I remember, when I was a little girl, learning that Australia was settled as a penal colony for criminal British citizens. (Not to offend any Australians, if this is not exactly true.) What if Earth were a sort of a penal colony for entities from other planets? That is the premise behind Secret of the Wolf by Cynthia Garner. Earth is sort of a mix between penal colony and an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” movie. Entities who are sent to Earth take the bodies of earthlings and live through them. Since the preternatural population is not too large, there is a sort of truce between the species. But, soon, a comet will hit Earth, the floodgates will be opened for more entities to come. A device that is somehow connected to the rift is given to Tori, a radio expert and werewolf, to figure out.
We learn that Tori and her brother, Randall, were transported to Earth as a result of a crime committed by her cousin. As the werewolf liason to the Preturnatural Council, Tori is the one that reports on werewolf goings-on to the higher-ups. Randall, also a werewolf,, shows up one day after a few hundred years of separation. You would think there would be a great reunion, but her brother seems distant and cold. Tori is concerned, especially when she realizes that her brother is not exactly trustworthy and is snooping through her stuff.
When a rogue werewolf starts ripping people to shreds instead of just turning them into other werewolves, Tori begins to work with Dante, a human cop to figure out the mystery. Dante is attracted to Tori, but he has his hands full helping his newly divorced/breast cancer survivor sister adjust to life after chemo. Not to mention, he is not sure that he wants to become involved in a committed relationship with anyone, let alone a werewolf.
The theme of taking care of a family is prevalent in this book. Tori wants to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with Randall, and Dante tries to take care of his sister. This devotion keeps the two apart for awhile, but eventually, they give in to their desire for one another.
The thought that explains supernatural creatures came from outer space was unique. I wanted to know more about the rift that allowed them through and why they chose Earth. Maybe these questions were more fully answered in the first book, which I did not read. I was also interested in the backstory that I seem to have missed with Tobias, a member of the Council. Just enough background was given in this book that I was not confused by the plot.
I did have some trouble keeping the characters straight. Again, it might be because I did not read the first book, but when a character shows up, I need something to make that character memorable—not just his name. Otherwise, when he shows up 20 pages later, I might not remember who he is.
This book would most definitely be categorized better as a paranormal mystery or even sci-fi rather than a paranormal romance. While there were romantic elements, far more time was spent on the mystery and getting the weird space gizmo to work. The mystery was not hard to figure out, so I hope that if this is the angle in future books, there are more twisty plot elements included. Garner gets high praise for finding a unique explanation for the presence of vampires, shifters, werewolves, fey, and the like. Overall, Secret of the Wolf gets high marks for an intriguing premise, but I am not sure if I will read the next book.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina