Of Monsters and Men, by Caitlin Ricci (sequel to Rescuing Jack)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 20, 2015)
Page Count: 200
When I think about my favorite romance novels, the first thing that comes to mind is the emotional connection between the characters. Don’t get me wrong; I love novels with sex scenes, especially the well-written, steamy ones! But it’s the emotions in the relationship that draw me in more than anything else. When I read the summary for Of Monsters and Men, the idea of an asexual protagonist caught my attention right away. I love the idea of a relationship that’s founded solely on emotional connection, and asexual characters are still a relative rarity in fiction, especially in the romance genre.
A bit of admin before the review: Of Monsters and Men is the sequel to Ricci’s novel Rescuing Jack, but can be read alone with only minimal confusion. Things you need to know: werewolves are real, and have ‘come out of the closet’ à la True Blood; and Seth works for an animal rescue owned by werewolf Marius and his partner Jack (the characters of Rescuing Jack).
This novel focuses on Seth, who is completely human, but not exactly normal by society’s definition. He’s openly gay, but has trouble keeping a relationship because he can’t give his partners the one thing they always, eventually want: sex. Seth is asexual, and has no interest in a physical relationship beyond kissing and cuddling.
The first part of the story shows Seth trying to form relationships, and finding out that what other men say and what they want don’t always line up. It’s not until he starts talking to Jeremy, the brother of his boss Marius, that he starts to believe he may have a chance at love without sex. Jeremy is gay and a werewolf, but is still in the closet on both fronts. He’s grumpy, an “asshole” as Seth affectionately calls him, but is willing to respect Seth’s boundaries as long as Seth respects his– namely, keeping their budding relationship secret.
This was a lovely story, and the werewolf aspect added a fun, urban fantasy twist, although it was very much a background plot point. While the writing seemed a bit awkward at first, I think Ricci eventually grew more comfortable writing the characters, and the novel quickly improved.
The biggest issue was pacing. The novel falls in at 200 pages according to the publisher’s website, but it felt much shorter. The plot flew by, especially once Seth and Jeremy became a couple, and plot points that I would like to have seen more detail on were rushed through. I also felt like Ryan’s actions with Seth were unexpected and out of character for what little of Seth’s roommate we’d already seen.
I would definitely recommend this novel to others… not only because of the rarity in finding a romance novel with an ace main character, but also to show romance readers that love really does come in all forms!