Friday, February 25, 2011

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf

“You bit me! . . . Again!”
“It’s a good thing. It means you’re mine. The scar is a public declaration. It means you’re my mate. It means no other wolf can claim you.  It means you’re under my protection and the protection of my pack. . . . It’s no different than me peeing on your door step.”
 “You peed on my door step!?”

  • How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf  (February 22, 2011) – 4 out of 5
  • The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf  (March 29, 2011)

Author:  Molly Harper
Narrator:   Amanda Roncini - 3 out of 5

A native of Mississippi who grew up under the oppressive home-schooled, granola-eating tyranny of two uber-hippie parents, soon-to-30-year-old Mo experiences a late quarter-life crisis and runs away to Grundy, Alaska, to discover herself.  She discovers herself stuck in the middle of a frozen winter wilderness, surrounded by starving werewolves.  Good thing Mo can cook!  In this romantic pseudo-mystery comedy, Mo and Cooper, Mo’s sexy yet surly self-exiled werewolf neighbor, fall in love and make peace with their respective families.

“What do you want from me, Maggie?  My advice? My Absolution?  Go forth, and be a bitch no more.”

Preternaturally Funny:
What sets Molly Harper’s writing apart from the typical urban fantasy/paranormal romance novel is her uniquely comedic voice. If you’re familiar with her Jane Jameson series, this will come as no surprise.  If you’re not, don’t drink anything while listening to this audiobook. Consider yourself warned.  Naked Werewolf relies mostly on hyperbole and absurd juxtaposition.  Mo’s parents aren’t just aging hippies – they own an organic vegan farm.  Mo’s mom refused to go to her college graduation because it would be giving into the man.  Mo’s mom once walked in on Mo and a guy getting it on, and instead of walking out, she started lecturing the couple on the positives of tantric sex.  Mo’s mom isn’t just overbearing, she calls Mo up at 3 a.m. every year on Mo’s birthday to re-tell the story of her water birth in graphic detail.  Something Mo’s college roommates really appreciated.

The comedy makes Naked Werewolf narrator-driven as opposed to plot-driven or even character-driven. In other words, it’s a bit slow on the action and heavy on the reminiscing.  Considered a cardinal sin for popular novel writing, Naked Werewolf starts out by giving the listener a full biography of Mo, from her birth, to her high school years, to why she’s in Alaska. Another cardinal rule broken, Molly Harper gives us at least a dozen similar characters for the usual residents of Grundy in the first few chapters.  I re-listened to that first hour of the audiobook before continuing on. Why?  Because it was just that funny.  I wasn’t lost, I wasn't confused. I just wanted to hear again about the guy who looks like Yosemite Sam, the guy who looks like Blue, and the waitress who looks like the girl next door “if you live next door to a cathouse.” I wanted to hear again about how Mo clawed her way to public school.  It’s like listening to Bill Maher’s Decider, lines from the audiobook kept popping into my head all day.  I wanted to hear it again badly enough to start over from the beginning. 

If you’re an avid listener in the genre, you’re used to audiobooks that start out with a bang, hook you in the action, keep you guessing, and take all-together a very short amount of time.  Not so with Naked Werewolf.  If you read the blurb summary from audible or amazon, you’ll know the foreshadowed pivotal event is Mo “find[ing] a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on [her] porch.”  That scene comes 3 hours into the 9 hour book (about a 1/3 of the way, for those of you who can’t do fractions).  Also, the time line is different. An average Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan novel is a week long.  With Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mystery Series, by book seven, Sookie and Bill have known each other for only about three months. Naked Werewolf spans over a full, entire year.  It doesn’t take away from the action because, frankly, there’s not a lot of action.

"You know how some people just rub you the wrong way? 
Well. Cooper's my own personal sandpaper."

“Don’t take it personally . . .  Some people were just born with a pinecone shoved up their butts.  In Cooper's case, it's lodged sideways."

Other Comments:
As someone who loved the Jane Jameson series (and happens to be thrilled the 4th book is in the works!), I was pleasantly surprised by the leading male in Naked Werewolf.  For those of you who listened to Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs, let’s be honest, Gabriel is not exactly a complex character.  When you close your eyes and someone says “master vampire love interest in romance novel” you picture Gabriel. That didn’t bother me much because, as mentioned above, narrator-driven novel, I’m just here for the chuckles.  However, with Cooper, Molly Harper added a much more dynamic character. Perhaps he goes from being a jerk to being a romantic lead in the blink of an eye, but there’s a certain complexity to his character, his past, and the way he interacts with his surroundings.

On Narration:
All of Molly Harper’s audiobooks, including this one, are narrated by Amanda Roncini.  Her voice is perfect for the part.  It’s light, slightly scratchy, not particularly accented – faintly tinted with something vaguely Southern.  Amanda Roncini does a great snarky voice for a snarky Mo, and she’s able to pull off the punch lines just right.

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