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Monday, April 25, 2011

Howl by Lacey-Anne Frye

Howl by Lacey-Anne Frye
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (150 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox

All Brent wanted was a week alone with his boyfriend Henry. Of course, he just had to choose a vacation spot occupied by a werewolf… and of course, he just had to make the stupid decision to venture outside on their first night there.

When he wakes up the next morning, he wants to believe it was all a dream—but when he starts to change, Brent knows that his life with Henry will never be the same.

It’s a story with which we’re all familiar, the romantic getaway to the secluded, isolated spot that goes horribly wrong. Happily, though, there are no screaming teenage girls in high heels falling on their faces in this story, just Brent and Henry as they struggle to piece together what’s happened to them and how to get out of it.

The relationship is already established by the beginning of the story, though there are hints at issues roiling under the surface. Brent and Henry are a sweet couple, committed to each other, but there’s tension between them regarding work vs. love and lingering issues of control and spontaneity. Ms. Frye does a good job establishing these undercurrents while not over-explaining and in establishing a sense of dread as the couple reaches their destination. The story works best, and in many scenes this is quite well, in those moments where Henry and Brent are in the midst of new discoveries about each other.

The writing does not always flow smoothly, however. Too many unnecessary qualifiers (almost, fairly, seemed, slightly) detract from a sentence’s impact far too often. The other item that did not quite work for this reader was the solution. Ms. Frye has an interesting premise here, in the way the werewolf transformation occurs, that I found refreshing. But in fantasy/paranormal world building, one of the cardinal rules is that once you establish the laws of your world, you stay within them. The established rules are broken by the end of the story, and even Henry thinks to himself that the resolution was anticlimactic, which was telling.

Even so, Howl is a sweet story, with two heroes who are sympathetic and likeable. It’s a quick, fun read for the paranormal fan with an interesting twist to an old tale that kept me turning pages. Do keep the lights on while reading, and don’t go out in the dark to investigate that strange sound.

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