Two Hearts--Me when a decent premise misses the mark:
It's not uncommon to have a story or two in anthology that is a miss.
Whelp, "Werewolf PTA" definitely is one to skip.
I'll be honest, I jumped to read this based on the title - I thought it would have maybe a cute older werewolf dad and teacher vibe going. Or something cute with werewolves. Because though I am a shifter lover, I can't forsake my #1 shifter love: werewolves.
Instead, this was a romantic (?) suspense where a serial killer is on the loose in the small town of Goodfields. The new vegetarian doctor, Dr. Malak Shahzed helps the sheriff, Shiloh, try to figure out the motive behind the murders while crushing on each other. Malak also hides a mysterious secret.
The story starts on the third murder with the doctor bending over a mauled corpse wondering about if the sheriff was watching his ass. This was my first warning niggle. But I read on. And the ingredients, a new doctor from a big city, who is a different ethnicity and religion from the majority of the town was very interesting. I don't usually see much gay romances starring a Muslim gay protagonist. Reading Malak adjusting to his new home, trying to flirt in the small town without openly adding fuel to the gossipy fire - that was great.
But the story started to come off the rails when sex happens and Malak's buddy, Faysal, comes to town. Instead of explaining things, Malak kept brushing things off with an 'I'll tell you later' excuse. And when later finally comes, it's worthless and a waste of time.
Faysal was added for comedic relief and tension between the MC. But it read forced. How does Shiloh go from shy and bumbling to overtly possessive?
And this quote:
"What Malak means is that I hunt things," Faysal explained. "I am a Hunter.""Hunting season isn't for months," Shiloh said perplexedly, not hearing the subtle capitalization.
Um...am I the only one who doesn't hear capitalization, no matter how subtle or overt it can be? Who hears capitalization? Wouldn't it have made more sense to just say emphasis? No? Just me?
This anthology had a shifter requirement for each story and it never read more like a requirement than Werewolf PTA. Every other story I've read so far from this anthology cared to at least describe the type of shifter if it was an animal, or at least give some background if it was fantasy based. This story just dumps 'oh yeah, he's a snake shifter' and moves on to the weak suspense. Like an afterthought.
The serial killer? Way easy to figure out and the motive behind it could have been cool if this story was written differently. But it was jumbled. As was the "Hunter" part - a supernatural society of killers and it gets jumbled along the rest of the plot.
A heart for the interesting parts, a heart for the villain - wasted opportunity, but I liked his motive. Not a good first impression of this author's work.