“Secret of the Wolf” by Susan Krinard

[amtap book:isbn=0425181995]

Amid the lush vineyards and majestic hills of Napa Valley, hypnotist [Doctor] Johanna Schell has founded Der Haven — a sanctuary for those who know the pain of being “different”. For desperate, frightened people whose souls are lost to grief. For lonely tortured men like Quentin Foster …

Frightening spells of amnesia have plagued Quentin for years, and Johanna wants nothing more than to ease his unspeakable pain–and find out if his claim to werewolf blood is just a delusion. But she is horrified to discover that, under hypnosis, this tender, thoughtful man becomes violent, vengeful …evil. And now–caught in the balance between reality and illusion, truth and deception, simple desire and absolute destruction–she must find the courage to trust him. To love him. To save him…

Can a tortured man like Quentin Foster find peace? Can a dedicated healer like Johanna Schell find love? Can they together defeat the enemies with and without and find their desires together?

Well, this is a romance novel, so, yes, they will do all everything listed above. But it won’t be easy, even less easy than the average romance novel. That’s what happens when the paranormal is added to the mix.

Because “Secret of the Wolf” isn’t an average Harlequin romance ‘quickie’ novel, but a large novel that just doesn’t concentrate on the trials of the two main protagonists but that of the secondary characters, as well. As such, it lends more strength to the main characters reflected in the actions of the ones around them. And when the troubles that surround Quentin and Johanna seem too much for them to handle, their patients discover not only the strength to aid them but the ability to aid themselves. That’s what makes this much more than the average romance novel, as well as a highly-regarded romance novel in its own right.

Description: In a haven that includes a delusional former actress still reliving her slight triumphs on the stage, a former solder with the Sight shattered on the battlefield of the Civil War, a former pastor now submerged in his own penance, a young girl tormented by the abuse of her father, a young man whose only flaw is that he is “slow” and the doctor’s own father, suffering the effects of what appears to be a stroke, Quentin stands alone and apart, Found near the Haven by the formidable Doctor Schell, who believes his affliction is simply alcohol, she is shocked when, under trance, discloses his biggest secret: he is a werewolf. At first, she thinks is merely a metaphor for his condition but eventually learns it is simply the truth.

But even still, he is incomplete. As we learn later, he has a submerged personality, a dark side that appears when he is threatened or drunk, one that appeared to counter the cruelties of his grandfather, one that calls itself “Fenris”. And both Quentin and Johanna must rely on Fenris to battle the werewolf who has come to steal Quentin and complete the process begun by Quentin’s grandfather, transforming him into a ruthless, merciless killer.

Commentary: While the practice of hypnotherapy as pictured in the book is accurate, its also several decades ahead of its time. Not just the regression technique, which is sketchily handled but still clear enough to be understood, but even the induction technique, which at the time were more complex and time-consuming.

History: “Secret of the Wolf” is the third book of a family cycle, beginning with “Touch of a Wolf” and then “Once a Wolf”. Quentin is the ‘black sheep’ of the family, so to speak, because of the cruelties that his elders performed on him to ‘make a wolf of him’.

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