Review: Phantom Wolf

Reviewed by Jen

I had some mixed feelings going on as read this book.  I was really drawn into the romance. It was angsty and full of mistrust and old hurts. It was sexy and held my interest from beginning to end. But.  There are some strong racist overtones that disturbed me throughout the story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about the color of anyone’s skin, but make-believe species or not, the prejudice was hard to read at times.

Sam and Kelly are two different classes of mage.  He is Elemental. She is Arcane.  In their world, his class rules, while hers is maligned and treated as servants.  But 12 years ago, they were young and in love and committed to making things work between them. Until it appeared her father killed his family. He left her that day and they have been apart ever since.

Now Kelly works to rescue kidnapped Elemental children.  The Arcanes who are fed up with oppression are taking the kids to drain them of magic, in the hopes to conquer the Elementals who have mistreated them so long.  Kelly is willing to risk everything to stop her misguided people. It’s as she is trying to rescue one of the kids that she is reunited with Sam.  He is now a Navy SEAL and his team mistakes her for one of the kidnappers.  She must make him believe the truth and convince him to help her in her mission before it’s too late.

Kelly and Sam are clearly two people who have never gotten over each other. But they are both so damaged by their past.  I think the author tried to make Sam more sympathetic by showing us how torn up he was over his family’s deaths. Unfortunately, it was hard to look past how he and everyone else treated Kelly.  Society sees her as less than nothing. The mages of Sam’s class can basically do anything to her. The way people speak to her is appalling.  And while Sam isn’t like that all the time, there are parts of the book he clearly judges her… not just for her father’s actions, but for her race. Neither is fair. He LEFT her alone all those years ago. She lost just as much as he did that day.  Now he still acts like she was someone who did him wrong.  It’s just not fair.  She is truly a good person and she gets shit on over and over again.  Mostly by other people, but by Sam too. It’s hard to get over.

That aside, there is good sexual tension there –and real emotion as well.  Kelly is an extremely sympathetic character.  I really wanted to see her happy ending.  The thing is… when she finally gets it… it’s wrapped up in a bow that is just a little too shiny. The end is just a little too easy.  Especially in the bigger picture.

Like I said, mixed feelings.  I didn’t want to put it down, because it held my interest… but the treatment of the heroine was hard to take.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by Harlequin via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Phantom Wolf
by Bonnie Vanak
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin

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