“Goodness, what big eyes you have!” Little Red Riding Hood exclaimed.
“The better to see you with, my dear,” said her grandmother.
Except we know it’s not really her grandmother, don’t we? It’s the Big Bad Wolf in disguise.
Little Red Riding Hood was my first introduction to the wolf as more than an animal. This wolf walks and talks, he has very human emotions and he’s sneaky and crafty. Is he really a wolf, or is he more… perhaps the forerunner of the loup-garou? More commonly known as the werewolf, or wolf man?
Outside of fairy tales, I think my first encounter with wolf men came with the Lon Chaney, Jr. film. His werewolf was a scary dude, and very hairy. Not to mention he was a total beast. And I mean that literally. As a werewolf, no remnant of Larry Talbot’s humanity was evident once he changed. He acted on pure animal instinct, and people were scared spitless at the sight of him.
There have been a number of films in this genre, with pretty much the same horrifying scenario of the man forced to turn into a hideous beast at the tug of the full moon, usually the result of a curse of some sort. Or the bite of another werewolf. There was nothing romantic about these creatures.
And then along came An American Werewolf in London, which took werewolves in a new direction, and revitalized the genre and breathed new life in it (with more than a touch of humor), leading to such films as Van Helsing and Underworld, among others.
Meanwhile, in the world of fiction, the werewolf underwent a more startling transformation. Romance writers created tortured souls that were also incredibly sexy, and gave a whole new meaning to the word. The first sexy werewolf I can remember was actually on TV. Quentin Collins, in the old soap opera Dark Shadows, was sexy David Selby. He’s the first werewolf I remember thinking was hot. Okay, there was Oliver Reed too, in Curse of the Werewolf, but he was also scary lol.
Werewolves are now a staple of paranormal romance writers, rivaling the vampire in popularity. At any given time, usually one of these creatures dominates the field as far as who’s the top of the polls. But werewolves have actually devolved into two camps – the werewolf and the shapeshifter – and these are not the same thing, not at all.
What’s the difference, you ask? The werewolf is a slave to the pull of the Full Moon. Come rain or shine, hell or high water, no matter where he is or what he’s doing, when it’s time, he’s going to change, and there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. But the shapeshifter controls his change, and he’s generally in command of his faculties when he does, so he has the advantage of the hapless werewolf.
What brought about this sudden surge in shapeshifters? I think it was laziness, personally, because some writers didn’t want to deal with having their heroes wait until the Full Moon – they wanted guys that could change at a moment’s notice. And they didn’t want to be confined to once a month. Technically speaking, shapeshifters are not werewolves by their very nature. Doesn’t make them wrong, just different.
Not only that, but suddenly there are shapeshifting men for every species of animal you can imagine, and maybe a few you never expected to see in a book (or outside of one lol) I remember reading something about treeshifters! Not your every day variety of shapeshifter, you have to admit.
Werewolf or shapeshifter – both are fun to read about and to write about. I think they’re here to stay. I know I enjoy writing about them.
Blurb: Raoul Marchand is the crown prince of Charisma, the infamous night club in Crescent Bay, renowned for its supernatural clientele. He has the pick of any and all men, but he cares for none. He uses them and throws them away again, and has done so for some twenty years, in the aftermath of a tragedy that robbed him of what he loved most in the world.
Alexx Jameson is an idealistic young would-be reporter with the Crescent Bay Chronicle. Presented with an opportunity to write a story on the Marchands, he eagerly grasps the chance to be a real reporter. His friend, Chronicle receptionist Miller Fenwick, suggests they go to Charisma to do a little research. Alexx isn’t sure that’s such a great idea. After all, he’s still under age, being only twenty. No problem, Miller can fix that! Added bonus, there’s a full moon tonight.
When Alexx first encounters Raoul, it isn’t exactly in the way he dreamed of, and he’s sure he made a terrible first impression. But Fate throws them together under unforeseen circumstances, and the attraction between them can’t be denied. Can Raoul let go of the past long enough to find his future with Alexx, or is he doomed to repeat past mistakes?
Alexx drew in his breath in dismay. This wasn’t going well. Even so, he could not stop staring at Raoul. His eyes met the other man’s. Raoul’s were very golden; he wasn’t aware such colors even existed in the spectrum of the human eye. But then again, he didn’t have any friends that were werewolves either. He wondered if this was a sign that perhaps this man was about to change, right here and now?
The thought was both exhilarating and frightening.
Alexx’s vision telescoped until he wasn’t aware of anything but this gorgeous man in front of him. Blood pounded in his ears and his mouth felt suddenly dry. Having lost all sense of the others in the room, he was surprised when he felt his chair yanked out from under him. Before he could fall, a hand grabbed the scruff of his neck, propelling him to his feet. He glanced at his companion; Miller was being subjected to the same surly treatment.
“You waste my time for this?” Raoul’s upper lip curled back in a snarl. Alexx found himself wildly attracted to him. “I have somewhere I need to be. Paolo, please show these gentlemen out.” Sarcastic much? He turned and reached for the door, but it opened before he touched it.
A shaggy blond with hazel eyes and a cheerful countenance stuck his head inside. “Hey Paolo—” He interrupted himself at the sight of the occupants of the room.
Alexx heard Miller’s sigh of relief, even as he too recognized the newcomer. He’d seen him around the Chronicle often enough, although he’d never really spoken to him. Foster Levine, son of the Chronicle’s owner—heir apparent and future newspaper magnate.
Alexx’s relief quickly changed to anxiety. What if Foster knew how old he really was? He couldn’t be sure one way or the other, but for the sake of argument, he had to assume he did. Would he out him to Raoul Marchand and his burly minion? Had they simply jumped from the frying pan to be scorched by the fire?
Julie Lynn Hayes was reading at the age of two and writing by the age of nine and always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Two marriages, five children, and more than forty years later, that is still her dream. She blames her younger daughters for introducing her to yaoi and the world of M/M love, a world which has captured her imagination and her heart and fueled her writing in ways she’d never dreamed of before. She especially loves stories of two men finding true love and happiness in one another’s arms and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and two cats, loves books and movies, and hopes to be a world traveler some day. She enjoys crafts, such as crocheting and cross stitch, knitting and needlepoint and loves to cook. While working a temporary day job, she continues to write her books and stories and reviews, which she posts in various places on the internet. Her family thinks she is a bit off, but she doesn’t mind. Marching to the beat of one’s own drummer is a good thing, after all. Her published works can be found at Amber Quill Press, Dreamspinner Press, MuseitUp Publishing, Torquere Press, and eXtasy Books. She is also an editor at MuseitUp.