Title: The Better To Kiss You With
Author Name & Publisher: Michelle Osgood (Interlude Press)
Publication Date & Length: April 21, 2016 – 182 pgs
Deanna, the moderator for Wolf’s Run, an online werewolf role-playing game, wanders the local forest with her dog Arthur and daydreams about Jaime, the attractive, enigmatic woman who lives upstairs. When threats from an antagonistic player escalate, Deanna wonders if her job could be riskier than she’d ever imagined—and if her new girlfriend knows more about this community than she had realized.
Deanna moderates an online werewolf game and begins to receive threats from a man claiming to be a werewolf. He is insulted by the way werewolves are portrayed in the game and wants to make Deanna pay for it. His threats become more and more violent but Deanna doesn’t take it seriously enough. Meanwhile she begins an exceptionally hot relationship with her upstairs neighbour, Jamie who turns out to be a werewolf too – a nice one though!
I got frustrated at Deanna not taking the stalking by ‘Crywolf’ seriously as it became more scary. She didn’t seem to realise how dangerous he could be. Jamie on the other hand knew exactly how bad it could get and what the werewolf was capable of. She was a really interesting character, full of strength on the surface but so vulnerable emotionally when it came to telling Deanna who she really was. The love scenes were sizzling and came to show how totally connected they were. Deanna seemed to take the whole werewolf revelation thing in her stride and it was so well written that I never once doubted it. The last part of the book was very exciting and full of threat and suspense and the confrontation between ‘Crywolf’ and those out to stop him was great and so believable. When we met Jamie’s family I could see more to this story. I hope there is a follow-up.
In this novel we meet Deanna and Jamie, who have a chance meeting that leads to them spending time together. I love what we see of Deanna’s personality; I had hoped that being the moderator for Wolf’s Run, a RPG, would make her a bit geekier and nerdy but I understand that this isn’t that sort of book.
The characters felt a bit clichéd and typical; however, the story pulled me in and I enjoyed the book. I loved the added bit of suspense and the witty, clever dialog between the women kept me laughing. The steamy scenes played on the instant chemistry that the women had and had me fanning myself off a few times.
I appreciated the bit at the end of the book after the event so that we could see a bit more of Deanna and Jamie’s life together. I think a lot of authors end their books too quickly after the main suspenseful obstacle has been resolved and it leaves the characters in limbo; I was glad to see that wasn’t the case here and we got a nice little extra look into their lives.
All-in-all, the book was a lovely romance with a dose of suspense thrown in to mix things up. Good read!
“I think I know blood when I see it,” Deanna pointed out. “It was definitely blood.”
Beside her on the floor, Nathan leaned his head back against the couch and, behind the black frames of his glasses, rolled his bright blue eyes. “I’m not saying it wasn’t blood. But just, like, blood happens.”
“‘Blood happens.’ You sound like a tampon commercial.”
“Not true.” Nathan snickered over the top of his glass. “They never use the word ‘blood.’”
Deanna choked on a mouthful of wine.
“Anyway,” Nathan continued, “it was probably just a dead animal. Dogs love that stuff.”
“He wasn’t happy, though. He was scared. Something scared him. And Arthur’s brave. He doesn’t scare easily.” Deanna wiped the Pinot Gris from her chin and they both leaned forward to look at Arthur, who was sprawled artlessly on top of his dog bed and snoring loudly. Deanna smothered a giggle with the back of her hand and grabbed the bottle of wine.
“Just don’t confuse fantasy with reality. I think your job is messing you up.”
Deanna snorted. “Wolf’s Run is a just game, Nathan. I haven’t forgotten that.”
“Really? Because you’re talking about mysterious bodies torn up in the woods, and if that doesn’t sound like werewolves…”
Deanna gave Nathan a shove. “Ha, ha, very funny. I’m not like that weirdo who thinks that werewolves actually exist. It’s role-playing. Playing being the key word.”
For the most part, the players of Wolf’s Run were a good crowd—with the exception of one user who seemed to think that he actually was a werewolf. Apparently, he took offense to the game’s depictions of “his species,” considering them inaccurate and insulting. The rants had been going on for months, and the situation would have been laughable, except that in the last few weeks his posts had taken on a more threatening tone. Every time Deanna deleted his posts and blocked his username he simply created another account. The Wolf’s Run team didn’t want to block his IP address because IP addresses could be shared by a large number of people, and doing so might block legitimate players from the game. Besides, it was child’s play to circumvent a block by logging in from a third-party app or web service, or just logging in from a different location. Deanna could only shut him down and hope that this time he finally gave up.
“Well, then just accept that Arthur found a bunny rabbit or something and decided it would be a good idea to roll around in its mangled corpse.”
Deanna shook her head. “You didn’t see him. It was a lot of blood.” It had taken two desperately unpleasant baths and an entire bottle of shampoo to get Arthur clean. Deanna had had to scrub her bathtub three times before she’d felt comfortable using it again.
Nathan grabbed her hand with his long, thin fingers. “Listen, you’re my best friend, and I love you, and I’m sure that it was really terrifying, but I’m also one hundred percent sure that you are blowing this way out of proportion. No more fantasy werewolf role playing nonsense for you.”
“Until my shift starts in…” Deanna tapped the screen of her phone. “Ten hours.”
“Until then,” Nathan agreed and clinked their glasses. “Now, tell me more about your hot neighbor.”
Deanna buried her head in her hands and groaned. “It’s awful. She’s gorgeous. And I can’t think around her. Or speak. I turn into a spluttering sixth grader with her first crush.”
“That’s disgusting and adorable. Tell me more. What’s her name?”
- Tell us something about your character’s friends.
Deanna’s best friend is Nathan Roberts. Nathan has a Masters degree in Library Sciences and works at the university library. He has a rotating cast of lovers, a trendy loft apartment, and identifies as pansexual. Scenes involving Nathan were some of my favourite to write because they have such a fun dynamic.
- What is your character’s favorite meal? Favorite dessert? Favorite snack food?
Deanna’s favourite meal is a meat-lovers pizza with extra cheese from her and Nathan’s favourite pizza place and a nice bottle of cabernet sauvignon. Her favourite dessert is anything with chocolate and peanut butter, and her favourite snack food is popcorn.
- What activity does your character absolutely hate?
Deanna doesn’t like clipping Arthur’s nails because one time she cut too far and Arthur started to bleed. And even though he was okay and immediately forgave her, she cried for an hour. Now she takes Arthur to the groomers and lets them do it.
- What other author’s book do you think your character would be good in?
Great question! I think Deanna would fit in perfectly with Lilah Suzanne’s Broken Records. She would fangirl over Grady, and totally get along with Nico and Gwen.
- What’s your favorite decade and why?
Can I say a future decade? I’m going to say a future decade. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the 2020’s will be like! We’ve already made a lot of amazing social progress in the last ten years, and I’m excited to see where we will be at in another ten.
Michelle Osgood lives in Vancouver, BC, with her partner Elizabeth and their two cats. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and has been reading, writing and blogging in online communities for five years. She likes to read romance novels, speculative fiction and feminist pop culture critique.