Tuesday 2 February 2021

#CBR13 Book 4: "Big Bad Wolf" by Suleikha Snyder

Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer! I got an ARC from NetGalley. That has in no way influenced my review.

In a dystopian alternate reality, where the 2016 election led to the USA becoming a tightly regulated surveillance state, pretty much at the same time as the existence of a number of supernatural beings were revealed, several big cities, including New York, are now a Sanctuary City for supernaturals. 

Joe Peluso, an ex-soldier turned werewolf through military experimentation, is in prison for murdering six bear shifters with ties to the Russian mafia. His legal team is determined to give him a proper defense, but Joe believes himself beyond redemption. He has no regrets about the murders that landed him in prison, which were in retaliation for the death of his foster brother. However, he is haunted by his years as a soldier and all the lives he ended during his long military career. He has no intention of sharing any information or revealing anything to his lawyers that might help him get a lighter sentence and fully expects to be killed in prison by Russian mobsters soon enough.

Neha Ahluwalia, one of the lawyers on his team, as well as a trained psychologist, believes that everyone deserves a chance. She can't really explain her near-instant attraction to Peluso, which just seems to grow with each of their meetings. Falling for one of their clients, let alone a werewolf with a long history of violence is utter madness, but Neha can't stay away. On the day of Joe's trial, she agrees to a brief meeting alone with him, and they end up going on the run together after the Russian mob attempts to kill Joe and creates chaos at the courthouse. While he might not see himself as worthy of love or affection, Neha has caught glimpses of the wounded and vulnerable man behind the gruff facade, and she's determined to fight for their happy ending. 

I had hoped to have this review finished by the book's release date last week, but my depression had other ideas, and quite a lot of the things I wanted to achieve have had to be postponed. My friend and fellow Cannonball reviewer Emmalita reviewed this back in December (and has already used one of my favourite lines from the book as her review title and made me very excited to get to this. I've only ever read Ms. Snyder's contemporary romance novella Tikka Chance on Me, so seeing her take on urban fantasy/paranormal romance was interesting and quite different. 

There's a lot to like in this book, including the two main characters. I adored pretty much everything about Neha, including how completely unapologetic she was about was about embracing her desires once she admitted to herself that she fancied the pants off Joe. I could have done with a lot less self pitying, recriminations and angst from Joe (I have never had much patience with the oh woe is me, I'm so dark and unlovable because of my past dudes), but I guess feeling constantly guilty and not worthy of a wonderful lady like Neha is better than being an unapologetic sociopath who's full of himself. 

It's quite clear that as well as the central romance between Neha and Joe, this book is setting up the wider world in which the Third Watch, the secret agency staffed by both humans and paranormals who end up helping our protagonsists on the run. There's a whole host of supporting characters, including an incredibly charming and very scene-stealing vampire, as well as a no nonsense surgeon, both of whom I hope feature in future books. There's a really nice focus on friendship and community thoughout the book and while I have a few niggles about the book as a romance (everything happens VERY fast between Neha and Joe - I would have liked a bit more time for them to get to know each other before declaring eternal love), I loved this as the start of a new paranormal fantasy series full of competence porn, great world building and interesting characters.

As far as I can tell from Ms. Snyder's Twitter, this series will be at least a trilogy. I can't wait to get my hands on more. 

Judging a book by its cover: I absolutely see what the cover designer was trying to do here, but I'm not sure it entirely works.While I totally get that showing that just underneath the surface of our hero lurks a big, dangerous wolf, the actual effect of having two big yellow wolf eyes basically looking out at you from the torso of the muscular and very fit cover model is more distracting than enticing. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

No comments:

Post a Comment