“Carolina Wolf”, by Sela Carsen
Part of the Tickle My Fantasy anthology published earlier this year by Samhain Publishing in electronic format, “Carolina Wolf” is a paranormal romance with a lot of excellent humor, great dialogue and really really good writing. At shy of a hundred pages, this is a straightforward story with a bit of external conflict thrown in.
And because I just adore them, here is the warning from the publisher: This story contains hunky werewolves, librarian fetishes, Southern humor, smart-ass women and men who think that’s sexy, magic, medieval legends, disco music and flatulent Boxers. (The dogs, not the underwear.) [As if anyone who has ever had large breed dogs needed the clarification *sniff*]
Here’s the blurb:
Librarian Debra Henry is boring. And she’s okay with that. Really. It’s not as if the teensy amount of witchcraft that flows in her veins is worth getting excited about. Yet someone-or something-thinks it’s worth crawling out of the swamps to attack her. Those “somethings” are werewolves.
When one of them is hurt saving her, the least she can do is take him home and patch him up. Healing him stirs more than her senses. Maddox Moreau awakens the magic that sleeps in her blood. And suddenly, life’s not quite so boring.
A wildlife manager at Congaree National Park by day, Maddox likes being the BWIS-Big Wolf In the Swamp. By night, he lets his wild side out to play lone wolf. At least until he meets the one woman who can share his soul. Perhaps it’s best, though, if he holds off on sharing his preference for raw meat.
Rescuing her seals his fate-but only if he can protect her from a rogue of his kind. A werewolf with a nasty stalker streak…
What can I say about this story other than I liked both of the main characters a lot? I found Debra’s internal dialogue so very entertaining-and the language, oh dear me, the language! Look at this:
The man hadn’t moved and now she was at eye level with his zipper. It twitched. Good heavens. She had to do something. Look somewhere else. They were in a public meeting, for pity’s sake. Debra glanced around the room, but no one else seemed to be paying attention to her pheromone-induced meltdown. At least she wasn’t staring at his… particulars… anymore.
His twitching particulars for the win!
The heroine is nice without being annoying and smart without being insufferable. While Debra thinks of herself as boring, there are no real “nobody looks at me, I’m invisible” low self-esteem type issues here. She’s not a virgin nor a prude (nor does she engage in countless affairs or one-night stands). She’s a normal person. Cool, huh? (There is one moment though where she displays the barest trace of TSTL-itis, but it really is just a trace.)
For his part, the hero is cool without being too nice, and alpha without being a jerk-very well done indeed. The background elements-small town politics, geographical area, town history, etc.-are also very well handled, for they provide all necessary information and set the tone for the story without intruding on it.
My only quibbles would be the villain, who was a bit too obvious (hence Debra’s close shave with TSTL) and the sudden appearance of a character near the end. While this last sort of made sense, providing some closure by giving the reader some more information, it also felt a bit awkward, a bit… forced, if you will. It didn’t match the tone of the rest of the story for me.
However, my main peeve? It is not with the story but with Ms Carsen-write longer stories already!
“Carolina Moon” gets 8 out of 10