Winter Sunlight

A long overdue book rec

Okay, I am the laziest of the lazy with this, because I read these books last winter and kept meaning to write up a rec and never did. (Aargh.) Though I've rec'd them to a few people privately in the meantime.

Around the time I got involved in the Paranormal Romance Writing Adventure of DOOoooooom, I finally got around to reading Lia Silver's Werewolf Marines books. And, guys, they're really good. I think it's no secret that romance isn't really my thing (which makes it hilarious that I have discovered I genuinely enjoy writing it) but these books, Prisoner and Partner in particular, have a lot of appeal, I think, for non-romance readers. At least they did for me. Laura's Wolf is set in the same world with related characters, but is more in the traditional romance vein (though it veers off in a direction mid-book that is somewhat more like the other two).

If you're going to try them, especially if romance (and shapeshifter romance in particular) is something you don't read much or at all, Prisoner is the one I started with and the one I recommend starting with. The book starts off in a way that was guaranteed to make my id stand up and take notice -- we meet the male protagonist, DJ, while his best friend is bleeding out in his arms after they're shot down in Afghanistan. DJ, who is a werewolf, has to bite his buddy and make him a werewolf too, in order to save his life. Then they're separated and DJ ends up in a ~secret government lab~, where he's controlled by threats against his friend (also being kept prisoner by the same people), and he meets fellow prisoner and enemy agent Echo, who is emotionally damaged and bitter, and similarly being controlled by threats against her terminally ill sister.

The books are very ensemble-oriented and in general have a similar tone to action/sci-fi/ensemble TV shows of the Fringe or Agents of SHIELD type. They're also much funnier than you'd expect from the basic premise (in particular, the thing that initially draws Echo to DJ is that he makes her laugh). And DJ is the opposite of a typical romance hero, or an action hero in general; he's funny, sweet, laid-back, and has literally NO ANGST AT ALL, aside from the obvious angst resulting from being locked up in a lab and forced to do werewolf things for the bad guys. DJ loves being a werewolf, he's totally well-adjusted, and he has a wonderful, loving family who support him. Echo, conversely, is a fascinating mess, although her sister is remarkably well-adjusted despite also being a secret government experiment who lives in a lab; among other things, her life is a series of nonstop dating shenanigans with Evil Lab goons and she's addicted to trashy romance novels, which is a source of running in-jokes throughout the series.

The series does some really fun things with the tropes of the genre, especially with the Men In Black/Secret Evil Lab thing -- most of the workers at the Evil Lab are just your basic government contractors, so you get to meet people like the Secret Evil Lab cafeteria barista. The worldbuilding in general is fairly detailed, so if you like your werewolves with a side of How Werewolves Work (and I do), it's pretty great. There's also the nifty detail that each werewolf has a unique superpower to go along with their wolfliness (telepathy, super strength, being able to control electricity or kill people with a touch, etc). So the whole thing is basically a sort of unholy mash-up of superhero and black-helicopter/secret-lab tropes -- Dark Angel meets Agents of SHIELD meets Fringe -- with tons of found-family dynamics and h/c and explosions. But there's also a lot of emotional realism, especially in the way characters react to trauma (which their lives are obviously FULL of), because the author is a trauma therapist and that familiarity with the inner workings of people under pressure comes through in a lot of little ways that make the characters feel unexpectedly real.

It is really a lot of fun.

The reading order I went in was Prisoner --> Laura's Wolf --> Partner, which I felt and still feel is the optimal order to read them in. No matter what order you read them in, some of the books will spoil other books, since Laura's Wolf takes place more or less concurrently with the Prisoner-Partner duology (soon to be a trilogy; there is a third book forthcoming, Packmate). You can also just read Prisoner and Partner, and try Laura's Wolf if you want more of the world, since it fills in some of the gaps. I think certain parts of Partner make more sense if you've read Laura's Wolf first, but I don't know how confusing it would be since I did read it first. And it really has a very different feel to the other two, so liking one doesn't guarantee you'd like the other.

But anyway, they're great and I've been meaning to rec them for AGES.

(Obligatory disclaimer: Lia is a friend, and I suspect I might not have tried these books if not for that -- but I'm very glad I did, because I ended up absolutely loving them.)

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I'm not a fan of shifter/warewolf fics (oh god did Alpha/Beta/Omega fics ever make me wary of even picking one up) but other than that, it sounds like it would hit ALL the buttons! Thanks for the rec.
Thanks for this rec, I downloaded a kindle sample last night to check it out, and am going to buy it today. The first couple of chapters really caught my attention, and love the style. Looking forward to reading the rest :)
Thanks for the rec, I've been looking for something new to read!