Werewolves and shifters, oh my…

So, thanks to Jen/Sarai I am now a newly inducted member of the I *heart* J.L. Langley fan club. If you read the last post you will know that I read her cowboy series and loved . SO with it being payday this week I went out and glommed the rest of her back-cat.

Now I don’t normally do reviews because I have a tendency to gush (no, you say) and because I am rubbish at it. But I feel the need to speak. After reading ‘Tin Star’ and ‘The Broken H’ I went and read J.L. Langley’s ‘With/Without’ series. In simple terms it’s about gay werewolves. Not a new phenomenon in m/m romance by any means.

There are three titles so far. A novella which kicks us off called ‘With Love.’

It’s about Dev and Laine who are both gay, meet and realise that they are ‘mates’ and after some bumps with the local pack’s alpha, live happily ever after. Short, sweet and simple. We are introduced to the mechanics of the Wolf hierarchy and what it means to be an ‘Alpha’ and an ‘Omega’ wolf. Dev is all Alpha. Big, dominant but lovable. Laine is all Omega, small, feminine and submissive. It set the scene, gives us some rules for the universe and had some hot sex. It wasn’t my favourite of the series by far, but it is a novella so I understand the constraints and forgive the niggles I have.

The second ‘Without Reservations’ was my favourite of the series so far.

It’s about Chay and Keaton. Chay is straight, Keaton is not. Chay recognises Keaton as his mate straight away and while is a little surprised at first has no reservations (geddit?) about starting a relationship with Keaton. Keaton on the other hand has. He’s tangled with straight men and been burned in the past so he fights the attraction and Chay’s advances for a while. Not for very long though. They move in together, go through the trails and tribulations of telling everyone and settle down. Only to discover someone is trying to kill Keaton. They solve the mystery and live happily ever after.

I loved this book for many reasons. Chay calls Keaton by all these cute nicknames that Keaton outwardly objects to but secretly loves. In fact, most of the time Keaton is referred to a ‘Bit’ as in ‘Little Bit’ because he is smaller than Chay. However, although he is smaller and White (Chay is Apache) he is the much stronger wolf. This makes up for some interesting issues within the pack and within their relationship. Keaton has a stubborn personality and a hot temper. Chay is even keeled and understanding. I liked watching them struggle with their relationship dynamics. Why is the stronger wolf the sub and the easy-going, even tempered wolf the dom?

They were also both men. Although Keaton was younger and had a slight build there was no mistaking him for a girl. This irritates me in m/m as I feel it’s a bit of a cop-out. If I’m reading m/m I want them both ripped with stubble otherwise what’s the point? Call me sexist if you will…. I know it’s maybe not realistic but if I want realistic I’ll go to the reference section.

Although there is a slight mystery sub-plot running through this book, it’s mainly a study in relationships. How to start one, how to keep one and how new relationships affect those ones around it. Plus teh smexin is hot!

On to the third book and the one that inspired this post. There were so many things swirling about my head days after I read this, I felt the need to put them down.

‘With Caution’ is the story of Remi and Jake. Remi was turned in ‘Without Reservation’. We meet him there and he is a asshole of the biggest order. Jealous of Chay and Keatons new friendship he is a complete bastard to Keaton and then when he finds out the true nature of their relationship he cuts them off. Later on he comes round and goes to Chay’s to apologise when he is attacked by the werewolf trying to kill Keaton and left for dead. Jake, Keaton’s bodyguard, turns him in order to save him, while recognising Remi as his mate.

We meet up with Remi at the beginning of ‘With Caution’ trying to come to terms with his new werewolf status and looking after his baby brother Sterling. You see, Remi has an abusive dad who is a dirty Reservation cop. He used to beat on Remi and now holds the threat of beating on Sterling over Remi so that Remi will toe the line even though he has moved out.

Jake is a P.I. and out. His business partner and best friend Rhys is also gay and out. Jake has a whole gay werewolf community around him in his closest friends. I think the only one not gay is Gadget who is married and has nine kids (one of whom is gay).

Remi is fighting his attraction to Jake. He doesn’t know about the ‘mates’ thing to begin with. Trying to hide his ongoing friendship with Chay. See Remi isn’t really an asshole, that’s just a front. Really he disowned Chay and Keaton because he was afraid of what his father would say. Right enough when his father found out he forbids Remi to see Chay and Keaton again.

