Once a Wolf
Once a Wolf, by Susan Krinard, follows the relationship of a hero and heroine who are both werewolves. Lady Rowena Forster fled England to avoid marrying the man her brother had chosen for her, a werewolf named Cole MacLean. But she changes her mind when she becomes re-acquainted with Cole in New York and learns that he has rejected his werewolf nature as completely as she has rejected hers. Rowena longs for a normal human life and strives to be a model of propriety, dignity, and restraint. In search of this normal life, she submits to the controlling Cole’s offer of marriage.
Shortly before the wedding, Rowena is kidnapped by Tomas Alejandro Randall, and outlaw and the sworn enemy of the Macleans with whom the Randalls have a centuries-old feud. Randall is himself a werewolf and the bond between him and Rowena begins to form almost immediately as he encourages her to give in to her sensual werewolf side.
This was my first werewolf romance and I enjoyed the way Krinard developed werewolf behavior and identity. The plot is engaging and Krinard did a wonderful job of bringing New Mexico and the Old West to life. She also employs some innovative narrative devices to relate some of the extensive backstory. Unfortunately, the book could have used the hand of a strong editor. Krinard’s prose isn’t so much purple as it is melodramatic. There were too many internal monologues and they often interrupted what were otherwise exciting action sequences. Everything in this book is intense and that can get tiring.
I had mixed feelings about Tomas and Rowena. Krinard did an excellent job of developing their chemistry and the sexual tension was effectively handled. But I can’t say I really liked either of them. Tomas the Singing Outlaw was a bit silly and his dialogue was so overblown that he often sounded somewhere between a parody of a latin lover and a new age guru. Another flaw in the story was the character of Esperanza, a psychic mute (yes, a psychic mute) that Tomas and Rowena rescue from ignorant villagers. Though I enjoyed watching the character’s growth, her presence often felt unnecessary (and a little creepy at the outset of a love scene) and her role in the plot’s climax felt like a clumsy and unsatisfying deus ex machina.
That said, Krinard also brought us Weylin MacClean, Cole’s younger, nobler brother. I adored Weylin: his steadiness, his morality, his willingness to change. I have hope that Krinard will make him the focus of her next werewolf story.
While Once a Wolf is flawed, it’s still an enjoyable read (especially if you’re willing to skim a bit). And, if you’re looking for a werwewolf story with some bite, this might be a great place to start.