(Two Hunting Love stories, novella length erotic romance stories, released by Samhain on April 15th, 2008 — four down and two to go! *waving at Angela James and the WriteMinded ladies)
The Wallflower, by Dana Marie Bell
This novella is the first in Ms Bell’s Halle Puma trilogy, short and fast paced paranormal romances, and also my introduction to her work. The Wallflower grabbed me from the first page, it’s just so much fun! The dialogue is so brisk and Emma such as smart aleck, I was laughing pretty much all the way through.
From Samhain, the usual warning: this title contains explicit sex, graphic language, loads of giggles and a hot, blond Alpha male. (I just adore their warnings, don’t you?)
Is Emma ready for a bite?
Emma Carter has been in love with Max Cannon since high school, but he barely knew she existed. Now she runs her own unique curio shop, and she’s finally come out her shell and into her own.
When Max returns to his small home town to take up his duties as the Halle Pride’s Alpha, he finds that shy little Emma has grown up. That small spark of something he’d always felt around the teenager has blossomed into something more—his mate!
Taking her “out for a bite” ensures that the luscious Emma will be permanently his.
But Max’s ex has plans of her own. Plans that don’t include Emma being around to interfere. To keep her Alpha, Emma must prove to the Pride that she has what it takes to be Max’s mate.
I love Emma unreservedly—she’s smart mouthed and independent and while perhaps a bit hard on herself on the looks part, she still made me laugh every time she opened her mouth. The dynamic between Emma and her friend Becky vis a vis Livia and Belinda, self appointed queen bees during high school and whose animosity towards the two friends is just as intense these many years later, was perfectly portrayed. There are people who don’t quite grow up, after all.
Max, on the other hand, is slightly less interesting on his own. The Alpha of the Halle Pumas, as well as one of the town’s doctors (and may I say how much I love that he’s an optometrist? originality, it be good), he plays straight man to Emma’s comedienne during most of the story, keeping the reader in stitches. For example…
Max is trying to find out who (and when) hurt Emma, and getting pretty much nowhere. After a particularly angry demand for an answer:
“Wow,” Emma breathed. “I’ve heard of that, but never actually seen it.”
He looked at her quizzically out of the corner of his eye. “Seen what?”
“You actually talked through clenched teeth. I didn’t think anyone really did that, you know?” (p39)
The world building is done with broad strokes; the Pumas coexist with the humans, who remain completely oblivious to the paranormal goings-on, and while they rarely indulge, they can turn humans through their bite. Males mark their mates also through a bite, but it does have a *ahem* different connotation and context. Interestingly, both Max and Simon, his best friend and Beta (aka second in command) were turned by the previous Alpha.
There is, of course, a final confrontation between Emma and the Wicked Witch of the Westerm… Livia, which confirms to the entire Pride that Max’s choice was a wise one—and sets the stage for the next title, Sweet Dreams, Simon and Becky’s story.
The Wallflower gets a 7.5 out of 10