Amanda E. Alvarez’s Hunting Human proved to be a fun Saturday afternoon read. It’s not the most original paranormal romance out there, but interesting twists on familiar elements (reluctant werewolf forcibly changed in a Most Dangerous Game-style hunt) and cool side characters ensure this one is thoroughly enjoyable.
The book description, courtesy of the Carina Press website:
For two years, Beth Williams has run from the past, and the beast that dwells inside her. She is haunted by memories of being kidnapped and the savage attack that killed her best friend. Now Beth finally thinks she’s ready to move on…with Braden Edwards, a charming, irresistibly sexy man who tempts Beth to embrace the present.
But the past lurks closer than Beth realizes. Markko Bolvek, one of the werewolves who kidnapped her, has tracked her to Portland, Oregon, his pursuit fueled by a hunger for vengeance. Only Braden, a werewolf himself, senses the danger shadowing her steps. The Edwards and Bolveks have been enemies for centuries—and despite the instant connection he feels with Beth, Braden isn’t sure which side of the war she’s on.
With suspicion at odds with their attraction, Beth and Braden must learn to trust one another to stop Markko for good. Can Beth accept the wolf within—and love a man who embodies everything she fears?
First things first: I thought Beth was a great character (and not just because we share a name). She is violently and forcibly changed into a werewolf. Her best friend is killed in the attack, and she is traumatized by the experience. She is left alone in the world, forced to deal with the physical and emotional turmoil of her change, and she spends two years on the run. Until she meets Braden, she’s never met another werewolf who isn’t trying to kill her. The reluctant werewolf reminded me a bit of Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, but Beth never becomes as angry or bitter about her fate as Armstrong’s Elena.
Her reactions to everything that’s happened to her seem very realistic to me. She’s not a kick-butt heroine, but she’s not a victim, either. She’s stubborn and strong and has done the best she can to survive under difficult circumstances. Her fear of her own wolf, her reluctance to change, and her distrust of Braden once she finds out what he is are all understandable given what has happened to her.
Braden is not painted quite as vividly. I had the impression that he was a bit of a playboy before he met Beth. The book also spends a good bit of time with his family. Still, I would have liked to have seen more of him, as well as more of his connection to Beth. There were times when his behavior seemed inexplicable, and I think a bit more character development would have helped with that.
One of my favorite parts of the book were the quirky side characters, especially Braden’s sister Lucy and adopted brother Chase. Lucy is bubbly and enthusiastic, and she embraces life with gusto. Chase is cool and collected, but his own violent past and forced change at a young age hint at untold depths. I could be completely off-base here, but I sensed there might be a romantic connection between Chase and Lucy. They’re not biologically related, after all—or maybe I just watch too much General Hospital. Either way, I hope that Alvarez writes more about them in the future.
This is not a mind-blowing book, but it was an entertaining read that fans of paranormal romance will enjoy. I look forward to reading more of Alvarez’s work in the future.
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley. Hunting Human will be available as an e-book from Carina Press on March 28.