|Male of the Species
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I think that I didn’t really want to write a review for Male of the Species. It’s not that it’s a bad book – I just struggled to find something to say about it. It reminds me of Without Reservations, in that it could have been better, but as it is, it’s a nice, safe, comfy type of book to either take to the beach or snuggle up with in front of a fireplace with a hot cup of tea and a cat on your lap… the kind of book you read when you don’t want to think hard or worry much.
I love monsters in romances, especially werewolves. However, I like the monsters to be at least as scary as they are sexy. Devin and his pack are definitely not scary. Even the Evil Villain isn’t particularly scary – actually, he’s rather pathetic, and I almost felt sorry for him for being such a loser. As LdD notes in her review, this book lacks a certain primal aspect. There was also no balance, no lows to match the highs, no uncertainty as to how the characters will overcome the obstacles, no flaws to match the characters’ perfections. The only character who even has any serious flaw is Owen, and I had the strong impression that Owen is more of a plot device than a fully-realized character. At no point while reading this book was I in any doubt that Devin would save the day.
Despite the lack of heart-pounding excitement, I can’t say I disliked the book. Devin and Ryan are the main lovers in the story; I liked the slow build-up to their relationship. Before finding out that Devin is a werewolf, Ryan shows us a glimpse of Devin in the light of an attractive human man, with that certain flair of masculine sex appeal that makes for a very traditional romance hero. Ryan himself is romantically appealing. It’s a nice pairing. This is fortunate, since I wasn’t particularly fond of any of the other characters, not even Owen.
It should be pointed out that there is a great deal of sex in this book, in different pairings and different situations. Still, I could have lived with less sex if it meant more excitement.
Do I recommend this book? Sure. The werewolves in the story may have been less than thrilling, everything was a little too perfect and presented to the reader with a neatly-tied bow, and I certainly would have wished that Steele had written out the slumber party in her edits. Nevertheless, the romance is sweet, the sex is plentiful, and there’s nothing majorly wrong with the story. It’s not like I’m about to toss it into the Recycle Bin, myself. I’m sure that readers who don’t share my (and LdD’s) enthusiasm for creature kink will probably enjoy the book far more than we did.
Male of the Species wasn’t a bad book. But I can’t say it was all that wonderful, either. There were minor typos throughout, but nothing terrible. The characters were all… there. The setting was… pleasant. The story was easy to follow.
In short: It was a story about werewolves that wasn’t bad.
The thing that made it a not great book for me was that it was, well, tame. Look at that cover! Isn’t that a primal cover? I stared at the cover for about a full minute, no joke. And as I stared, I hoped that the story inside could match it. Alas, for me, it didn’t.
The book starts off with a bit of the primal element. It was good. It got my attention. Dev has been cast out of his pack for daring to love other men. That’s good stuff there. He meets up with another like him and they shack up for a bit. And this is when things start to get… fluffy.
Dev is made out to be perfection itself. I mean, there is no other creature on this plane of existence that could be a better werewolf than Devin. He is strong, a leader, gorgeous, intuitive, brilliant, moral, empathetic, and suave. The only thing he doesn’t have is money or a home. Well, he happens to hook up with another gay wolf who happens to be a bazillionaire with a huge house and a town not far away that seems to be where other cast-out gay werewolves end up who need a leader for them. And Dev is that leader. So they all come together in this big house and it becomes a slumber party for wolves. A lot of playing and teasing and goofing off and sex. (Okay, my slumber parties didn’t have sex. Curses!) Everyone is immediately BFFs for life.
Weaved throughout this is a sinister evil person who is made out to be a devil worshipper. I never figured out if he had an agenda other than Being Evil. Later on he has plans of taking down the werewolf pack. Unfortunately, he never quite pulls off being scary or even threatening.
The book was made up of an ensemble cast. We got snippets of each of the pack members’ lives and all of it having to do with their mates or the finding of their mates. It was fairly predictable who was going to end up with whom, but the author successfully paired everyone up happily. Unfortunately, these side characters’ scenes didn’t really add much to the story as a whole. Only one character, the story’s “Judas,” was necessary, and even then he was a bit weak. But definitely the most entertaining character for me (but you all know I have a weakness for the bitchy, plucky characters). By the end of the book, I understood why all these characters were introduced, since it seemed to set up a sequel. But for this book, they were distracting and slowed down the story.
As far as the writing itself, I would say it was technically fine. The narrative was just too flowery for me, though. Dialogue seemed excessive in amount, both in information given and in pet names. The words coming out of characters’ mouths seemed, at times, unnatural.
The thing is, is that all of it could and was explained away, thereby making it acceptable. I think overall the story was just too watered down for me. I feel bogged down by several adjectives in a sentence to describe one thing. I call a hole a hole, not a “velvet-skinned sheath”, you know what I mean? I like harsher edges in werewolf stories. Flowery words have their place, no doubt about it, but I thought they were a bit over the top for a bunch of supposed primal werewolves out in the woods. But, again, it could be deemed perfectly acceptable because this was definitely written in the “romance novel” style. Because of this, I think the cover was misleading and instead should have showed a wolf couple lying on a rug in front of a fireplace. That would sum up the story much better, in my opinion.
I recommend this for anyone looking for a soft and light read. It has its moments of sad angst. It has moments of light comedy and family togetherness. If you like your werewolves fluffy, this is the book for you.