My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have to admit, the blurb line of “Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch” went a long way to seizing my interest in How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf, by Molly Harper. So did the Goodreads header of “Northern Exposure”, which made me grin with the inevitable comparison, and the cartoony cover art. As to whether the book lived up to that promise? Mm, well. Kind of.
This is yet another one of those romances involving an out of town girl moving into a remote small town, having to get accepted by the locals, and solve a crime while resisting the inevitable advances of the local brooding hero type–but in this case, the local brooding hero type’s a werewolf. And given that this is a paranormal romance on the lighter and fluffier side, one has to avoid taking that notion too seriously.
I did very much like Cooper, the aforementioned broody werewolf, who’s an atypical alpha werewolf as alphas go–he very, very, VERY much does not want to lead his pack, and he’s got issues remembering what he does when he’s in wolf form. Problem is, something in wolf form–maybe Cooper–is going around killing people. (And this is what helped keep the plot from getting too goofy for me; towards the end, when enough serious things have happened, the main characters treat this with the gravity it deserves.) Mo, our heroine, has the usual modern romance novel heroine attributes to recommend her: she’s perky, she’s decisive, she’s willing to deal when she discovers werewolves are real. Nothing terribly unusual here, but Harper’s heroine fits the expected role entertainingly.
And, as is always the case with a romance novel, we have the obligatory character who starts off as a foil for the current protagonist and who is clearly meant to be the protagonist of her own later book. This time, it’s Cooper’s sister Maggie, who’s way more of a typical alpha wolf than he is. She is in fact one of the few rather cool aspects of Harper’s worldbuilding here–i.e., that the female werewolf is way more of an alpha than the male one is, something I still haven’t found much of in urban fantasy. The politics of the pack have the refreshing bonus of putting more emphasis on the werewolves being people than on them being wolves, too. So I’ve got to give the author high marks for that.
If you come into this expecting urban-fantasy-level worldbuilding, you’ll probably be disappointed. But if you don’t mind a lighter-hearted tale where none of the characters are terribly stupid, even the obligatory colorful parents, you’ll probably get an amusing read out of this. I did, and I’ve got Book 2 queued up to read, too. For this one, three stars.