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LiliaFord

LiliaFord

Mostly Cross Posts from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

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A Tooth For a Fang

A Tooth For a Fang - Liv Olteano 4.5
Excellent. This surprised me a lot, which honestly is hard for the shifter genre. First off, it's very well-written, and despite containing several popular "werewolf" features--ie. mating--is definitely a fresh take on a genre plagued by highly derivative, lazy books. The set up is fairly reminiscent of Men In Black, featuring an agency devoted to policing supernatural creatures, and a new recruit matched with an old hand. But the "mating" aspect of the partnership was far more than just a catchy set-up, reverberating through the story on a number of different levels.

I was really impressed by the characterization here, especially the narrator, Rick. We learn early on that he has just managed to escape an abusive relationship that lasted for years. It's the kind of set-up that I generally find manipulative and/or generic, but for once I thought it got the treatment it deserved. Rick is not the usual "tragiboy" in need of rescue (most often by a Dom) that we so often see, but he does have profound trust issues and self-doubt that lurk behind his clever banter and scalding chemistry with Travis. He rises remarkably quickly to the challenges of his new job and his sudden immersion in the paranormal world, but he's haunted (quietly) by his doubts over why he didn't leave his ex-lover sooner, doubts over his masculinity that he didn't defend himself better, and whether he can be in a relationship with someone who has claimed such absolute power over him without his consent--as Travis has--even if that person seems decent. Moreover, his experience with abuse is not simply a hurdle he must get over on the way to a relationship; it also gives him vital insight and sympathy into what it means to be in someone else's power, and even becomes key to his success as an investigator.

As I suggested, I found these aspects all the more resonant for never being overplayed. There's a part of me (the psycho part) that usually wishes these stories pushed harder on the domination; I think what Olteano did was far deeper and richer, and luckily the relationship between Travis and Rick was genuinely hot while also being complex and conflicted. I very much hope this is the beginning of a new series. Olteano is a terrific writer and I can't wait to read more of her stuff.

Bottom line; very highly recommend.