Pub Date: March 8, 2011
FTC: Digital review copy provided by the author(s)
I am not normally a fan of historical western romances. Even though I have liked Moira Rogers's paranormal romances in the past, I was a little leery about this one. Turns out, though, that the paranormal and steampunkish elements in Wilder's Mate helped make this book just different enough to slide past my genre pet peeves.
Strong, silent type is practically a requirement in a western, and our hero, Wilder, fits that stereotype to a "T." But, he's also far more compassionate than most of the other men in Satira's life. Satira, herself, is a far cry from the schoolmarm type of characters who used to so annoy me in traditional historical westerns. She is fiercely independent, her mother was a prostitute, and she is sexually experienced.
As a bonus for me, there's the trademark witty and occasionally snarky dialogue. They didn't pretty up the language to adhere to 19th century usage. Which I actually prefer TYVM.
"I know about full moons and new moons. I'm not a fool."
"So what are you going to do when he starts humping your leg?"
Her friend snorted. "It's a perfectly valid question."
I also really appreciated that there wasn't really an imbalance between the two main characters. Satira isn't as physically strong, but her intellect and her gadgets help keep her from being a burden to Wilder on his quest to rescue Satira's mentor. She's an asset. And that was important to me. Even if Wilder gets a little protectively (and condescendingly) growly at the beginning:
"You would have ended up having to offer your neck to a vampire. You're damn lucky I came along."
"Maybe." Her green eyes turned hard. Old. "I'd have done it, if I had to. I still will. I don't have much to lose."
It chilled him. "Well curb your fucking behavior, because I like life and I want to keep living in it."
She held his gaze for one second before dropping hers to the ground. "I wasn't being reckless because I wanted to, or because I didn't know any better. I'm not a foolish girl. I'm a desperate one."
I love that the werewolf-y people are called "hounds." I don't know why except that it tickles my funny bone that a word normally reserved for promiscuous men (or dogs) gets repurposed in this paranormal world.
The pacing and characterization are wonderful. I sat down to read this book and didn't really do much else for the rest of the day. It has action, romance, science fiction, horror...there's a little bit of every genre squished into this story. But it's hella fun to read.
I'm a newbie to the steampunk romance genre. I know there all kinds of subgenres, and a few purists in each who have very specific ideas of what is or is not steampunk, gaslight, weird west etc. For those nitpicky few, here's the important stuff: there are werewolves (sort of) and vampires. And it's set in an alternate 19th century American West. So...Gaslight Weird West? *sigh*
My one complaint is that there aren't enough gadgets in here. Or...they aren't spread out very well over the course of the novel. There's lots of tech in the beginning, right from the opening scene. Then nothing until about midway through. Then a whole bunch towards the end.
I think hardcore steampunk fans may find issue with the paranormal aspects of the book and lack of gadgetry, but those who like the Sanctuary or Southern Arcana series by Moira Rogers will be just as delighted with this one. I know I am looking forward to the next book in the Bloodhounds series.
My Grade: A-
You can read an excerpt here.
Pre-order your copy at Samhain, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other ebook retailers.
Wilder Harding is a bloodhound, created by the Guild to hunt down and kill vampires on America's frontier. His enhanced abilities come with a high price: on the full moon, he becomes capable of savagery beyond telling, while the new moon brings a sexual hunger that borders on madness.
Rescuing a weapons inventor from undead kidnappers is just another assignment, though one with an added complication--keeping his hands off the man's pretty young apprentice, who insists on tagging along.
At odds with polite society, Satira's only constant has been the aging weapons inventor who treats her like a daughter. She isn't going to trust Wilder with Nathaniel's life, not when the Guild might decide the old man isn't worth saving. Besides, if there's one thing she's learned, it's that brains are more important than brawn.
As the search stretches far longer than Wilder planned, he finds himself fighting against time. If Satira is still at his side when the new moon comes, nothing will stop him from claiming her. Worse, she seems all too willing. If their passion unlocks the beast inside, no one will be safe. Not even the man they're fighting to save.