"Secret of the Wolf" is the final chapter in Susan Krinard's captivating trilogy that started with "Touch of the Wolf" and "Once a Wolf" and in my opinion it is much the best. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, but "Secret of the Wolf" is something really special. Krinard has created an amazingly insightful, touching, and thought-provoking novel that I could not put down (I was even reading it at stoplights in my car!).
Amidst the lush vineyards and rolling hills of the picturesque Napa Valley is Dr. Johanna Schell's Der Haven, a place where those who know the pain of being different can come to live in peace. Well ahead of her time, Johanna uses hypnotism as one of her main tools to treat her patients' mental illnesses. The patients at Der Haven are a diverse bunch: Lewis, the obsessive compulsive former Reverend, Harper, the catatonic ex-soldier, Irene, a middle-aged ex-theatre actress who thinks she's still a star, May, an incredibly shy and nervous young girl who rarely shows her face, and Oscar, whose mind will forever be child-like. Krinard paints all of these characters with compassion and realism, and as a result they become almost as intriguing as the primary characters.
The story begins when on her way home after a trip, Johanna finds a man unconscious on the path leading to Der Haven, reeking of liquor. Unable to ignore anyone in need, Johanna brings the man to Der Haven, where she goes about treating his condition.
When Quentin Forster finally wakes, he doesn't have a clue where he is or how he got there. But that is nothing new to Quentin, who has been suffering from terrifying spells of amnesia that leave him with nothing more than a impression of violence. But Quentin is no ordinary man; he is one of the last survivors of a race of werewolves or loups-garous, noble and majestic creatures that have kept their existence hidden from the human world. Quentin has been running from his personal demons for years, but he finally may have found a place where he can stop running and begin to heal, if only he can find the courage to face the shadows that haunt him.
As time passes and Quentin settles in at Der Haven, Johanna is amazed at his ability to draw out the other patients, especially May. But the biggest issue Johanna must face is her intense attraction to Quentin, which becomes harder and harder to deny, and threatens to interfere with Quentin's treatment. Though afraid of what he may discover within himself, Quentin has great faith and trust in Johanna and her ability to make him whole again. And it doesn't take long for Quentin's trust to become something deeper and more permanent - love.
But Quentin has many demons to face before he can even start to think about building a life with Johanna. While hypnotized, Johanna is shocked to discover that Quentin becomes violent and evil, and also suffers from delusions that he is a werewolf. But worst of all is the emergence of an entirely separate personality, Fenris, the embodiment of all of Quentin's fear and hatred, created during his years of childhood abuse and torture. Realizing she is in over her head and allowing her emotions to cloud her judgement, Johanna begins to doubt her ability to help Quentin.
But trouble is heading Johanna and Quentin's way. Dr. Feodor Bolkonsky arrives in Silverado Springs under the guise of wanting to discuss hypnotism with a fellow doctor. But it isn't long before Johanna discovers that Bolkonsky is really there to return May to her sexually abusive father. Determined to keep May away from her father Johanna begins to construct a plan, and when Quentin finds out what's happening, he is determined to protect May at all costs. However, Bolkonsky has another and much more sinister hidden agenda, and Johanna must find the courage within herself to trust, heal, and love Quentin in order to save him!
"Secret of the Wolf" is an affecting tale of love, self-discovery, and redemption. Krinard shows amazing insight into the inner workings of the minds and hearts of her rich and vivid characters and these fascinating characters kept me utterly absorbed in the story because I cared so much about them. Susan Krinard is one of the best paranormal romance authors out there, and "Secret of the Wolf" is a terrific read that does the genre proud. So don't miss out on this exceptional read, buy it right away and enjoy!