One Eye Open
One Eye Open, the new werewolf romance by Karen Whiddon, is a book that walked the thin line between getting a recommendation and not. It’s a flawed book, but every once in a while it would become good enough that it raised my opinion of it. And then it would remind me of what I found annoying in the first place. Ultimately, I’m a little too ambivalent about it to truly recommend it, but it’s not a bad read.
Carson Turner is a DEA agent whose wife and young daughter were killed by the gang he had infiltrated. Carson himself was shot too, and the last thing he saw that night has him convinced he knows the identity of the person who shot him: his own partner, Alex Lupe. He will stop at nothing to enact his revenge on Alex, the man he once thought of as a brother.
Brenna Lupe introduces herself to Carson one night in a biker bar where he’s looking for information. She wants to know who this stranger is who is looking for Alex. They soon learn that Alex was keeping secrets from both of them. Brenna had no idea her brother was DEA. Carson didn’t know Alex had any family. Brenna, at least, understands why Alex kept his secrets: to protect her and keep anyone from learning they are werewolves.
Carson doesn’t believe Brenna is Alex’s sister, and when someone takes a shot at him he becomes convinced she is part of the gang who is trying to stop him. He forces her to come with him, although Brenna doesn’t need much convincing. She wants to find Alex and make sure he’s safe – and to prove that he’s no killer.
The reason most readers will likely be drawn to this book is the werewolf element, so I should probably start out by mentioning that it is a bit of a disappointment. The details aren’t particularly well-developed and we don’t learn all that much about what being a werewolf is to these characters. Brenna’s sense of smell and sound are more pronounced, she can sense animals’ feelings, and she does shape shift, but there’s not much more to her werewolf side than that. Carson also learns about this so late in the book that it never really matters or stands in the way of their relationship. Here, the werewolf issue is just another facet of her character, no more profound than if she announced she belonged to a particular religion or ethnic group in the end.
That said, I did like Brenna, who’s strong, loyal and smart. The book gets off to a somewhat abrupt opening, jumping right into the action so fast it felt like the story was off and running and the reader had to hang on or get left behind. It’s a very fast-paced story, not slow in any way, and I had no trouble keeping the pages turning. There’s plenty of action to keep the plot rolling along, some nice emotional moments, and some cute ones too, especially once Brenna adopts a puppy found at a murder scene and brings it with them.
On the other hand, Carson is a somewhat uneven hero. I have a soft spot for angry characters driven by revenge, and his fury certainly comes across on the page. This leads to some choice dramatic moments between him and Brenna. He?s very alpha, and the sensual moments he and Brenna share crackle with tension and strong chemistry. There are some poignant scenes where he deals with the murders of his wife and daughter.
But he’s also so angry that he often comes across as frustratingly irrational. He’s so single-minded in his belief that Alex is a killer that he twists the facts to fit what he thinks. For instance, when someone shoots at them the first time he meets Brenna, she warns him to get down, having heard the gun being readied before the shot was fired. Carson decides that this must mean she’s involved in the shooting and is trying to kill him. But why would she warn him if that were the case? At one point Brenna refers to Carson using his own kind of logic, and she’s absolutely right. It often lacks sense, and his refusal to listen to anything that contradicts what he thinks he knows is often aggravating.
One Eye Open is a fast and easy read, but too underdeveloped to be completely satisfying. And the hero was so annoying! I was mostly entertained, but not really satisfied. It was engaging enough though, that I am interested in the probable sequel that is set up here. Hopefully that one will be just as fast and exciting, but dig a little deeper into the author’s world.