And this is the problem I had with this book. Remi and Jake get together, bring down his abusive father (who had killed a childhood friend and tried to kill Remi when he was younger) and keep his family together, along with starting a new pack with Jake (it’s a new gay pack, I think I’ll called them the Pink Ladies.) Jake is an Alpha, Remi is an Omega. But Remi somehow transformed into this submissive martyr who sacrificed everything in his life, his hopes and dreams etc to save his little brother from the abuse he got at the hands of his druken father.

He had a complete personality change. The Remi we met in ‘With Reservations’ was a smart-ass prick of the highest magnitude. And even though you got glimpses and hints as to his domestic situation and how that affected his behaviour, I got the impression he was always like that with everyone. Almost from the first page he is different with Jake and his brother Sterling. A totally different man. Kind, considerate, smiling, loves kids, gregarious and out-going and tolerant. The set-up for his conflict about his relationship with Jake was really strong but the fear of his father etc was brushed away after a few stray thoughts which annoyed me.

Plus Jake was this big-ass Dom who was worried about his bedroom proclivities and wondered how Remi was going to cope with being a Sub after the abusive childhood he had, when it turns out he LOVES it. To the point where has no qualms about being ‘claimed’ by Jake in pubic?!?!?! And calls him SIR!!???! And because Remi is also a rare Omega wolf, he has healing powers to boot!

It was just too much of a turn around. I would have much rather seen Remi struggle with shedding his smart-ass persona and the conflict that brought to him and Jake than what we got. Which was a shrug of the shoulders and a ‘I’m gay’ lightbulb moment. Poor. Plus teh smexin’ was lukewarm. It might be cause I have no use for the whole dom/sub thing but it didn’t do it for me. As it was in the first book which had a sub/dom feel to it too.

However, the storyline away from the romance was great and I really enjoyed it. Much more than in ‘Without Reservation’. Remi’s dad was a real bastard, the mystery behind what he was hiding and how Remi was involved was great. It kept me turning pages when I would have maybe stopped. The set-up of Sterling’s character was fun and with them starting ‘teh gay pack’ you can see new books with tertiary characters coming soon. There were a couple of world-building snafu’s but that’s to be expected and I never judge an author to harshly for that. I don’t think this was ever meant to be a series so there is bound to be some conflicting items while she works out the kinks.

My main gripe is that ‘With Caution’ should have been my favourite. It had the stronger plot line, better drawn secondary characters and world-building. But for that one flaw. The main character had a personality transplant. I almost with we hadn’t met Remi or Jake in the previous book.

I hate being ambivalent towards books. I loved it but was annoyed by it at the same time. I don’t want to put people off reading it because I really enjoyed it, but it also annoyed me to the point where I had to spew this up. I still love J.L. Langley’s stuff and can’t wait to read ‘My Fair Captain’. I’m still a fangirl and can’t wait until it’s her time on DIK. Oh Yes, there will be squeeing aplenty! SO read them and let me know if I’m crazy or if it bugged you to.

  1. OMG I heart you and our J L Langley club LOL!!!
    Okay, okay I will rush out and buy these on pay day and Rough Riders too! So have you read Josh Lanyon or wait whose the other I really like? Jen help me…
    OH JET MYKLES OMG she rocks with the Heaven Sent series. Total fan girl RIGHT here!
    Oh PS send me your email so I can email you at work (Lord knows I have nothing better to do!) Mines saraijohnson@hotmail.com

    • Sayuri_x
    • July 31st, 2008


    I still have Josh Lanyon to read yet and I have one by Ally Blue that Jen sent.

    I read one by Sharon Marie Bidwell the other day called Snow Angel that I really liked but have issues with again!

    I have seen Jet Mykles name bandied about and was thinking of picking up some of her stuff along with the rest of JL’s cp group. But I’m new to the world of m/m romance so I am open to recommendations.

    I have sent you a wee email with pressie.

  2. Oh, what a GREAT post. I love reading your thoughts on books! You’re so organized and easy to follow. I need to take notes. My reviews are crazy and spastic.

    I had issues with With Caution, but even more problems with With Love. I couldn’t finish With Love. The little guy was just too much of a giggly twink for me.

    Without Reservations and The Tin Star tie as my favorite JLL books.

    Oh hey, did you know JL writes M/F werewolf novels for Loose Id under the pseudonym Jeigh Lynn? (Her name is Jennifer Lynn, just like me, and she lives really close to me. She would be so fun to stalk…er…hang out with.)

