Disclaimer: This review is for a lesbian romantic suspense novel, so readers that are uncomfortable with homosexual content may want to skip this one.
Season of the Wolf follows Devon James, a young woman who has been on the run from her past for twelve years. When she comes into the orbit of police detective Jordan Salinger Devon begins to believe that she might be able to escape the darkness forever as the sparks fly between the two women. However, the lingering fear of a hidden secret threatens to prevent the young woman from letting the police detective into her heart. If anyone knows it might push them away for good.
Jordan struggles with her own demons; she was horribly injured in a police operation that lost two SWAT team agents and a little boy hostage. While the physical scars are fading, the emotional wounds remain as fresh as the day she was shot. Devon is a chance at redemption, a chance to regain her moxie as a police detective, and a chance to open her heart and fully love, but is Jordan ready to be that vulnerable when she blames herself for the past?
Robin Summers does an amazing job of creating a wonderful LGBQT mystery/thriller that is accessible to readers of all sexual orientations. The romance felt natural although a bit rushed for my tastes, but I often have that complaint with heterosexual romances as well. My biggest pleasure is that Jordan’s and Devon’s sexualities never felt forced; they simply were attracted to women, and they had identities that went far beyond which gender they preferred in the bedroom.
Ms. Summers also avoids a pitfall I’ve seen in a lot of lesbian literature: demonizing men to justify the sexual orientation of the primary characters. While Devon, justifiably, mistrusted some men it never was used to explain her attraction to Jordan. Conversely, Jordan had multiple healthy relationships with male characters, and the strong bond between her and Henry Wayne, her partner in the police department, showed love and respect between the two. I especially appreciated that while Henry clearly held fatherly affection for his younger partner, he never felt that he had a right to tell her what she should do. He definitely pushed Jordan when he felt it was necessary i.e. giving her Max, the GSD puppy, to help her focus on something besides the tragedy during her recovery, but Henry genuinely knew what types of guidance Jordan would respond to positively. He took his promise to his late wife, Ella, to help Jordan very seriously, and it was as beautiful a relationship as the budding one between Jordan and Devon.
Summers also doesn’t shy away from including people of colour in her main cast. Henry is briefly identified as black, but it is addressed solely as his skin tone. He is not stereotypical, and his race doesn’t define him in any way. While his late wife, Ella, could also have been black, it’s never explicitly defined leading some room to believe that Henry and Ella were an interracial couple.
I actually expected the sex scenes to be more explicit, but I realized belatedly that romance is not equal to erotica in literature. While I didn’t find them arousing they seemed natural, and I appreciated the lack of penis simulacrums. It rang truer to actual lesbian experiences, which makes perfect sense since I believe that Ms. Summers identifies as LGBQT.
My primary gripe with the novel is a minor one: Jordan’s full name is Jordan Denise Salinger aka JD Salinger. While I have been guilty of this type of homage to other literature in my writing (I have a Victor in a cloning story) it’s really not as cute as Ms. Summers, and perhaps I, think it is. It felt especially jarring because Jordan has no literary aspirations. However, other readers may not have the same bias.
My other small complaint is that I wanted a lot more about Billy’s (the killer) background. The story provided enough to explain the entire twisted plot, but as a true crime junky I wanted much more. Summer of the Wolf never pretended to be a fictional true crime novel though, so my disappointment is a little ridiculous.
Overall, Summer of the Wolf is a fun, breezy read with a few surprises and chills along the way. I heartily enjoyed it and look forward to more of Robin Summers’ work. If all of Bold Strokes Book’s publications are this quality they are worth checking out by anyone searching for quality LGBQT reading.
(For those of you concerned when I mentioned Max, this is a thriller where the dog DOESN’T die at the end!
4.5 Disposable Cell Phones out of 5
Season of the Wolf will be available through Bold Strokes Books on March 1, 2014.