Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf #1) by Molly Harper

Mo has run away from her life in the lower 48 to Alaska.  That's right, Alaska of all places.  Though her parents were the ultimate hippies, their sense of relaxation did not impact their views on rearing a child.  Mo's controlling mother regularly crossed the line with things like demanding medical  information from her OBGYN and breaking into her apartment to throw out anything that wasn't strictly vegan and organic.  After a lifetime of fighting to be what she viewed as "normal," Mo finally makes her escape to Alaska in the hope of finding a hunky man, breaking her parents ironclad control over her life and deciding who she really is outside of their influence.

As luck would have it, Mo runs into the surly Cooper and though he is rude and cold, Mo finds herself attracted to him.  When he shows up one day with a bear trap on his leg, Mo takes him in and discovers Cooper's big secret - he's a werewolf.  This should be troubling enough to deal with but when tourists start to go missing and wolf tracks appear around the bodies, Mo must question whether the affable man that she has come to love has embraced his animal instincts too much.

I'll be honest, I picked up this book fully aware that it is paranormal chick lit.  If you pick up How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf with that in mind, it's not really a bad read. Harper includes some rather funny dialog about the trauma of growing up with vegan, environmental parents in a disposable disengaged culture.  Let's be honest, we all know that we should eat organic, avoid nitrates and buck the system when we can, but when you're young, all you really want is to fit in.  I found myself giggling at Mo's history, even as I agreed with her mother on the evils of Walmart.

As protagonists go, Mo is a little spunky but not to the point of irritation.  Yes, it's probably not a good idea to punch or pepper spray a werewolf but at the same time, it's hard to see this as a negative when it's done in the defense of someone she loves. However, I would have preferred Mo's instances of bravery to work out more in her favor, rather than being saved by the intervention of others. There was however the scene with the bear which made no sense to me.  Okay, you see a big grizzly and freeze, which is acceptable.  What isn't acceptable is remembering that you have pepper spray unfreezing and then still not using it.

Mo is extremely sex positive and talks about buying condoms in bulk with no sense of shame.  There is no slutshaming throughout the book, which was something of a relief to me.There were a few sex scenes but I didn't feel the need to skim because they were rather brief.

For those who like a strong paranormal world, this book will be a disappointment. Yes, the protagonist does indeed fall in love with a werewolf and we do see an explanation of pack culture but the story could existed without it.  The werewolves add a twist to a romance rather than the basis for a compelling story.  For me there was just enough paranormal involved to keep me interested.

At times, I found myself having a problem with Cooper - the werewolf love interest.  To often when there are romance stories involving male werewolves we get a lot of  abusive controlling behaviour described as love.  Mo did call him out when he tried to do things like get her boss to cut her working hours but the fact that she had to still irked me.  Cooper marked her body with a bite to scare off other males,  asked her not to shower so that his scent would linger on Mo's skin (another warning to other males), camped out on her front porch for a week, and even, I shit you not, peed on the porch. I know that we were meant to see this behaviour as romantic but to me, it reeks of a control freak stalker.

As expected this book contained no GLBT characters.  I will never understand why authors feel the need to exclude GLBT people while exalting heterosexual romance.  There was plenty of a room for a GLBT character in this story without relying on a trope like GBF.  The main characters in this book were largely white.  We were lead to believe that the werewolves themselves were essentially a group of mixed raced people (Inuit/European) but there wasn't much expansion on this point. I particularly didn't like that the werewolf gene was explained by the injection of a White Russian male's DNA.  It basically read as the indigenous people (people who have been living in Alaska for generations btw) weren't strong enough to feed themselves and accurately care from themselves until some European came along.  When we consider the damage that colonization had done to indigenous people, this was a very problematic part of the story.

As you can see, there was some good and some bad with this story.  The writing at times was laugh out loud funny and while I don't see Harper winning any awards for her writing anytime soon, I was entertained.  How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf, is an easy read to turn to on a hot beach or a cold winter day.  It's just enough to distract and entertain, without having to think to deeply about the characters or any hidden meaning.  The small murder mystery that ran through the plot wasn't terribly difficult to figure out and kept the plot moving.  If you go into How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf looking for a little light reading with some paranormal thrown in for spice, you won't be disappointed.