Friday, June 19, 2009

Feral by Joely Skye

TITLE: Feral
AUTHOR: Joely Skye
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 64k)
GENRE: Gay shapeshifter erotic romance
COST: $5.50

When cougar Ethan gets captured by a werewolf pack, he expects the same thing to happen that happened eight years earlier – that he’ll be contained and tortured, brought to the brink of death over and over again. He is forced to shift to his human self after eight years as a cat, but the torment he expects never comes. Instead, the young wolf Bram provides comfort, even if he helps to keep Ethan contained. But when Bram learns that his pack leader plans on giving Ethan over to others to study, he knows he can’t just sit idly by. It goes against his standing as the pack omega, but he still knows right from wrong. And he’ll do what he can to help the cougar who needs him…

NOTE: This is a review originally written for Uniquely Pleasurable.

Feral is the latest story from author Joely Skye, set in her unique world of shifters, and while select characters from the previous books make an appearance, reading those isn’t necessary to follow along in this new novel. It stands alone on its own merit, more cohesive and enjoyable than the last book, though it doesn’t quite reach the standards established by the first two (both het romances written under the author’s other pseudonym, Jorrie Spencer).

The story starts with a heart-pounding bang, as the wolves chase Ethan through snow and over mountains. The action is tight, the tension palpable, and by the time Ethan is caught, I was as anxious as he was about the upcoming consequences. It was a fascinating set-up and sucked me in, especially with the introduction of Bram, a werewolf omega. This is a damaged young man, eager to please, desperate for acceptance, hungry for the scraps he gets. At the same time, he harbors a rapidly growing anger at his situation, and especially at the pack leader who treats him so abysmally. It’s my fascination with him that propels me through the story, because even though he borders on being a little too angsty for me, I really wanted to see where he ended up going, how he might grow throughout the course of the action.

Ethan isn’t quite as interesting as Bram, though his predicament and the shades of depths he displays – even as manipulative as they might be, a necessary thing in his attempt to escape – kept me involved throughout the first half, and even into the second half of the story. Once he’s attained some measure of independence, however, I found I wasn’t as intrigued anymore. At that point, the tables are turned, and it’s Bram’s turn to be gentled, so to speak. The feral of the title applies equally to both leads, depending on the place in the story. But it also means that the emotions run a tad high at the most wrought parts, bordering on just too much.

The best part of any of these books has always been the author’s carefully constructed, fascinating world. Her shapeshifters are complex creatures, with rich histories and motivations, and it’s easy to become immersed in the alternate reality she presents. Their sensuality mirrors the growth of their relationships, and those evocative sections help to smooth over some of the otherwise jumpy mood transitions that mar what is still an entertaining read.

As an introduction into the world the author has created, this one is a superior choice to its predecessor, with a fantastic opening and characters with interesting flaws. There is much to enjoy here, as is usually the case with this particular author, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she goes next.


8/10 – There are sections that are borderline headhopping, which jarred me, and some of the mood jumps make it a little jerky, but otherwise a solid read

Hero #1

7/10 – Shades of depths get sacrificed when his vulnerable position is reversed

Hero #2

7/10 – There always felt like there was more potential to his omega position than was fully realized

Entertainment value

7/10 – Better than the book previous, but not as strong as the first two

World building

8/10 – The fascinating world the author creates is always her biggest strength



1 comment:

Joely Skye said...

Thank you for your thoughtful review. Much appreciated!