Desert Isle Keeper
Oooohh, I love a good monster story! Vampires, werewolves, the supernatural, the undead; I just eat them up. If you’re like me, and you’re always up for some romance served spooky style, Bitten, Kelley Armstrong’s first book, is one of the best on the menu this year.
Elena Michaels is a werewolf, the only female werewolf on the planet. She wasn’t born that way; she was bitten and made a werewolf when she was an adult. A little over a year ago she deliberately separated herself from her pack in order to establish herself in the human world and to try and have as close to a “normal” lifestyle as possible. She has a job as a journalist, a very nice boyfriend, and what looks to be a stable future. She may not be very comfortable living in the city and fighting her werewolf urges, but she’s finally getting what she wants.
Then Jeremy, her alpha, calls and summons her back to the pack compound. It seems that there’s trouble in the area, things happening that could expose the pack for what it is, and Jeremy needs some of Elena’s expertise. But going is trouble for Elena who will have to confront her werewolf family again, including sexy, arrogant, overbearing Clayton, who brings up their history whenever she returns, attempting once again to turn the past into the present.
The first thing that I love about this book is that it’s written in my favorite paranormal format: 1st person point of view with a female protagonist. Dead until Dark was written this way, as was Companions of the Night, and all the Anita Blake books. I think it’s particularly effective in a “spooky” book because you have no idea what the monsters around the heroine are really thinking. In this case, the heroine is also a werewolf, but she is far less comfortable with her identity and all of its violent characteristics than the males around her.
Armstrong also kept the tension (sexual and other) elevated by revealing Elena’s back-story only in dribs and drabs. I guessed a great deal of it, but I was still on my toes through out the book. It was interesting to learn about her upbringing and see how it meshed with her conversion to werewolf. Elena is not entirely self-aware, but she does have some internal knowledge of how she operates. How she juxtaposes who is she and what she wants to be results in a number of amusing observations.
Clayton is also very appealing. Gorgeous, powerful, and sexy, he’s completely loyal to Jeremy and the pack and completely gone on Elena. They have a long, volatile history. What I especially liked about him, though, was that he was so accepting of his own nature. In many paranormal romances the monster hero hates his own nature and becomes Uber-Tortured. Not so, Clayton. He is who he is and he’s absolutely unrepentant about it. He also has an impulse control problem to make things even more interesting.
The only minor niggle I have about this book is that occasionally my interest faded during the action scenes. But this didn’t happen all that often given that the book is not an “action” book. Still, a number of things do happen in a relatively short period of time. Most of it I found quite engrossing, but once in a while I felt myself skim just a bit during the fight scenes. And a warning to gentler readers: this book is not for those who can’t tolerate some gore.
I read Bitten just in time for Halloween, and it was perfect timing. But I’d take it any time of the year. It has just the right combination of interesting characters, action, romance, and paranormal activity. If you’re hungering for the next Anita Blake book or the upcoming Sookie Stackhouse adventure, I’d suggest picking up a copy of this book. It’ll tide you over.