Title: The Howling Heart
Author: April Bostic
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Paige Donovan is an ambitious college graduate who aspires to reach the top of the corporate ladder. She’s climbing fast when given the promotion of a lifetime at a prestigious fashion magazine in New York City. Her bright future comes to an unexpected halt after news of her father’s death. She inherits his old cabin in the Colorado Rockies, and just when she thinks her luck couldn’t get any worse, she has a car accident in the mountains and awakens in the small, remote community of Black River.
Soon, she’s engulfed in the mystical world of Varulv—wolves descended from 13th century Scandinavia and blessed by Norse gods with the ability to appear human. Paige is desperate to return home, but never expects to fall for her rescuer, Riley Gray, a charming young werewolf from England who offers her an alternate future with his pack.
Now, she must choose between the career she’s always wanted and the love she’s always dreamed.
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I did actually think that the premise for this book started out quite well. I had a lot of sympathy for Paige’s character as a child and it was sweet to see her trying to make friends with a puppy… even if I did feel that her thought processes made her come across as a bit too adult at that point. It was also good to see her brief interaction with the boy and it would have been good to see them able to interact a bit more before Paige’s parents took her away.
Unfortunately, after the intriguing dream, I felt that the plot of the book went downhill considerably. I wasn’t given much of an opportunity to get to know the secondary characters… and when Paige’s father died, I wasn’t able to see any of her relationship with him. There was too much telling rather than showing going on.
I thought that Paige’s relationship with Riley was a particularly dangerous, emotionally manipulative one. It would have been good if it had been portrayed as that… but I felt that Paige spent a lot of the book as a weak character who let everyone else walk all over her. Even when she had problems with the way things were run, she didn’t seem to care beyond making a token protest… and her final decision towards the end of the book didn’t seem to be about her choosing the best path; rather that she took the easy way out.
I felt it could have been really interesting to see Paige challenging archaic stereotypes in a wolf pack that treats females as less than males, but there was a dangerous sexist undertone to most of the book that I felt was accepted even by the supposedly strong female characters. Very few of the secondary characters were expanded upon and those who were seemed to change personality at the drop of a hat.
I found it very hard to take the romance seriously. By the end of the book, I actually knew very little about Paige or Riley and I felt there was some quite juvenile language used at times. I was disappointed that the romance didn’t feel real… even though I was intrigued by the Norse mythology surrounding the changing of the wolves.
For those of you thinking of reading this… there are elements of bestiality in this. While those might have been handled well… I couldn’t stop cringing whenever it was mentioned.
Due to a massive slew of problems with the romance and the characters, I strongly suspect I won’t be reading any more books that might be in the series… which is a real shame, since the premise held a lot of promise for a potentially unique take on the werewolf myth.
April Bostic is a New Jersey-based, Adult Romance author who enjoys unleashing her creativity and letting her imagination run wild. Her love of romance books inspired her to become not just a reader, but also a writer. In December 2008, she self-published her first novel, a contemporary romance with a supernatural twist entitled “A Rose to the Fallen”.
Her first short story, “Right Here, Right Now”, released in January 2012, is an erotic romance with a dash of S&M. The following year, she released two more short stories: a romantic urban fantasy inspired by the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche entitled “Eros, My Love”, and a sexy romantic comedy entitled “Love Addiction”.
After five years, she released her second novel, “The Howling Heart” in August 2013, a paranormal romance that delves into the mystical world of werewolves and Norse gods. To end her busiest year in publishing, April also released her fourth short story in December 2013, a historical paranormal romance entitled “A Dark Scandal”.
I felt feverish, and I couldn’t move. I tried to open my eyes, but something heavy weighed on my eyelids.
Although I couldn’t see or move, I heard voices around me. The first one was female, and she had an English accent like Sheriff Gray. “She’s still got a fever.”
Then, I heard a male voice. “What if she doesn’t wake up?” He had the same accent, but he wasn’t the sheriff.
At that moment, I realized they were talking about me. “Don’t worry…she will.”
“It’s my fault. Dad’s going to bloody kill me.”
“It’s not your fault. Stop saying that. She’ll be okay, and Dad will understand.”
“I shouldn’t have brought her here.“
“You did the right thing by bringing her here. I can take care of her.“
There was a momentary pause. “What if she finds out?”
“That’s for Dad to decide.”
The voices faded in and out. Sleep bore down on me, but the last words I heard from the man stuck in my head. “I’ll watch over her.”
A severely dry mouth and splitting headache interrupted my peaceful sleep. I couldn’t hear the two voices, but I heard breathing in my left ear like someone was sleeping next to me. I tried to open my eyes so that I could ask them for water and medicine for my headache. The weight on my eyes was gone, so I tried to open them, but they felt sticky this time. I struggled to peel them open, blinking rapidly to loosen my eyelashes.
When I finally opened my eyes, they felt swollen. The pain in my head spread throughout my entire body. Dim light surrounded me in this strange room. I lay on a bed and looked up at the ceiling. I tried to speak, but my throat was dry. Only a quiet wheeze escaped. A low groan followed as my headache pounded against my temples. I still felt hot and sweaty. Layers of blankets covered me, and I wanted to yank them off. When I touched my abdomen, I wore nothing but my bra and panties.
My eyes darted around the unfamiliar room. On the wall, I noticed a shadow of something next to me. What the hell is that? I turned my head and saw a candle in the window, but what cast the shadow scared me to death. A large, white wolf lay on the floor beside me. There was no mistaking it for a dog. The bed was low to the floor, and its head was close to mine. I opened my mouth wide, prepared to scream, but wheezes and weak gasps escaped, instead. I thrashed my head against the pillow, as if the motions would turn up the volume in my voice. Finally, a shriek pushed through my sandpaper throat. It was a high-pitched squeal at first, but then, it burst forth and filled the room. I sat up quickly. Aching pain tore through my body, and I heard my bones crack.
The wolf awoke with a start. It jerked its head up, and glowing, yellow eyes blinked until they settled on me. I shrank away from it, nearly falling off the bed, screaming until I went hoarse and gasped for breath. The wolf stood on all fours, its size definitely that of a Great Dane. Our gazes locked for a brief moment before the animal ran out the room. I sat against the headboard, clutching the blankets against my chest. I was alone and terrified. Within seconds, tears trickled down my cheeks.