youngest half-brother] & American Laviana Mayeux, daughter of a Lycan)

          BOOKS 1 - 4          
    The first four books in the series are subtitled REGENCY WOLVES. In Tall, Dark, and Wolfish, Simon, Duke of Blackmoor and pack leader for his brothers, falls for his sister-in-law, Lily. In The Wolf Next Door, brother Ben finds his true love, Elspeth (a witch), in Scotland. In The Wolf Next Door, brother Will finally gets together with his childhood sweetheart, Prisca. In The Taming of the Wolf, a rogue werewolf (Dashiel, aka Dash, who was the villain in book 3) gets tamed by his witchy sweetheart, Caitrin. In books 5 and 6, Vampyre heroes are added to the mix.

          BOOK 5: It Happened One Bite          
     Books 5, 6, and 7 are subtitled GENTLEMAN VAMPYRES. This is the first book in which vampyres enter the scene. As the story opens, feisty Blaire Lindsay and her brothers (Aiden and Brannock) set off to take a look at an abandoned Scottish castle that Aiden has inherited. At end of the previous book, one of the witches had a vision that Blaire's life would be in danger on this trip, but Blaire doesn't learn of that prediction until about halfway through this book. As Blaire is exploring the castle, she unlocks a room to find a man—a handsome, sexy man—imprisoned there. That man is James Maitland, Lord Kettering, a vampyre who was locked away ten years ago by the mothers of the current witches in Blaire's coven. Fiona, the seer witch in the mothers' coven, knew the prophecy that the next generation would wed non-humans, and she wanted to change the future to prevent that from happening. 

     The story follows the very rocky development of James and Blaire's romance, along with a few other plot threads, the most important of which concerns a pair of villainous vampyres who have a murderous grudge against James. This was the least satisfying book of the series so far, mainly due to the extremely annoying heroine. Blaire is all mouth and no common sense. Most of the time, she jumps into situations before thinking things through, but then at other times her refusal to act extends way past the point of reason. Although the falling-in-love part of the story was predictable, the ease at which Blaire submits to James doesn't match up with her scrappy, petulant personality. Near the end of this book, Alec MacQuarrie, a human friend of the coven, meets with a tragedy that will change his life forever.

          BOOK 6: In the Heat of the Bite          
      This book tells the love story of the vampyre Matthew, Lord Blodswell, and the Scottish weather witch, Rhiannon Sinclair. Even more than in the previous books, the plot focuses on the romance. Rhi and Matthew meet while she is in the midst of creating a storm that reflects her dark and angry mood. Rhi is in London to see her sister (Ginny), who has been whisked out of Edinburgh by their social-climbing, non-witchy aunt, who is jealous of Rhi's powers, and that aunt is trying to prevent Rhi from seeing Ginny. Rhi is staying in London with Caitrin and Dash (the romantic couple from book 4). Matthew is a 650-year-old vampyre who has always avoided romantic relationships. Currently, he is preoccupied by his responsibility for training Alec MacQuarrie, whom Matthew reluctantly Turned in the previous book when Alec would otherwise have died. Alec is still in love with Caitrin and not at all happy about being a vampyre, and Matthew has his hands full trying to keep Alec out of trouble. 

     Rhi and Matthew have one misunderstanding after another, but it is soon clear that they are meant for one another. Complicating matters slightly are Dash's wild and crazy lycan brothers and Matthew's jealous sire, Callista, who doesn't want to give up Matthew to anyone else. This plot is so fluffy that it could float away in a high wind. One characterization problem: Rhi is initially portrayed as a total innocent (yes, another virgin), but within a day or two of their meeting she is flinging herself sexually at Matthew at every opportunity—unbelievable and kind of off-putting. This is a theme that repeats itself in every book: smart females who melt into little puddles and completely lose their heads the minute they feel a twinge of lust. I would enjoy the series more if the heroines managed to keep control of their brains and their emotions.  

