Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Who is afraid of Big Bad Wolf?

Funny Pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Last week, I posted an “If You Like” query looking for good werewolf romances. I commented that the Urban Fantasy genre is replete with werewolves but that the werewolf is much rarer in mass market romances. Indeed, in the comments, many a reader referenced popular urban fantasy series like those from Patricia Briggs and Carrie Vaughn were mentioned, but there really weren’t many romance authors mentioned. Given that there are hundreds of published romance authors and paranormal romances are one of the more popular sub genres, I figured that there were dozens of series devoted to werewolves. Alas there is not. There are the odd scattering of werewolves amongst larger paranormal groups but few series devoted solely to the werewolf.

There is even a debate about the wolf shifter v the werewolf:

IMO, a werewolf is a person who has no ability to shift into the wolf mode at will. A person involuntarily shifts into the wolf mode because of, say, the moon or an extreme emotion, which means he or she has no control over his or her ability to shift. Examples: Guy Endore’s The Werewolf of Paris, Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.

A wolf shifter is a person who has an ability to shift into the wolf mode whenever he or she wants, which means they have the full or some control over their ability to shift. Examples: Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten series and Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate.

I admit to not thinking about this division but I think its an interesting one because it connects to a larger issue of why I think there aren’t as many werewolf stories.   joanne asked:

Does werewolf equal wolf shifter? I think of werewolves (not so much) as people "infected’ or affected by something that makes them change into a wolfish looking human. Wolf shifters change completely into wolves. I think of one as frightening and one as a romantic. Does any of this matter to anyone but me?

Kresley Cole’s Lykae do not shift into wolves, but instead transform into man beasts. Lora Leigh’s Breed men are not shifters. Instead, they are genetically engineered to have beast-like traits and do not shift as Mireya notes.   Some readers have problems with the werewolf story because of beastiality.   Others because they have dogs and the things that dogs do are disgusting.

I emailed some editors and asked why there weren’t many romances featuring the werewolf.    Cindy Hwang, Executive Editor for Berkley, disagreed with my assertion that there was a paucity of werewolf books, just that the werewolf was part of a larger group of paranormal beings:

I think there are a lot of werewolf   heroes–but there aren’t a lot of werewolf only books. Most of the  books currently published feature werewolves as a part of a bigger  paranormal universe, so werewolves exist with vampires, dragons,
fairies, demons, angels, etc. For instance, we have werewolves in  Angela Knight’s Mageverse, and a werewolf hero in MASTER OF WOLVES, but  they’re not the only paranormal creatures roaming around.

Even  authors who started writing exclusively about werewolves have started to  expand their universe–MaryJanice started her paranormal career with  stories about the Wyndham Werewolves and also did a single title romance  DERIK’S BANE featuring one of them as the hero, but they exist in the  same universe as her Undead books about Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor, and  Davidson started bringing more and more of her werewolves into her vampire  books, culminating with UNDEAD AND UNWELCOME when Betsy actually visits  the Wyndham werewolves on their home turf.   We see this mingling of  paranormals again and again–THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF by Dakota Cassidy  has the heroine bitten by the furry hero and turned into a werewolf, but  in the next book her friend gets turned into a vampire.

Of course there  are still some books that the werewolf is the primary focus–MOON  AWAKENING by Lucy Monroe and and AWAITING THE MOON by Donna Lea Simpson  were both werewolf romances, and both historical, interestingly enough.

And don’t forget Lora Leigh–her Breeds aren’t shifters in the  traditional sense, but the appeal is the same. And most of her current  books are about the feline Breeds, but she does have books about the  canine breeds too–both wolf and coyote (see COYOTE’S MATE). And these  are just Berkley examples–I’m sure there are many more from other  publishers.

I do think that some authors and readers may not be comfortable with any  kind of shifter romance, because of the possible bestiality aspect, and  some books definitely graze the line deliberately. And some readers may  not like werewolves for many other reasons. But I do think there’s a  real primal, raw appeal to werewolves that’s very sexy–werewolves are  all about violence, power, strength and unbridled lust–what’s not to  love?

