Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
I was surprised to see that Amazon lists this book as a romance book. (Though, now that I can see the cover...) There's no way in the world I would have considered this romance as I read it. Yes, there's a relationship in it, and yes there's a love triangle, but that's only part of the plot.
Set in 14th century Poland (Middle Ages Europe), the story followed three POVs:
The first was a werewolf. As a very young boy, his whole village and family (all werewolves) were violently killed by werewolf hunters, and with nothing else left, he dedicated his life to revenge against humans.
The second was a young man, an initiate to an order of monks. The order worked for the church, tracking and killing "demons" (werewolves). They were the ones who murdered the werewolf boy's family/village.
The third was a young woman with a secret. (BET YOU CAN'T GUESS WHAT THAT SECRET IS.)
I really enjoyed the plot. The werewolf's reason for killing humans was completely believable, and yet sad because he was fueling the whole 'werewolves are demons and so we're right to kill them all' thing. The young woman's secret made complete sense. All the characters behaved believably and realistically.
And I mentioned a love triangle, which would usually be a bad sign for a book? In this case, it completely worked. I actually liked it! I spent most of the book trying to figure out how in the world it could resolve. A young woman with a SECRET, in love with both a werewolf and a werewolf hunter.
The only downside to the book was how that love triangle (and the book's whole ending) was settled. For some reason, the werewolf went from a reasonable, believable character to an OH HO HO YOU'RE MINE SO NOW I SHALL RAPE YOU BECAUSE IT'S MY RIGHT BECAUSE YOU'RE MINE character. He went from loving her and wanting to show her the world to OH YAY NOW I SHALL RAPE YOU. Though I have to say, this is the first time I've ever read a wolf/human woman (attempted) rape scene before... (Scanning Goodreads reviews, they seem to agree with me that that ending made no sense and was generally disliked.)
Anyway, ending aside, I really, really liked this book. Some of the names were insane, but mostly they were kept for minor characters. Rycerz Telek Rydz herbu Bojcza. Wojewoda Boleslaw. The names included a character I've never encountered before, a lower case L with a slash though it. Hm, Google tells me it's a Polish character. Ł or ł. The three main characters had more "normal" names (the werewolf was Darien, the woman Maria, and the young monk Josef), so it was really perfect: The main characters were easy to follow, no distraction with wild names, but all other characters having more period/Polish names kept the feeling of the world realistic.
I was more than halfway through the book when I discovered this was actually the second book in the series. That being said, it 100% worked as a stand-alone book. (Though one funny bit, I read a part and said to myself "That's a great plot hook! I bet it's foreshadowing for the next book!" but it was actually something from the previous book.)
Reading now: Wolfbreed, the first book in this series. Also, the book with perhaps the worst opening line ever:
In the darkest woods in Burzenland, south of the Carpathian Mountains, a knight of the Order of the hospital of St. Mary of the Germans in Jerusalam, Brother Semyon von Kassek, ran as if he were in pursuit of the devil himself.
Just typing that makes me go 'Sheesh!'. Cutting all of the middle of that sentence would make it such a tighter, better opening line:
In the darkest woods in Burzenland, Brother Semyon von Kassek ran as if he were in pursuit of the devil himself.