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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Wolf’s Torment by Stephanie Burkhart

The Wolf’s Torment by Stephanie Burkhart
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (201 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Poinsettia

It's 1865 in Moldavia, a country nestled against the shores of the Black Sea, and Crown Prince Mihai Sigmaringen returns after receiving an education in England. His best friend, Viktor Bacau joins him. Mihai is intent on modernizing his nation, but he's also a witch, and it's time he embraces his heritage. The tasks in front of him are many including getting married.

Lady Theresa von Kracken arrives in Constanta as Mihai's intended. Mihai has vowed not to fall in love again, but Theresa manages to break the battlements around his heart.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, Viktor is bitten by a werewolf. Viktor's transformation threatens everyone around him including his wife's safety and Mihai's happiness with Theresa. Viktor's bite is the wolf's torment.

Mihai has his eyes on the future, but only the ancient magic in his blood can save his family.

One of the things that immediately drew me in to The Wolf’s Torment was the exciting prologue. Often I have come across stories with prologues filled with necessary and interesting background information, but few of them have been as action packed as the one in this story. Ms. Burkhart managed to convey quite a bit about Mihai’s history during a dangerous chase scene that ends in a battle between two witches.

The story does slow down a bit from there, but this slower pace is short lived and allowed me to really get to know the major characters. First there is the hero, Mihai. He struck me as very mature for his young age, but then he has to be strong since his father’s health is failing and he must be prepared to assume the role of king. Mihai is very serious most of the time, yet it is clear that he has a big heart. He adores his sister Sonia and truly cares for his best friend Viktor. I really liked Mihai, but he is not without his flaws. When he returns to Moldavia, he is supposed accept an arranged marriage. However, Mihai had an affair while he was at school in London. This indiscretion certainly came back to haunt him when he meets Theresa, his intended.

It was also very interesting to watch Mihai balance the duties of being a prince against the supernatural world. During the day, he is debating with parliament about taxes, and at night he is learning to harness his newly discovered powers. Despite the very large gap between the mundane and the paranormal, Ms. Burkhart managed to blend the two so well, that I had no trouble watching Mihai oversee a construction project one minute and cast a spell the next.

I liked Theresa immediately. She is loving, honest, and open to adventure. She approaches new experiences and activities with an energy that is simply contagious. Despite her sweet spirit, I loved that Theresa stood up for herself. Whenever she felt that Mihai was neglecting her, she wasn’t afraid to let him know. When Theresa learns of Mihai’s affair, she is very hurt. However, I admired her ability to rise above it and continue to build her relationship with Mihai. I honestly think that Theresa and Mihai make a wonderful couple. Theresa is just the right woman to balance Mihai’s serious personality and encourage him to take time to relax every now and then.

As much as I liked Theresa, toward the end of The Wolf’s Torment, she makes some very terrible decisions. I won’t spoil the ending by revealing the circumstances that influence her decision making process. I will say that even though she was under a lot of stress I thought her actions seemed a little out of character. I found it hard to believe that after all the things she had witnessed concerning witches and werewolves that she would still choose to take a certain path. It did not sit well with me at all.

Viktor is unfortunately the antagonist of the story. At first, he is a great friend that Mihai brought home from London. Viktor falls in love with Sonia and everything is going well until he is bitten by a werewolf. It was very painful to watch Viktor struggle with his primal nature and his desire to remain a good man. However, as the tale progresses, the pace of Viktor’s descent rapidly increases until he commits an act of betrayal against Mihai that is so far beyond revolting that I don’t have a word to describe it. Throughout the book, it is suggested that much of Viktor’s behavior is due to the bite of the werewolf. However, there were other werewolves that didn’t seem to have as many issues as Viktor did. I can’t help but wonder if the bite only magnified or brought to the surface traits and feelings that were already part of Viktor.

The Wolf’s Torment is certainly more than a story about a werewolf. There is quite a bit of depth in this multifaceted story of a family’s struggle with life, love and loss. The ending is definitely bittersweet and I had many questions that I hope will be answered in the next book in the series. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this intriguing tale. Fans of historical, paranormal romance should give The Wolf’s Torment a try.