A Smoking Hot Werewolf Romance
Heather Killough-Walden’s Big Bad Wolf series has been near the top of my to read pile for some time and after finishing ‘The Heat’ I am asking myself why I left it so long! This book has made me seriously reassess my usual preference for vampires as this author’s werewolves are not only smart and uber dominant, but have an earthy get down and dirty sex appeal.
In ‘The Heat’, 28 year old Lily St Claire returns to her childhood town of Baton Rouge, which she left after high school, to take up a post of Social Worker at a local hospital. The plot opens with her having a girly night in with her lifelong friend Tabitha, with whom she has kept in touch with. Daniel, Tabitha’s big brother (an alpha werewolf) has just been promoted to Police Chief, soon arrives at the scene. Daniel was attracted to Lily at school, but was warned off her by Tabitha. Daniel contented himself with meaningless short term flings, many of which were with Lily’s friends, to compensate. Lily for her part has always been attracted to Daniel, but believed that she was not his type as he always kept a distance. She has been having vivid dreams about Daniel changing into wolf since her teenage years. Now Daniel is older he immediately catches Lily’s scent and recognises that she is a true dormant and therefore a potential mate. Dormants are in decline and highly valued as werewolves can only get their chosen mate pregnant and thus ensure the future of their race. He vows to succumb to his attraction this time and Lily, although knowing nothing of the werewolf world, is equally attracted.
Lily mentions to Tabitha that her favourite mystery author, Malcolm Cole (of whom she has also had vivid dreams), is in town and that she plans to attend his book signing. Malcolm is a very powerful alpha werewolf who is also a violent killer who has avoided prosecution by both werewolf and human law. Tabitha warns Daniel who fears that Malcom recognises that Lily is a dormant and plans to make her his mate, a situation he cannot tolerate.
To protect Lily Daniel virtually kidnaps her and takes her back to his home intent on explaining the situation to her to protect her from harm. He manages to explain that Malclolm is a killer but then he is called away to a violent scene of carnage and murder at the Mayor’s home and only has time to mark her as his mate, without explaining his true nature or what he is doing. This scene is sexually charged and highly erotic. Lily is very angry and confused when she wakes up. Fortunately Tabitha, sent by Daniel to watch over her, is able to reveal the existence of werewolves and to apologise on Daniel’s behalf, explaining that his actions, although appearing callous were carried out to protect her from other alphas, principally Malcolm Cole. She explains that only dormants dream of werewolves in their true form and that Lily is likely to be Daniel’s intended mate.
I will not divulge any more of the plot, but suffice to say that it involves a Malcolm Cole determined to have Lily as his mate at any cost, numerous fight scenes and black magic, lots of sexual tension and a number of erotic sex scenes. We are also introduced to the respective members of Daniel’s and Malcolm’s packs and hunters determined to eradicate werewolves as they view them as evil. We have to wait until the book’s exciting conclusion before we find out if Lily and Daniel complete their mating bond and find their HEA.
The author’s character descriptions and development are strong. I found Daniel to be a sexy, dominant werewolf, full of Southern charm and very protective of those close to him. However, as a relatively young alpha, he can act a little impulsively and will have to learn to curb this trait as he becomes more powerful. I found this slight flaw to be endearing and I am sure that Lily will be more than a match for him to keep him in check. Lily is a strong woman, showing strong empathy. She is brave and does not hesitate to sacrifice herself to help others. Whilst attracted to Daniel, she is understandably resentful that he marked her without her consent. There is also strong chemistry between her and Malcolm, although she does her best to resist it as she is repelled by his murderous past.
I adored the character of Malcolm Cole. At 94 years old he is a very powerful werewolf with a dark history. He is a tortured character and desperate to find his true mate and does not care how ruthless he needs to be to ensure that Lily is his. Lily’s dreams help explain his actions but Malcolm is not keen to discuss his past. The scenes between him and Lily are also very erotic as they engage in a battle of wills and sparkling repartee.
Secondary characters include Tabitha, Daniel’s sister and Lily’s friend, who is very defensive of Lily and furious with how Daniel forces his mark on her, Jennings, a human, who is one of Daniel’s trusted team members on the force and James, also an alpha, who is allied with Malcolm, but is very protective of Lily and thinks that Daniel is not good enough for her.
The novel is both sexy and fun. It has its dark moments and does contain some violence, but it also has a humorous side. The author’s descriptions of the nature of werewolves and aspects of their culture were also well done. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy paranormal romance or urban fantasy. I will certainly not be leaving it too long before I read the next book in the series.
Reviewed by Tina Williams