Friday, May 28, 2010

The Midnight Hunt by L.L. Raand

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."
~ Rudyard Kipling

As you might recall, my first “encounter” with the author Radclyffe was when I reviewed The Best Lesbian Romance Fiction 2010 (4/21). She was the editor, as well as author of one of the featured stories. This brief exposure made me want to read more.

I made contact with the author, and received a variety of her works, and then I had to make a decision as to which one I’d review first. Not an easy choice.

To call this woman prolific is an understatement. She has written many romance novels, romantic intrigue novels, lots of short stories, and has edited anthologies of romance and erotica. Needless to say, when I mentioned to my “boss” that I would be doing a Radclyffe book, her clearly knowledgeable response was, “she’s a bit steamy, you know!”

So back to the choice I needed to make. Thinking I would pick a work from her Justice or Honor Series, I noticed that I had received what I soon discovered to be the first book of a brand new series. Not only that, it would be her first outing into the realm of Weres (as in Werewolves) Vampires and the like.

We’ve been flooded of late by a glut of vampire focused books, television shows and movies. With the Twilight Saga priming itself for yet another cinematic installment, I thought, what a good time to introduce a “steamy” tale of yet another species of beings-the Praetern. They are human in appearance, but have the ability to transform themselves into wolves in a heartbeat. Add to that the fact that protagonists are predominantly woman, and happen to engage in woman to woman sex, and you have the formula for an erotic romance that puts these other works to shame. I mean, drool all you want over Robert Pattinson (I don’t), but this tale would make the celluloid melt if turned to film.

The Midnight Hunt (Bold Stroke Books, 2010) is written by Radclyffe under the name, L. L. Raand, and if this first installment doesn’t make you eager for what follows, well, I guess I don’t have a clue as to what would. It engaged me from the start, and, I’ve got to tell you, steamy is an understatement! Don’t get me wrong, steamy is good, and if you take away this element, you still have an engaging tale of love, undying allegiance and a deep-set internal struggle.

These Weres, indistinguishable from us while in human form, had been living among us undetected for centuries. As this story begins, they are known, and, as a result, are a feared minority. As we all know, dealing with humans is difficult, so, naturally this species attempts to seek certain rights as well as protection. Perhaps this is a thinly disguised commentary on our struggle for civil rights, but that is not the books sole intent.

Instead we are given a truly powerful story of love and desire. It is set in the present day, and uses Albany, NY as its locale. Much like the Indian tribes that habited the area during the seventeenth century, the Pratean species have their own packs. The species is made up of Weres, Vampires, Mages, Fae and Psi, and this tale concentrates on the Adirondak Timberwolf Pack, which is made up of Weres, and its Alpha or leader, named Sylvan.

Sylvan is fiercely protective of her charges, to the point of denying her own needs as a Were. She will fight for them, kill if she has to, and even die for them. She is so vigilante that she denies herself a significant primary need, and that is one of sexual fulfillment. She is also being called upon by her pack to mate-something she has been reluctant to do,until, and here is where the story gets really interesting, she runs into a human named Drake McKennan.

McKennan is a Medic, and meets Sylvan when she attempts to render medical assistance to a young girl who has been brought to the hospital emergency room. It is this meeting that triggers a whole series of events that brings the two women, who should be adversaries, together in a most unusual way.

Add to this a strange outbreak of Were fever among humans, a Protean adversary named Max, who wants Sylvan’s seat of power, a spunky reporter who must get her story, and several woman who vie for Slyvan’s love, and you have a book that you will find hard to put down.

Raand sure knows how to pace her incredible love scenes, allowing you to catch your breath in time for the next one, but, most importantly, she knows how to tell a good story.

I, am looking forward to the next installment, called Blood Hunt, which is due this Winter, and I think you will too. So, push those Twilight Twinkies aside, and treat yourself to real passion.

Next week I will be reviewing James Magruder’s wonderfully quirky coming of age novel, Sugarless.

Author Alert: I will be posting an interview with Radclyffeasoon-so stay tuned. I'm excited!

Until then, happy reading.

Robert Jaquay,

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