Rating: 3.5 stars
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Slave and Werewolf Fight League fighter, Tor is a werewolf whose life has just shattered in the arena. His mate and love, Jin, has just been killed by his opponent, a circumstance that shouldn’t have happened and is forbidden by Coliseum laws. Injured by the berserker wolf who killed Jin, Tor wants to die, but his Master Marrack has other plans.
Marrack is broke and needs Tor to fight again, so he buys a young sex slave to replace Jin. Sky is a virgin and beautiful. He is also a sex slave. When Marrack purchases him, he promises Sky his freedom if he can get Tor to fight again in the arena (all without Tor’s knowledge of course). The last thing Tor wants is another mate who might be lost to him through fighting. Who will win out with all that’s at stake? Will Tor find love with Sky only to lose him to freedom, or worse?
I have to admit I approached this story with some trepidation. I am a fan of Lynn Lorenz. Her Rougaroux Bayou werewolves and her New Orleans stories are always found on my Must Read lists of recommendations. I normally shy away from fiction with a slave element, especially those with scenes of rape. But a series with werewolves fighting in a sort of gladiator werewolf fight league caught my interest and I just had to know how this author handled such a storyline.
Tor, the first in the series, left me with mixed opinions. I thought the idea of using the mixed martial arts fighting leagues in a werewolf story intriguing, especially if the setting included a Coliseum. Ancient Rome has always been a fount of inspiration for authors and using it as a basis for her world building works really well here. Other creative additions to her WWF series is the PETA modeled Werewolf Rights group fighting to outlaw slavery and the WWF. This is such an imaginative use of an animal rights organization when applied to werewolves that I am surprised that other authors have not thought of this (and if someone has, please let me know). I only wish that this element had a larger part to play in this story. When the issues of abuse at the hands of their Masters, or being raised in substandard kennels is mentioned, it would have added another interesting layer to see this institutionalized combat slavery from outside the societal thinking on the subject. I can only hope that this aspect might be expanded in the stories to come later in the series.
Lorenz has added several new twists to the ever enlarging werewolf lore. In this series, the werewolves do not mate for life. They are offered sex slaves (not weres) as mates, who then can be taken away. If the fighters lose in the arena, the winner takes the other wolf’s mate to do with as they please. The prettier the mate, the more intense the fight, although never to the death, as that would mean a loss of income property and revenue to their masters. Rarely have I read a wolf shifter story that changes out mates as often as occurs here, although Lorenz supplies a good foundation for that. Bonds can be formed between Master and slave, although not considered a mate bond (illegal apparently). I did wish for a little more background information on the society and universe the humans and weres inhabit, but again that might be supplied as the series builds.
The characters of Tor and Sky are given enough layers to make them interesting and their relationship viable. But the biggest obstacle to that connection is one that Lorenz made herself. The beginning of the story starts in the arena, in the middle of a fight between Tor and the berserk werewolf Cosack with Jin caught in the middle. It’s brutal and it contains a scene of violence mentioned in the publisher’s warning below. And even with all that, the character of Jin is a charismatic and riveting one. He is also referred to throughout the story and innocent Sky gets lost in the comparison. I liked Sky and thought the background Lorenz provided made him someone the reader could connect to, but I never quite bought the Tor/Sky love and the story suffered because of that lack of connection to the romance.
The initial violent fight scenes can be scanned if this aspect is offensive without harming the rest of the story. In fact, without that connection to Jin, it might work better for some readers. The rest of the story can be read free of any sort of anxiety over the characters and their love affair. The two other interesting characters in this story, Dan Stoltz and Ashland, are given the next installment in the series. I liked these two and can’t wait to read their story.
Would I recommend Tor? Yes, with some hesitation. If you can’t resist a wolf shifter story like me, grab this up. It has some great new twists to add to werewolf fiction lore. If you love Lynn Lorenz like I do, grab it up as well. I have never been able to pass her books by. This is just the first in the series and it has so many terrific aspects that can be enlarged with each new story. I will let the rest of you decide on the romance central to Tor as to whether you connected to the characters or not. And now on to Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2).
Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM theme and elements, exhibitionism, master/slave, violence (including rape). Readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse may find elements of this story disturbing/
Cover by artist Mina Carter is a wow. I love that torso with the WWF brand on the chest. Sexy, hot and relevant to the story.