Bewitched

Body and Soul

Prince of Shadows

Twice a Hero

  Touch of the Wolf by Susan Krinard
(Bantam, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-553-58055-3
****
Susan Krinard writes strong, compelling fantasy romance. Touch of the Wolf not only kept me turning the pages -- it made me wish there were more pages to turn.

Werewolves are a breed apart and must be protected or face extinction. This is the ďCauseĒ that ruled Braden Forsterís father, Tiberus, the earl of Greyburn. The Cause has shaped and ruled Bradenís entire existence; he and his younger brother and sister grew up under fierce and restrictive rules.

For a while Braden believed he could have it all: the Cause, a family and friends -- even human friends. But life didnít turn out as Braden expected. His disastrous marriage ended all Bradenís dreams and the loss of his wife cost Braden his sight.

Bradenís werewolf powers compensate for his blindness; with the notable exception of being able to read, he can do almost anything a sighted person can. After his wifeís death, Braden turns inward and the Cause becomes his entire life. Heís willing to sacrifice his brother and sister and anyone else to further his fatherís beliefs.

Cassidy Holt was raised in New Mexico by human relatives who didnít understand her werewolf nature and were afraid of her powers. Cassidy always felt apart and unloved. She yearns to belong somewhere. At nineteen she decides to find her motherís dearest friend, Isabelle Smith, and together they travel to London to find her motherís family, the Forsters.

Braden is pleased that Cassidy has been returned to the fold -- or in this case, the pack. He plans to marry her to his brother. Cassidy is intelligent, kind, spirited, powerful in her own right, and a complete innocent. Although he intends to use her to further the Cause, Braden finds Cassidyís giving nature sparks something in him -- a remembrance of the kind of love and happiness he wanted and believed in before his marriage.

Although I enjoyed Touch of the Wolf very much, I must admit I had a little difficulty with Braden being able to do so much, despite his lack of sight. Even a blind wolf wouldnít be able to ride a horse like the wind. However, this is fantasy romance so Iím willing to give it a lot of leeway.

And for the most part this tale is a simple, classic romance with a strong hero and an equally strong heroine pitted against each other. If you like Elizabeth Lowellís strong heroes and heroines, then you should like Cassidy and Braden. In addition, Ms. Krinard is very good at imbuing her main characters with complexity and depth.

Her secondary characters are equally well drawn. I was just as interested in the story of Isabelle, the best friend of Cassidyís mother, as I was in Cassidy and Bradenís romance.

So if you are looking for a well-written, fast-paced fantasy romance with strong, interesting and well-developed characters, look no further. Touch of the Wolf is a book youíll want to add to your romance reading list.

--Judith Flavell


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