The Better to Kiss You With, by Michelle Osgood
Publisher: Interlude Press
Release Date: April 21, 2016
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
In the rare moments when Deanna Scott isn’t working as the moderator for Wolf’s Run, an online werewolf role-playing game, she wanders the local forest trails with her golden retriever, Arthur, and daydreams about Jaime, the attractive, enigmatic woman who lives upstairs.
As Wolf Run’s “den mother,” Deanna is accustomed to petty online drama. But when threats from an antagonistic player escalate, Deanna wonders if her awesome online job could be riskier than she’d ever imagined—and if her new girlfriend knows more about this community than she had realized.
Content Warnings for:
The Better To Kiss You With was overall a pretty good read by this new-to-me author. The writing was clear and descriptive with just the right amount of scene setting, and the exchanges between the characters were cute and witty. I felt I got to know the main character Deanna pretty well, and although her love interest Jamie remained a mystery to me, I thought they enjoyed great chemistry and the sex was smoking hot.
The story started out great and progressed fairly well, but I did think the pacing could’ve picked up a little, especially after Jamie’s big reveal. As you can guess, the enigmatic Jamie had a huge secret up her furry sleeve (I stand by any wolf puns, ha!), but I thought this major turning point in the story did not come off as dramatic as it probably should have. In trying to show just how much Deanna trusted Jamie, the scene came off as anticlimactic. While I liked that Deanna was so trusting, her lack of questions was a bit odd. And even though a few details came out later, I thought that missed opportunity could have really contributed to the worldbuilding, which was pretty minimal.
The lack of worldbuilding wasn’t an issue at first as I figured more would be revealed in time, but without that foundation, I found Deanna’s faith in Jamie and her pack (whom she’d yet to meet) rather baseless. In other words, a lot of Deanna’s actions in the second half of the book didn’t make sense to me. While the action and the pace eventually picked up, a lot of it felt like Deanna running around aimlessly (which admittedly she was).
The other thing that didn’t add up for me was Deanna’s reaction when the online harassment escalated. She had described her stalker as “the person who’d caused her so much anxiety over the last months” but when things snowballed, she shrugged it off and tried to downplay it to both Jamie and her best friend Nathan. Despite his playful, cheeky demeanor, Nathan turned out to be the voice of reason in several major points in this book while Deanna seemed unable to make any sound decisions. Also, for someone with an admittedly “active online presence” who spends her days moderating a cybergame, I thought it was odd that Deanna didn’t reach out to her online friends or co-workers (not even to gossip or complain about their so-called problem player’s latest stunt). I understand that working online from home sometimes forces a person to live in a bubble, but it was also clear Deanna had an entire community of people she could and should have reached out to.
I was definitely a fan of Nathan and I’m excited to see more of him, hopefully with Jamie’s cousin Cole. I was also intrigued by Jamie’s other cousin Kiara, the fierce petite beauty who is rumored to be next in line for alpha. I was happy to note that Huntsmen, Kiara’s story will be out next month.
Michelle Osgood writes queer, feminist romance from her tiny apartment in Vancouver, BC. She loves stories in all mediums, especially those created by Shonda Rhimes, and dreams of one day owning a wine cellar to rival Olivia Pope’s. She is active in Vancouver’s poly and LGBTQ communities, never turns down a debate about pop culture, and is trying to learn how to cook.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.