Tara Gavin, Senior Executive Editor at Harlequin, informed me that there were many a werewolf book in the Silhouette Nocturne series:

We have many stories which focus on the werewolf myth. Karen Whiddon has written a multi-year miniseries entitled The Pact, which Nocturne readers love. Karen continues to grow and develop the series, and she gains many new fans each time a book is published. In addition, Vivi Anna has written books with werewolves and vampires in them, as have Bonnie Vanak, Linda O. Johnston, Doranna Durgin, Lori DeVoti (though Lori calls them Hellhounds). Rhyannon Byrd also has written a very popular werewolf series for Nocturne called Bloodrunners.

This upcoming February and March 2010, we have a duo by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom entitled WOLF MOONS. The first book, RED WOLF, contains a bonus story for readers-’Linda’s initial story of the miniseries, published in 2009 year as a Nocturne Bite e-story. A bonus story is also featured in Linda’s second book, WOLF TRAP, which we are publishing in March. The bonus story is called WOLF BAIT, which was published as a 2009 Nocturne Bite e-story, as well.

I love the werewolf theme because of the many facets the twist can exhibit. I see the werewolf as a protector, and also as very sexy. The alpha element-’the strong alpha male-’is contained in the werewolf fantasy. The werewolf hero is stronger than the human male, and can protect the heroine when in danger. The werewolf has a flaw, too-’containing the beast within. In addition, there is the beauty and the beast archetype that an author can use with the werewolf fantasy-’and readers enjoy that as well.

Werewolves are very popular in Nocturne, and I think are coming more into their own as the paranormal romance arena grows. A werewolf played a role in the Stephanie Meyers series, and that leads to one more aspect of werewolves that I feel readers find attractive-’the sense of community. There is always a pack, or some larger type of group in which the werewolf theme plays out.

I think the  bestiality  issue is an interesting one.   I have my own lines in werewolf books.   I’ll be the first to admit that I only want the animal part to go so far.   In other words, I want zero animal sex.   No hairy wolf on wolf sex. No demon tail action.   No barbed penises.   None of that.   It all makes me shudder and not in a good way.

But as Cindy Hwang said, there is a primal, raw appeal to the story.   In Bitten, the hero, Clay, bites the narrator, Elena, to make her into a wolf so that they can truly be together.   He’s always been   more animal than human, having had little parental guidance in his formative years and allowed to roam the swamps without any interference.   Even Elena, though, has an edge to her. In fact, the entire story of Bitten centers around Elena giving up her dream for normalcy and embracing her beast.

In Tempting Danger, Eileen Wilks presents a fascinating structure for her werewolves including a regional political system whereby the werewolves are divided by clans and a distinct  hierarchy.   The leader of a clan is called the Rho and the heir is called Lu Nuncio.    There are mate bonds wherein the mated pair cannot be separated by any significant distance.      This book more closely resembles the stories in urban fantasy with its interspecies politics and emphasis on strong worldbuilding but centered around a romance.

I love the werewolf romance when they involve the raw primal appeal but also when the Pack plays an important role. I love to read about the sense of family created by the Pack and how the parties navigate within it.   I would love to see more of these.   To me, it’s not so much about the beast and sex, but about the complicated dynamic of the beast and the Pack itself.

I ask you, the reader, if you like werewolf romances and if so, what you like about it. If not, what don’t you like.   Share your opinion in the comments.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

34 Comments

  1. Katie
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 04:10:27

    I have never read a romance with shape shifters, so I must ask, what happens in the sex scenes? Are they always in human form for the act or do some authors push the bounds?

    ReplyReply

  2. Edie
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 04:17:21

    I love shifter romances, Lauren Dane’s Cascadia Wolves and Dana Marie Bells books are some of my faves.
    I think it is the family feeling of the pack and the politics of them that I enjoy the most, that and the nature aspect.. I am a bit of a hippy in some ways and a lot of the werewolf books focus on a love of nature etc. Which appeals to me.

    Oddly, I think the family aspect makes it a little more plausible to me than the vampire stories..

    ReplyReply

  3. Shannon Reinbold-Gee
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 05:13:04

    Jane,

    Great post! I know there are more werewolf novels coming (several gals in 2K10 are also launching werewolf novels in 2010 around the time of mine). Those novels are YA (and, honestly, I’m not sure how much romance is in Judith Graves‘s and Kitty Keswick‘s novels–mine definitely have romance). Kelley Armstrong also has more books with weres coming out next year. So more werewolves are on the way.

