Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Brian is apathetic, directionless, overwhelmed, alone, and lost. Ever since he was cursed with lycanthropy, his life has just .. stopped. Brian dropped out of college, much to the confusion of his parents, and hid at home until an inadvertent confession opened an even greater rift between them. Unable to stand the judgement, the fear, and the silence, Brian left and found himself a small apartment, a job, and then … stopped.

Brian has friends, Nik and Darby, but he learned all to well the lessons his parents taught them and keeps them firmly at arm’s length, ready to bail at the first sign of disinterest. Or too much interest. And then he meets Tyler.

Being with Tyler is like being hit with a train. He’s full of ideas, plans, and goals. Tyler knows what Brian needs to turn his life around — both his human life and his werewolf one, because Tyler, too, is a werewolf. He teaches Brian about strength and control, about finding balance between his two sides, and for the first time ever, Brian shifts without blacking out. He learns to stand up straight, to stop drinking so much, and to start taking care of himself.

Brian is so very good at doing what Tyler tells him. And Tyler is good for him! Tyler knows what he’s doing. He knows what Brian needs, what he should want, who he should be. Tyler makes being Brian so much easier. No more thinking, no more nights lost in endless ruminations, no more opinions that drive people away. And then Tyler introduces him to Mark. Mark who, like Brian, is so good at doing what Tyler tells him to do, at thinking what Tyler wants him to think, and for the first time in a long time, Brian starts having his own thoughts, like how much he doesn’t like always doing what he’s told.

But he’s part of a pack, now. He has a place to belong. Until Tyler takes what’s between them — already frayed from Mark’s introduction — and decides they need more wolves. And if they can’t be found, they should be made. Brian has to make a choice, a hard one. Is Tyler the man he wants to follow? The man he wants to obey? Is Tyler’s path the one Brian wants to follow, or is it time he finds his own?

This will not be a book for everyone. For one, the werewolf aspect is muted in the background, showing up in a few moments here and there, but it’s not the focus of the book or even Brian’s life. For another, there’s a lot of Tyler in this book, and Tyler — so well written — is such an annoying twat. I very much did not like him. While he has ideas, they’re all stolen from other people; all his clever turns of phrase are parroted from other men. Tyler wants to be an Alpha, to be served and obeyed, and has the money to make that happen. There is also no romance in this book. Tyler isn’t a friend and certainly not a lover; he’s an authority figure, a replacement father who pats Brian on the head when he does well.

Through the whole book, Brian has never really chosen anything. He’s always doing what he’s told, keeping his thoughts quiet and accepting invitations without ever extending them. Nik and Darby, his friends from work, often extend invitations to come out and drink, go to a party, hang out with friends and sometimes Brian accepts, sometimes he doesn’t. They forgive him when he flakes or when he vanishes, sharing his taste in music and entertainment, laughing at the same jokes, and they ground and balance him.

Tyler has never listened to the word “no” in his life, and Brian’s rather tepid please leave me alone doesn’t make Tyler stay away, it just proves to him that Brian is weak enough that Tyler can still bully him into doing what he’s told. When smiles and offers to forgive him fail, Tyler turns to threats, not to Brian but to Brian’s friends. And that’s when Brian has to make a choice. Brian may not be willing (or able) to stand up for himself at the moment, but he’ll be damned if he lets Tyler hurt his friends.

The book is told in third person present tense and, as I mentioned, spends a whole lot of time with Tyler, with Brian’s admiration, acceptance, and then slowly growing distance from him and his ideas. Tyler is an asshole of the highest order and the book spends a great deal of time showing how people like Tyler can win over people like Brian, people who don’t like making scenes, who don’t want to cause a fuss, who are willing to go along with the flow even when they’re starting to drown. When Tyler shows off his bigotry, misogyny, and cruelty, Brian doesn’t stop him and doesn’t really call him out. He lets Tyler get away with it again and again because it’s easier than making a fuss, especially when there are parts of Tyler’s cobbled together and half-plagiarized ideas that do call to Brian.

The world building is vaguely there, but it’s never the focus of the book. Instead it is about Brian being swept up in the toxic masculinity and then trying to decouple himself from it. I found the pace to be a little dogged, trudging resolutely to the ending at a very steady beat; there’s no real rising or falling action to liven things up, but that’s partly because it’s told through Brian’s eyes. Brian who does everything he can to not have to feel anything. For me, personally, the ending didn’t work. There’s a character introduced, Abe, Darcy’s boyfriend, who hovers in the background and does nothing but take away from Brian’s story. When Brian faces down Mark, and then Tyler, he does so desperate to protect other people. It’s a moment in his character where he’s choosing, on his own, to do something … but it turns out that he might as well not have. Brian has spent the whole book letting other people do things for him, and the one time he tries to do something for himself,

Spoiler title
Abe sweeps in to do it for him
. You can say that Brian making the choice to stand up to Mark and Tyler is the point, but it still leaves Brian inactive.

Overall, this is an interesting book. It’s well done, well written, and I did enjoy Brian and even Tyler as characters, and enjoyed watching Brian decide to think for himself. However, its sense of humor slid past me and I’m not sure who its audience is. But, as ever, if you give it a chance, I hope you enjoy it!