Injured soldier Lincoln Adams has one last mission in mind. He plans to rescue an orphan boy he befriended in Somalia and bring him back to America.
But there are complications. Will Lincoln’s superiors permit a man with one leg to go into a warzone? And what about Lincoln’s growing desire for soldier-avoidant Angeline O’Brien?
Tamed by the She-Wolf, by Kristal Hollis, is a meaty supernatural romance set in Texas.
Lincoln, Angeline, and most of their friends, are wolf-shapeshifters living in a pack-run small town. Their world is a blend of human and wolf: diners and grocery stores, runs in the forest and full-moon nooky.
Kristal Hollis does a great job of showing life through the shapeshifters’ eyes. The characters’ wolfish instincts shape their approach to coupling up. Cheerfully into casual encounters when single, the shapeshifters form deep lifelong, telepathic bonds with their mates.
Lincoln and Angeline’s romance is governed by the rules of their species yet is also accessible to human readers. It takes skill to write supernatural creatures who are both relatable and utterly different.
We are living through roiling disputes about gender roles and gender itself. These days it can be difficult to write romances that keep everybody happy.
I think stories about nonhuman couples are able to sidestep these arguments and have more room to manoeuvre. How the genders behave can be a consequence of their supernatural species rather than the writer stating how humans ought to be.
To me Tamed by the She-Wolf reads like an old-fashioned small c conservative, family values novel. At its heart it’s about children, settling down and finding a home. In terms of gender it’s a very binary novel, with lots said about masculine energies and feminine essences.
I imagine that wolf-shapeshifters are ideal characters for these kind of earthy “me man, you woman” sort of stories.
If small c conservative isn’t your thing, don’t be put off. I don’t think this is a patriarchal story. Angeline is a successful, independent woman. It is never suggested that she needs a man to complete her. She has a life of her own.
It’s also good to read a romance in which one of the characters is coming to terms with the loss of a leg. Hollis’s descriptions of Lincoln’s relationship with his prosthetic feel sympathetically written. They left me wondering whether the writer or someone close to her might have had an amputation.