Gabby has always had some strange abilities, the ability to sense people as lights in her mind as well as her disturbing attractiveness to men. She has never known what that means – until she met Sam and was introduced to the world of werewolves
While not a werewolf, she is one of the few humans who can be the mate of a werewolf. Not that she wants to – in fact she does her best to have nothing to do with the whole process and focus on her own life and ambitions
The werewolves have other plans
I think, storywise, this book is a very large prologue. At the very end of the book we have a storyline and plot introduced that had only been hinting at earlier in the story – and those hints could easily have been misinterpreted. So while this book is a very very personal story, very character driven and focused, I think the next book is going to be much more meta and much wider. It’s odd, because the first book has set up the second but then left me in doubt as to what the second book is going to be or how it will be written – intriguing but mysterious.
However, I also think the first book didn’t do a great job of setting up the second book because it is missing a considerable amount of world building. Not characterisation, we actually have some excellent character development and portrayal of the protagonist (less so anyone else) clearly defining her in a very complete fashion. But the world, the supernatural, what it means to be a werewolf, pack structure all of this is more hinted at than explored, to say nothing of Gabby’s abilities. I could have used some more exploration and maybe more chance for the secondary characters to stretch themselves a little more to set up the next book for me.
While these were problems, the writing worked well, despite its narrow focus. We got to see Gabby’s world without it being insular or boring, we got to see her daily life and it still remain interesting. Even without lots of action or twists, the writing was engaging and interesting and kept me reading and curious. It was well written and nicely crafted
And now for the problem. The big, awful, horrendous problem. The trope that is semi-challenged but ultimately reinforced and no-one is ever treated as they deserve.
Gabby meets Sam (the Child Groomer as I think of him) when she’s 14. He notices her special woo-woo and is interested and quickly insinuates herself into this lonely, isolated orphan’s life. And Gabby is isolated – she has a special woo-woo that makes her irresistible to men which means she dreads going out anywhere because of the skeevy attention she gets. She has no friends. She has no family. She has been in a series of foster homes and, though they’re good people, they’re also somewhat distant.
So, Sam Child Groomer insinuates himself into this lonely girl’s life, tells her she’s special, tells her about her powers, shows her werewolves and tells her he knows another like her. Gabby, naturally, seizes upon this. In due course, Gabby’s foster family have their own child and Sam the Child Groomer, takes 16 year old Gabby in. Ok, I’m a trifle skeeved that there’s no officials involved in this child trading but I’ll go with it.
And upon moving in with Sam the first thing he does is take her on an 8 hour drive to werewolf compound. When they arrive she gets a quick update on werewolfhood – werewolves have woo-woo bonds! Yet they see each other, smell each other and are INSTACOMPTIBLE SUPER MATES! (Shall we just call it “imprinting” and be dine with it?) They have Introductions where werewolf men (who out number werewolf women several times over for REASONS) are put in a room with a werewolf woman to see if they have the ZING MAGIC WOO-WOO CONNECTION
And bonus news, Gabby’s super special magic power means she’s a compatible werewolf mate as well! And they’ve waited until she’s 8 hours away from everywhere else and surrounded by werewolves to tell her this. But don’t worry, here’s Charlene (another human with special woo-woo) to assure Gabby that she won’t have REAL Introductions because the woo-woo sexual attraction is so strong that it just wouldn’t be safe for her! Instead they will just slowly bring many many werewolf men to meet her (but they’re totally not making her choose, honest) in long lines.
Honestly I nearly through my tablet across the room. This vulnerable child has been manipulated, dragged to an isolated location surrounded by what can be easily seen as a cult and then forced to take part in their sexual rituals from the age of 16 whether she wanted to or not.
And she doesn’t. Not once does Gabby want to go to an Introduction. She resists it over and over again and expresses her dislike of it. She makes it clear she doesn’t want to form a bond, she makes it clear she doesn’t want a werewolf partner, she makes it clear she already