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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cynthia Eden: "Never Cry Wolf"

Author: Cynthia Eden
Title: Never Cry Wolf 
Plot Type: SMR
Ratings: V4; S4; H2
Publisher: Kensington Brava (2011)

     This erotic romance features Lucas Simone, the big, strong, and lusty werewolf pack leader of Los Angeles, and Sarah King, a feisty, beautiful charmer with lots of secrets. In this world, a charmer is a not-quite-human person who has the magical talent of being able to read the thoughts of and communicate with particular animal species. In Sarah's case, she can read the minds of wolves and werewolves, but only when the werewolves are in their animal form. As the story opens, Lucas is in jail on suspicion of murder when a beautiful, unfamiliar woman (Sarah) pretends to be his lover and provides him with the alibi he needs to get free. Sarah needs the protection of Lucas and his pack because her ex-boyfriend, Rafe Santiago (a vengeful werewolf alpha), put a bounty on her head after she attacked him (in self defense) and ran away. Neither Lucas nor Sarah fully trusts one another, with good reason, since they both harbor secrets (particularly Sarah). The plot, which is filled with treachery and multiple betrayals, follows Lucas, Sarah, and Lucas's pack through a series of battles with Rafe's were-coyote allies as they try to track down and eliminate Rafe himself. Along the way, Lucas and Sarah fall in lust, and then in love, as we knew all along that they would. Eventually, a voodoo mambo woman gets involved, as well as a vampire and her mate (who were featured in Eden's Immortal Danger). During the climactic battle that resolves the conflict, all of Sarah's secrets are finally revealed, and she must hope that Lucas will forgive her.

     Lucas isn't the smartest alpha in the world (he's always getting beat up and walking into traps), but he is passionate about his pack and protective of his woman. Sarah has the usual three S's of the stereotypical paranormal heroine: smart, sassy, and stubborn. She is also deceitful, and I felt bad for Lucas because she never tells him the truth. Instead, Lucas learns her secrets from others—always a downer. I found it hard to believe that Lucas would forgive Sarah so quickly after he finds out that most of what she has told him has been a lie. The secondary characters (Lucas's pack members) are strongly portrayed, with each having his own tragic back story that informs his actions. I was surprised, however, that Lucas's pack is so small. This is supposed to be the Los Angeles pack, so I would have thought that there would be more than a half dozen members.

     All in all, this is a typical SMR romance with a fairly strong and compelling plot, although the voodoo action in the latter part of the book is somewhat convoluted. The sensuality level is a solid 4, which is a bit lower than most erotic romances.

     This book can be read as a stand-alone, although it takes place in the same universe as Eden's NIGHT WATCH series. I recommend reading Immortal Danger before reading Never Cry Wolf so that you will understand references made in Never Cry Wolf to past events that took place in Immortal Danger.

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