This is a hard review to start considering that this is a very easy story to follow. I find that I want to give the book 1 star because the cover, the trigger warning, and the blurb combine to be misleading at best, total bullshit at worst. I want to give it 5 stars because it was well written, and that's not always easy to come by, especially in indie published books. And I find that I want to launch into a post on trigger warnings rather than writing a review at all, or an entry about what makes a good rape fantasy...
This is the remarkable first book in the Stunning new Wolfpack Trilogy.
It contains traumatic emotional situations that may cause triggers for some readers.
This book tells the story of Aisha, a curvy girl who is traumatically abused and humiliated by her boyfriend, Heath. He makes her believe that she is fat and ugly.
When she movies to Alaska, she learns that there are men in the forest who can shift into wolves. Little by little, she gets to know them better, there are four brothers, and they are more than willing to show her just how beautiful and desirable her body really is.
By the end of the trilogy, Aisha will know that the bad things that have happened to her do not define her. What defines her is her own life with the shifters and the choices she makes every day.
Thus reads the blurb of doom. Technically, it's all true--of the trilogy as a whole. Only I wasn't buying the trilogy, I was buying book one. This makes it sound like it's going to start off with a woman who's in a crappy relationship in the introduction, escapes it, only to find herself in some sexy "dubious consent" situations with four hot shifters. I was down for that. What I got was a lot of emotional abuse, followed by more emotional abuse, spiced up with a guilt inducing rape. Add to that a scene that might be dubious consent on paper, but would be prosecuted as rape in real world law, ending finally, with the promise of sexy wolfyness in book 2.
So like I said, 1 star because that was not was not what I was buying into, and 5 stars because it was good writing. While it would be lovely if Aisha stood up for herself by the end of Act 1 and would no longer take the emotional abuse Heath heaped upon her, the cycle of abuse doesn't really work like that. I get how a person who was abandoned and, we're led to believe (it's never spelled out) emotionally abused as a child, would end up with an emotionally abusive partner. I get how victims convince themselves that it's going to get better. And I appreciate how Abby Weeks wrote all this out, taking us through Aisha's trap of a life. Had I wanted to read that sort of story, this would have been the one.
Lastly, I wish there was more fantasy to the rape. Like it or not (and there are 60 1star reviews on Amazon showing that a lot of people don't like it), there's a market for everything. If this book were what it promised to be--wounded, curvy woman meets hunky shapeshifters who won't take no for an answer while showing her how desirable she is--I would be that market! Instead, when downtrodden Aisha is taken (um, and shared) against her will by her asshole boyfriend, I felt sorry for her and guilty that it almost pushed my buttons.
Of course, there are 242 5star reviews. From the small sampling I read, they largely come from people who were already fans of Weeks and weren't surprised by the content. So there you have it; if you know what you're getting, it's a good book. I'm willing to give book 2 a try.