Knowing he needs strength by his side, he seeks out human Thea Villalobos, a woman he's admired from the moment he met her. He hopes she can help him break through his human shell before the ailing wolf inside him dies, and before the Pack is betrayed again. But can Thea accept who and what Elijah really is?
Comment: This is the second story in the Legend of All Wolves series by Maria Vale. I had to go and check my comments on the first book, that I had read in 2020, of which I only remember I wished it had been better, but it turned out this book stands well on its own.
In this second book, the focus is on Elijah Sorensson, he is a lawyer and a link of the pack in the Outlands, meaning a wolf who lives mostly in Skin, the way they designate their time as humans instead of wolves. However, it's been years trying to adhere and sticking to human behavior, doing all that is necessary to keep the lie, to keep up appearances and Elijah is tired. He feels he should challenge for alpha, so he can finally let go of Skin and just live with the Pack. Things are getting harder for him until the day he meets Thea Villalobos but she is human, which means although he cherishes these new feelings he's having, after so long enduring other humans he can't stand, he also knows she won't be accepted by the Pack. But is there any other option, what can Elijah do?
I had to check my comment on the first book but that ended up not mattering because I barely remember Elijah from the basics, and what I remember is that he wasn't a great guy. Well, in this book the author did a wonderful job maintaining that notion, for Elijah was, for most of the book, a character I didn't like. I understand the idea was to highlight his frustration and tiredness and disillusionment over what he feels has been a sacrifice for the good of the Pack, but for me he isn't likable until 75% of the book more or less.
I also get he isn't human, he doesn't have to comply with human subtleties and awareness, but the fact he behaves in such a cold and detached manner, increasing his attitude as a cold man and difficult to please and only accepting others in specific ways (womanizer, manipulative) really made it a chore to keep reading and I felt like not going on more than once. I persevered because I hoped the romantic interest would provide a much needed balance for him.
Thea is a unique woman, she is clearly a lover of nature and simplicity...I think the reasons why she lives almost out of the grid are a bit far fetched, but her personality certainly suits Elijah and what we know of his ways and such. I think their relationship could have been portrayed better, because the amount of scenes between them before and while they were getting closer feels too simple for the apparent huge task that is is, in the end, of them being able to stay together. I feel the important parts or perhaps more clues and scenes with them bonding would have helped to reinforce this, and I think this wasn't enough.
This way, when they risk staying as a couple, as mates, it's a little disappointing because I felt too long was wasted on setting the vibe Elijah had to be redeemed and should be so, instead of showing us scenes where this was happening. It also felt as if Thea just accepts some things too quickly or not as well informed as she could - and I don't mean the finding out he is a wolf. In fact, this part, as one could imagine close to the end of the book, was probably one of the best elements of the story for me but wasn't enough to make me think of the book as great as a whole.
To be fair, I do feel a little sad over the romance. I suppose the author intended for mystical or destined, even when the characters don't think of themselves in such a whimsical way, but I do miss something more tangible to their personalities and characterization, so that I could connect with them more easily. I could accept the challenges they face and so on, since the world building remains as special as in the first book, but the characters, in their uniqueness of not being human, just don't act in such a compelling way as I'd have liked.
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