Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hunting Human

Hunting Human is now sitting on my favorite books shelf. As Amanda Alvarez’s debut book, Hunting Human places her among some of the best paranormal writers. Her writing style is smooth, the story flowing easily from suspense and violence to romance and humor. It is an emotional and compelling story, tainted with horrific scenes, that I just couldn’t 
stop reading.

The heroine Elizabeth Williams has run from her past for two years. She is dealing with haunted memories that readers come to understand through a series of flashbacks. While on vacation with her best friend, four men abduct the women to be hunted come nightfall. As incentive to run, one of the men transforms into a wolf to show them just what they’re up against. Once released, the women trek through the forest all day. Liz believes she’s found an escape but when she returns to Rachel, she sees that her friend has already been killed. In her anger, Liz fights off the wolf’s attack, pounding him over the head with a rock until he’s dead. But the wolf leaves her with a bite – one that eventually transforms her into a wolf herself. She resists this side of herself, convinced by doctors it’s a psychosis and roams around the country trying to wipe the memories aside. 

Having changed even her name, Liz-now Beth believes she’s finally ready to move on when she meets Braden Edwards, an irresistibly charming man. Drawn to her immediately, Braden pursues Beth until she agrees to date him. Thoughtful, gentle and kind, handsome, charming and persistent - he is the perfect hero and captures her heart. Their relationship progresses naturally with realistic dialogue that captures the reader. All is well until Beth finds Markko, one of her captors from those many years ago, inside her apartment. He’s finally caught up with her to seek vengeance over the death of his brother. She fights him off and when she runs out the door, she falls right into Braden’s arms.

Beth’s world is once again turned on its side when Braden shifts. Instantly recognizing Markko as his century-old enemy, Braden readies himself to protect Beth and fight Markko off. But when Beth starts to shift too, Braden believes she’s his adversary also. He and his cousin use a taser on Beth, bind her hands and toss her in the trunk, so like how Markko had kidnapped her that Beth is terrified. While she’s now afraid of Braden, he is now suspicious of her and brings her to his family’s home.

Sorting out the truth proves to be far simpler than hurtling the barrier their lack of trust in one another now presents. Beth remains with the Edwards for safety until they can find Markko.  Though Beth is still angry with Braden, she relies on him and allows him to care for her when the Edwards discover that Beth has been denying her wolf, never allowing herself to shift or caring for herself appropriately. Braden and his family help her learn to accept he wolf and shift. The uniqueness of the Edwards shifters is evident in how they don’t hunt to survive but shift to allow their wolf to embrace its nature. They are the most gentle of shifters and a loving family. Humor fuses into the story during the time Beth spends with his family. They are a strong group of secondary characters that made me laugh and smile - lightness in the midst of a dark tale.

The magic in the book was the author’s ability to weave such a dark story with a romantic tale of trust. What happens to Beth in the beginning of the book was heart wrenching – the scenes so descriptive my skin was tingling. For her to survive such an attack and resume a fairly normal life is amazing. She is a strong heroine who proves her strength as she undergoes continuing adversity and discovery.

Hunting Human is one of the best first novels I’ve read. Intense is probably the best word to describe this book. For an author to come out this strong with her first book only leaves great things to come. And I am hoping what’s to come is a full series on these wolves.

RATING: 5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
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