Title: Wolf Moon
Author: Ethan Stone
Cover Artist: Justin James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Paranormal M/M
Length: Novel/226 PDF pages
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Perhaps a little more plot and a lot less sex might have saved this book for me.
When college student Jack Coleman meets Derek Malone at a party, it’s mutual lust at first sight. Lies and secrets almost derail the relationship, but they face the problems head on, and it isn’t long before Jack and Derek decide to take their relationship to the next level. That’s when things get complicated.
It turns out Derek and several other people Jack thought he knew are werewolves… and so is Jack. In fact, his unusual birthmark brands him as a Chosen One, a werewolf of great power destined to be alpha. But Jack isn’t sure he’s cut out to be a leader. When a pack rival, Elias Fairchild, kidnaps Derek to force Jack’s hand, Jack has to make up his mind: Will he deny his newfound heritage or risk it all to save Derek’s life?
Jack had lost his parents in a car crash when he was 5 years old and he grew up with foster parents, but from all accounts he had a happy childhood with a family who loved him. Jack was a junior in college when he met Derek at a party and his entire life changed in an instant. It was lust at first sight although Jack informed Derek that he had a rule: No sex on the first date because sex had become stale and boring to him. However that strategy didn’t last long because for someone who was tired of sex Jack couldn’t be in the same room or even a balloon with Derek, without getting it on, which was part of my problem with Wolf Moon.
Jack had a strange reaction to Derek when they met and at first he thought it was his imagination playing tricks. He soon realized that it was something much bigger, a connection he had never felt for anyone else. But before their friendship developed any further he had to fight off one of Derek’s previous lovers, Elias, a real nutcase but a very dangerous wolf who had many followers. Their animosity continued throughout the book as the ex thought that he and Derek were fated to be together forever and he made a nuisance of himself at every turn. After disposing of Elias temporarily, lies almost wrecked the budding relationship between Derek and Jack.
The plot centred around Jack’s birthmark which indicated that he was a Chosen One and a lot is made of the birthmark in the book. Everyone wanted to see it and verify what they believed it signified, but it was way past the half way mark in the book before all was explained to Jack and he understood that his destiny was to be an alpha and a leader. However, before ascending to his new role he would have to knock off the current alpha, a huge step that would divide the pack.
There were a few paranormal elements in the story which made it interesting. For example, Jack could feel Derek in his head and visualize him even when he was miles away, a connection only mated pairs experience. There were other clues about Jack’s status as a were and his bond with Derek such as precognition when Derek was in danger, but he was ignorant regarding their significance until he changed. His biological parents’ history was introduced as a critical element of his ascension as alpha and of course there were secrecy and trust issues but ultimately the plot petered out, and except for the battle at the end, the book wasn’t a satisfactory read for me. There was also a sub plot involving Derek’s father which, while a convenient way to wrap up the story, didn’t work for me.
There were more cons for me about Wolf Moon than there were pros. While I can overlook most of the cons, if there is one thing I abhor it’s a lot of pet names, and from the beginning Jack called Derek “pup” ad nauseum which really grated on me. You may not mind pet names but in this case it continued throughout the book every time Jack and Derek were together. I didn’t find the dialogue to be smooth, which affected the flow of the story- it was almost disjointed in parts of the book which made reading it not as pleasurable as I would have liked. Perhaps the author was trying for a different “voice” for his protagonists than in his contemporary stories.
Both men had complicated backgrounds and while Derek could have lived off his rich parents he chose another path, that of working for a living, which helped his characterization but didn’t quite make me love him. As for Jack I found him distracted and distracting and didn’t feel I knew him.
I have read several other books by Ethan Stone which I loved but Wolf Moon, his first paranormal, just didn’t make the grade for me. There was so much missed potential here and the main plot didn’t kick in until late, except for intermittent skirmishes and attacks on Jack and Derek. The story arc was obvious from the beginning so there were no surprises, which didn’t help to keep the tension high. It was also too easy to figure out who was behind all the attacks because it was telegraphed early in the book. This story is told in Jack’s first person POV and this might be one of the reasons why I had a difficult time with it because I couldn’t connect to him or even Derek, the other protagonist. They were likeable enough but other than being weres I didn’t find them special and I thought that the book was crammed with sex at the expense of the plot. I also felt that many of the other characters were two dimensional at best, including Jack’s roommate and Derek’s best friend Josh who loved to walk around naked. 🙂 Last, the protagonists did not light any fires when they were together outside of the sex, and the romance didn’t jell.
Wolf Moon didn’t work for me but maybe it will for you. Some of the plot towards the end unfolded well and was exciting and I wish there was more of it earlier in the story, but the writing was still repetitive. This time Ethan Stone needed to bring his A game and unfortunately it seemed he lost it on the way.