Cari Gravier has lived in small town Selene, Georgia, all her life. She's only just learning that there's more to her family, friends, and neighbours than she ever realised, and as tragedy and danger is closing in, she has to learn fast. Hearts will break, friends will turn betrayers, and Cari will find herself a prize in a war she's only just realised is happening.
So, this is a werewolf book. I don't think that's a spoiler, given the title. I'm always predisposed to like a werewolf book, and any time there's a different spin on the mythos, I'm even happier. Pruitt hasn't done anything especially new with her wolves, but I loved the small, Southern-town setting and the no-nonsense pack politics. Cari is a vibrant heroine - and whilst there is a hint of the Mary Sue about her, it's not as pronounced as with Jude Magdelyn. Yes, Cari is the rebel darling of the town, always mouthing off and getting away with it; yes, she's fierce and makes grown men quake in their boots, but Pruitt crafts a town full of fierce, strong-minded women in New Moon Rising, so it doesn't seem like Cari is any more "sassy" or bossy or whatever than anyone else. And as with Shades of Grey, I'm happy to overlook little things like this because I find Pruitt's writing so engaging.
Bigger problems do test your credibility, however. Cari is apparently the only person in Selene who doesn't know that everyone's a werewolf. Her parents and ex-husband (the pack alpha) somehow managed to keep this from her for her whole life. She never saw or heard anything that made her suspect there was anything odd about the people she's know her whole life. Really? Okay... I guess it's not impossible, but it does seem unlikely. We are talking an entire town of werewolves here. Did she never hear howling at the full moons? Hear rumours of wolves in the woods? Cari never wondered where her husband was nipping off to every full moon? Okay...
If you can accept the fact that the entire town maintained this conspiracy of silence for Cari's entire life, this is a good story with a slow-burning plot, as Cari discovers her own role within the pack and wrestles with whether to accept it. She's not a werewolf herself, but she's essential to the pack, which makes her valuable to the wild dogs - wolves without a pack - and the wild dogs are nasty. And not everyone in the pack is friendly either, creating a guessing game for the reader: who's working with the wild dogs and who's just an unpleasant person? Cari has plenty of enemies even amongst Selene's townfolk, so you're never quite sure who's to be trusted or what their motives are.
Cari herself, despite the Mary-Sueish leanings, is a warm and witty narrator; sharp-tongued but with a heart of gold. I haven't read many UF books featuring divorcees (although I'm sure they're out there), and the relationship between her and Mike, her ex, rang very true and very touching. I don't know if there are any sequels in the works, but Pruitt left the door open for further stories and I feel like Cari has plenty of stories to tell. Although the werewolf aspect of the novel does take something of a back seat to the relationship aspect, there's enough there to satisfy my appetite for lycanthropy.
11 / 24 words. 46% done!