Review: Bride of the Wolf

Reviewed by Jen

Aurelia’s father has given away her hand in marriage to Roderick, the heir to the Canis clan of wolves.  As a human, she only knows what rumors say about the fearsome shifters. She is afraid of what her husband will be like, and she is justified in her fears.

A small band of wolves, led by Roderick’s brother Raif, is sent to collect Aurelia from her father. One of the men attacks her on the way back to the Canis keep and Raif must fight him off… which is no small task, since Raif is missing one of his legs.  He rescues Aurelia and spirits her away, intending only to do his duty and bring her to his brother safely.  But along the way, he falls for her himself.

I really enjoyed their love story.  Raif is a damaged hero, but he is fierce and protective of Aurelia.  They do fall in love a bit quickly, but given their circumstances I can see why each could be swept away. Raif has been alone so long. To be seen as a worthy man again is wonderful, terrifying, and overwhelming for him. And as for Aurelia, Raif is this knight in shining armor, gentle yet loyal and strong in his own way.  Their romance is satisfying and it was impossible not to root for them to be together, despite the overwhelming odds against them.

Even though this is a novella, it was definitely a complete story.  It never felt thin or superficial. It’s a good, solid, shifter romance. It has a little heat, and a lot of heart.

Rating: B

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon 
Bride of the Wolf
by Abigail Barnette (Jennifer Armintrout)
Release Date: October 5, 2011
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

AAD Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Abigail Barnette

Jennifer Armintrout is a USA Today best selling author. She’s published two successful series, with her Blood Ties books as well as Lightworld/ Darkworld. But Jennifer also writes romance under the pen name Abigail Barnette. Please help me welcome her to the blog!

Jen: You’ve been very successful writing under the name Jennifer Armintrout. What made you decide to write as Abigail Barnette?

Abigail: It was a matter of protecting Jennifer Armintrout’s “brand”. I wanted to write romance, but I was known for writing urban fantasy. I didn’t really know how or what kind of romance I wanted to write, either, so if I failed spectacularly, I didn’t want it to reflect badly on Jennifer Armintrout, I could let Abigail Barnette take the heat. Luckily, I did find my feet, and now I can be both!

Jen: Looking at your Barnette titles, there’s a wide variety there in terms of kink and genre. The novellas I read (“Beast” & “Bride of the Wolf”) were great stories, but on the tamer side sexually. And then I look at Striped, for instance, and see the other side of the spectrum. Which kind of story to do you enjoy writing more? Or perhaps, a better question might be –What is the appeal from writing in the different genres?

Abigail: I think the appeal, to me, is in the variety. I can never get burned out if I’m writing something new and different. I’ve written vampire romance for Samhain, the last book I wrote for Resplendence was a contemporary baseball romance, and now I’m working on a historical ménage for Ellora’s Cave. I have a lot of freedom to write whatever I want, and that’s attractive to me because it means I won’t end up bored with what I’m doing.

Jen: Mia Watts and Bronwynn Green have been here in the past for Author Spotlights. I see they’re also part of the Phases series. Talk to me about the concept for that series and the contributions from multiple authors.

Abigail: Bronwyn Green invited me to participate in that anthology in 2010, I believe, although I’m not sure whose idea it was originally. I thought it was so neat, to have so many different authors doing a take on a similar theme. Bronwyn Green writes what we call “Yooper ménage”, stories set in Michigan’s upper peninsula, and with her blessing I used the same setting for my stories in the Phases anthology. The concept was that each author would take two months, resulting in a novella for each month of the year in 2011. In different cultures, the full moons have different meanings, and we were asked to keep those meanings in mind when we wrote the books. I think Awakening Delilah was “Lightning” and Striped was, literally, “Tiger.” The only other requirement was that the stories have three or more romantic partners, because polyamorous stories are really a draw for readers. It was so exciting to see these books coming out, and everyone took the basic requirements and made stories that were so different from the other ones in the series.

Jen: You do a take on fairy tales with the Naughtily Every After and some steampunk with All Steamed Up. Will there be more in either of these series?

Abigail: Yes! All Steamed Up has one more story coming, Internal Combustion, which will be about the third Wallace brother, Richard, the man who invents all the wonderful sex toys in the club. That one doesn’t have a release date yet, because I haven’t written it, but I swear, it’s coming. I would like to do another set of stories in the Naughtily Ever After series, but I’d like to finish up my Canis Clan series and All Steamed Up before working on a second series of Naughtily Ever After. I can tell you that the second set of Naughtily stories will feature the northern half of the kingdom of Chevudon, with a focus on Germanic fairytales. Snow White will be one of them, as well as Snow White and Rose Red.

