Know that old saying about assuming? It very much applied here. 'Raised by wolves' doesn't mean what one would think it does, and it is fully explained and more than works. And 'matelot'? It's actually a real word. In the book it's pronounced mate-low (though it can also be pronounced mate-lot). The first person thing was true, but I got over twitching about that very, very fast.
500 pages long, softcover yet the size and shape (and weight!) of a hardcover, and filled with enough plot for three books. Yet, as much as happened in the book, this was very much a character driven story. And oh my god, what characters! The story focuses on two main characters (two men broken, emotionally/mentally wounded, in different ways), one bi and the other straight (sort of, it wraps in with the plot and I don't want to spoil). I had come into the book expecting a slash story, but that was another incorrect assumption. It was, instead, a story of matelots. Matelots: pirates* who become partners in all things (often, but not always, including sexual). This first book told of them meeting and bonding, a wonderful journey through the start of their relationship.
(*Pirates: They're actually buccaneers or freebooters/privateers -- pre-pirates. It's easier to call them pirates though.)
In addition to great story and amazing characters, Ms. Hoffmann is quite the researcher and the book is jam-packed full of information, history, and research. It never gets in the way of the story though, which is always important.
I wish I were a better writer so I could do more justice with my recs. This was one of my favorite books ever, and I'm dying to start the next one. (#3 comes out in spring of this year, then the last comes out in spring of next year.) The characters are so real that instead of saying to myself 'Hey, I have some time, I can go read!' I found myself saying 'Hey, I have some time, I can go visit the boys!'. I snickered when I noticed that.
A couple minor warnings:
- As mentioned, it's written in first person. I stopped noticing it by the second chapter.
- I usually hate (hate hate hate) it when accents are typed out, but in this case it's not so bad at all. (Edit: And it only happens with one minor character.)
- One of her characters "TalksLikeThis You'dThinkItWouldGetAnnoying, No?" but he doesn't talk much and really early on it started working for me instead of annoying me. (Plus he's such a great character! Eeee! I want to hug him!)
- Same sex (male) relationships are brought up a lot, but if that is enough to keep you from buying this, you're going to miss out on a great book.
Two small things I disliked/didn't work for me:
- I don't know if it was some personal issue I had or if it was the writing, but it took me a couple chapters to get into the book. I could have been distracted by RL or perhaps I was expecting "teh sex" to happen right away, I'm not sure why. But, by the time the two main characters met, I couldn't put the book down. Literally. I carried it with me, and every moment I had I was reading it.
- Either the author has a semicolon issue or I've missed a memo on a rule about them (or she does something style-wise that doesn't work for me). Sentences like: She went to the store for apples, oranges, and peaches; and cherries, too. It could be a style thing, but I don't know. Also, while I love semicolons and acknowledge that they're useful things, she uses a lot of them; there was one paragraph with five of them! (Edit, next day: The second book has neither of those semicolon issues, yay! Perfectly normal use of them! :) )
Both of those things are really minor though. I cannot recommend this book enough. I carried it everywhere with me and read it every moment I could. I'm going to start the second one as soon as I post this. :D
Raised By Wolves: Brethren, by W.A. Hoffman. Amazon.com carries it, just do a search. :D