Wulf
by Kayelle Allen, futuristic (2006)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 1-59578-282-6


Wulf, the first book in Kayelle Allen's Tales Of The Chosen series, happens to feature two male characters as the couple in love. Yes, it's a homosexual erotic romance, so do take note especially if you're not into hot muscular men licking the sweat off each other and what-not. Me, I've read in the past gay literature works by Allan Hollinghurst, Edmund White, and a bunch of other men who operated on the principle that you can never have a depressing ending that is too bleak, so I'm actually pleased to discover that some online publishers are increasingly opening their doors to homosexual romances.

But enough of the soapbox, let me get off it and get along with Wulf. This story is set in the Tartian Empire. Don't ask me what that is because this story doesn't quite succeed in giving me a clear idea of the world-building taking place in this story. I know this story takes place in Tarth City but that's because each chapter starts off with the author telling me the location the scenes in that chapter will be set in.

Ms Allen is also fond of using jargons like "Imperinet" and "Harbinger" when for the most part I have no clear idea what these things are and can only guess. Maybe I should have read the previous two books by the author which are set in the same world as Wulf is. Like many authors in the fantasy/futuristic romance subgenre, Ms Allen seems to sometimes forget that the reader is not privy to the world that she can created and therefore the reader relies on what the author tells him or her. Visualizing a fantasy world for the reader doesn't just involve using fancy jargons - it doesn't even work like that in straightfoward science-fiction novels. The reader isn't watching a movie where she can immediately see that "Ewoks" are furry little grunts that must be killed with extreme prejudice. When it comes to a book, the author must let the reader "see" the world with her words. Perhaps it will be better, for example, to have someone use the Imperinet in a scene so that the reader can deduce what that thing is used for instead of just saying "You see him every single day on the Imperinet."

This isn't solely Ms Allen's technical hiccup in her story, of course, I've come across many futuristic romance novels where the authors seem to believe that as long as they use words that nobody but the authors themselves has any clear idea what these words mean, the world building is already two-thirds done.

On to the story. Wulf Gabriel says that the Harbinger Luc Saint-Cyr made Wulf watch his father when Wulf was ten years old. That's news to Luc Saint-Cyr. Oh, Luc is aware of Thomas Gabriel's death, he is just shocked that Wulf believes that he'd deliberately forced Wulf to witness Thomas's death. Wulf is a famous model - "the face of Draap" as he describes himself - while Luc... er, generally runs around acting like a mopey face with too much money. Luc is also a Chosen. What is a Chosen, you ask? Here's a hint: Luc has been alive for thousands of years. He may have starred in a Sherrilyn Kenyon novel for all I know. Wulf's been drinking heavily lately and his agent Jim started sending him posters of Wulf's face with the eyes gouged out, so Luc decides that Wulf here needs the help of a Chosen to kick some bum. Oh, and of course, he'll also want a piece of Wulf's bum while he's at it.

I find Wulf a pretty dry story because Ms Allen doesn't inject much build-up to the relationship between Luc and Wulf. It's pretty much they meet and wham, they want each other bad, and bam, after a few enjoyable romps in bed (and other places), they decide that they're in love. Wulf and Luc also whine pretty often about how sad they are but at the end of the story I have no clear picture of who they are.

I'd have enjoyed Wulf more if more space is allocated for their character development. As it is, I can't thinking that Wulf is too much like a slashy effort modeled after Sherrilyn Kenyon's fangs-for-the-whine formula too much for its own good. A little less sex, no matter how much the main characters especially Luc with his perpetual erection are enjoying it, and a little more character development would have helped improve Wulf.

Rating: 69


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