Fox Mate

Fox Mate - Robin Roseau This book has garnered some pretty strongly-worded negative reviews here and elsewhere. The problem with these reviews is you can't read them without spoilers. Hopefully, this will help potential readers decide whether to buy it or not, without any unnecessary reveals.

If you haven't read the first and second books, go get them. They are excellently plotted and written. The following review will contain spoilers from the first two books.

In the third book, Michaela (the fox) and Lara (the Alpha wolf) are now in a stable relationship and are engaged. The whole book covers the wedding preparations, the bridal shower and the wedding itself. From this alone you can infer that there is a lull in the proceedings. Its not exactly dull, because the traditional wolf bridal shower is anything but. Think of this book as Michaela's initiation into wolf life and traditions...complete with a 'hazing' ceremony. But with so little happening, the three major proceedings are stretched out to fill the book.

Coming from the excellent books 1 & 2, this will be a letdown if you are expecting the same level of tension and excitement. If you are willing to temper your expectations, and accept at face value the direction the author takes Michaela's development, then you will be rewarded towards the end of the book, when Michaela finally reveals her true past--it is awesome.

As to the graphic scenes of violence? Nothing too harsh, I can assure you there are worse out there. Werewolves are by their very nature violent, and killing is a way of life for them. I admire the author's depiction of these were-folks' animal side, their pack mentality, their need to dominate, their willingness to submit, their choice to kill. Its part of their world, and part of the author's worldbuilding. However, there is some misplaced violence, which I will comment on later under the spoilery part of my review.

I only gave the book 3 stars because of many problems that I had with various aspects of the book--lots of filler, inconsistencies, illogical choices, and cursory and unrealistic treatment of PTSD.

So, to buy or not to buy? This is sort of like a crossroads book. If you are undecided, you may want to wait for the 4th book, and see if the reviews are positive. If you can't wait, tone down your expectations, and enjoy the long, bumpy ride with little scenery, until you get to the destination. And let's keep our fingers crossed that the next adventure will be filled with more excitement.

Now on to the spoilery part of my review. As I mentioned earlier, I have issues with certain aspects of the book.

The main problem with the third book is that nothing much happens. There is no conflict anymore (no more rival gangs, Michaela and Lara firmly in love and fully accepted into the tribe). So the author fills up the entire book with three major events -- the wedding preparations, the bridal shower, and the wedding itself. Everything just takes too long. I found myself skipping pages so I could get on with the story...

1. The Kidnapping and subsequent Torture Session (aka wolf's bridal shower)

I didn't actually hate this at first, not all of it anyway. The author managed to convince me of the necessity of going through this. I chose to think of it as a wolf version of a bridal shower that but is more along the lines of a frat hazing ritual. What I didn't like was how drawn out it was. Just too many pages devoted to it and the endless negotiating that it got boring. Towards the end, when it got too extreme to be just a 'tradition' anymore, it was just stupid and unbelievable. Hanging Michaela upside down until she pukes? Did the author watch 'zero dark thirty'? Its for enemy combatants not for the alpha's wife! And almost wringing the Michaela's neck in the process? Everyone knows Michaela is a fragile fox, and real friends would not play around with her life, especially since she is the mate of the alpha, and a most possessive one at that.

2) Lara forgot about this tradition and still allowed it knowing how violent it will be.

I bought that at first. But now that i've had time to think about it, there's no way Lara, who is obsessively possessive of Michaela (I just love the way Lara says 'Mine!') and wouldn't stand having a hair of her hurt, would ever have forgotten that ritual, nor would she allow it at all, knowing Michaela's fragile and how violent that ritual could be. At the very least, she would have insisted that the 'torture' be harmless.

3) The Total Recall

For me, the most interesting part in the entire book happens near the end--in the scant few pages where Michaela recalls her past. It was so damned awesome...but the way it was presented to us (everything out of her mouth in one fell swoop) was not very well played out.

Imho, all these details could have been more effectively revealed little by little by the author over one or a few books...or at least over carefully selected incidents that trigger Michaela's repressed memories. Even the way the trigger works seemed weird. I would have expected restraints like net capture, tying of hands/feet, blindfolds, gagging, ear and nipple piercing, tattooing, etc. to be major triggers of her being caged or caught but apparently they are not. She wasn't even traumatized by the whole incident after it was over--being calm and composed enough to lecture her captors. Her 'going crazy' episode would have been more realistic if it happened during the torture itself.

I know that author used the torture session to trigger Michaela's memories but the way I understand how it works is...a major traumatic event may be unconsciously suppressed by our brain...but a whole series of unrelated events over a decade apart? What Michaela went through was not one single many things happened over so many years. One at 6 yrs old, 2nd event at 12 years old, third event at 19 yrs old, and everything else that happened until she helped the girl who was raped. All of them suppressed? Selective memory retention can be this 'selective' ??? And one single trigger causes her to remember every single thing! I'm no psychiatrist, but it doesn't sound logical at all. I read another book on this ('The Room at the Top of the Stairs' by Allison Holt) and it was so well presented. And no, the patient was not 'cured' in a single afternoon.

4) The Rematch (aka Kidnapping/Torture part 2 for the wolf's first wedding anniversary celebration)

Michaela's acceptance doesn't make any sense. Unless Michaela is now not only a total submissive to Lara, but also enjoys the whole BDSM spectrum of activities--and from other people too. I didn't buy that. Michaela hated the 1st torture session, the cheating, the taking of her house, freedom, etc. but she stills agrees because she 'didn't suffer enough' the first time? Is the author is trying to up the bdsm ante? I'm not sure, but it is very unerotic.

Final thoughts:

The whole third book was obviously rushed out without any deep plotting or advanced planning and no editing. It reads and feels like free online fiction.