Saturday, September 22, 2012

Destiny Binds (Timber Wolves, Book 1)

First of all, thank you to my friend Nathan who picked up this book, signed and all, for me at Gen Con this year. It was very thoughtful of him, and it's right up the alley of what I read.

Tammy Blackwell's first book in her Timber Wolves trilogy, Destiny Binds, begins the story of a girl named Scout who thinks the weirdest thing in her life is her ghostly looks...until Alex and his dangerous-looking brother Liam come along. Then people start acting strangely. Her non-biological "twin" brother Jase and his cousin Charlie, Scout's lifelong crush, forbid her to go anywhere near Alex, which even though he's the hottest new thing in school, isn't a problem for Scout. After all, Liam scares her, too. But when, through circumstances outside her control, Scout gets to know Alex better, she realizes how much she likes him. What's more, he likes her...a lot. The fact that Alex turns into a wolf during the full moon isn't what makes Scout afraid. It's what her brother and cousin might do that worries her, especially since she hasn't quite decided if her love for Alex is enough to erase her love for Charlie.

The plot itself is rather standard for young adult paranormal romance (new kid in school, hot supernatural beings, love triangle, life-or-death secrets). And werewolves are a trend that has come and gone (to be fair, this book was published in 2011). Still, the book stands on its own two feet through well-defined characters readers can identify with.

One thing this book really has going for it is its focus on relationships. The ties between Scout and her loved ones are strong, well-developed, and believable. Scout isn't a loner who needs a boyfriend to fulfill her. She has an overprotective but caring brother, an annoying but loveable little sister, a close girlfriend who isn't just a prop, and peers with distinctive quirks (read the book's first line, and you'll know what I mean). The parents don't factor into this story much, but I suppose you can't have everything. Scout herself isn't one-dimensional. She's intelligent, studious, and athletic. She's into martial arts. She doesn't consider herself a beauty nor does she surround herself with people who are (it's a bonus that Alex is beautiful, but that's not what gets her).

I was pleased with the moral direction of the book. It doesn't pretend teenagers aren't hormonal, but neither does it cross the line. And every time it gets close to that line, the author has her teenagers think about what they are doing. Maybe that doesn't seem realistic in today's sex-driven culture, but I like it. What's unrealistic is accepting that teenagers can't help their sexual impulses. Hormones do not trump the ability to think. They make it harder, sure, but not impossible.

I know only a little about this author. I know she is a librarian who wrote the book for the young adults in her area. I don't want to assume anything about her, for instance if she's Christian or not. There are references to church in the book, which doesn't necessarily mean anything. What I'm getting at is that the book feels very family-friendly with the emphasis on family relationships, the mention of church, the kissing-only make-out sessions. Yet, I don't feel like it sacrifices anything by leaving out the sex. The romance is still as steamy as it needs to be (in fact, still more than I'm strictly comfortable with) for its young adult readers. I wish more authors would exercise this tact. I can't speak for the other books in the series, but this one, at least, passes the morality test.

Plot-wise, parts of this book made me skeptical. I thought, I've seen this in that book, and that in another. It didn't feel like anything new or unique. But as I read further, I got caught up in the lives of the characters, in the punchy dialog and Scout's humorous narrative voice, and in the secrets and drama. The end sets up the rest of the trilogy so tantalizingly, leaving me, at least, with burning questions! I can't share them with you because that would be spoiling. (What a terrible ending, and I mean that in the best possible way...I think. Aaagh!) But suffice it to say, I'm curious about where Tammy Blackwell goes from here. Luckily for us, the entire trilogy is now out, so if you read this book and enjoy it, you don't have to wait for more.

Tammy Blackwell's books are available on Amazon in paperback or for the Kindle, and you can look her up at

A solid three-star read.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Ms. Blackwell said she'd love to do an interview for your site. Would you like me to contact her for you? Or maybe you could.

    Regardless, I'll share your review with her.


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