A Hearts On Fire Review
"You don't don't know anything about Wolf and you don't know anything about her people. You breeze in and you use us all up until you're happy with yourself again, and then you'll run back to the city and live happily ever after. And everyone here in Wolf has to go on until the next city brat shows up and tries to do it again. Things are different here, Shield Wolf. You're either part of the pack or you're not." He took a breath, and then drained his glass. "And you're not."
Ex-lawyer Randy has run to Wolf, Wyoming to lick his wounds left from his cheating lover. He's a city boy through and through and winter's coming. His hunky but standoffish neighbor, Vaughn and his equally hot barely legal teenage son Lyle are locals and don't seem to take too kindly to city folk...namely Randy. And mouthy Randy can't fathom why. But he doesn't need them until he does. because he knows nothing about living in the woods in the middle of nowhere especially with the wicked snowstorms and wildlife that seems to be friendly...
The premise? It was different.
I can't say I've read a shifter book like this before. It reminded me of those shifter television shows of the mid-2000's. And I read a lot of shifter fan fiction, so let's just say I've read a lot of different types of premises. This one was pretty cool. We get a sort of triangle, a little stalking, shifter mythos, great setting imagery. I don't think all of the characters were described in full, namely Randy since he was mainly narrating the novel, but I could picture the starkness, the cold.
This was my first A.F. Henley. And it will not be my last. I liked a lot of it. And good outweighed the not as good. Solid book is solid. And sexy. I wasn't expecting the sexy so when it crept up in there, I was pleasantly surprised. (Especially the bout of dirty talk from a certain shifter - I wish it happened...*ponders* oh wait it did *grins* That's how I like my shifters to be.)
Why this was a solid read (and why I'm so there for book #2):
The snark! - I'm a girl who loves the words and will give props to authors who sling them interestingly enough. This author was funny and snarky. So what? The story starts off with a lonely man in his lonely house with just his mysterious antisocial neighbors for barely any company. This guy is talking to the coffeepot. The coffeepot! And it was interesting. The author kept the pace up for the most part. Maybe the author's humor and my humor are more in accord but damn did I laugh out loud at some of Randy's inner thoughts.
The slow burn/pacing - I think it help set the tone and lent to the entire feel of the story. I think readers who prefer the main characters to be extremely overt, sexual or dramatized to be entertained might not enjoy this book. This book seems slow at first. *grins* But it's not at all. Each chapter begins with wolf's thoughts then we cut to Randy and each month he's made it in Wolf, WY. We get to learn this fictional town through his eyes, learn his neighbors through his eyes while the reader gets to be one step ahead with knowing the paranormal secret (but not all of the components). The first third of the book didn't seem to have a direction but once it started to fall into place and went where I wanted it to go, I was all in. The story comes into its own around the halfway mark.
The main characters/plot - I love gruff characters, okay? I love when they can't speak, can't share their feelings. Some might say they're an asshole but guess what? I happen to be fluent. ;) And if you pair said asshole with a chatty love interest, aka total opposites, and give me a few uncomfortable moments. *wiggles* Let's just say I can't stop the grins from forming. Their talks were great. I enjoyed the pacing of their relationship. There was an ease and it read believable.
- The last 10% - if everything remained local or contained, I think I might've gave it an extra half heart. I'd have rather read about the events instead of reading what the main characters are getting from second hand news, especially as this drove the plot along for a major part of the story. Also...something felt rushed or unfinished. I don't know if it is because this is the first of a series. I think for the love interests in this novel, their story is done. If the next book features them again, I don't know what more could be told about them. When I rate, I like to reflect, look back at my notes and think about the chemistry the couple had. This book's couple was solid but far from perfect. And the ending, which skyrocketed from slow burner into really interesting, might've overshadowed them for part of the last 10%.
- The O'Connell kids - (the last two) - I believe they're under ten. Up until around 80% or so, they were adorable. And then...they started acting like little mini adults. And when they went back to being mini humans with childlike thoughts after speaking like adults and even cursing (I don't like kids saying bad words. Sue me.)
I hope for more from two characters, both of whom were secondary Arias and the remaining O'Connell. I think there were interesting characteristics to give them their own stories (separately of course).
Great start to a promising paranormal series. I think readers who are looking for different might want to check this out. There can only be so many different werewolf books out there. They all start to meld together.
This one won't. :)