    I think one reason werewolves become part of the larger paranormal realm is because, as writers, we are hesitant to get pigeonholed as an author of one particular thing. It can sometimes be a choice based on economics–as much as I love my werewolves (and I could write Rusakova stories forever) I also know that the popularity of werewolves (like anything else) comes and goes.

    I read an older interview with Kelley Armstrong in which she talked about being concerned she’d be pigeonholed as an author of werewolves and so she broadened her characters’ universe before her series (may have been her first series–I’d have to check) ended. I took Ms. Armstrong’s words as advice. My werewolves may be the primary paranormal group initially, but their world opens up early.

    And, although the romance is a big part of my werewolf stories, my first book was initially picked up by a (wonderful) editor who mainly handles suspense and thrillers–not romance. So, even within the industry I think everyone has a different expectation for werewolves. I think this is great, btw.

    Werewolves–a type of creature that embodies the theme of transformation and inner struggle–can be anything to anyone that we as authors choose.
    ~Shannon Reinbold-Gee
    Author of the 13 TO LIFE series (launching June 2010 with St. Martin’s Griffin)

    ReplyReply

  4. passingby
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:02:00

    I love well written werewolves and being testosterone driven male they have to be wild, dangerous and yes, bestial. It is the essence of what we admire in the beast, no? More hairy sex would be great. Unfortunately, most of the paranormal books are written by female authors and for female audience, thus the wolves are very lame, like Patricia Brigg’s.

    ReplyReply

  5. roslynholcomb
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:16:20

    I prefer weres to vamps. Give me furry beasties over the undead any day. I too find the whole family structure thing appealing. Am currently working on a shifter historical for 2010.

    ReplyReply

  6. Mezza
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:22:07

    I think there are a lot of e-books that have werewolf heros/heroines eg. Moira Rogers Red Rock Pass books and my favourites; Buffi Beecraft-Woodalls 3 books that begin with ‘Weremones’ which has a single mother as heroine whose single mum rage is equal to any werewolf and include a young wolf with ADHD who is a hero in the next book. Vivien Arend’s short story ‘Wolf Signs’ (with a deaf heroine)and JL Langley’s m/m wolf stories are more that spring to mind. So there is more going on werewolf-wise than appears in print at the moment. I ‘m with Edie, that one of the things that is attractive to me in werewolf stories is that they are part of packs and clans and that they deal with things together, that we see the dynamics of their relationships and growth and change in these as their romantic relationship changes them.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jane O
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:24:22

    I think I’m too old for romantic werewolves/shapeshifters. Mention werewolves and all I can think of is Lon Chaney Jr. and Madame Ouspenskaya in THE WOLFMAN, with someone chanting, “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.”

    I loved the movie when I was a kid, but in romance? Ludicrous.

    ReplyReply

  8. HeatherK
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:27:21

    Ronda Thompson wrote wonderful wolf stories. Call of the Moon is one of my favorite books. In it, the hero becomes a wolf in the traditional after he was bitten way and during the full moon. In her historical wolf series, Wild Wulfs of London, the male members of the family were cursed to become wolves until they found a way to lift the curse. It really saddens me to know there will be no more of her wonderful stories to look forward to, but at least we have these to hold on to and remember her by.

    Other than those, I can’t honestly say I’ve read a lot of books containing werewolves. Larissa Ione’s Demonica series has werewolves in it, then again, there are lots of strange creatures in those, which is a big part of the reason I love the series. And Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Were-Hunters include wolves.

    I have one short story including a wolf, but when the hero shifts, it’s into full wolf not the man-wolf combo of legend. However, I am toying with some that can take all three forms…human, full wolf, and a mix of the two. It’s just not high up on the priorities list right now.

    I’m always open to suggestions for new reading material, though, regardless of how much the husband grumbles about it.

    As for reading about werewolves, if there were more choices, I’d probably read more. However, I’m also not into first person, which eliminates some options.

