Still there was that Great War not so long ago (the novel is set in the Roaring Twenties) during which Gillian worked as a nurse in London and met a very nice young American soldier, Ross Kavanaugh. Ross was only ¼ of a werewolf but somehow it didn’t bother her. In spite of the fact her dad would disapprove (to put it mildly) she decided to have a child with him (and didn’t inform him about it – are you seeing a pattern?). Then she married promptly a Belgian werewolf who, very conveniently, went to war one week after his marriage and died. The boy, named Toby, has been raised at Snowfell, the manor his grandfather, and, being a bright boy, found out about his real father and decided to visit America and meet with Ross. All alone and without as much as by your leave of course. Like mother like son…
Meantime Ross Kavanaugh, a disgraced ex-police officer, is having a lot of free time as a down-at-heel unemployed without any hopes for a new career and hardly any money. What’s more the New York police force, his former buddies, are almost sure he has been corrupted by a mafia and has killed a woman. When young Toby shows up as a stow-away and declares he is his son it seems that it is just another stroke of bad luck, especially that his mother and uncle are close behind. Who needs a son when he hardly has two dollars to rub together? Who needs a former aristocratic lover who abandoned you once for no reason at all and haven’t contacted you ever since? Who needs more problems? Or maybe it is actually a chance to start anew?
What I liked:
First of all the plot is interesting and rather original as it tells not the ordinary a-boy-meets-a-girl-and-they-fall-in-love-but- there-is-complication story but something a bit more real and twisted. Both main characters are mature with their issues and responsibilities. Additionally Gillian must fight her father’s prejudice against ‘mongrels’ (so mixed blood werewolves) and humans – secretly she doesn’t share his rabid opinions but, being dependent on him and completely dominated, she hides it most of the time. I must admit I had hard time getting to like our Gillian – her love for Toby seemed to be her one single redeeming quality. True, she treated the servants well and, while on her own, she behaved like a normal sensible and almost human being but in the presence of her father she became a puppet repeating stupid things and hoping that this time she wouldn’t be punished that badly. Or if she did, nobody would find out.
When it comes to the relationship between Gillian and Ross it was indeed all barbs and thorns, almost no roses– but I wouldn’t expect less. Krinard explores the relationship between two people from two different worlds that fit the “opposites attract” adage. In fact till the very end you are not sure whether they will reunite at all, even for their son’s sake.
The main baddie, Ethan Warbrick was nicely constructed – I mean here the psychological basis of his undeniable insanity. It is always a pleasure to encounter a complicated baddie. I also liked the mentioning of Hitler and the fact that pure blood, snobby German werewolves wanted to support a human only because he shared their stupid ideas – the hypocrisy pure and simple!
What I didn’t like:
Reading this one I asked myself more than once: where are the Roaring Twenties? They even disappeared from the official title of this series (according to Goodreads; my library copy still features them). Maybe it was the right move because you get here just a description of an amusement park in Coney Island. I mean, there is no indication whatsoever what colourful era we are dealing with – no balls, no clubs, no jazz, nothing. It seems as if the author got bored of the original idea and decided to get rid of it. The characters are staying at Snowfell for most of the novel and Snowfell is like a medieval stronghold – completely isolated – but even when Gillian was with her son in New York she hardly ever went out. Pity.
Apart from that I must tell you that in my humble opinion Ross and Gillian didn’t work well as a couple, even a quarreling one. Gillian was too rigid and cold and also maybe a tad too selfish. I found her a female character difficult to like or relate. I could understand her but, after the umpteen argument about past and a lot of icy stares and upturned noses, it made me wonder what the appeal was for Ross. She got her HEA in the end but it was almost a kind of surprise. She deserved to stay alone and think her priorities over.
Finally the fact that Ross, a complete underdog, penniless, hunted by the police, werewolves and lovely Ethan, managed to solve ALL mysteries and ALL his and his friends’ problems seemed a bit over the top. It reminded me of these silly Hollywood movies in which the protagonist saves single-handedly his girlfriend, his country and the whole planet. And then he has a beer and a burger with his best buddies.
This novel was neither outstanding nor exceptionally bad – better than your average werewolf tale, I grant you, mainly because a dash of interesting psychology, but featuring several flaws which spoiled my reading a bit. Still I don’t regret borrowing it from the library.