Pros: Fantastic world-building; enjoyable characters; great plot
Cons: Some confusing bits
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Gwen has been a good girl all of her life—and where has it gotten her? She’s dying, suffering from strange seizures, and she doesn’t even know why. All she wanted was to be a doctor, but now her illness is taking even that away from her. As she tries to indulge in a little last-minute reckless fun, she meets Rifter, an unusual man who takes her breath away. All she wants from him is a one-night stand, but things will end up getting much more complicated than that.
Rifter is the leader of the remaining immortal Dire Wolf pack, charged with protecting humanity, battling outlaw werewolves and witches gone over to the dark arts. There’s just one, really big problem: not all humans want their help. In the past there were Dire Wolves who preyed on humans, and those people’s descendents haven’t exactly forgotten. Worse, they’ve graduated from mere thoughts of revenge to the idea of using the supernaturals to fulfill their own growing desires for power. And just to truly make things complicated, Rifter, who normally would avoid human women entirely, can’t get Gwen off of his mind—a madness his pack definitely doesn’t agree with.
I admit, these days when I see yet another werewolf erotica series spring up, I want to pick up some other book to read instead. The market’s gotten saturated, and often there isn’t enough to distinguish the worlds. Much like vampire fiction it’s always possible to do it well, to come up with a new spin or good enough window-dressing that it feels new again, but more often I’m likely to find more of the same ol’, same ol’. In Stephanie Tyler’s Dire Needs: A Novel of the Eternal Wolf Clan, I found something highly enjoyable instead.
Ms. Tyler is using several now-worn tropes: were-wolf shifters in romance; eternal guardians of the human race; humans who are turning out to be even more evil than the things that go bump in the night. Yet she manages to spin it all together into a world that feels original. Gwen is a delightful heroine: good but not perfect; strong but not unwavering; incorporated into the plot as more than just a plot device, unwanted burden, or the second half for the male romantic lead. Many of the characters enjoy similar depth, with the exception of some of the villains.
One of the things that separates this from many shifter romances is the fact that the ongoing plot takes at least as much of the author’s attention as the romance, and has plenty of aspects to it that aren’t centered strictly on the romance and the romantic couple. This alone brings life to the world and story.
I only had a few quibbles with it, and for the first book of a new series that’s not bad. Most of them boil down to the fact that I had trouble quite getting a grasp on some of the world-building aspects, most notably those surrounding demons, magic, and how those things worked. I would have liked it if the characters got a clue about one major plot development a little earlier than they did, and one of the villains could have used a bit more background depth. It’s clearly a well-developed world with a lot going on in it, and I think the author struggled a bit with trying to include enough information for the reader without dumping too much on us. Once in a while she could have stood to include a bit more, but hopefully this will smooth out in later books—which I definitely intend to read!