    ReplyReply

  9. joanne
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:48:01

    Every time I think I know it all (that’s a joke) I realize just how naive I am. I never think of weres and shifters in terms of the bestiality aspect. Never. I see the werewolf, vamp and shifter stories as romantic fairytales. Even when I step ever-so-carefully into the world of Urban Fantasy books it is only because I’ve pretty much been guaranteed that they are centered with romance like the Patricia Briggs A&O series.

    I find shifters sexier because they are in control of their animal side, most of the time — unless the little lady is in trouble– look another not-joke— *sigh*.

    I’ve loved some of the Breed books by Lora Leigh but prefer Laurenston’s shifters. It’s all ice cream, just different flavors. I haven’t tried the Silhouette Nocturne line in a while so I’ll have to take a look and see what’s new.

    What I love about the romance genre & community is that choice. Furry or Aristocratic, shifting or wearing a top hat, in jeans or in silk britches— it’s all just great fun with no calories.

    ReplyReply

  10. Carin
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:49:31

    I like werewolf romances. My favorite aspects (that *usually* go along with a werewolf) are: the alpha-ness, having 2 (or 3) forms to work in, getting to read from a wolf’s perspective, the pack dynamic.

    One of my favorite aspects of any kind of shifter story is to see how the animal side plays out in the human world. What is about this person and his/her relationships that is different than a full human. Do they act different? Do they look different? Are there instinctual animal pulls on them in human form? I like all of that.

    ReplyReply

  11. joanne
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:56:37

    Sorry for the second post but sometimes edit works and sometimes not.

    @HeatherK: yes, me too with the 1st person writing. I try, I really do but all I hear is a mariachi group in the background singing Aye-aye- aye.

    ReplyReply

  12. Jayne
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 06:59:47

    I love the lolcat today but shouldn’t we have had a loldog for this article? ;)

    ReplyReply

  13. Jennifer Estep
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 07:25:24

    It doesn’t really matter to me what the main creature feature in a book is — werewolves, vamps, demons, etc. — as long as the world building makes sense and supports the story.

    I have to say that I didn’t care for Bitten, though. Damaged or not, I thought Clay was a real jerk for turning Elena, and I wanted her to kick his butt, walk away, and never look back.

    Has anyone mentioned Lori Handeland’s Nightcreature series? It features wolves too … although they’re the enemy for the most part.

    ReplyReply

  14. Ciar Cullen
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 07:30:44

    I got over raw animal appeal somewhere halfway through menopause. I like a good dragon/fantasy type guy once in a while, and even wrote a shark-shifter of Hawaiian mythology in The Biggest Kahuna. But I think it’s done and done. Alpha schmalfa–tired of it, and tired of Baby being put in the corner, at least until the end of the book when the Alpha shows his Beta underbelly.

    Or maybe it’s just that I never much liked hairy guys.

    ReplyReply

  15. Edie
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 07:56:42

    I can’t believe I forgot Shelly Laurenston’s shifters.. or Vivi Arend or Moira Rogers or Buffi woodall (whose books were soo much fun BTW) These are all fav authors of mine. There are definitely a lot of shifters in the e-pubs and I think I have read most of them. ROFL

    ReplyReply

  16. Keishon
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 08:07:32

    To me, it's not so much about the beast and sex, but about the complicated dynamic of the beast and the Pack itself

    .

    Those kind of werewolf stories are a bit more meatier and I prefer it too. In Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause is an excellent werewolf story that involves self-identity and Pack dynamics. There’s even a ritual where the Pack must pick a leader and it’s pretty violent. Of course this is not romance but a YA novel but it was very good and has a rather nice, somewhat hot romance in it.

    I don’t care for the sex-driven shifter wolves or emotionally driven shifts myself. For me the whole animal sex in shift mode is bestiality to me. Just don’t want to go there. And yes, I also agree that there is a difference between “werewolves” and “shifters.” I think Charlaine Harris makes this distinction in her series.

    Will also add that I wouldn’t care for werewolves in romance. Wouldn’t read them. Werewolf stories and such belong right where they’re at – in urban fantasy novels because I need or require the requisite worldbuilding that goes with it.

    ReplyReply

  17. Jane
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 08:45:17

    @Jayne: That is a good point.

