This is a debut novel by author Claire Grayling. From what I could tell, it started off as a serial and later combined into one complete book. It's available for sale on Amazon as one title now.
This was a very weird book for me because at the 54% mark I was not going to finish it. I thought the writing was awkward, the plot was confusing and I had a hard time connecting with Nat and Luke. I even left where I was reading and went to write the DNF review. And I did write it. Perhaps it was the act of writing the DNF review but it allowed me to vent and once I got it off my chest, I went back to the book. And I read it. And I finished it. And I kinda enjoyed it.
Nat is an artist who's broke. Starving artist cliche anyone? Ms Grayling even gives a nod to it in her prose. She is trying to get a grant to travel and paint. She gets a call to interview for the grant and that's where she meets Luke. Nat is the third heroine in a row I've read who has independence issues. Fortunately for her, she wasn't annoying about it and while she thought about it a fair bit at the beginning she comes to realise she wants Luke and the feeling she thought she was searching for, the inspiration, she found in Luke. She is the one who makes the first move and while I did not appreciate her initial tactics and motivations, she did put herself on the line by making the move and opening herself up to potential rejection and humiliation. That was very brave of her. Particularly when she thinks she and Luke have much more of a bond than Luke does. She's also incredibly selfless in her feelings for Luke when something happens to him and she steps in to help in. She doesn't have to given what had happened and it says a lot about her as a person, her strength, her integrity, and also the depth of her feelings for Luke when she sets aside her hurt to help him. It was very selfless of her, especially considering she didn't think anything was in it for her.
Luke, as a billionaire werewolf didn't work for me at first. I have no problem with him being a billionaire, even though the billionaire label does make me roll my eyes a bit these days, but more with him as a werewolf. Perhaps it's because in this world Ms Grayling has created, it's illegal to shift as a werewolf (it's illegal to be supernatural of any sort!) and Luke had to work so hard to suppress his nature. It somehow made him seem ... less. Less in control. Less dominant. Less alpha. That doesn't last long though because when danger comes knocking, Luke rises to the challenge and you get to see his protective instincts towards Nat come to the forefront. He's not a hulking, dominating alpha wolf, but he's alpha when it counts. Aside from that, he's a nice guy and I have a thing for nice guys so I grew to like Luke a lot.
It took more perseverance than I would have liked to get through the book because the first half was confusing but it picked up nicely in the second half. While the first half felt like it dragged somewhat, the second half flowed nicely. As a debut novel and the fact that this was originally released as a serial, I felt as though Ms Grayling finally hit her stride when she got to the third part of the serial - at about the halfway mark for the completed book.
This is supposed to be a steamy paranormal and I think there are enough sex scenes for it to be classed as steamy, although I think Ms Grayling could work on her steamy writing. There's definitely room for improvement there. I'm definitely more interested in seeing better quality in the steaminess of the sex scenes rather than the number of sex scenes. I felt the sex scenes needed more emotion to accompany the rutting. ;-p
On the sex scenes, I noticed Ms Grayling only gave a passing nod to the whole safe sex / protected sex talk. For those who read the book, be warned, while the first two sex scenes are consensual, Luke was not quite himself and there's no safe sex talk. The next time with Luke a bit more himself, there is the sex talk but I feel it was a little glossed over. I don't need a whole page discussing it, but I think it needed a little more than the slight attention Ms Grayling gave it. I'm not put out by it but I know others who get quite upset when proper attention is not paid to the whole safe sex thing. Perhaps something to consider for the next book?
Congratulations on a good debut, Ms Grayling. I will definitely give your new books a shot as I'd like to see how you develop as a writer.
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