Wolf at the Door
by Christine Warren
(St. Martin's Paperbacks, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-312-93962-0
****
I must admit this is my first sampling of Christine Warren's work. A quick glance at her CV shows that she previously published at Ellora's Cave - and boy, does it show. From the very first meeting of the main characters, Warren sets the page (and the reader's imagination) on fire.

Anthropologist Cassidy Poe wants nothing to do with Other politics. This Foxwoman is content with her quiet life as a professor at Columbia University. She may be the granddaughter of one of the most important shifter's on the Eastern Seaboard, but that isn't the life for her. Her displeasure at being coerced to attend a society event only increases when she finds herself trapped on a rooftop with one very hungry werewolf.

Diplomat Sullivan Quinn came to New York from Ireland to warn the Americans of a conspiracy that could destroy their way of life, not to find himself trying to corner a fox. But there's just something about that honeysuckle scent he can't ignore. He's hungry for the Foxwoman all right, but not as a midnight snack. Even after she shifts and flees into the night, he can't get her out of his head.

And as luck would have it, he doesn't have to. The Council of Others assigns the two to work together tracking down The Light of Truth, a group of humans intent on exposing the Others to the world. As the two race to sniff out the enemy and help recover a kidnapped human companion, Quinn begins to realize he hasn't just found a partner, he's found a mate. Now he just has to convince Cassidy of that.

As the first in what will hopefully be a long series, Wolf at the Door has the arduous task of setting the stage for this new world. Warren doesn't so much play at an alternate history, but presents the idea that we are now living on the cusp of the great Unveiling - a time when the creatures of myth will make themselves known. The book does spend a bit of time setting up the world, keying the reader in as to not only who the characters are but also what they are; but instead of burying the reader in exposition, she uses Quinn's position as guth (pack storyteller) to fill both us and Cassidy in on the backstory.

The world itself seems to be a complex one, filled with a governmental hierarchy of paranormal creatures. Members of the American council and Quinn's European friends provide great supporting characters and really assist in giving us a clear picture of Cassidy and Quinn. They also add a touch of humor and family to the story. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the American council leader Rafael de Santos and his wife Tess make such a great couple that this reviewer would love to have a prequel.

One of the most compelling aspects of the story is the sensuality. As shifters, Quinn and Cassidy both have strongly pronounced animal instincts, and primal sexuality. Warren takes full advantage of her characters' baser sides and creates some sizzling sex scenes. Using strong imagery, frank language and two highly sensual creatures, Warren blends sex and love with an artistic touch.

Fans of sensual paranormals will gobble up this fast paced, sexy read. And from the excerpt at the back of the book, we'll all be clamoring for the next installment in The Others series.

--Amanda Waters


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