Last Wolf Standing, by Rhyannon Byrd

15 Mar

Last Wolf Standing, by Rhyannon Byrd.

This book is the first installment in a new series put out by the Silhouette Nocturne line. The next two titles, Last Wolf Hunting and Last Wolf Watching, will be out in April and May respectively. The series is yet another take on werewolf lore.

“Blood Runners.
Caught between two worlds, these half-breed protectors will stop at nothing in their pursuit of justice… and love.”

Back cover blurb:

Five seconds earlier, Mason Dillinger would have sworn it could never happen…
… that a woman who was his perfect match even existed. And that he’d find her in a bustling café. Yet just the scent of sweet, mortal Torrance Watson ignited a driving, explosive need to claim her that he knew his pack would never sanction. Worse, the rogue werewolf he’d been hunting had sensed that attraction and made Torry his prey. Forced to safeguard her from this ruthless assassin, who already posed a threat to his pack, Mason now faced the ultimate challenge. Did he have the courage to cross the line by sealing the blood bond that would make Torry his alone—a disloyalty few of his kind ever survived—or would he live an eternity without love?

As usual, more than a bit of the blurb is overdramatic and doesn’t quite correspond to the actual world the author created for her characters—at least as far as what is revealed about Ms Byrd’s Lycans in this book. For example, nowhere in the novel is it either mentioned or implied that werewolves are immortal—or even have a longer than normal lifespan. And apparently, despite the blurb’s claims, Mason has never formally belonged to the pack so it would likely be irrelevant to him whether they would sanction his mating with Torry or not.

But enough of the annoyance blurb, and let’s discuss the story itself, which is about Mason and Torry finding each other, and overcoming (or learning to live with) the things that separate them.

Torrance/Torry/Tor is carrying some baggage from living with a rather eccentric mother, who tried to alleviate her own loneliness by latching onto a long series of men—most of whom had little to no use for a kid. In between men, and from a very early age, her mother dragged Torry to as many horror movies as she could find. As an adult, Torry is still terrified by mythical monsters and suffers from nighttime horrors related to the supernatural. Not the best candidate for a werewolf’s bride, obviously.

Mason, on the other hand, had decided long ago that he simply won’t fall in love—even if his nature forces him to mate if/when he finds his lifemate, because years before, his brother committed suicide after his bonded mate died. Mason is determined to avoid being tied in such a way to anyone—and tying her to him in the same way. Of course, he doesn’t take into account all the effects and implications of finding his mate, which complicates already complicated matters even more.

Blood Runners are apparently half Lycan, half human people (no sexism here) whose job is to track down any pure blood Lycans who go Rogue—that is, who give in to their hunger for human flesh. If and when a Blood Runner completes a predetermined number of Rogue kills, he or she may apply for acceptance into the actual pack, with full privileges—whatever those may be.

There are two early scenes that I enjoyed without reservations. First, when the hero sees the heroine and doesn’t know how to catch her eye, hetrips her—in a crowded café and while she’s carrying a tray with her lunch, no less!—and then his buddy/partner/best friend rats him out. Perhaps I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old boy, because I found the entire thing laugh-out-loud hilarious.

The second is when the villain of the story first corners the heroine. In her bedroom. During an afternoon thunderstorm. So no one can hear her screams. I really liked the almost-but-not-quite over the top dialogue. (He’s soooooo evil, he reminded me of Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)

Also there’s a really great scene later in the story where the two main characters are interrogating a young pure blooded werewolf about the why and how of his ‘turning Rogue.’ The young male’s physical, mental and emotional strain under the nightmare he is reliving is so vividly conveyed that I felt my stomach knot in sympathy.

However…

Even though this book is almost 300 pages, in some respects it reads like a shorter book. Some of the world building is sketchier than the length of the book demands, leaving too many issues floating around unanswered—particularly because other things are repeated two or three times by different characters. Personally, I’d rather that more of the social structure of the Lycan world be explained.

The story spans a little over three days, yet there are mentions of Mason’s ‘wasting so much time’ giving in to his feelings for Torry. Huh? Three days is too long? It would have made more sense to have him either less resistant to the notion of love to begin with, or stretch the action a bit longer.

Most of the secondary characters weren’t very well fleshed out, but seemed more like placeholders (i.e. introduced because they’ll have stories later in the series). This is particularly true of Mason’s partner, Jeremy—there are four or so mentions of his issues with a “certain blond witch” who lives with (or belongs to—not altogether clear) the Silvercrest pack.

My main beef is probably with the final confrontation between Mason and Simpson, the villain of the piece. The way it has been set up, Simpson has been recruiting (aka corrupting) his very own gang of Rogues, yet when Mason and his fellow Blood Runners find him, he’s sitting there all alone—yet he is keeping three people captive. No ropes, no magic, no locks, yet the three of them are held captive under the power of… what? His charming personality?

And yet! Despite my complaints, I enjoyed the book enough that I will look for the next one in the series.

6.5 out 10

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