To Catch a Wolf
To Catch a Wolf is the first of Susan Krinard’s werewolf books that I’ve had a chance to read. If it’s any indication of the rest of the series, I’ve missed out on some great books. Passionate, dramatic and very romantic, this is one terrific paranormal romance.
Morgan Holt is a loner – by nature and by choice. A werewolf, he’s the only one of his own kind, having long since given up finding the mother and sister he lost years ago or anyone else like him. After his release from prison for his father’s murder, he’s not interested in spending more time around humanity. Instead, he wanders the mountains of Colorado with a wolf pack, until he’s injured one night and finds an unexpected refuge with the misfits of Harry French’s Fantastic Family Circus. He doesn’t want to need people and has no intention of staying, but when the time comes for him to leave, he finds it impossible to go.
It is the circus that brings Athena Munroe into his world. An esteemed figure in Denver society, the young woman was crippled as a girl and is bound to a wheelchair. She dedicates her time and energy to charitable causes, much to the irritation of her brother Niall. The respectable businessman is all about appearances and would like nothing more than to see his sister behave in a more proper manner than spending her time with those beneath her station. But when the circus comes to perform for one of Athena’s charitable events, Niall sees an even greater threat.
There is an unmistakable connection between Athena and the “Wolf-Man.” She can’t stay away from him, despite Morgan’s cool demeanor and her brother’s attempts to keep them apart. She sees beneath his arrogance that he’s drawn to her just as strongly as she is to him, but only she knows the reason why. It’s enough for her to defy her brother, until his determination to keep them apart puts them both in danger.
To Catch a Wolf delivers everything a great paranormal romance should. It has a strong sense of atmosphere, not only with respect to its supernatural elements, but with its historical setting. From the winter mountain scenes to everything relating to the circus and its performers, it feels vivid and real and adds a lot to the magic of the story. Then there’s the larger-than-life sense of drama that might feel out of place in a contemporary but fits perfectly with the high stakes of these particular characters’ situation. It’s a story with genuine suspense as the characters face greater and greater odds, raising the tension for both them and the reader. And most of all, it’s a powerful love story between two people who are both outsiders except when they’re with each other.
The author makes it easy to see the strong attraction between Athena and Morgan. Their bond comes across on every page. Of the two, Morgan is the stronger character, a tortured man who’s better than even he believes. He has a very sad and moving back story, but more than that, his actions at several points in the story show what a hero he is. Athena starts out as so cloyingly good that she’s difficult to warm up to at first. She is also far too naïve and often thick-headed, blind to the real attitudes of the people around her. She improves over the course of the book, finally exhibiting some strength and attitude. The way she takes down the story’s secondary villain in two separate instances is highly entertaining and more than redeems her earlier faults.
In Niall, Krinard has developed a villain of remarkable complexity. He does some very bad things over the course of the book, but he’s so tormented and his motives so complicated it’s hard to say whether they make him more or less evil. One thing’s for sure: he’s no one-note villain. What’s more, he’s given the book’s secondary relationship, with Caitlin, a circus performer with secrets of her own. Just when you think he’s going to show he’s not really that bad in his romance with her, he does something worse, and back again. The way it plays out, we don’t know whether to root for them or not, to hope he’ll be redeemed or get his comeuppance. Either way, it’s deeply compelling stuff.
Had its heroine been slightly stronger overall, To Catch a Wolf would have been a keeper for me instead of falling just slightly short. I loved virtually everything else about it. I haven’t even gotten to mention some of the other charming secondary characters populating the circus. It’s a great read, full of action and drama, passion and heart, and is not to be missed.