Title: Werewolf Fight League: Tor
Author: Lynn Lorenz
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M fantasy paranormal
Length: Novella (156 pages)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie S
Review summary: Amazing concept, but poor writing and bland characterisation lets this book down.
To the Werewolf Fight League, Tor is a champion fighter. To his master, he’s nothing more than a slave. When Tor’s mate Jin is killed in a brutal cage fight, Tor never wants to fight again. His master, Marrack has other plans for him.
Sky is a beautiful young sex slave, trained to perform sex on whoever buys him. But Sky is special; he’s a virgin and the man who owns him will be very lucky to be the first.
When Marrack buys Sky for Tor, his plan to get Tor back in the cage is set in motion. How could the big were resist mating the beautiful boy? Marrack has one month to get Tor back into shape and fighting again. Everything is riding on this –Tor’s reputation, Sky’s freedom, and Marrack’s money.
Will Tor find love again with a slave boy, or will Tor be betrayed by his new mate?
Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM them and elements, exhibitionism, master/slave, violence (including rape).
Readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse may find elements of this story disturbing.
The blurb does a great job at describing the events of this story. As soon as I read that blurb, I was eager to get my hands on the book. Unfortunately it’s like one of those trailers you see at the movies that makes the film look awesome, and then when you actually watch the film, all the good bits were in the trailer and there’s not much left in between.
The book starts with a gripping chapter. Tor, a werewolf cage fighter, is pitted against a deranged were challenger, Cosack. As in all of these popular televised matches, the champion has his mate in the cage with him. The champion fights to defend his mate from the challenger, and if the champion loses, the new victor can take the defeated champion’s mate in full view of the paying public.
Tor is in love with his mate, Jin. Together they’ve been an unbeatable pair, making lots of money for their owner Marrack. But this time, the challenger is out of control and in a frenzy of bloodlust, and when Tor gains the advantage, Cosack pulls a knife—an illegal move—and wounds Tor. Cosack then rapes and kills Jin (yes, that publisher’s warning is there for a reason).
Tor’s physical wounds take months to heal, but his emotional anguish is so great that he wants to die. Marrack doesn’t want to lose his champion—Tor is far too valuable—and so he gambles a large chunk of his money on buying Sky, a beautiful virgin harem boy. Tor won’t fight competitively without a mate, and Marrack is sure that Tor won’t be able to resist Sky’s beauty and skills in bed.
Tor is reluctant to get involved with Sky, not just because of his grief over Jin’s death but also because he fears that if he claims Sky and takes him as his mate, history will repeat itself and he won’t be able to protect Sky during a fight.
But Sky is determined to win his place in Tor’s bed and at his side in the fights, because Sky has his eyes on a bigger prize—his freedom. The only problem is, Sky didn’t take into account how his feelings might change…
This could have been a really good book, but it wasn’t. It’s an okay book, and fans of the author will probably enjoy it, but for me it didn’t live up to the promise of the blurb. The first couple of chapters held my interest, and the concept—wow, it’s brilliant, I *love* the concept! But sadly, the execution of the story doesn’t do it justice.
My main problem is with the writing. It’s pretty much all tell and no show, and after the first couple of chapters and when things had started to settle down for Tor and Sky, I lost interest. There’s a lot of sex scenes, but as with everything else in the book, it got kind of formulaic and I started skipping to the next part that moved the story along.
The plot itself holds no great surprises, and because everything is just presented to the reader almost pre-chewed, then you don’t really need to think as you read. Which is fine if you’re looking for that kind of escapism, but I did expect more based on the blurb and the first couple of chapters; and stronger writing (and stronger editing—I’m surprised at Loose-Id in this instance) would have solved many of the issues.
I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I started off liking Sky—he’s sweet and naive, and I do have a weakness for this type of pleasure-slave character and he fits the role perfectly. But as the story went on, instead of gaining in confidence, he seemed to lose it, and in places he almost seemed to parody himself and go out of character, and instead of becoming smarter as he learned how to help Tor fight, he veered into TSTL territory. A lot of this was because Sky made assumptions and didn’t bother to actually ask Tor’s thoughts or opinions, and Tor is guilty of the same sin. Cue lots of misunderstandings that could easily have been avoided or resolved after a simple conversation. That doesn’t work for me at the best of times so it was annoying to see the trope played out on several occasions during the course of this story.
Many of the characters are sketchy and (I hate to say this) one-dimensional. Because the writing ‘tells’ us so much but doesn’t ‘show’ any of it, the story lacks any emotional resonance. As I keep saying, the best scene is the opening chapter, but the book doesn’t maintain that level of tension and couldn’t make me believe in the characters’ motivations or in their romance. I was more interested in a couple of minor characters, Stoltz and Ashland, than in the two heroes.
Also, there was very little attempt at world-building. There’s just enough to get the reader through the story, but it’s not immersive and again, it lacks any kind of resonance.
In the end, this book didn’t work for me at all, which is a great shame. If Ms Lorenz writes the next book in the series, I would pick it up because I’m interested in the relationship between Stolz and Ashland, and I really do love the whole idea of werewolf cage fighters. But for me, Tor is book with a lot of potential that, unfortunately, wasn’t fully realised.