While I was busy reading Foundation by Peter Ackroyd, Rachel van Dyken released the latest in her London Fairy Tales series, The Wolf’s Pursuit. I have enjoyed everything I’ve read of Rachel van Dyken’s up to this point, particularly the London Fairy Tales series, so I saw no reason why I wouldn’t enjoy this story and got stuck in.
The Wolf, aka Hunter Wolfsbane, is a character that we became familiar with as the friend of Dominique Makyslov, the hero of the second London Fairy Tale Whispered Music. As Dominique’s friend, Hunter was shown to be supportive but rather prickly and independent, tortured by a dark and brutal past. He’s a spy, working on behalf of the Crown to bring a stop of Napoleon’s armies and at the start of the novel he’s given his latest mission with a catch, he’s got a new partner despite working alone for years. To make things worse, his new partner is female, and they have history. Lady Gwendolyn is the youngest sister of Dominique’s bride Isabelle and met Hunter when she tried to rescue her sister from Dominique. She’s been working as a spy without the knowledge of her family, and swears that this mission is her last – one final attempt to keep her family safe. When she discovers who her new partner is, she’s furious but determined to do her job well. When they are thrown together in the name of the Crown, they find that the hardest part of their mission might not be to keep the Crown safe as they expected, but to keep their hearts safe from each other.
Hunter was built up in Book 2 as a potential great leading man for the next story, and he did not disappoint. His tortured soul is something that Rachel van Dyken has become synonymous with and she writes them well. There is a lot of comparison to be had between his character and that of Dominique, and while Dominique comes out on top (by a margin), Hunter has plenty of his own strengths as a romantic hero. His independence and unwillingness to cooperate with Gwen border on rude, but end up leaning towards charming more often than not. His wit makes for great reading and his past is intriguing to say the least. Unlike with Dominique, we are given an insight into Hunter’s character fairly early on in the story, when we find out that he is suffering from the death of his wife on their first anniversary a decade previous to the story taking place. This knowledge makes Hunter vulnerable from the offset, which helps endear him to the reader and provides an added level of understanding for why he behaves the way he does. It made me as a reader want a happy ending for him, meaning I got more involved in the story.
Gwen initially came off as a little immature and annoying, fighting tooth and nail for her sister’s safety without any real knowledge of what was going on or how she was going to solve the situation. She seemed an unlikely spy to begin with, but as the story progressed she more than redeemed herself. She went from being a character that I, as a reader, wasn’t sure I was going to like to being a character that I wanted to keep reading more of. Her background proved to be something completely different from what we’ve seen in her sister’s stories, with her personal strength and spy techniques making her more than an equal match for Hunter.
The relationship between the two characters didn’t prove as strong as that of Dominique and Isabelle and was probably more on par with that of Stefan and Rosalind in it’s tone and progression, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Their chemistry was well immersed in their roles as spies, which in itself gave them a very strong sense of commonality. Their quick-witted repartee and the notes that started each chapter were very entertaining and kept me smiling throughout the story. I didn’t feel that their romance was rushed or forced in any way; it felt like a natural part of the story. I do feel, however, that the plot-line at points became stronger than the relationship between them; this was particularly noticeable at the end of the story when the plot twists provided great diversion from what was meant to be the main point of the book.
As I think you can probably tell, I still prefer the story of Dominique and Isabelle to that of Hunter and Gwen, but I feel in no way let down or disappointed by this story as it held it’s own in what is a very strong series of stories from a fantastic author. Rachel van Dyken teased us at the end of The Wolf’s Pursuit with a snippet from Book 4, the story of Ash – brother of a well loved character. I’ll be sure to read that as soon as it comes, as this seems to be the book series that just keeps giving great characters and great stories.