    @Keishon: I think one of the reasons that UF is so popular amongst romance readers is because the speculative fiction romances skimp on the worldbuilding. Now I think that Spec Fic Rom writers are in a tough spot. On the one hand, they have to write a convincing romance and on the other, they have to provide detailed worldbuilding. It’s not like the UF writers are doing great things with romance building. When an author gets it right, it’s really fabulous but most of the time, I agree, that there is short shrift given to the worldbuilding.

    Few of the interspersed werewolf stories amongst the larger paranormal species feature the real meaty worldbuilding that you and I both like. I think that’s why I prefer the werewolf series. In other words, while I totally enjoyed Larissa Ione’s book with the werewolf heroine, there was little about the werewolf culture that was included in the story. Ditto with Kresley Cole. Their focus is on their larger world arc and not the wolf culture.

    @Shannon Reinbold-Gee: I remember Armstrong saying that as well. But I think even though she didn’t want to get pegged as a werewolf writer, Clay and Elena are her most popular characters.

    ReplyReply

  18. Jody W.
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 09:05:35

    I enjoy seeing what an author does with what has become the stereotype of werewolves (or wolf shifters), pack dynamics and the “alpha” male. I like to see authors really subvert expectations. I’ve actually got a shifter romance making the rounds, somewhat unsuccessfully, which is interesting because I keep seeing editors and agents say they’re looking for shifters. That may be more telling about my query than what editors and agents want to publish, though :).

    ReplyReply

  19. Naomi
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 10:24:09

    I love werewolves, always have, and definitely prefer them to vampires whether it’s in romance or UF. For me the appeal is twofold: firstly,the metaphor of the beast within the man, and the way the werewolf demonstrates the primal side of humanity that’s usually locked away.

    Secondly, the pack aspect and the notion of community and family that you don’t always see with other PR/UF beasties. My own 2010 novel, Silver Kiss focuses on a f/f werewolf/human couple and their experiences with pack life (amongst other things) (yeah, sorry, shameless plug).

    I’m not a huge fan of furry sex, but I don’t like to see monsters defanged either. If your hero is an alpha male werewolf, let him act like one!

    ReplyReply

  20. MB
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 10:30:53

    The beastiality factor is the “ick” factor in werewolves for me. Also the whole pack thing. I think Laurell K. Hamilton’s Richard turned me off. I don’t remember which book it was, maybe one of the earlier ones, where it described the pack participating in a hunt then tearing the creature to bits and then a big roiling orgy. To me that was a huge yuck and I can’t get that scene out of my mind.

    Now, wolves themselves are beautiful, dangerous and even sexy to other wolves… But mix that with a human and that is usually icky to me.

    I don’t usually like shape-changer romances with a very few exceptions. There are a few sex scenes in some of Christine Feehan’s leopard shape-changer romances that didn’t gross me out. Probably because they were both cats at the time and behaved appropriately biologically to real cats. I like accuracy. Illona Andrews Magic series is also wonderful and I love the way Curran romances his female like a lion would. That is one series that I love!

    Terry Pratchett’s Angua and Corporal Carrot romance is wonderful as a shape-changer romance. I love the way Angua struggles with her nature and how Carrot accepts her. “The Fifth Elephant” is amazing in this when Angua goes home and deals with her family.

    And, although not really shape-changer romances, I have to do a call-out for Robin McKinley’s Beauty and her Sunshine. Both of which deal with loving an Other and are pretty high standards to meet, IMO.

    ReplyReply

  21. Lane
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 10:45:05

    @ by Jody W.

    I enjoy seeing what an author does with what has become the stereotype of werewolves (or wolf shifters), pack dynamics and the “alpha” male. I like to see authors really subvert expectations.

    I like this too. I think it’s a real challenge to the author to take a different direction with a werewolf. That’s what I really liked about LM Prieto’s After series – she crafted a well-developed character with depth, who was definitely not an “alpha”, but was still willing to risk everything for love.

    ReplyReply

  22. Castiron
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 10:48:36

    By the voluntary/involuntary definition, would Navarre in the movie Ladyhawke be a werewolf? It’s definitely an involuntary change….

