killer in wolf's clothingRating: 3 stars
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Length: Novel

Larry is starting to get suspicious that his boyfriend Greg disappears three days every month. When Larry assumes Greg is cheating on him, Greg finally confesses his secret: he is a werewolf. At first Larry doesn’t believe him, but then Greg shows him some video he made of himself changing. And sure enough, Greg seems to transform into a huge, hulking, hairy guy who is clearly very different than Greg.

Larry decides he wants to see for himself what happens to Greg each month, so he sneaks in one night and watches. Despite seeing the video, Larry is still shocked to meet “Deke,” Greg’s alpha alter ego. Deke is huge and aggressive and all about food and sex. And Larry is happy to comply with both of those demands.

As Larry learns more about Greg and talks to Deke further, it is clear that there is man in their past who has killed before and may be killing again. Greg himself can’t stop him, but together Larry and Deke just might be able to catch the man — if Larry doesn’t get killed in the process.

Ok, so let me start with what worked for me here. I was drawn to this one by the blurb. I liked the view on shifters that Wilkins presents here, with Greg/Deke as two sides of the same person. I was also intrigued at the idea that Deke satisfies kinks in Larry that Greg really can’t, and I was interested to see where Wilkins took that. Plus, the thriller angle mixed in with the serial killer sounded appealing. So I will say that at a basic level, these elements worked. I think Wilkins presents a unique take on shifters that I have never seen before. Rather than transform into an actual wolf at the full moon, Greg turns into this sort of hairy, amped up version of himself that still looks and interacts like a man (albeit sort of caveman-like in his personality). Deke is like this hyper alpha, aggressive alter ego to Greg. We learn early on that Larry likes a bit of kink with Greg, but he would like to submit at times too, but that is not Greg’s thing. But Deke is all about domination, so Larry gets to play out that side of himself when they get together. While the thriller side of things isn’t super developed, I did like that the story adds in this bit of suspense and it takes things in a surprising direction as the story develops. There is definitely an element of uniqueness here that I appreciated.

However, there was also a lot here that didn’t work for me. First off, there is basically no development of the relationship between Greg and Larry, or their characters individually. We get to know next to nothing about them. This is particularly an issue in that we see both men take big steps for one another, yet we have no sense of their relationship or personalities to back that up. Greg is almost an nonexistent character, appearing in a few scenes, while most of the book he is his Deke form. So I had trouble being invested in him at all, or in their relationship. But at least I liked Greg. Deke, on the other hand, I found totally unbearable, to the point I could hardly stand reading about him. He is crude and obnoxious and pretty much a total asshole. He thinks only of himself, he treats Larry like shit, and he doesn’t seem to care much for Greg either. The problem is, Deke is presented to be this hot, sexy, alpha man, whereas I only found him repugnant. Just as an example, here he is after the guys have sex the first time:

“That was amazing, Deke. My God, you’re incredible. I–”

“Shut it.” He shoved Larry away. “And don’t cuddle with me. I don’t do that.”

“Why? Don’t you want to be held?”

“Held?” He scowled. “I fuck, I come. I wait ten minutes, then do it again. I don’t turn into a pussy and cuddle. Fuck that.”

Charming, yes? That is when he is not calling Greg a “pussy” or demanding endless blow jobs or any one of a number of obnoxious behaviors. But of course, somehow Larry finds this all so attractive that he is more than willing to have sex with Deke immediately, and continue having sex with him even as Deke treats him like crap. I do like an alpha guy, and if you have read my reviews, you know I have no problem with dirty, kinky, etc. But Deke just felt crass and unpleasant, rather than appealing to me. I’m going to leave aside the fact that Larry is totally jealous at the idea of Greg sleeping around (which he isn’t), but at the same time he hops into bed with Deke and has sex with someone else at a bar without a second thought.

I was also totally put off by some interactions Deke and Larry have in a bar together. They meet Daisy, who is referred to as a drag queen. At one point Larry says, “I’ll go home and leave you to… him… her… whatever he/she calls itself.” Sorry no, not ok from the guy who is supposed to be the hero of the story. Later Larry refers to her disparagingly as a “tranny.” Which is wrong on many levels. Aside from being an offensive term to refer to someone who is trans, being a drag queen and being trans are not the same thing. This is all just thrown out there with no hint that we are supposed to see Larry’s words as a problem.

So at that point, while I think Wilkins does present an interesting thriller/suspense side of things, and her take on the shifter world is unique, I just had too many other issues I couldn’t get past. I can totally get the appeal of an alpha man, or even one whose allure makes people behave in ways they normally wouldn’t. But Deke is just so repellant, I never found him appealing, nor did I ever really understand why Larry does. We are just told that he finds Deke hot and so he is totally fine jumping right into bed with him despite Deke treating him like shit. So while conceptually I had no problem, the way this dynamic was implemented just didn’t work for me.

If you are a big fan of shifters and are looking for an unusual take, or if you like the idea of the dual personality elements, this story might work for you better than it worked for me. Especially if you are interested in the suspense side of things. But otherwise I think this is a book that works a lot better in theory than execution.

Killer in Wolf’s Clothing is a revision/rerelease of the version originally published by Amber Quill Press. 

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