Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wolf's Ascension (Cherchez Wolf Pack #1) by Lauren Dane

Kari’s normal life falls apart when she is attacked by a wolf and then kidnapped by her doctor

It’s not what she normally expects from even the worst hospitals

Kari has been bitten by a werewolf and has been taken because she is now the Cherchez Pack new queen… which is a steep learning curve to say the least. This difficult change of circumstances would be hard to handle anyway – but only made worse because one member of the pack is not eager to accept their new queen and keeps trying to kill her.

In some ways, I should have known better than to grab this book from Netgalley. It was described as a paranormal romance and if I had googled it I would have seen that it had previously been released with a very Mantitteh cover which would have also told me to step back.

So why did I request this book without a second thought? Lauren Dane also wrote the Rowan Summerwaite series. And when a new book is released in that series I would happily murder people to get my hands on it. People I don’t hate even, any vague acquaintance of mine would totally be fair game.

So I picked up this book which is definitely a romance and not exactly to my taste; it has frequent sex scenes (which, I admit, I kind of skimmed past because I’m not that interested). It also started extremely problematically and couldn’t come close to addressing that (because I don’t see how they could!)

Our protagonist, Kari was a normal human with a normal life who was attacked by a werewolf. Since she was going to change, the Cherchez werewolf pack decided to kidnap her and take her to their isolated cabin until she changes.

Ok, dubious but I can see that – you can’t let a new werewolf run amok chomping on friendly nurses while she recovers in a normal hospital. But now let’s make it much much worse

See, said werewolf was following her because the werewolves were watching her because they have decided she is destined to be the mate of Andreas, the Alpha werewolf. But their watch-wolf jumped the gun and bit her ahead of time – then the kidnapping happened

Which is pretty much how they introduce themselves. So, yes, sorry about the whole kidnapping thing, they never intended to do that. They just intended to stalk her for an indefinite period of time until she totally agreed to be a broodmare for the werewolf clan.

That’s better, right? (In case the sarcasm isn’t being made clear – no, no it is not better).

But this is the whole tone of the Cherchez clan – yes the kidnapping was totally wrong but it’s because it all went wrong but the stalking-with-intent-to-breed-many-kiddies was totally ok. In fact, Andreas is even upset and HURT that she doesn’t instantly embrace him as her true love and why she isn’t all friendly and happy to be with him. I am rarely stunned by a book, but the fact any character is supposed to be believable with this attitude is beyond me.

Yet despite all of this terribleness, they do end up as a couple (pretty damn quickly thanks to woo-woo and smell) and we have lots and lots of sex without anyone really talking about the terrible foundation of this relationship or that Andreas never has any real assurance that Kari is sleeping with him because she wanted to or because she is a kidnapping victim.

The little pesky issue of kidnapping duly dealt with, they can then focus on the second plotline – Kari becoming queen and some secret adversary trying to bring her down. This plot line isn’t terrible at all (though somewhat slow moving while still covering a vast amount of time and, despite being regularly interrupted with lots and lots of sex. Seriously, this book would be half as long without the many many many sex scenes) with a nice mystery and lots of Kari learning her place as queen. But in addition to pacing issues it suffers just a little from… simplicity. There are several moments whether it’s Kari settling into queendom or introducing werewolves to other people that just goes so very very easily… there’s minimal conflict. People accept the impossible awfully quickly. And that whole Kari learning to be queen? Well, it’s less learning and more “effortlessly assumes the role and is perfect at it for REASONS”

And that dubious simplicity definitely applies to Kari and her accepting of werewolves/kidnapping/broodmaredom and is especially glaring because the one bright spark of this book is Kari herself. Kari Does Not Take Shit from Alpha Werewolves. In fact, Kari does not take shit from anyone. Kari attempts to escape. Kari gives people the business, the rough side of her tongue and a killer glare whenever needed. Kari quickly establishes herself as Queen and makes it MEAN something – far more than being said broodmare. Kari is an excellent leader –and she isn’t an excellent leader because she has super powers or because she is the most deadly, (sadly her method of becoming leader is to shag the guy who is hereditary ruler) but because she has the will and personality to make it happen and be Andreas’s equal. Which makes her acceptance of kidnapped/werewolf/broodmare all the more glaring – Kari is not a woman who just accepts things, even with woo-woo neck smelling. She can’t be this determined and accept being kidnapped after, what, 2 days? Seriously she goes from “How dare you kidnap me!!!!!” to “My husband let’s plan a wedding!” within a week. It utterly destroys her character

Annoyingly this book continues the endless trope of female werewolves-are-rare with only 9 members of the pack being female. While most of them are friendly and allied with Kari, we have a couple of heinous, jealous women who want Andreas and just hate Kari with an unreasonable and ridiculous degree. They have absolutely zero redeemable features and hate this trope. It’s not that women shouldn’t dislike each other, but it helps if they’re not a caricature of evil while doing it.

Also, I don’t get the outrage over Andreus having slept with every woman in the pack before meeting Kari. Before meeting Kari. Who gets huffy over who your partner slept with before they even knew you existed? What kind of weird broken jealousy is that?

There are some POC in the book, but they’re very much background. Same with a gay man and bisexual man who are equally minor characters – and only revealed as LGBT in the closing chapter

What we do have are two apparently straight guys (which we’re repeatedly assured they are) having sex because they’re hanging around a pregnant Kari and her werewolf hormones are making them super horny. But they’re straight, honest, it’s just a last resort. For extra fetishistic creepiness Kari watches them (literally hides and watches them while panting and sweating over them, not even thinking of giving them space or privacy). This becomes a minor obsession with her, asking Andreas if he’s been with men, if she can watch etc etc. Oh and telling Andreas about his guards getting it on. Good thing they weren’t gay because Kari’s quite willing to out them to everyone while happily drooling over them. Inclusionwise it’s not good

In the end, Kari’s actions as leader made this book a lot better than I expected and helped prevent it being completely dragged down by the horrendous problems in the book. Which says a lot about how much I really liked her and how she contributed to the story – because the problems really dragged it down.

Oh and for the love of all that is holy STOP USING A LANGUAGE YOU DO NOT SPEAK