|Susan Krinard: Once a Wolf|
Bantam (Paperback), ISBN 0-553-58021-3
Lady Rowena Forster fled her overbearing older brother in England a few years ago, and now finds herself happily ensconced in New York society. Forever repulsed by her werewolf blood, she vows to bury that part of herself. She finds another werewolf with similar feelings in the powerful Cole MacLean. A ruthless businessman, Cole dominates Rowena, cowing her into a mere shadow of her formerly high-spirited self.
But Cole's long-time enemy, Tomás Alejandro Randall, plans revenge on Cole. He dupes Rowena by telling her of the trouble her twin brother suffers in the West, and she agrees to accompany him. Only later does she find herself a captive and completely out of place -- her prim and proper ways do her little good in the Wild West.
The feud between the MacLeans and the Randalls dates back decades and across the ocean to their homeland, Scotland. Tomás's plan works beautifully -- an enraged Cole sends hired guns to track them down. Rowena herself plans to escape, but after they assist a young mute girl whom Rowena calls Esperanza, Rowena finds it difficult to abandon the girl to Tomás's negative influence.
But attraction flares between Tomás and Rowena. She slowly comes to view him in a different light. At first, she considers him little more than an outlaw, an uncouth version of Robin Hood. But then she meets the rest of Tomás's little ragged band -- men with nowhere else to go because Cole's men terrorized them, as well as the men's motherless children. In addition, Tomás and his band paint a very different image of Cole for Rowena -- one that she doesn't want to believe. The Wild West also seems determined to pull Rowena's inner wolf to the surface, creating yet more inner conflict.
Susan Krinard writes an action-packed romp across the desert Southwest. She skillfully creates both romantic chemistry and long-standing antagonism in the tale. Though most of the characters come across as very strong, Cole occasionally seems more of a stereotypical bad guy. In this sequel to Touch of the Wolf, Krinard does a nice job of creating a mostly independent tale while touching lightly on the previous story.
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