The Wolf Prince
by Karen Kelly
(Brava, $14, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-7582-3840-5
**
Darcy is rich. Very rich. Rich enough that she doesnít have to work. But she wants to, as a P.I. She has the license and the know-how, she only has to convince her overprotective mother that she wonít be putting her life on the line.

One day, while pondering how to tell her mother that it is time to cut the apron strings, Darcy happens upon a wolf in the woods, who comes complete with spooky fog. Darcy is thoroughly freaked out that sheís stuck in a mysterious fog with a wolf (which, I think is fair), so she picks up a large stick to whack the wolf with, should it come too close. The fog dissolves and in the wolfís place is a really hot, really naked, man. Startled, Darcy hits the guy in the head with the branch and he goes down hard.

Darcy calls her groundskeeper to drag this guy back to the guest house so that they can make sure heís ok (no one wants to go to jail for assault or manslaughter when your reasons for hitting the guy are so outlandish, right?). When the mystery man wakes up, he doesnít remember who he is, only that his name is Surlock.

So now Darcyís playing hostess to a mysterious stranger who is more than a little strange, but heís really hot, so whatever. Plus, now Darcy has a chance to put her detective know-how to good use! She has her very own real life mystery to solve. After all, itís her fault that there is a mystery in the first place.

Darcy and Surlock work on finding out who he is. This takes them down a few different bizarre trails that all lean toward Surlock being part wolf, which Darcy refuses to believe, until she sees him start to morph into one. Then she believes.

As if that isnít enough, Surlock manages to remember that he is there to protect Darcy from something. Only he canít remember what. On top of that, he and Darcy still have to try to figure out who he is.

Itís too bad Darcy isnít as good as solving mysteries as she is getting into Surlockís pants. Her qualms about sleeping with a wolf disappear quicker than the mysterious fog.

I wonít say that I didnít like The Wolf Prince, because it does have its good moments. But those minutes tend to get lost in the shuffle of lame stereotypes and even lamer attempts to cram more paranormal into this paranormal romance.

Darcy is a great woman who cares about the people in her life and is very passionate about Surlock. Sheís smart, charming and witty. However, sheís a terrible P.I. Though, I gotta give her credit, if my first case turned out to involve shape shifters, I would probably tank at it too. My qualms with her powers of deduction are that by the time she figures out whatís going on, itís so stupidly obvious that once she clues in it seemed to me like she was late to the party, instead of on the ball.

Surlock is flawless, well spoken, kind, sexy, and strong. Heís everything you would look for in a hero. Itís a good thing heís got that whole ďThe world is new and fascinatingĒ thing going for him, otherwise he would be squarely pigeonholed.

The sex between them is electric. Together, they are quite cute.

This story does just fine as a standalone, though it is book three in the Princes of Symtaria series. However, some of the things that happen in The Wolf Prince might have come off as less lame had I read the first two books first.

I donít want to spoil the twists and turns of The Wolf Prince, so all I will say is this. Karen Kelly uses the rising action of the story quite well, but once she gets close to the climax, the story skews off into fantasy territory so suddenly and completely, that it comes off as forced and unnecessary. Itís almost like the story started running out of gas, so a few magical creatures were thrown in to solve the problem.

All in all, parts of the story were good, parts were corny and most of the story is dependent on stereotypes. But it was entertaining enough for me to not pan it entirely. So if you really (really really) like your fantasy and fantasy creatures, then give it a go. Otherwise, my advice is to go in with a very open mind.

--Lindsey Seddon


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