Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Immortal Wolf by Bonnie Vanak

Immortal Wolf (Nocturne Draicon Werewolves #5) (Harlequin Nocturne, #74)Immortal Wolf (Nocturne Draicon Werewolves #5) by Bonnie Vanak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Immortal Wolf was a good follow-up in the Draicon series, although I loved Enemy Lover more. The romance element was the real winner here. I have said it many times, I am a sucker for the concept of two lonely, alienated souls finding love together, and it was done very well here. Raphael has always felt inferior for his mixed heritage among many purebred Draicon (wolf-shifters). He is part Cajun, and the purebloods look down on that. On top of this, is his role as the Kallan, the sacred life-taker of the Draicons (tasked to end the lives of the very old and suffering, and those who have a decree of execution placed on them). Many fear him for his powers, and avoid him as such. Emily feels cursed by her ability to take lives and to give life. A year ago, she was cursed by the Draicon goddess, Airebelle, that she would be able to kill with her touch. She has been able to heal with her blood most of her life. She accidentally killed her father and aunt, and her pack has issued a decree of execution on her, after a year of ostracizing her to the periphery of her clan. And Raphael comes to their pack to do exactly that. To make matters more complicated, it turns out that they are fated mates.

I wondered how things would wrap up in this story, with these huge obstacles between the two lovers, and I was not disappointed. I sort of guessed that Emily and Raphael's weaknesses would turn out to be their strengths, but that's compelling storytelling (and what I would have done had I wrote this kind of story), but I still felt like this book had satisfactory surprises for me.

The romance was great, both sensual and emotional. I could feel the bond between Emily and Raphael, how he was one of the few to ever show her kindness, tenderness, and a regard for the unique person that she was. I liked that Raphael took the time to help Emily explore who she was meant to be, not what her pack restricted her existence to becoming. I also liked how Emily cared for Raphael, and heals him emotionally and physically in very crucial moments. I felt a true connection between them on many levels. I became acquainted with Ms. Vanak's writing through her historical romances, and she definitely writes romance very well.

As far as the paranormal elements, I liked most of them. I do find the aspect of the Morphs weird and off-putting. I liked it more than in the first book, The Empath, which was a little too weird for me. But the whole cloning and feeding thing that they do gave me the shudders, especially when one of the morphs turns into a giant tick and sucks Raphael's blood until he gets big as a baseball bat. Yuck much! I hate ticks. They are disgusting! This part hit me where I live! I have to say that I am convinced that Ms. Vanak is a fan of the Carpathian series by Christine Feehan, because there were elements in this story that reminded me very strongly of some of the aspects in that series. I am not saying she was copying, because I don't feel that way. However, I feel she was inspired very strongly to do her own version here, with wolves instead of vampires. Although the Morphs are highly disgusting, I liked the mystical elements very much, how Raphael goes on a vision quest as part of his duties as Kallan, and the spiritual way that he and Emily become connected, and how their uniqueness becomes a tool to aid their people.

I think this book had enough desirable elements to more than earn a four star rating, despite my dislike of the Morph aspects. I loved the romance, the sensuality, and the characters. It was great seeing all the brothers again, whom I became acquainted with and came to like in Enemy Lover. I would recommend this book to readers who are like shorter paranormals. I have made no secret of my desire for the Nocturne books to be longer so that the full potential of the storylines could be revealed. This one struck me favorably, although I could see areas where I feel Ms. Vanak had to cut her story shorter to fit into the prescribed book lengths for this series. If a paranormal romance fan can get past this, they might find a good, sexy, romantic paranormal story to enjoy as much as I did.

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