Monday, July 19, 2010

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Lydia Dare

A Certain Wolfish Charm
Sourcebooks, April 2010

Book Blurb:
He gets crankier and crankier as the moon gets full…

The rules of Society can be beastly—especially when you’re a werewolf and it’s that irritating time of the month. Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, is rich, powerful, and sinfully handsome, and has spent his entire life creating scandal and mayhem. It doesn’t help his wolfish temper at all that Miss Lily Rutledge seems not the least bit afraid of him, and in fact, may be as untamable as he is…

A woman whose charm is stronger than the moon…

When Lily’s beloved nephew’s behavior becomes inexplicably wild, she turns to Simon, the boy’s cousin and guardian, for help. But Simon’s idea of assistance is far different than hers, and Lily finds herself ensconced in his house and engaged to the rogue.

They both may have bitten off more than they can chew when each begins to discover the other’s darkest secrets…

The Pros:
• The plot had a lot of potential. I loved the idea of a young werewolf coming into puberty and needing guidance into man/wolf-hood. I just wish the author had spent more time on this aspect of the story. But unfortunately the author skims over much of Oliver’s enlightenment, pretty much omitting a pivotal scene where Simon supposedly explains to Oliver what he’s turning into. I would like to have witnessed this first hand and experienced the varied emotions I’m sure both were going through. Instead, she has Simon give the boy books on lycanthropy and says come back later if you have any questions. As the boy’s mentor/guardian, Simon needed to take a more active interest in educating his young cousin. I think it would have made him a deeper, richer character for it.
• There are some nice attempts at humor. Will, Simon’s brother and fellow werewolf, was definitely a scene stealer.

The Cons:
• Many short, pointless scenes and slow pacing – the middle especially drags
• There needed to be more conflict other than Simon hiding his wolf side from Lily. Since that was the only thing standing between them, there just didn’t seem to be enough meat to the story.
• I’m not sure I liked Simon as a hero. All he does is manhandle and lust after Lily. I realize the author was trying to show his animal nature but having him constantly pick her up and carry her off to places she doesn’t want to go (half the time in front of witnesses) just wasn’t done in polite Regency society. That would be scandal enough to ruin her. Then *spoiler alert* Simon practically date rapes Lily in the garden while a dance is going on during their first intimate encounter. It brought to mind the bodice rippers of the 80s. Simon came off as more Neanderthal than werewolf.

What Saved It:
The last two chapters when Lily finally learns what Simon is and accepts him, then he takes her as his mate. Well done and intense, packed with emotion and full of sensory detail. If the rest of the novel had read like the ending, it would have turned a mediocre book into a page turner.

The ‘IT’ Factor:
To be honest, I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific with this book that could have sold it. It wasn’t throw-it-against-the-wall bad but neither was it Keeper Shelf material. The writing was decent but a bit simplistic, the characters bordered on stereotypical, and the plot pretty basic for a werewolf story (except for the adolescent werewolf part which was skimmed over). The ending was very good but I honestly don’t think an editor is going to buy a novel based on two awesome chapters at the end of the book. The only thing I can think of is the combination of the Regency setting and the werewolf element. More and more Regencies seem to be incorporating a paranormal element of some sort these days to distinguish themselves from the pack. The idea Ms. Dare presented had great potential but I’m afraid the book didn’t fulfill on the promise nearly enough for me.


  1. Another handy analytical post! What other books do you plan to do? No idea yet?

  2. I've got a few lined up. First is a fairy godmother in training, followed by a vampire assassin and then a fantasy involving a half-blood Fae battling evil wraiths.

    I'm always open to suggestions. My only stipulation is it can't be a debut author I know personally, since I tend to be brutally honest (as if you couldn't tell).

  3. Lori,
    I'm really enjoying your series. :) It's great to get insights into selling manuscripts. I look forward to your next book discussion.