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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Wolf Next Door by Lydia Dare

The Wolf Next Door by Lydia Dare
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full (402 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

They can’t even be in the same room together…
Ever since their failed elopement years ago, Prisca Hawthorne has taunted, insulted, and in every way tried to push him away. If only her heart didn’t break every time Lord William Westfield left her…

But staying apart is even worse…
Lord William throws himself into drinking, gambling, and debauchery and pretends not to care about Prisca at all. But when he returns to find a rival werewolf vying for her hand, he’ll stop at nothing to claim the woman who should have been his all along.

Can Prisca forgive the unforgivable, or are the moon-crossed lovers going to be forced into a battle of wills that could be fatal?

To forgive and forget is an adage easy to say but difficult to live and that is the crux of Lord William Westfield’s challenging problem.

Will’s problem has a name and she’s Prisca Hawthorne. The whole story’s conflict is fed by the dictates of the times. Men and women simply did not talk. They couldn’t date the way we do so there’s hardly any un-chaperoned moments. Too many topics were taboo. Various skeletons in the closet became monsters because the secrecy surrounding them blew them all out of proportion. And truths revealed too late cannot undo the damage the initial lies had wrought. Because pride and honor are held in lofty esteem, it’s quite a pickle trying to overcome the hurt they inadvertently reinforce.

That is the set-up poor Will has to fight against. Of all the brothers, both Simon and Ben from A Certain Wolfish Charm and Tall, Dark, and Wolfish, respectively, neither has a conflict so horrendous to overcome as Will does. Simon and Ben had their own internal issues which compounded their problems. Will has a very dangerous foe to deal with on top of the fact that the woman he loves is a spitfire and has an overdose of pride. Add in his own prideful lash-out and a reader is treated to a tumultuous, passionate and intense battle of wills between Lord William and Prisca.

Although this book does fine as a standalone read, it’s nicer to have read the previous two books in that a reader will come into this book thinking Will is a womanizer and doesn’t have a care in the world. The truth is, he carries the globe on his back. His world is his love for Prisca and the weight of it is crushing him because he believes its burden is made up of the fact she doesn’t love him – that she hates him. There can be no more tortured a hero than one who believes his love is unrequited. He’s filled with self-loathing and yet is ever hopeful. How can a reader not want him to succeed?

Prisca is the love and bane of Will’s life. She’s an amazingly stubborn character. With a little POV shift here and there, a reader gets her take on things as well as Will's. It becomes abundantly clear that these two wanna-be lovers are victims of their times. Prisca has been brought up in a house full of men. The only female influence has been Will's own mother. With a woman living in a house of rowdy, opinionated and protective men, it’s not a wonder she’s got an overdose of traits that make it difficult for her to be wooed. Prisca is pertinacious, headstrong, determined and yet, vulnerable and hurt. She’s great with the new brides of the Westfield men – even helps them, but she repudiates any help for herself. How can love flourish?

Enter Prisca’s brothers. A reader couldn’t ask for a better gang of secondary characters than the Hawthorne men. Emory is the eldest and the schemer. Pierce is the stuffed shirt, who someday, I strongly hope, Ms. Dare will get unstuffed. Then there is Darius and Garrick. They were excellent foils for plot movement and interest. I so enjoyed them that I hope someday I’ll meet them again in a new story by the talented Ms. Dare. Not only are they the springboard for matchmaking but the entryway for a devious and dangerous foe for Will. Oh, I can’t forget the Giddings sisters – they’re caricatures of the women all men run from. Too funny.

The external conflict comes from “that vile Brimsworth”. A man of mystery and supposed friendship, he ends up being more than any Westfield man bargained for, especially Will. The sub-story on him was pretty clever because Ms. Dare had me sympathizing and hating him all at the same time. Yet it fed my curiosity. Is he an anti-hero? Can he be redeemed? Does a reader want him to be saved? It’s a clever and unexpected twist.

There is humor in this book, like when Prisca and Will finally get married. It’s not quite conventional and I enjoyed her fashion statement. That woman has a devious mind.

After all that emotional hard work, there is a satisfying happily ever after for Will and Prisca and well deserved. If relationships gain strength from facing adversity together, then their union will survive anything because it’s tempered in fire. It’s solid and rewarding.

The Wolf Next Door is a wonderful historical romance that includes a romp on the wild paranormal side. It embraces the best of both worlds and for a reader who doesn’t read too many historical romances, this book and its two predecessors completely hooked me on this author’s talent. Her voice, her characterization, her world building within a well-known genre is fresh, unique and engaging. I’ll be keeping Will’s story on my keeper shelf and eagerly look forward to more adventures from the mind of author Lydia Dare.