In Graywolf's Hands
In Graywolf’s Hands is a book I wanted to like. Featuring a strong and independent hero and a strong and independent heroine who remains strong throughout the book and doesn’t fall apart or start yearning for babies and baking cookies when the hero walks by, it also has a compelling premise and a likable supporting cast. The book falls short, however, thanks to some disappointing plot choices and a love story that moves at lightning speed, even for a short category romance.
FBI Special Agent Lydia Wakefield is tough, determined, and loves her job. Dr. Lukas Greyhawk is the same way. Neither of them are looking for a relationship, nor do they feel their life is empty without one. But that all changes when the two meet as a terrorist leading a faction of racists is shot by Lydia during his organization’s act of blowing up a museam dedicated to Native Americans. Lukas winds up as the terrorist’s doctor.
Lukas, a Native American, is concerned about his patient’s care, but Lydia’s priority is getting info on the bad guys’ escaped partners in crime and Lukas is getting in her way. Naturally sparks fly. Ultimately, Lydia and Lukas realize they must both give a little in order to get what they both want and in the end, the two work together when the terrorists’ partners invade the hospital, settting the stage for a deadly hostage situation. They band together to save the lives of innocents and their growing relationship.
I loved the chemistry between these two. They are both strong willed people, neither willing to give an inch because they both believe they are right. Their byplay was sparkling and full of snap; their sexual tension was palpable. What I didn’t like, though, was how quickly their relationship progressed. The two had barely gotten to know one another and have a conversation that didn’t involve the case before they had sex, and unprotected sex at that, and given that the hero is a doctor and the heroine an intelligent woman, this was a problem. (If you’ve read some of my reviews, you’ll know a pet peeve for me is unprotected sex and/or sex earlier in the relationship than seems reasonable to me.) Following the sexual interlude, the author plunged right back into the plot, and except for another bout of lovemaking, neither Lukas nor Lydia spoke much of relationships, romance, or love. On the last page of the book, before the two had even managed a real date, the reader is expected to accept a marital HEA. This reader couldn’t handle it and the book sailed across the room and into the wall.
I find it hard to believe that two such strong, independent people would get married (not to mention falling in love) to someone they’d only known a few days, especially given there was pages and pages of narrative devoted to how much they loved their careers and there was no room for romance to fit in their busy lives. Up until that point, these were characters who gave careful thought and consideration to everything they’d done. They weren’t the type to act rashly and quickly. Wouldn’t they date first, get to know one another (which they had no chance to with terrorists running around) and then marry? If they had at least declared their love and vowed to work on a relationship that’s one thing, but since he proposed before they declared that love, it just seemed like the writer ran out of space and had a page to wrap it all up in a pretty bow.
There were a few other things that bugged me. The hero is Native American and grew up on a reservation, but there are a couple of spots in the book where he seems utterly (and unbelievably) lacking in any knowledge of pop culture. Yes, he grew up on a reservation, but not a monastery. I assume they have televisions and books and newspapers. Furthermore, he is a doctor and he went to medical school and has lived in the city and off the reservations for years at the time we meet the character. One must assume he did see a movie or read a newspaper in all that time.
Second, the heroine makes a few stereotypical thoughts and comments about the hero’s Native American heritage that for me seemed ignorant (and frankly racist) for a woman of her intelligence and experience. Even more bothersome was that the hero didn’t call her on it or seem disturbed by it, which in my mind, only allows such views to be reinforced. Odd since the villians were racists, but it seemed okay for the “good” characters to hold views that were suspect.
Third, a subplot is introduced in the last few chapters of the book involving a relative of the hero. I think the writer thought she was heighening the drama, but she actually wasted much needed space that could’ve been devoted to the hero and heroine’s relationship. That subplot came out of left field and didn’t make the story anymore compelling or interesting.
And lastly, something very traumatic (I don’t want to spoil it here) happens to the hero in the last chapter of the book. But in order to get to the happy ending, the hero seems hardly bothered by it and the entire incident is hardly even mentioned. But to me, it seems the hero would find that event hard to live down. It would’ve been better to have not had it happen at all rather than ignore the repercussions of it.
In retrospect, I think the author tried to do too much in this book. The love story, the terrorist plot, and a couple of sub plots was just too much for 250 pages. The terrorist plot should’ve been downplayed and the subplots excised altogether. But because it was all so overstuffed, nothing got the attention it deserved and the reader was cheated out of what could’ve been a dynamite romance between two compelling characters.