I'm inishing up the "Wolf Within" series (6 novels) by Amy Lee Burgess, an urban fantasy series uncomplicated by the fact there are (were)wolves and the Others (humans). In her were world the weres do NOT feed on the humans nor do they prey on them, and they are separate species and the only way you can become were is to have were parents. (Actually she never broached the subject of species cross fertility nor half-breeds.)
I found the first 3 novels free at public libraries and purchased the last three novels at about $3 at Amazon, a very reasonable fee considering you could probably read the series of 6 for about $20 on Amazon.
As I said, in Burgess' series the weres are not much more than a secret society among humans, no preying, no biting and turning humans into weres. Born were you are were, born human you are human, nothing changes it. Burgess' series is set in the modern world, Internet, cellphones, jet aircraft, but ah... were life is not so simple. And to make it worse -- and the contention of the entire series -- there are two factions which are minorities amongst the weres.
One of the factions wants to maintain the old ways, hiding amongst humans, performing unremarkable professions that allows them to stay underground, while the opposing faction wants to "come out" and inform humans of their existence, presuming that the were superiority will eventually become the predominant species. The conservatives are convinced that the humans will hunt the down and kill them. (The protagonist Constance -- "Stanzie" -- and I agree that humans would want to kill out the weres.)
(Aside: in one of Amy's afterwards she says one of her rules is to not mix supernaturals, no were-vampire lovers, and all I can say is it works for her. But the opposite works for notable authorial competitors like Patricia Briggs.)
As I said this is urban fantasy, the definition being "the modern world except we have supernatural beings too." In addition it is of course like much urban fantasy also romantic fiction, and a large part of the plotting involves Stanzie (an American) and her Irish Liam Murphy lover, the two who are thrown together in the series opener. Murphy who often seem to be an antagonist too, but can they be lovers?
There is mild graphic sex (the weres have to have sex to enable their change to wolves) and middling romance (not so much to turn off me who is not a romantic novel enthusiast). On the other hand the plot twists and suspense make me wonder if my image or impression of the author is a bit naive because Burgess pulls it off as a consummate professional! Her portrayal of the folly of human misunderstandings is a great contributory factor to the emotional tension of her novels too. "He said, she said" but will they ever realize they misunderstand they are really on the same page???
What I mean is a whole lot of suspense and intrigue, not so much graphic sex to turn off prudes, not so much romance to turn off people like me who aren't interested in romantic novels unless the romance is a sub-plot. (Romance is nice but IMO not the subject that amuses me in a novel.)
So I give Amy Lee Burgess' "The Wolf Within" (6 novels) a thumbs up for those who either enjoy or are willing to try urban fantasy, her novels are romantic but not too romantic for me this "gag me with a spoon romance" guy, not offensively graphic to offend all but the most sensitive prudes -- and her explicit scenes are not gratuitous nor irrelevant -- so they were not thrown in just to satisfy some publisher's formula for a bodice ripper.
Just furthermore to make it all clear, many of the recent urban fantasy novels I've read were aimed for the young adult market, but in no way did I feel that Burgess' Wolf Within was YA material. The protagonist Stanzie (Constance) is in her 30s yet weres live to about 150 so she's young yet not so young compared to we mere humans. (Well I was young at 30 and still young in my 60s.) This is not a kid series, and the plotting is definitely sophisticated, adult and heavy on the suspense, a deft hand on the romance and explicitness, and Ms. Burgess presents a unique, new view about the wolves within us, maybe yet real and hidden among our society.
Although I am reading the series finale (#6) or at least the most recently published in the series (2013) I hope she will right more sequels... Um, news flash!!! ---- In researching this review I discovered she just published/released her latest (7th) Wolf Within novel "One Step Ahead
" which I just purchased with Amazon one-click Kildle feature. Published just yesterday and I thought I would be finishing the closer tonight or tomorrow night. Sweet sorrow, I get to start #7 in the next day or two, but now I have to wait ... a year? ... for #8? Amy said she wrote the opener in ... 18 hours? (Yes Amy I read your afterwards.) So I hope she will come out with #8 soon!
To be honest I'm a bit on edge with #6 "Across The Line" and was worried it could be a series closer, just the fact that #7 is there was enough to cause me to grab #7 right this instant!
If Stanzie (nickname for Constance which long name she hates) is guaranteed to last to book #7 then put me in line for book #8!
Just to put this in perspective, I read her series debut beginning about December 1st (maybe November 30th) and here I am half way through novel #6 only 10 days later, and already bought #7 because I'll doubtless finish #6 tomorrow night (I'm a night reader) and can go right on to #7!
Cute chick too:
Sorry Amy, I hope you don't mind being called a "cute chick." If I had a wolf within, my wolf would be very attracted to you and your wolf! I'd love to be in your Pack! Would you be my alpha?
From her biography she currently lives in Houston (after a disastrous affair with Katrina New Orleans) so maybe Houston is not my cup of tea (I've visited there) yet Santa Fe my cup of tea turned out to not be my cup of tea either. (At least we in Santa Fe had good and/or interesting weather, but small town life was not for me.) My visits to Houston have all been in good weather but I hear stories... Monsoon in Santa Fe was a thriller, the only thing I miss more about Santa Fe is when Hatch chilis are in season and they sell them in the stores and roast them to your taste in rotary grilles outside! I can only imagine Monsoon in Houston, hope it isn't as bad as I imagine. Oh well, at least it isn't Katrina!
To finish up, I'm in book #6 and evidently reading #7 since I already bought it. All I can say is that Amy appeared to me to be a new author but after reading her books I could only call her a master, along with my favorites Patricia Briggs, M.J. Scott, Anne Bishop, Karen Marie Moning, Faith Hunter, Kelly Armstrong, Karen Chance, Nalini Singh, Kim Harrison, and not to mention (as I mention them) J.R.R. Tolkein and George R.R. Martin, to whom both which Amy may aspire to some day as she perfects her writing skills. (Tolkein and Martin are arguably the preeminent fantasy authors, almost like gods.)
All I can say is Amy has a good start, and I hope she keeps on going, because as long as she keeps on going I'll keep on buying! I'm headed for her other novels once I finish #7.