    ReplyReply

  23. Lusty Reader
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 11:13:22

    great conversation starter! im laughing because i started the think about the issues you mentioned (beastiality, shifting vs infected, etc) and realized i had never thought about any of it bothering me before because i just have the HUGEST blanket of suspension of belief over me whenever i read anything paranormal.

    not to say i don’t get squicked out sometimes, but i just try not to think too hard about it.

    i also wanted to wholeheartedly second you in that my favoriate part of werewolf or other animal shifter stories is the Pack Dynamic. Most recently I read Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, and the hero shifts into a panther, but anyways, the way they use their senses and connections within the pack to communicate were just fascinating!

    ReplyReply

  24. Mythicagirl
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 13:08:05

    Luv the Weres, luv the topic.

    That’s why I created a bi-racial teen werewolf, or she-wolf (shameless plug). I’ve decided to make her a weekly webcomic as my query makes the rounds.

    I don’t know why there aren’t more female weres. The drama of being a shifter AND having PMS AND teen angst was just to delicious of a drama for me to pass up.

    Anyone interested can check out prelim sketches as well as info on other paranormal/fantasy artists at:

  25. K. Z. Snow
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 13:43:18

    I’ve always had dogs, and it’s because I don’t think they’re disgusting that I just cannot get into this werewolf/wolf-shifter scene. Yeah, it skates too close to bestiality for me.

    But as much as I love dogs, I wouldn’t want a half-canine as a mate. There’s that distinctive bouquet of smells (don’t tell me they don’t linger), and the instinct to “mark” territory (and so we move from bestiality to golden showers), and fleas and ticks, and sometimes worms . . .

    Okay, I’ll stop now. Carry on.

    ReplyReply

  26. SonomaLass
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 14:59:53

    Apologies if someone has already mentioned these — commenting in a hurry w/out closely reading all previous posts. I really enjoyed the trilogy by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp that began with Touch of Evil. The hero is a werewolf (more like a wolf shifter from the distinction suggested in your post), and the heroine is not. Thus there isn’t any beastiality in the sex scenes, which was good for my comfort zone. The world building is good, and the romance is done quite well, with an HEA at the end of the third book that made me cry.

    ReplyReply

  27. silvia
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 17:36:26

    What I love to see explored in werewolf fiction:
    (a) the concepts of family, loyalty, honor
    (b) accepting/embracing a non-human lifestyle & value system

    What I hate to see explored in werewolf fiction:
    (a) strict gender roles & misogyny (or, in m/m or f/f, applying weird strict ‘gender-like’ roles on relationships)
    (c) the rejection or devaluing of non-human lifestyle (e.g. Blood & Chocolate reversed)
    (d) insta-mates (where they have some ~*magic*~ bond that forces sexual attraction and/or love – that’s not romantic to me)
    (e) “alphas” who push woman around and treat them like crap [see: strict gender roles, misogyny]

    ReplyReply

  28. A
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 21:06:20

    Interesting post.

    I think romance featuring a bonafide werewolf (traditional type, no control over the change, beast-like, etc.) versus a “wolf shifter” has ingrained challenges.

    It’s the equivalent of attempting a romance where the hero, heroine, or both have a medical affliction resulting in bizarre mood swings/personality changes that can include brutal, abusive, even murderous behavior. The werewolf legend itself reads like an allegory for bipolar personality.

    The shifter mythos and mythos where the werewolf retains sentience/awareness of his/her true self entertains greater versatility.

    I must say shifter characters are very addictive. I’m polishing up a novel where my wolf shifters are secondary characters. The wolf shifter was mortally wounded after battling a demonic monster…and now I’m toying with saving him (or at least leaving an “open ending”) so I might be able to utilize him later. It’s weird because I don’t even really like the character at first (he’s sort of prissy and obnoxious,) but all the backstory and mythology I introduced into my shifter characterisation has me “a little in love” with the character now.

    ReplyReply

  29. Keishon
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 22:11:00

    In other words, while I totally enjoyed Larissa Ione's book with the werewolf heroine, there was little about the werewolf culture that was included in the story. Ditto with Kresley Cole. Their focus is on their larger world arc and not the wolf culture.

    Point taken. I need to read Ione. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyReply

  30. Jane
    Sep 30, 2009 @ 09:04:27

    @silvia I love your list. I seriously had problems with a recent werewolf book I read because of the issues regarding strict gender roles and misogyny. I’ll have to refer to this list in my review.

