Title: Monkey Wrench
Author: Xara X Xanakas
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Monkey Wrench (Were Menagerie)
Genre: M/M Paranormal Romance / Shifter / Werewolves
Length: 192 pages
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: This quirky story combines appealing were characters with an overall uneven emotional tone that didn’t really work for me.
Blurb: A Were Menagerie Story
Twenty-year-old virgin Aaron Thorne has a lot of irons in the fire. He’s on a career-making case investigating a new party drug that induces shifts in werecreatures, and his friend is the prime suspect. Outside of work, a literal silver fox has captured his attention. And just when life start going smoothly for Aaron, a tall, dark, scowly bobcat shifter named Iggy appears and sweeps him off his feet.
After being attacked in the course of his investigation, Aaron starts to feel like he has something to prove. It’s a good thing he’s got all the energy of his shifter animal, the spider monkey. He’s going to need it to solve the case, sort out his love life, and decide what kind of man he wants to be.
Some spoilers here
This was an odd little book that promised more than it achieved. Indeed there is a mismatch in quality and tone between the beginning and the end of the story. This is the second book in a series dealing with varied were animals, who somehow manage to mate across species. Sirius reviewed Snakeskin Boots here. I think it might have helped if I’d read this as it seems as if there are a lot of the same characters in both books. Some of the back story might have helped with the world building, which appeared rather underdeveloped. I never got really clear in my mind if the rest of the world knew about the weres or if they just lived with discretion rather than completely under the radar. I did like Aaron’s support system of friends who came with helpful herbal remedies for his various problems.
The main character, spider monkey Aaron was an appealing ingenue personality. Very young in age and attitude he has bravely struggled to overcome the difficulties of being a small were, anxious, hyperactive and dyslexic to become a policeman. The book deals very effectively with a sexual attack on Aaron and how this affects him. Aaron also suffers an unpleasant and rather unbelievable homophobic police interview, even though he is himself a serving police officer. This initial part of the story is unexpectedly forceful but somehow out of step with much of the rest of the book. Moreover having set up a bad sexual situation the book hints for a long while that there is going to be a balancing event of good and happy sex. A heated build up with is irritatingly never fulfilled.
Aaron’s sexual innocence and lack of knowledge seemed more likely in a teenage character rather than a policeman in his early twenties. I enjoyed his unusual personality with the elements of self doubt and thoughtful curiosity, but I felt he lost his way within the vagaries the author set up as his love life. Some misdirection left the main love interest appearing underdeveloped and rather perfunctory. I found it hard to believe in the predictable world shaking instant attraction as it came out of nowhere and across species.
This was quite a frustrating read for me as there were some funny moments, some heavy handed farcical moments and some thoughtful insights into abuse all shoved into a leaky Noah’s arc of misaligned animals.