If you are a long time reader and/or participant in Cannonball Read, you may remember that Phatty and I reviewed several of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series as PattyKates. (No, I’m not making fun of Patty. Ward likes to add the letter H randomly to names to make them edgy or something.) Unfortunately, we experienced diminishing returns with her books. We loved the first couple. Really liked the next two or three. Then quickly tired of the trauma, brand name dropping, grunting and general bro-iness that are characteristic of her novels.
When I heard that she was coming out with a new series about werewolves, I was hopeful. Yes, the blurb mentioned that it was set in the BDB world, but I figured (read: hoped) that meant there might be the occasional overlap with beloved favorites, but I was not expecting that at least 25-30% of her new novel, Claimed, would heavily involve characters from the BDB books, or that you would need to be 100% up-to-date with the BDB books in order to follow this new series. I am no longer up-to-date on those books. I stopped reading the series about ten novels ago. It made being interested in this new series very difficult.
Lydia Susi is the lead scientist at a preserve that is studying the wolf population in upstate New York. Things are very definitely NOT RIGHT with the preserve. The director has basically been MIA for a month, funds are suspiciously tight, wolves are being poisoned out on the preserve, and the receptionist is a senior citizen named Candy who has pink hair and likes to smell like Strawberry Shortcake dolls from the 1980s. That last part gives me the shivers. I instantly knew exactly the smell they were talking about. Part rubber doll, part faux strawberry essence. *shivers*
Daniel Joseph is a wanderer. His references are glowing, but he doesn’t stay any place longer than six months or so. One day he wanders up to the preserve office looking for work as a handyman. Candy immediately tries to start setting him up with Lydia. As in, as part of the interview process. And, to be fair to Candy, Daniel is described in EXTREMELY attractive terms. Since Lydia spends most of her time out in the woods observing wolves, her exposure to attractive people is pretty limited. She immediately is attracted to Daniel, so Candy doesn’t have to work too hard at throwing them together.
Will Lydia and Daniel be able to solve the mysteries of what is happening to the wolves? Why things are so wonky at the preserve office? Or what godforsaken perfume Candy insists in dousing herself in? Will THUNDERSEX(TM) ensue? I DON’T KNOW BECAUSE THIS NOVEL IS A FRAKKING CLIFFHANGER. I loathe those with the fire of ten thousand suns. This novel is 550 pages long. You’re going to tell me you couldn’t resolve any of those issues in 550 pages??? Maybe you could have left out the 125 pages of BDB content and worked on the actual novel?
I cannot in good conscience recommend this novel. Is it the worst thing I’ve ever read? No. Is it worth your time? Also no. Unless, of course, you are a die hard BDB fan and don’t mind cliffhangers.
2/5 stars, and that only because I couldn’t give it 1.5.