My BF has never given me reason to doubt - Karen has impeccable taste in literature. And while we've followed each other's recommendations with little hesitation, I found myself resisting before reading Kelley Armstrong's Bitten, despite Karen's enthusiastic assurances that I would "love" it, along with everything else Armstrong has written.
Perhaps it was the idea of werewolves. Before Bitten, my knowledge of them extended to Twilight's Jacob and the delicious work of my friend Tielle St. Clare. Despite having little trouble with the thought of romance between vampires and humans, I've struggled with...wolves.
Silly, silly Dawn.
Bitten has sat untouched on my shelf for months, partially because I was afraid of cracking the spine on one of Karen's precious paperbacks. But then my handsome husband came home bearing gifts one afternoon - three books, all by Kelley Armstrong. He claims to have chosen them after "reading the backs" and figuring they'd be something I like. So with two of the people I trust most in the world urging me to give Kelley a chance, I relented.
Oh. My. God.
I whipped through Bitten, captivated by the author's voice. Somehow, Kelley made "werewolves in Toronto" seem like the most natural thing in the world. I believed Elena's desperate attempt for life away from the Pack, her desire to cultivate human relationships, maintain a normal job. I could even picture her painfully changing from beautiful girl to beast, taking cover in the city's ravines in her quest to feed the inevitable hunger.
And when Elena is called back by the Pack leader to solve a horrifying mystery, I felt her conflict. Stonehaven represents everything she has tried to escape, including the magnetic pull of her werewolf lover, Clayton.
And oh what a pull he has. Despite feeling sorry for Elena's Canadian boyfriend, wild dogs (ahem) couldn't have kept me from Clay. He possesses that necessary mix of gentleman and rogue, a charming bad boy with a killer physique and animalistic lust.
So not what I expected to enjoy - and yet, I've barely closed the book and am already reaching for the second, Stolen.
The reader in me is excited. But my writer side is having a total geek-out moment. Kelley's "voice" is distinct to be sure, but she does everything else so right I'm slightly slack-jawed at the accomplishment. The sensory description is beautiful and so detailed I can almost feel Elena go through the change. Crisp, fun dialogue moves the plot forward, and while there are fewer swoon-worthy moments between the love interests than other books in this genre, the chemistry, the brotherhood, and the sense of family provides enough emotional angst you don't need false promises of "forever."
In Bitten, Kelley has allowed the reader to suspend disbelief. To think, that just maybe, your next-door neighbour might be slipping into the ravine at night to hunt rabbits and bay at the moon.
That's amazing fiction, folks.
The Book In My Bag Today: Stolen, Kelley Armstrong