Jen: I’ve been very impressed with the depth of your novellas. So often, the shorter stories I read feel superficial, rushed, or incomplete. Is there any difference in how you approach a novella versus a full length novel? And how do you avoid the pitfalls so many other authors fall into with shorter stories?

Abigail: I think the fact that I don’t know how to write a novella is really helping out in my favor on this one. I just write the story the same way I would write a novel, but obviously there isn’t a lot of room for subplots or too many extra characters. I just hit the important points and try to fill in the rest with the relationship and emotions.

Jen: As someone outside of the business, I’ve often wondered how different is the experience in writing for a NY publisher and a small press publisher?

Abigail: Way different, at least, in my experience. There is a lot to like about New York publishing, but small presses do take more chances than the big houses do. I can just say, “I want to write a book about this,” and most of the time, I can find a small press who will pick it up. Meanwhile, in 2007, I proposed a zombie book to a New York publisher, and they passed on it because “zombies aren’t a thing.” Well, if they had just taken a chance…

Jen: What is coming up for you as Abigail Barnette and as Jennifer Armintrout?

Abigail: Right now, Jennifer Armintrout is just sending out the occasional proposal and waiting for a nibble. Abigail Barnette, however, has the second book in the Hard Ball series, Double Header, coming out on June 27th. Perfect for baseball fans!

Jen: How often are you confused with Jennifer Armentrout? That’s got to get old.

Abigail: Oh, it happens all the time, but I think it probably is more of an issue for her than it is for me, unfortunately. She writes YA, and I’m on twitter talking about smoking pot and writing three-way gay weretiger sex scenes. She gets held responsible for a lot of things I say, in a really unfair way. The only time I ever get a little shifty about it is when someone accuses me of intentionally stealing her name to ruin her. I’m like, “Um… I have a birth certificate in my desk that proves otherwise.”

Jen: What is the most meaningful thing you’ve ever heard from a fan?

Abigail: Honestly, there have been so many times that people will say really touching things to me, or send me really nice emails, but the one that always sticks out in my mind is one I got from a girl who was about fifteen. She learned to read really late, at the time she wrote me she’d only been reading for a year, and Blood Ties Book One: The Turning was the first book she’d read all on her own. She said she loved it so much, she read it in a day. The fact that she had any love for reading at all, after struggling for so long to just get by, and the fact that she loved my book, brought tears to my eyes.

Jen: What are you looking forward to most from AAD in NOLA?

Abigail: Seeing all the wonderful people from years past, and meeting new folks, as well. I love AAD. It’s gotten bigger every year, but it still feels small and personal. That is why it’s the only conference I go to every year. Well, that and the GRRWG conference in November.

If you haven’t tried an Abigail Barnette story, here is your chance. She is giving away a copy of Bride of the Wolf. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  And to learn more about Abigail/ Jennifer Armintrout, just visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Beast

Reviewed by Jen

Sometimes I think I am too hard on novellas.  I read a fair number of them, but most of the time, I fail to really connect.  Either it’s all action and the romance is back-burnered or it’s all relationship and no plot.    The romance is almost always rushed and I rarely feel like I know the characters.  They often feel superficial, but then I ask myself, How could I expect more out of something around 100 pages?  Well, novella authors of the world, thanks to Abigail Barnette, I now expect more from you.

This felt like a full and complete story.  It had depth. It made me feel things. The characters were three dimensional and I believed in their emotions.

Johanna was the beautiful daughter of a noble who was supposed to marry Prince Philipe. But an uprising after their betrothal burned out her family’s keep. It killed almost everyone and left her terribly scarred.  After the fire, Philipe broke off their engagement without so much as seeing her again. In the 15 years that have passed, Johanna has suffered both physically and emotionally. Her heart was broken, her home reduced to rubble… and the fire truly disfigured her. Her life has been miserable.

Now Philipe’s father, the king, is in the midst of a meltdown. He is convinced Philipe is trying to kill him so he has sent his men to take him down. An arrow to the shoulder has Philipe running for his life and he has no choice but to take refuge in what’s left of Johanna’s home.  He must finally face up to his own actions all those years ago and deal with repercussions.

The story is difficult to read at times. So often, a “scarred hero” can still manage to still be attractive in some way, but Johanna is not.  She is irreparably damaged both inside and out. And yet she can’t quite rid herself of the love she holds for Philipe.  At the same time, he finally accepts that he has never really stopped loving her. But how can she ever forgive him?  There were times I wasn’t sure I wanted her to.  The story is called “Beast,” but who are we really talking about?  What Johanna has become? Or the man Philipe was to abandon her the way he did?

This is definitely not light reading. But I thought it was very well done.  And I was happy with the ending.

Rating: B+

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
by Abigail Barnette (Jennifer Armintrout)
Release Date: January 18, 2012
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing