To Tame a Wolf
I’m a big fan of HBO’s Deadwood. Make that a huge fan of HBO’s Deadwood. So, not surprisingly considering my obsessed fan-dom, I’m on a quest these days to somehow get my hands on books set in the American West that are as gut-wrenchingly visceral as that incredible show and that evoke the same raw, sexy, gut-wrenchingly real atmosphere. I didn’t find it here.
Believe it or not considering the fact that To Tame a Wolf is a werewolf story set in 1880s Arizona, it felt surprisingly bloodless to me and, despite all the “changing” and the shooting and the villainous antics of the truly e-e-e-v-i-l bad guy, the book never managed to evoke anything more on my part than the slightest sort of half-interest. Considering that I’ve enjoyed Susan Krinard’s books in the past – though I haven’t kept up with the series in the last few years – it’s altogether too bad.
The son of a prostitute and an aristocratic werewolf father who abandoned his young son to life in a whorehouse, Simeon Kavanaugh offers his tracking services to Tally Benard, a young woman desperate to find her missing brother. Dressed as a young man, Tally – whose disguise doesn’t fool Sim for a moment – insists on going with him and the two eventually find her injured brother and take him back to the small Arizona ranch she calls home. What Tally doesn’t know is that Sim isn’t just a ne’er do well looking to earn an honest dollar, but is instead after a treasure map he believes her brother has in his possession.
Soon enough Sim agrees to stay on at the ranch and work, biding his time while Tally tends to her largely comatose brother. But alleviating the suspicions of those who live with Tally while hiding his true wolf nature, soon turn out not to be Sim’s biggest tasks when his long-time partner in crime – literally – turns up looking for the map.
From this point on, the story consists of revelations, misunderstandings, gun fights, e-e-e-v-i-l doings, profound utterances from a young woman touched by some kind of spirit (I’m not sure what), at least one big fight, and a happy ending. And, yes, it all felt that mechanical to me.
Sim is your run-of-the-mill tortured hero, maybe a little more moon-y than most, but not even remotely memorable. Tally is a plucky heroine with a Big Secret that I’m betting most readers will put their finger on very early in the book. The passion they generate between them is just as lackluster as the characters themselves.
Maybe when a series has as many entries as this one there’s simply nothing there for the uninitiated or for those who (you might say) de-initiated themselves a few books back. What sometimes happens if you’re not familiar with all the mythology and all the characters, is that books start to seem like a lot of shorthand masquerading as a full-fledged novel – take Myth A, apply it to Character B, and insert Back Story C. As a de-initiate myself, it simply didn’t work.
So, I’m still looking for that great Western Romance. I had high hopes for this one – especially considering the paranormal elements that should have added an extra zip to the story – but, sadly enough, To Tame a Wolf just didn’t pan out. (Sorry.)