Werewolf Princess, chosen one of the legends and eligible bachelorette is back. This is the second book in a series, and…I tried to like it. I really did. I love the cover. The back blurb frames the Chosen One story in a way that makes it sound like Ashling is trying to fight for some autonomy in spite of this great destiny.
But in this book, she’s not. She’s deeply in love with Grey, the wolf/Bloodsucker/outcast who saved her from torture and rape in the last book (a rape that would by her culture make her completely worthless and an outcast. In fact we readers are treated to a number of “love scenes” wherein Ashling bemoans her inability to actually have sex with Grey, and a number of other moments where a woman’s value is what she brings to men and Ashling hates it, but never does much to fight it. She goes out of her way NOT to break these rules because of the shame it would bring to the men around her.) Grey is…less than wonderful. He’s not a terrible person, but like a delicate Victorian damsel (and Ashling) he’s not much more than a male to be the other half to her female, to protect her and desire her. He speaks in stilted, poetic phrases and gets crazy jealous about other men. Men that Ashling’s father are forcing in battle through the deadly BloodRealms in an effort to kill Grey and plant the wolf he wants as Ashling’s husband.
Yup, it’s that kind of story. Wholly grating and enraging in its attitudes and tolerance under the guise of the main characters being “helpless” to stop how their culture is.
Ashling, who has already been kidnapped, tortured and knows HER FATHER is trying to kill her man, tells her super loyal, very mysterious bodyguard to bugger off (she literally tells him to “take the night off”, flippantly) so she and Grey can run off to a beach and make out and sleep alone together under the stars (sure, romantic, but not very smart at all.) Then, after much bemoaning about how unfair the world (her father) is Ashling travels to an underground werewolf stronghold in Ireland where (her brother? Her sister? Some family member I never figured out) is getting married and Ashling is serving as a bridesmaid.
Virtually none of the interesting stuff is described. The werewolf tunnels? The other people? The journey? The wedding itself takes only a paragraph or two. But there are pages about how people are watching Ashling and how it’s unfair that Grey wasn’t invited to the wedding too. Because after all the trauma she’s been through Ashling needs Grey to ward off the panic and fear that overcomes her.
But she also spends a little time with the man she has been betrothed to by her father, Brychan. Brychan is a warrior. But he is kind, protective of her, and he gets her blood racing. But she still kisses him, multiple times. Moans about how she might have made a mistake in dismissing him.
And I was just done. Ashling’s father is mean, overbearing and sexistly male. Her mother is still with him and defends him even though she is helping Ashling and Grey. Most males are sexist, strong assholes who constantly want something from Ashling (who is pretty and special, and the only red-haired werewolf…from Ireland. That’s why she is the chosen one. Because of her hair and skin.) No time, at all, is spent trying to find ways to fight the culture, find allies in her quest to be with Grey, confronting, inspiring, or even talking to people. Ashling hides in her room and bemoans not getting her way, which comes down to getting to marry this man she and we know nothing about other than she is very attracted to him. A 17 year old is madly attracted to a man and wants to marry him and does not tell us, the reader anything about this person, why he’s a good person or why he’s a better choice than any other person around her.
The focus was entirely on Ashling’s emotions and not on the culture, the method she was fighting for her right to live her own life, or even on the plots that were going on around her. Maybe some reader would be engaged by that kind of storytelling, but clearly this book isn’t for me.