Bantam Books, 2010 Mass Market Edition
Purchased, Borders $7.99 August 24, 2010
10th in Women of the Underworld Series
Book Description from www.kelleyarmstrong.com/frostbitten/
The Alaskan wilderness is a harsh landscape in the best of conditions, but with a pack of rogue werewolves on the loose, it’s downright deadly.
Elena Michaels, the Pack’s chief enforcer, knows all too well the havoc “mutts” can wreak.
When word comes of a series of humans apparently killed by wolves near Anchorage, Elena and Clay are sent to check things out. But they find more than they bargained for among the snow and trees of the savage Alaskan wilderness.
I bought this as a paperback so at some point I could offer it as a prize in a contest (of course labeling it used). I had recently read Waking the Witch and enjoyed it very much so I wanted to continue on in the series. The series seems to range over a variety of characters with some narrators repeating further down the line. I picked out one that sounded the most interesting to me. The store did not have the first books in the series so I figured it did not matter.
One criticism I have to get off my chest. Back-story: there is a lot of back-story here for which there is no explanation. If I had not read some of the other book descriptions I would have been up that creek without the proverbial paddle. But, there are relationships that are not clear, Clay has a bad arm from something and it is a problem for him but there was no explanation I could find. If a series is dependent on back-story I vote that the reader is told in the blurb. No if someone were only asking for my vote.
When the story opens Elena the world's only known female were wolf is chief enforcer or her pack. Her mate, Clay is the Alpha's Bodyguard. We know they are together and have twins and that the twins threw them selves out of 2nd story windows because that was how mommy and daddy do it.
Because of that right before a trip, the couple had to work in separate places. They end up meeting on the plane chasing a mutt to help him get out of danger and into a pack. They are both werewolves. He had been bitten as a child and he bit her. Besides being a big, strong and violent guy he is a Professor of Anthropology. Elena has worked as a journalist and it also supplies cover when necessary.Their job is to make sure that werewolves and other shifters remain a secret.
Eventually they catch up to the kid, but that is the start of their real problems as they discover that there is more going on in and around Anchorage than they thought. Apparently vodka isn't the only thing Russia is exporting. Stopping the killings in Alaska, after they catch the mutt, is what they are there to do.
Elena was orphaned at five, and was adopted quickly and returned because she just wasn't quite what the family was expecting from a little blond girl. As she grew older the husbands were the parent picking the child. Several of the men abused her and those rapes are important to this story. As the only living were female she attracts a lot of attention. She is very strong physically and emotionally. She is smart and thinks strategically and is slated to become the next pack alpha.
Her husband, Clay says he doesn't want to be alpha and that he won't have a hard time taking orders from her. But culturally female werewolves are not valued by their culture which may mean Clay won;t have a hard time with it but over wolves might.. Clay is fiercely protective of what is his, very wolfish, a doting father. In other words he is not his job, he is uniquely himself.What bothers me about Clay and the story is the violence and torture resorted to in getting the answers they want. He and Elena work very well together but she quails at the gratuitous violence that seems needed because they are werewolves and have to protect their pack and territory. It seems as if this way of being is in the were DNA. But, torturing and then killing a member of this gang is just not something I like reading. He once committed a dissection of a rogue wolf (mutt) while the animal was still alive for its effect on his reputation. Although the mutt was anesthetized only a few people were aware of that.
The villains are less brilliant than the couple. And less brilliant than the rest of the gang when they come in as reinforcements. They are stupid, violent, brutal, rapacious and greedy. It's not a given that the couple or their friends will come out of the story physically or emotionally intact. It is nice not to know that going in as it make the read much more suspenseful. Even the supporting characters are well developed.
Pace wise, the book starts off at a run and continues at a rapid pace. A fight here, an argument, sex, sex with mock fighting, killing, there is very little rest for the couple. I was tired reading about how active they were. The sex is fairly hot and often. I didn't think the descriptions of the intimate moments were as hot as they could be; my toes were not curling as I read it.
I am very interested to see what happens as the Alpha hand off gets underway. It was going to take several years, and would not start until Clay and Elena's kids started first grade. There is a lot of set up for the next development in this pact and you probably want to be there when it happens.
Due to the violence and intimacy, I would recommend this book to adults only.