Series: Walk on Wild Side
Also available: Walk on Wild Side Anthology
Rating: (3 stars out of 5 – I liked it ok.)
Dreamspinner’s 2016 Daily Dose anthology includes 30 romantic male/male shifter stories released one a day during the month of June.
Synopsis: As a wolf shifter, Jackson’s dietary preferences have caused him no lack of problems. Being a vegetarian alienated him from his family and led him to a wolf pack where he might be merely tolerated. The wolf feels rather isolated and alone until he meets, Woodly, a fellow herbivore and a bear shifter, who introduces him to others with the same proclivities, including another wolf shifter, Frank. Trusting in other herbivores may help relieve some of the loneliness, and his attraction to Frank could someday relieve some of his horniness, but there is always danger for someone so incredibly different. In the end, what will win out – pack loyalty, his new group of shamed friends, or his deepest natural instincts and nature.
Review: Overall, this was a very interesting and rather heated story, and I enjoyed reading it. The writing was generally fine (maybe a bit uneven to me), but the sizzle was nicely steamy, and the story, in the end, definitely worth the read.
This is another story that underlines the parallel between discrimination/hate against LGBT populations with a story/setting substitute, in this case prejudice among predatory shifters against those with the unnatural procilivities of being a vegetarian. The author also nicely works in allusions to other real world struggles (like 12-step programs and family conflict) as well as explores the push-pull of loyalties, betrayal, and “natural” instincts, all in a very brief and intriguing short read.
There were some writing and plot issues that I found to be particularly remarkable, some in a good way, and some in a somewhat negative if thought-provoking manner. My criticisms are minor and niggling, but struck me hard enough that I thought they are worth mentioning (in my extra comments below).
Recommended for fans of: heated male on male wolf shifter action; clever stories with a unique take and/or a nice twist or turn; those who appreciate the vegetarian impulse while understanding the world can bring out more brutal necessities.
Other Comments (minor spoilers):
Some of the writing style seemed to wander a bit. For example, at times the dialog sounding overly “proper,” trying to echo a bit of an archaic or formal feel.
“Good bear,” he began, “with the help of our little secret clan, I have learned to find all sorts of alternatives to the flesh we so abhor. But how, when winter approaches, are we supposed find food? We certainly can’t go without nourishment for several months.”
Good bear? Little secret clan? Alternatives to the flesh we so abhor? Nourishment? That language just strikes me as trying to be proper, or overly politely educated, or even archaic, which dI’d not quite fit with the rest of the dialog.
The explicit heat in this story seemed to be a major focus and strength, although my reaction while reading it was to roll my eyes at some of the language which reminded me of cheesey erotica rather than more nuanced, romance-oriented explicit heat. It was mostly the overall feel, but some examples that struck me:
mammoth cock swaying to and fro
When I read the broader sentences and feel for the explicit, erotic section, I thought to myself “This sounds more like gay erotica that’s trying to be fancy and a bit more sophisticated than just crass, lowest-common denominator pornographic erotica.” Mind you, unlike most male/male romance readers, I slipped into the genre after years of reading erotica, so on the one hand the style did not really bother me as much as feeling a bit out of place. When I investigated the author more, it appears most of his work is gay erotica (rather than m/m romance), so I think my reaction has some merit. It has provoked enough thought that I am likely to write a post on the differences in my experience reading the two genres.