Rating: 4 stars
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For the past year, Levi has been trying to change Glyn, his witch boyfriend, into a werewolf like him. Month after month the men attempt the change, and each time it fails. Levi would love to have Glyn as part of his pack. And becoming a wolf would help Glyn tame his own erratic powers that come from being only a partial witch. But so far, no luck, and they can’t understand why. And now things are becoming even more complicated as Levi’s pack gets involved. They are desperate for new wolves, and if Levi can’t turn Glyn, they want him to turn someone else instead.
Levi finds himself torn between his pack and his boyfriend. On one hand, he knows they need more members, especially now with threats coming from a rival pack leader. But on the other, he can’t bear the idea of turning someone other than Glyn, especially because the turning process means months of sexual charge and intimacy as the new wolf grows and develops. As the conflict begins to come between the two men, Glyn and Levi must decide what they are willing to risk for one another and whether there is a way they can solidify a future together.
I was intrigued by Bite Me Tender, as while there are lots of shifter stories out there, a shifting/witch pairing is much more rare. It is hard to come up with a fresh spin on the shifter lore, and I think this is the area where Lowell most succeeds here. She manages to create some really interesting world building with some unique little details. Unlike most packs that are led by an alpha, Levi’s pack is run by a council that manages things democratically. This keeps one person from having all the power, but also leads to problems when the pack wants to force Levi to turn another wolf. The turning process itself is also really unusual too, with a hunting of the potential wolf, turning him with a severe bite, and then months of nurturing (and sex) to help the new wolf develop and ultimately wean from its maker.
I found Glyn’s witch even more interesting. The witches are sort of wild and spontaneous and a bit out of control. We get to see this full force with Glyn’s grandmother, who is pretty much a force to be reckoned with. In Glyn’s case, as only a quarter witch, he doesn’t have much control over his power. Being in a small town means he has less outlet for that power, and needs to keep himself under tight rein to keep it controlled. He holds himself together by being very regimented with lots of OCD tendencies in order to keep his powers from acting out in strange and wacky ways. This is a large part of the reason Levi wants to turn Glyn, in hopes that the wolf side will help him tame and control his witch. These guys are both interesting characters and they are sweet and very hot together.
So I think the world building is great and the story has a really interesting take on both shifter and witch lore. My problems with this book really came in the form of a lot of confusion over the back story. There were several key elements where I just felt like things weren’t explained well enough (or soon enough) and I spent a lot of story in various states of confusion. My first issue centered around Levi’s past. There are lots of references to the fact that Levi used to be out of control, and that is related to why he wanted a council in the first place (and therefore why he feels he must now follow the council). This was really not well explained however, and while I got the vague idea that Levi used to be a baddie and now he is under control, I was never sure what caused his behavior or what solved it. Or even exactly what it mattered.
Next, I wasn’t totally clear on why it was so important they add new wolves in the first place. We learn early on that there is a threat from another pack who are up to no good, but the exact threat was never clearly spelled out. Presumably to take over Levi’s pack, or pack lands? The leader McCourt is stirring up trouble, sending signals like dumping dead wolves in Levi’s dumpster, but again I was not clear to what end. Clearly intimidation, but why? In hopes they just give up? Somehow the idea of Levi creating a new wolf would prove to McCourt their pack was strong, and I guess less ripe for the picking. But honestly, how is one wolf going to make a difference? Especially when they take months to fully grow before that wolf can make more? Why are the other wolves in the pack not also being recruited into this endeavor too if it is so urgent? Also, we are given to eventually understand that McCourt’s pack is growing so large as to threaten Levi’s, implying there will be some sort of all out pack battle, but then in the final confrontation, [spoiler] only Levi and McCourt are involved. So why couldn’t they have resolved this issue between the two of them all along? Why did the size of the pack matter?[/spoiler]
Finally, I didn’t fully understand why it was so important that Levi be the one to make a new wolf, versus everyone else in the pack. This is sort of nodded to midway through the story when it is mentioned that Levi’s turn rate is better than most. But honestly, he is a partnered man and the turning process means essentially months of crazy sex with the new wolf. The idea that he is being forced to turn someone against his will (by giving in to a council vote) seemed absurd to me. Levi brings up the point that none of the other partnered wolves are being asked to do this, but it is never really answered. So I never really feel like the reasons it had to be Levi were clear or compelling enough to put him in this situation. Given that Levi turning a new wolf is the key conflict of the story, I felt like we needed to understand more clearly and earlier on why Levi is so critical in this whole plan and why he would even consider giving in to the council. As it was, I felt the story was built around this urgency for new wolves and Levi to do the job, but I never felt fully clear as to why.
So while I really enjoyed Levi and Glyn, and thought the world building was really creative here, I just felt like there were a lot of threads put in place that weren’t developed clearly. I think we were aren’t given enough back story to explain all the intricacies of the plot, or at least not early enough to really feel like I understood exactly what was happening or why things were important. This is a very short novel, and I think maybe a little longer story could have helped in fleshing out these plot points.
The story gives us an HEA, but there is an opening for more to happen here. I think it would be interesting to see what might develop with Connor (the other wolf wanna be the pack is pushing on Levi). Some people may not like the direction that goes, but it worked just fine for me. So I would be really interested to read on if there is more to come.
I think overall Lowell has some great ideas and has put together a story with a lot of creativity and imagination. I really enjoyed her writing style, her characters, and her unique spin on shifters and witches. I think more detail and development of key issues would have helped this story a lot, but I did enjoy it and would definitely look for more by this author.