When I read a new author, unless I truly dislike the writing, I try to read at least a couple more books by the author to get a better feel for whether I enjoy him or her. This personal policy has become more important to me since I started reviewing for Literary Sluts. I want to be as fair as possible to authors when critiquing their work in a public forum. A few weeks ago, I reviewed Second Chances by Lauren Dane. Since then, I’ve read two more Dane books.
I chose Fated because it features werewolves, a personal favorite. Fated, entry 6 in Ms. Dane’s Cascadia Wolves series, is the story of Megan Warden and Shane Rosario. While attending a family wedding, Megan is sent to pick up guest Shane, a werewolf living as human in Las Vegas. Sparks fly immediately, and Megan and Shane realize they are mates. They quickly complete the mating bond, by having sex, of course. Problems arise as daily life intrudes and the couple must negotiate how they will live. Shane, trained by his mother to hate his wolf half, has no desire to live in a pack. Megan, as her pack’s second in command and enforcer, loves living within the pack and refuses to pretend to be human in Las Vegas.
In fairness to Ms. Dane, I should have started with book 1 of the Cascadia series. I thought this would not be problematic since Ms. Dane’s website says that Fated is not part of the major story arc of the series, but it was something of an issue. Early in the book, I had a difficult time understanding the characters’ relationships, and it felt like I was missing important information. (Specifically, characters referenced Anchors, which I finally came to understand is a male werewolf who bonds with a mated female werewolf to prevent her from dying if her mate dies. This bonding takes place through a threesome with the mated couple. This is erotic fiction after all.) Once I got past that, I enjoyed Fated.
More than any erotic fiction writer I’ve encountered, Ms. Dane writes solid characters. Megan and Shane feel like real people, despite their unreal situation. Megan’s reluctance to leave a job and family to which she’s dedicated rings true. Shane’s acceptance of a mating bond despite his distaste of werewolf culture seems odd until you understand the depth of Shane’s ambivalence about who he is, due in large part to shame created by an overbearing mother. Even as you want to smack him for his assumptions that Megan will give up her pack to live as a human with him, you feel for his pain and inability to accept himself. Most erotic novels move from sex scene to sex scene with banal filler in between, but Ms. Dane is invested in her characters, and her investment provides an emotional payout for her reader. The sex, of course, is really hot. I’m sure I’ll continue to read and enjoy Ms. Dane’s books. In fact, I plan to review a third book in the upcoming weeks. I’m less certain that I’ll return to the Cascadia wolves series. I prefer other paranormal writers–like the wonderful Patricia Briggs and Nalini Singh–whose shapeshifting worlds seem more fully formed and more central to their books. For erotic fiction, though, Lauren Dane is at the top of my list. I give Fated a 3 rating.