    • Sayuri_x
    • August 1st, 2008

    The little guy was just too much of a giggly twink for me

    Amen to that. That was my main problem with that story. He was a girl with a penis. An incredibly annoying girl who would have driven me to murder within days. The next book worries me cause it’s Matt’s and I can see him being similiar.

    I am so going to have to check out her m/f stuff, see if it’s as hot as her m/m stuff. Is it set in the same universe? Oh probably not if it’s under a different name, right?

    Yeah, she likes guns right? Maybe erm… hanging out isn’t such a hot idea… *g*

    PS. Thanks for your kinds words. I like your reviews and your posts. Colourful and fun with a little bit of an edge. And they aren’t sastic at all. I suppose everyone thinks that about the stuff they write.

    OMG I about flipped out last night I felt like a dog with her head out the window taking in too much with all the pressies!!!!
    Let me see I have never tried her M/F I will look into it. Jet Mykles (whom I currently stalk) has one called Tech Support (which Jen totally turned me on to) Seriously Jen’s and Waves sites are great for recommendations as is Sarah and Lisabea. Also you might want to join Jen’s group mmromance (lots of authors on there and great book recommendations!)

  4. Her m/f stuff is set in the same universe, just different cities. I think the With/Without stuff is in New Mexico, and the m/f stuff is in Texas (woot!!). I really liked the m/f werewolf story from the Howl anthology that Loose Id put out (Jet Mykles’ first Leashed story is also in that book…TOTALLY worth buying in print or e-book).

    And, um, I like guns too. šŸ™‚ I think we’d be great buddies. Two crazy gun-loving, manlove-obsessed Texas girls named Jennifer Lynn? Hell yeah! North Texas would never be the same. LOLOL

    • Sayuri_x
    • August 2nd, 2008

    I have just been over and read the blurbs to Jeigh Lynns stuff and dammit!

    You and JL are trying to bankrupt me, right?

    I. can’t. buy. them. YET! LOL

    • Sayuri_x
    • August 3rd, 2008

    Ok, finished reading My Fair Captain! LOVED IT!

    I want Trouble’s story like…yesterday! ANd she’s just out the edits in for it. NOVEMBER before we get the sequel!

  5. Actually, the book coming out in November is someone else’s story…Payton I think. I don’t think she’s even started Trouble’s book yet.

    Speaking of bankrupt…I have about 75 m/m books on my “to buy” list. Every time I buy one, I find another that I want, so the list never shrinks.

    • Sayuri_x
    • August 4th, 2008

    Ahh Poop! I just assumed it was Troubles next…..

  6. Sucks doesn’t it I thought Trouble would be next too but I think he might be too young right now. I am dying for Paton’s story though! Oh and she’ll be on DIK twice this month so look for that!!!!

    • Khugar
    • January 29th, 2009

    Without Reservations was my introduction to this world of werewolves – and I thoroughly enjoyed the story save for a couple of things about the main characters. One was that Chay never went through any significant kind of character development: he started out the perfect man and partner, and remained perfect man and partner all the way through. The other was that Keaton came across as a girl with a penis to me. All the attempts to make him the stronger wolf, give him three forms, etc… seemed like a poor (and somewhat irrational) attempt to counterbalance the fact that he was Chay’s annoying sub.

    I completely agree with you about With Caution having had the potential to be the better book. But I do think that you not being into the whole dom/sub thing, and given how pronounced it was in this one, colored the way you judged the sex in this book. Just as it does for me, since I fully admit that I am into the entire dom/sub dynamic and because of that I thought it was ultra hot. The dynamic was in both books – but what made the real difference was the intensity of it in With Caution. I cannot see her ever not having the dom/sub dynamic in there somewhere, simply because we are talking wereWOLVES after all who do operate according to it. I hope that in future books she explores other ways that it manifests besides what she’s shown so far.

    I agree that Remi’s personality change was far too abrupt and immense compared to how we see him in the last book.

    I must admit that the relationship between Rhys and Sterling has way WAY more appeal to me to see than the anything involving Matt. I cannot stress this enough, but Matt absolutely does not appeal to me at all. However, Rhys working it out with Sterling?

    Bring it on!

      • Fanatic
      • June 11th, 2009

      Every one’s saying it, the flip with Remi’s caracter – Definitely weird… I kept asking myself “what?…. what??… what??????….” and then … “NOooooOOO, he didn’t…” but overall, everything else, especially Without Reservations, was AMAZING.

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