          BOOK 7: Never Been Bit          
     In this book, Sorcha Ferguson and Alec McQuarrie finally achieve their destiny as a romantic couple. It's about time something good happens to Alec. As the story begins, Sorcha is visiting a friend in the countryside when she discovers that Alec is also a guest. Sorcha is determined to get herself a lycan mate, just like several of her fellow coven members. Alec hates the lycans, so he decides to put himself between Sorcha and the shifters. Caitrin has been predicting this liaison through the past few books, so any regular reader of the series knows exactly what happens next. Sorcha and Alec fall hard for each other, and the plot revolves totally around the few difficulties they must overcome in order to get to their HEA

     Alec has spent the last two books in deep depression, drinking heavily and socializing with louts and prostitutes. He lost Cait, his one true love, to the lycan Dash; his best friend, Ben, also turned out to be a lycan; and then he was Turned into a vampyre. Could life get any worse? Yes, it can, because Alec believes that he can never love anyone—not ever—because he doesn't have a beating heart. When he begins to have feelings for Sorcha, he tries to fight the attraction as he endlessly bemoans his sad fate—a real pity party. Sorcha, meantime, soon realizes that she loves Alec, but believes that he will never love her because of his feelings for Cait. So...the story goes round and round, and the loving couple has lots of internal monologues about their seemingly doomed love. Not to worry, though, because love affairs in this coven have a tendency to work out quite well—eventually.

          BOOK 8: The Wolf Who Loved Me          
    After three vampyre books, the series revisits its werewolf roots in this, the first in a trio about Dashiel Thorpe's three incorrigible half-brothers, who have been portrayed as hopelessly intractable philanderers in previous books. Weston is the brother who was scarred on the cheek by a vampire in an earlier book, and that scar has come to symbolize his status as a social outsider. The fortuneless and disfigured Weston has always been in love with the rich and pampered Lady Madeline Hayburn, whose father's estate, Castle Hythe, is just down the road from Dash and Caitlin's home.

     As the story opens, Madeline's father has decided that it's time to marry her off, so he has invited a crowd of eligible bachelors to Castle Hythe for a week-long party. As each of the drunken playboys makes a pass at Madeline she cringes, and Weston burns with jealous rage. On the night of the full moon, Weston stays too long at the gaming table and finds himself forced to change into his wolf form in the stables of Castle Hythe, hoping that can make a run for the woods before being seen. Unfortunately, Madeline has followed him, and she sees him turn into a wolf. In desperation, Weston (in his wolf form) forces Madeline into the woods, where he decides that the only way to keep her from revealing his true nature is to carry her off to Gretna Green and marry her. in previous books in this series, a man traps his bride by "ruining" her in the eyes of society. The rest of the book follows the couple on their mad cross-country dash to Gretna as they meet up with a nemesis from Weston's past and are pursued by her father.

     Both Weston and Madeline wallow in angst-filled interior monologues as each one feels love/lust for the other but is unable to voice those thoughts in an intelligible manner. Madeline comes across as spoiled and thoughtless, while Weston is full of self pity for his lack of wealth, his damaged face, and his lack of social status. The theme of the story comes right out of a Jane Austen novel: Madeline really loves Weston but can't get past his shortcomings, and Weston really loves Madeline but believes that he just isn't good enough for her. Outside of the romantic conflict, thenly other interruption to their love affair is the presence of Lord Dovenby, the aforementioned nemesis. Dovenby is a disreputable, womanizing werewolf with whom Weston has had a rivalry since their school days.  

     This is a return to the most simplistic plots of the series, with little conflict and not much action. Once again, the virginal bride leaps into sex with a passion, and once again most of the males are arrogant reprobates. In this book as in past books, men who behave very badly become eventual heroes. Here, Archer (the hero of the next book) behaves most reprehensibly towards Sophie, his soon-to-be sweetheart. As usual, Caitlin continues to predict future love matches through her witchy powers. If you have enjoyed the previous books in the series, you'll probably like this one. It could be read as a stand-alone

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