Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wilder's Mate (e-book) by Moira Rogers

I'm calling this an e-book, rather than an e-novella, because Samhain Publishing's site says its length is "Category" (like "category length romance novel"). What this means in terms of page and word count: 36,653 words, which came out to 101 pages on my Nook. I initially thought the story was 121 pages long, but those last 20 pages are just extra stuff Samhain dumped at the end. Samhain's works have a pretty decent track record with me, and I love that their new works are 30% off on their site for the first week after being released, but I hate all the extra stuff they put at the end, and I hate that the font size for the newer books (like Wilder's Mate) is two sizes smaller on my Nook than whatever they used to use.

Okay, enough griping about Samhain.

Synopsis:

This book takes place in a steampunk version of the Wild West.

When Nathaniel, Satira's mentor, is kidnapped by vampires, Satira is convinced that the only person who cares more for his life than his inventions is her. She's determined to go after him on her own if she has to, but then Wilder, a bloodhound (basically a werewolf), shows up and surprisingly offers to take her with him.

Bloodhounds were created by the Guild to protect humans from vampires, but that doesn't mean Satira is entirely safe from Wilder, especially when the new moon comes.

Review:

I've had this sitting unread on my Nook for a while now. When I saw that the next book in the series, Hunter's Prey, was going to be released by Samhain soon, I decided to finally read the first book so that I could better judge whether the second one would be worth it. My verdict? I'm definitely buying the second book.

One of the things I tend to want from steampunk stories is an exciting and interesting setting, and Wilder's Mate definitely gave me that. My only complaint is that there was a lot that this story only touched on. I wanted to know more about the vampires and bloodhounds. A look at Rogers' release schedule indicates that we'll get to see more of the bloodhounds (Archer and Hunter, two minor characters in this book, are getting their own books, and a story starring a bloodhound named Merrick will be coming out soon). Something Wilder said in this book indicated that maybe the vampires weren't necessarily all bad – I'd love to read more about what they're like and how they fit into the world, so hopefully either one of the new books deals with them in a bit more detail or there are plans for future books focusing on vampire characters.

Another aspect of this world that I wished had been fleshed out a bit more (or written about more clearly) was the whole mating thing – did Wilder know Satira was his mate right away, or did the knowledge dawn on him after they spent more time together (and had gone at it like bunnies for a while)? Maybe the mate bond could occur between a bloodhound and any woman he allowed around himself long enough to start caring about her - I wasn't sure.

This was a fast-paced and action-packed story that dumped readers right into the world, so I spent a bit of the beginning of the book confused and trying to orient myself. Once I got the hang of how the world worked and what Satira and Wilder were like, however, I really enjoyed myself. As with the world-building, I found Satira and Wilder's relationship interesting but wished that there had been time for a little more depth.

Satira was very...needy...which made me a little uncomfortable, particularly when I hit this bit:
“Everything that excited [Wilder] would do the same to [Satira] because what she really needed was to be needed.” (Nook pg. 41)
Satira's desire to please Wilder and be needed by him led her to do some things with him that she'd never done before. One of them, anal sex, is usually a red flag for me in m/f romance or erotica,  although the way Rogers handled it didn't bother me much, because it didn't feel like the sex was some kind of power play. Actually, on the whole, Wilder seemed sexy and protective without being too alpha. I think what made me uncomfortable was the thought that Satira would still have let him do anything he wanted, even if he'd been scarier, just because of how needy and lonely she was. I couldn't shake the feeling that she would have glommed on to any bloodhound who'd shown more than a passing interest in her. I was at least happy that, by the end of the book, Wilder seemed to need Satira as much as she needed him, but it still bothered me that her initial neediness seemed so much greater than his.

Overall, I liked Satira and Wilder. I'd have preferred it if some aspects of the story had been a bit clearer or more fleshed out, but this was still a fun and exciting read, and I'm looking forward to reading more stories set in this world.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Firefly (live action TV series) - Another work that mixes multiple genres, in this case Westerns and science fiction. There's even some romance, although, sadly, the show ended before my favorite couple, Mal and Inara, got around to admitting that they had feelings for each other.
  • The Iron Duke (book) by Meljean Brook - Another fantastic steampunk romance with a detailed and fascinating (but at times very dark) quasi-Victorian England setting. Those who'd like something else with a fast pace and lots of action may want to try this. I have written about it.
  • Dreams Made Flesh (anthology) by Anne Bishop - This probably wouldn't be the best place for newbies to Bishop's Blood world to begin - if you've never read any of the books before, you might want to at least read the Black Jewels trilogy first. I added this anthology to the list because of the story starring Lucivar and Marian - there's a bit in that story that's very much like the "new moon" stuff in Wilder's Mate.
  • Underworld (live action movie) - I probably won't go see the newest Underworld movie that's currently playing in theaters, but seeing the movie poster did remind me that the original movie had some elements (lots of action, a bit of romance, battles between vampires and werewolves, cool weaponry) in common with Wilder's Mate.

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