Desert Isle Keeper
If you demand a book that neatly ends with everyone living happily ever don’t waste your time by reading any more of this review. If, however, you’re in the mood to take a walk on the darker side of fiction please read on because do I ever have a great book for you!
The Passion starts out in current times when werewolf Nicholas Devoncroix discovers that three of his close friends have been brutally slain. Shattered by grief, fueled by rage and an inborn prejudice against humankind, his first instinct is to track down and destroy the human (whose scent is all over the crime scene) responsible for the slaughter. This declaration forces his father, Alexander, to share with him a tightly held secret from their past that begins with this enticing exchange:
“It may surprise you,” he said, “that this is a love story.” And he smiled softly to himself. “Then again, in the greater scheme of things, it seems to me that all matters both werewolf and human eventually come down to that .. . .”
Ahhh, how could I not read on?
The story then shifts back in time to Paris 1897, and we are introduced to Tessa LeGuerre as she is planning to kill Alexander Devoncroix. Tessa, a smart and crafty young woman, has been planning to do away with the scoundrel for ten years and has finally insinuated her way into his household by posing as a servant. Her murderous plans are nearly forgotten when she spies his mesmerizing beauty up close, but she quickly regains her composure and makes a valiant attempt at killing him. She is foiled, however, by his extraordinary healing powers and is now in some major trouble!
Alexander is amused by his attempted murderess and decides to keep her around in order to question her. When he digs deep enough he gets at the source of her loathing for him and the two forge a powerful emotional bond that nearly brought me to tears. Talk about being hooked immediately; this all happens within the first 60 pages!
Alexander makes Tessa his ward and becomes her protector. She is admitted ( begrudgingly, by many of his pack) into the secret world of the werewolf at a very dangerous time. The Delacroix pack leader has recently passed away and leadership has fallen to the new Queen, Elise Delacroix, who must maintain her position of strength by quickly choosing a strong mate before power hungry wolves succeed in overthrowing her. Alexander’s brother Denis, who is leader of a rogue pack of werewolves notorious for their hatred of humans, initially intends to win this struggle for dominance by mating with the Queen, but things get messy when he meets Tessa.
There is so much wit within the early pages of The Passion that I could have easily filled this review with quotes. There’s also more charm, humor and sensuality here than can be found in most traditional romances. A simple well described “look” in the right places brought countless smiles to my face.
Here’s a small humorous snippet taken from a scene where Tessa, who is ticked off at Alexander at the time, is asked by the Queen to recommend his good qualities. She blurts out:
“He is often thoughtless and self-centered. He can be arrogant and opinionated and deceitful, if it serves his purpose. He is vain and autocratic. Frankly, mademoiselle” – this gave her some pleasure to say – ” I have often thought him to be something of a peacock.”
As you can no doubt deduce, Tessa isn’t a woman known for holding back her opinions. An admirable trait, I must say, even if it does gets her into trouble more often than not.
Despite Tessa’s opinion of Alexander he is an alluring werewolf who would feel right at home amongst the sexy preternatural creatures in a Laurell K. Hamilton book . True, he is a bit of all of those loathsome things Tessa describes in the above paragraph but he is also sensitive and has an irresistible sense of humor.
Because of the charming and humorous beginning you might expect the story to continue in this vein. It doesn’t and, although love plays a big part in decisions made by characters in the story, this really is not a love story. After an unforgivable betrayal occurs, a string of events that are painful to read occur and the story then turns into an unforgettable tale of heartbreak, survival, adventure, and strength.
The prose (like the cover promises) is lushly seductive. The senses play a huge part in werewolf culture and are never neglected when the author sets her scene. Most importantly these creatures aren’t simply sexy humans who can shapeshift; Boyd’s werewolves are truly a different and superior race, with a different culture and outlook on life, and she never lets the reader forget it. She has taken great pains to develop her own unique brand of werewolf lore and has done a terrific job.
The Passion is an extremely emotionally draining book but is, hands down, one of the best werewolf novels I’ve read and I’ve just about read them all. The tough content will not be to everyone’s taste but if you go into the book prepared for it’s darkness, I bet you’ll find it as hypnotic, surprising, and moving as I did. Just be sure to grab yourself a box of tissues and a huge block of uninterrupted reading time.
Donna Boyd has also written a trilogy featuring this same world of werewolves for the defunct Silhouette Shadows line. These are hard to find but are must reads for fans of werewolf romances and I can happily report that they all end happily ever after! The titles are: Secret of the Wolf, Wolf in Waiting and Shadow of the Wolf.