    ReplyReply

  31. Jane
    Sep 30, 2009 @ 09:28:30

    @SonomaLass I had heard that the Adams/Clamp books weren’t romances and that someone even died?

    ReplyReply

  32. ReacherFan
    Sep 30, 2009 @ 13:19:38

    I think some authors go to the ‘ick’ part for sensationalism and others do it to explore the nature of the werewolf they created. Like most things in paranormal fantasy, the ‘ick’ factor all depends for me. I have all kinds of issues with true bestiality – animal on human – that has cropped up recently in several erotic romance ebooks, but no real problem with shifters ‘doing it’ in the fur rather than the buff. Animals don’t have the inhibitions that humans do, but we all have ‘ick’ thresholds and some cut close on mine – though the frequent D/s aspects are more likely to push me over an ‘ick’ limit. BDSM is my own personal hot button.

    I’ve rather enjoyed how some authors explore the nature of the pack function – the need for physical contact, and casual sexual exploration. It’s the nature of animals. Anyone who has multiple dogs and watched them together knows that. And animals do run in packs to kill – traditional fox hunts are all about exactly that. Using one kind of animal to chase and kill another. Dogs have been bred to do that – terriers in particular.

    Some authors are more willing to look at things from a less traditional perspective. In Lora Leigh’s Breeds books, these are not shifters, but genetic human/animal hybrids and she’s free to imbue them with whatever traits she wishes. On the whole, it’s one of her better series, though she overworks some aspects to death. In most shifter ‘worlds’, modern, historical, or futuristic, there is some kind of ‘magic’ involved – an inherited gift, or in some, it’s a transferable virus that confers ‘were‘ strength.

    I love Shelly Laurenston because she is a ‘plain vanilla’ sort of shifter writer and she makes it work and work very well. Bianca D’Arc creates a whole complex urban fantasy in Lords of the Were, Sweeter Than Wine, and Inferno where newly made vamps gain strength from drinking were blood and even old vamps gain powers from Fae blood. And many of these urban fantasies link sex magic with power.

    Morgan Hawke’s Kiss of the Wolf has a very curious ‘world’ set in the 1800′s with vamps, mages and a female werewolf surrounded by actual historical events. The werewolf at the heart of the story was once an ordinary girl who became a werewolf as the result of magic – a mage creation. I completely enjoyed that book and the Thorn Ferrel character, but she was a unique creature, not part of a special race.

    I was an epic fantasy and science fiction reader long before I was a romance reader, and a mystery/thriller reader my whole life. Si-fi writers pushed the envelop on sex long before romance writers and noir mystery writers were always drawn to the seamy side of sexuality for plots. I guess that makes more more tolerant than some with certain kinds of sexuality as it pertains to werewolves and other shifters – and non-shifters. Si-fi writes had a blast with sex and non-human races for years. :-)

    As for ‘what is a werewolf’ – I think that’s up to the author to define with the context of their story. Not all werewolf stories involved the ability to shift. White Wolf by Jiann Carlo is a good example. She actually used the ability to shift as a plot device that separated werewolves that historically followed two very different philosophies, but were descendants from common ancestors.

    I think the sheer versatility of werewolves and other weres being, plus the nearly infinite variations offered by urban fantasy, make these genres wonderfully diverse and creative goldmines. And when done well, great reads.

    ReplyReply

  33. REVIEW: Big Bad Wolf by Christine Warren | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Oct 15, 2009 @ 04:01:38

    [...] went out and bought this book for myself. *runs around in circles* A while back I blogged about the seeming dearth of werewolf books, at least books that focus on the pack dynamics and the myths of the beast. Another reader [...]

  34. Lily Stone
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 12:51:41

    Shannon Reinbold-Gee mentioned two series that will be out in early 2010—the Freaksville series by Kitty Keswick and Under My Skin by Judith Graves, also the first in a series. Both series feature werewolves and they definitely are romances. You can read more about them at Leap Books or on my blog. Werewolf lovers may also want to check out Keswick & Graves’ Wolfy Chicks blog. Lots of werewolf fun there!

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply


8 + 6 =

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: