Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wolf Trouble (SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team #2) by Paige Tyler

Xander and Dixon are called in for a meeting.  It seems that the city has decided that an all male SWAT team leaves them open to charges of sexual discrimination and they have decided that it's time to change that.  Xander and Dixon are initially resistant to this change but the city gives them no choice in this matter.  When several candidates are offered up for selection Dixon is adamant that no one the city has centered out will do and decides that he needs to be given the chance to find his own female candidate.  Xander is worried about how they are going to hide the fact that the SWAT team is made up of alpha male werewolves but Dixon has a plan.  It seems that he has found a female werewolf who just might fit the ticket.

The notion of a female werewolf is a surprise to everyone having only ever encountered men before. For her part, Khaki ( yes I agree this is one messed up name) Blake, is ready for a change when Dixon shows up to offer her a job on Dallas SWAT.  She's been blackballed on her own department thanks to her ex and this leaves her without backup in critical situations.  Khaki is also excited to finally be with people who are just like her, even if she doesn't know what that makes her exactly.  The move to Dallas ends up being more than a chance at a dream job, it's a chance to find out who she is and meet her potential mate. For Dixon it means an end to the pressure because just one woman on the team qualifies them to meet criteria for inclusivity.

Despite her horrendous name, I really liked Khaki as a female lead.  Knowing that she is entering an area of policing that she has no experience in, Khaki is determined to earn the pack's respect.  Sure, some of it comes naturally to her but she's not afraid to put herself on the line when necessary or ask questions of her teammates except Xander to clarify procedure.  It's nice to see a character who actually acknowledges when she doesn't know something.  Khaki is all too aware that her ignorance could endanger the rest of the team. Finally, on Mac's (Dixon's fiance) advise, she finally seeks out Xander to figure out how to get her werewolf mojo going.  With her super strong nose, and now werewolf mojo, Khaki quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Wolf Trouble reads like the standard paranormal romance that it is.  Tyler uses pheromones to explain away the insta love that Khaki (yes, I hate it even more each time I type it) and Xander feel for each other.  Xander, unlike Khaki, is not a new werewolf and the moment he realised he was captivated by her scent, it should have hit him right away that Khaki was THE ONE.  The fact that he wonders around in a daze unable to figure out what is going on is ridiculous. I don't understand Xander's confusion about his feelings, given how often he went on about how over powering Khaki's scent is.

Speaking of scent, Daniels repeatedly wrote about Khaki's and Xander's scents.  Look, I get the whole pheromone thing but did we really have hear about the smell of Khaki's vagina?
Even that slight movement caused the most blatantly sexual scent to waft up from her aroused pussy. She might have had jeans on, but her sensitive nose picked up the uniquely feminine scent with no problem at all. (pg 117)
Thank you but no.  I didn't really need to read that, especially given that Xander and Khaki are not big on showering after sex unless there's a chance that they will run into another werewolf who might happen to notice that they smell of each other.  It's a massive case of Anita Fug. I was further irked that Khaki believed that she had to have multiple showers daily before sleeping with Xander for fear that the other werewolves would smell her vagina and lose control.  Just no. The idea of a vagina as this smelly pungent place that women should be ashamed of irked the hell out of me. It's sexist and wrong.

Things are going well for Khaki but she cannot shake the shadows of her past.  Her ex boyfriend Jeremy Engler, is not content to let Khaki sail off into a new life, particularly when she dropped him on his back in front of the entire squad leaving him embarrassed.  A woman that small shouldn't have been able to physically overpower him. Jeremy is determined that Khaki will pay for leaving him and for turning those he thought were his friends against him.  The better Khaki's life seems to be going the worse things get for Jeremy. Even before being blackballed, Khaki had broken up with Jeremy and I very much like that she was able to see the signs of abuse and leave. Khaki didn't just follow along with the rest of the squad with its worship of Jeremy.

Jeremy as an antagonist wasn't really all that interesting.  Tyler has made all of her characters members of a SWAT team which should mean that they have a modicum of intelligence and yet, somehow they couldn't figure out when Xander was shot by a sniper rifle that Jeremy was behind it. I suppose it's a good thing that the SWAT team aren't actually detectives because no cases would actually get solved. I did however like that in the end, Khaki ended up with the upper hand and actively chose not to kill her abuser.

Wolf Trouble is a pretty standard paranormal romance series with each book fixating on a new couple coming together.  I am very much disappointed that Tyler didn't bother to include any LGBT characters in her story.  Erasure in this way suggests that only straight people are entitled to romantic love and happiness.  Considering that the entire series is set in Dallas, Texas, it's beyond ridiculous that there are no LGBT characters.

In terms of characters of colour, Tyler included Mike Taylor and Jayden Brooks but they are less than side characters in Wolf Trouble and have few speaking lines.  I suppose that Tyler will get around to giving Mike and Jayden their own books but that doesn't mean that they should just be sidelined in the story until then. At best, they amount to enough inclusion for the author to barely escape charges of exclusion but never rise beyond that.  This is the second book that these two characters have just been shifted to the side to feature the white characters in this series.

I will openly admit that I am not necessarily a fan of paranormal romance, particularly when a story cannot stand on its own if the romance element is removed.  Wolf Trouble is about as cookie cutter as it gets.  The sex scenes are ridiculously tepid and all the talk of scents emanating from junk just turned my stomach.  As far as I am concerned, Wolf Trouble is a book to borrowed from a local library at best.  It's the kind of book to turn to if the cable is out and the electricity is shut off to kill time. There's nothing new or compelling about it and the characters as a whole are anything but compelling.