Mo Wenstein moves to all the way from the Mississippi Delta to Grundy, Alaska to get away from a broken engagement and her parents. She wasn't too upset by the engagement but her parents are another story. New age/hippies/vegans -- whatever you call them they have been overly involved in their only child's life. Her mother has the lethal charm that enabled her to get a security pass into Mo's dorm when she was at college. As Mo puts it:"Mom used this access to "help" me sort through the things I didn't need anymore, such as lunch meat (the fact that I was eating animal flesh was bad enough, but think of the nitrates!), non-organic produce (poisons posing as nourishment), chemical cleaning products (baking soda and diluted vinegar work so much better)."
No wonder she felt she had to go all the way to Alaska to get away. While there, Mo's own Southern charm (and nifty accent) allows her to slide seemlessly into the small, close knit community. It doesn't hurt that she's a) female and b) can cook which she exhibits with great skill at her new job as short order cook at the local diner/bar/gathering place.
Everyone seems to like her except Cooper. But Cooper doesn't seem to like anyone. He is the taciturn guy who sits at the end of the bar and growls at everyone.
But there is much more to Cooper than just a perpetual bad mood. He is a werewolf as Mo discovers one day as he is found naked, on her porch with his leg in a bear-trap. Despite the new discovery boggling her mind, she and Cooper enter a new phase in their relationship.
But that new phase starts to get threatened when a rash of death-by-wolf maulings begin to frighten the local populace. And it is looking increasingly like Coop is the culprit.
The main thing about this book is that it is funny and delightful to read. Sure, there are some worn tropes that inhabit the book. Mo as the sensible, pragmatic child of two loopy, off-the-grid living parents isn't a new thing. Also the town is right out of Northern Exposure
or every other 'move to an Alaskan small town, get to know the eccentric, suspicious locals, hijinks ensue' books out there. But what stands out for me in this book is Mo as narrator and storyteller.
It is told in a first person conversational tone with Mo giving a matter-of-fact yet really quite hysterical precis on both her own life-to-date and current events and they occur around her. I thought the tone hit just right. The author gave Mo such a great 'voice'. Her turn of phrase, her observations and her own self deprecating humor is what really elevates this book. Just the observations of her parents, Ash and Saffron, that pepper the book are worth the price of admission:"I gave them a brief, none-too-sanitized version of my childhood with Ash and Saffron. I'm pretty sure Cooper thought I was making it up to make him feel better. Unfortunately, you can't make up your dad getting popped for disorderly conduct at a Raffi concert. Ash believed 'Baby Beluga' anesthetized children to the horrors of whaling. And hopped onstage during the encore to say so.
"Suddenly, so much about your personality makes sense," Cooper said."
The book does lose a star because I thought that the romance element gets a bit overwhelmed by both Mo's personal charisma and the plot with the wolf maulings. In fact the book has an almost chick-lit vibe about it in tone in some ways. Oh, it is a definitely a romance with a HEA, though. Mo and Cooper are attracted and enter into a relationship and fall in love. He has a back-story that explains why he is a little curmudgeonly. But he almost gets a bit lost in the narrative in some ways as well. He reminds me a lot of Maloner the Loner in Kristan Higgins' Fools Rush In. In fact, I think Higgins fans would Love
I enjoyed this enough to put the follow up onto my TBR and look for her back list.