Circle of Desire (Damask Circle #3) by Keri Arthur

Circle of Desire (Damask Circle, Book 3) - Keri Arthur
Katherine, raven shapeshifter and psychic, and her grandmother are hunting a new enemy of the Damask circle: some unknown and unseen force is kidnapping children. Their bodies turn up weeks after their disappearance – but they’re not just dead, their very souls have been consumed
Obviously, this has to stop. And with Damask circle resources stretched, any help they can get is very welcomed
Ethan is a police officer, his niece has been captured and he’s definitely ready to step up and join the hunt. As a werewolf he has a lot to offer – but he hates what he is and whatever fling he and Katherine has, he is determined for it not to develop into more. Here’s there to save his niece, not fall in love.
Interestingly, after I complained about the formulas of the last book, this book rather subverts them. Oh, he is still the physically superior, she is still the magical, less physical person (there are limits after all), but she is the one who is informed. Katherine is the one who understands about the supernatural and their nature and she is the one who both guides Ethan into the world of the supernatural and works to get him to accept his nature as a werewolf. She is the expert, she is the guide, she is the one who knows what is going on and, with her powers, she is the one who is probably the most dangerous of the two of them
Of course, in the past books those women were scared and traumatised by their true nature, while Ethan is enraged and angsty so while we break the pattern we still have the trope of the love of a good woman saving the broody man-who-has-been-hurt-by-the-ladies before.
That hurt-by-the-ladies can sometimes manifest itself as outright misogyny – one woman hurt him in the past so now all women cannot be trusted. Women are evil and conniving, women get pregnant to entrap decent menfolk with their wicked wicked wombs… I have no idea what Katherine sees in him beyond the hawtness
He also has a moment of, to say the least, careless language towards Katherine’s casual attitude to sex which comes across as slut-shamy, but she is very good at calling that out.
Unfortunately, while Katherine is, possibly, the stronger of the two she also needs rescuing at least twice and there is no real equivalent going the other way. It’s like the book couldn’t just let her be the stronger one, there had to be something to weaken her or put him in the role as white knight.
So there are some nicely subverted tropes – or, at least, patterns subverted – but some problems. The romance itself starts well in that both Katherine and Ethan are happy to have a casual fling and Katherine is certainly not a blushing virgin and has even had good sex before – all of which are nearly unheard of in the genre. But we have the woo-woo raising its head, with Ethan’s werewolf nature forcing him to have sex and creating a special lusty sex aura that affects all women around him in a frankly consent breaking and rape-esque manner. Ok, not with Katherine – she’s eager and willing, but even then, the fact the werewolf aura induces almost irresistible lust in all women around him means it’s virtually impossible for him to know whether any woman he sleeps with during the full moon actually consents to sex.