am 27. Februar 2016
I am a fan of stories that take place outside our everyday experience and horizon - therefore science fiction, fantasy and so called paranormal are among my favorite genres. The crux thereby is that in the field of M/M romances these stories are abundantly represented, but very often poorly written.
Not so in this case. Lisa Oliver has a pleasantly blooming fantasy, although she remains at that logical (as logical as logic works in fairy tales) and loses neither the red thread of the narrative nor the elaboration of the characters. She also has a pleasant, flowing writing style, a good command of the language and solid grammar.
"The Reluctant Wolf" is a fulminant start in the story of a rather small pack of gay wolves. It's all there, what you will also find in other so-called shifter stories: the alpha, the omega, the various other wolf types with their characteristica, the soulmates, the bikes, the classic conflicts with homosexuality and the otherness, but also a little more mysterium, magic and extraordinary surprises than usual.
In Lisas world the wolves - the paranormals as such - have BDSM tendencies which they live or play out in clubs, so in case you are totally against tripping over a St. Andrew's cross in your novels, you might get more anxiety than you like. But that is only a minor aspect within the Cloverleah pack. More interesting and significant is the modernity of the group where togetherness and loyalty are founded on friendship and affection, and the alpha is only the first among equals. Furthermore with every new story and every new mate the diversity of the group increases and the challenges they face diversify. The newcomers bring not only their intrinsic powers and stories from the realms of other paranormal beings, but also new enemies.
Sure, not all stories are equally good, but they all have their justification, are all easy to read and complement each other harmoniously into an overall picture of the pack, which is downright charming. The small town of Cloverleah, the members of the pack, as well as their friends and allies from outside, their adventures, struggels and celebrations get swiftly under the skin and feel partway so real, that one would love to move thither and live among them.
The first two novels: "The Reluctant Wolf" and "The Runaway Cat" are each worth 5 stars. They are versatile, thrilling and emotional. Kane & Shawn as well as Griff & "Diablo" are simply lovable. The reading is throughout entertaining.
The sequels "When No Doesn't Cut It" and "Never Go Back" play more in the befriended pack of Damien - the oldest alpa in existence, best known and much feared for his power and ruthlessness; owner of an infamous BDSM club. Do not despair: the love - of Damien and Scott - begins bumpy but develops into a perfect romance with positive surprises for the good heros and bad defeats for the evil kinship. They both are an enjoyable reading - I liked them for 4 stars each.
The one novel I had a bit of difficulties with was "Calming the Enforcer". Writing about a conflict with and within the army requires more knowledge and understanding of the institution and its structures, of possibilities and consequences, I think. And the lack of that specific knowledge is quite evident in the development of the story IMHO. And the catharsis for and with Troy, his HEA is not exactly happy. But that might rather be a plus point for the character elaboration: Anton suffers from PTSD and that does not make happy fellows. Nonetheless I give this one only 3 stars.
"Getting Close to the Omega" and "Fae For All" are also pleasurable and entertaining: the first story sweet like the adorable and unique Omega the second story quirky like the Fae and passionate like the one hybrid (surprise) you will quickly fall in love with. I would give the both stories 4,5 stars.
Last not least "Watching Out For Fangs" is for me a full 5 stars again. Not only because there finally comes a vampire in the group, but more because of his back story and the development of the relationship. Vadim and Josh are the next pairing that you will definitively enjoy.
What delighted me the most at the entire series are the positive effects of the fantasy element - something many authors forget to use. The core group comprises extraordinary individuals with special skills and "powers". Therefore I expect, or even demand, that they succeed in any position quickly and relatively easy to defeat their enemies and destroy the hater. Because so far they have hardly encountered enemies - up to the army, perhaps - that could have been superior to them. What in the world as it has been designed by the author, is also correct. All in all a relaxed and relaxing reading matter, a getaway in a world similar to the one in which we live, but different enough to be more beautiful.
Another important feature of this series in my opinion is the fact that all novels are stand-alones - meaning that you may chose to read only one or some of them without being lost, even if you will realise that you come over characters that also had their story told, that does not disrupt the one you are actually reading or reduce the entertainment. You might get curious to read more though.
I warmly recommend the series if you are into m/m shifter/paranormal romance.