There's this underlying sweetness that unfurls early, but it's not syrupy, and (thankfully) it doesn't last. It diminishes, like a real relationship. The couple isn't perfect. The story isn't, either. That makes it interesting and different from the lip-focused, eye-obsessed goop that sludges up most of the parapseudos.
- Penetration. Actual doing-it. With a condom! We don't get to read about the hip grinds and sloshy noises (as we do in some of the "adult" parapseudos I've recently read), but it happens. The author treats it naturally: the couple is nervous and awkward afterward, and they question their decision. Loved it!
- Omniscience works. In a shorter novel, limiting omniscience to the protag is usually the safe route. Shiver doesn't do that. We get an equal glimpse into Grace's and Sam's minds. It's not distracting, however, and I don't find myself asking the lame question: Whose story is it? The story belongs to both of them.
- The gimmick. This should really be a part of the previous comment, but since it's unique (kinda). Not to give too much away, but...the woof doesn't stay woofy in the warmth. Each chapter starts with a temperature, which adds to the tension. As the season gets colder, will Sam be able to remain a human, or will Grace have to sleep with a dirty canine?
- No crazy werewoof hooey. They're more like just woofs--not John Landis human-eaters.
- Tension. There's a definite sense of foreboding throughout because we're privy to a possible ending that the characters work to avoid. I'm not gonna spoil it, but just know that my mother cried.
- Genuine emotion. I buy the romance. It's not overbearing, yet it's still appropriately titillating. And the feeling that the romance is doomed makes it even better. Who doesn't like to read a story where one character's dying or leaving or from an incompatible alternate universe?
- Girl vs. Boy sexuality. I'm getting really frustrated with the whole Sally wants it/Johnny must keep it safe thing. What teenage boy in "love" would sleep stiffly at the edge of the bed to avoid the touch of the obviously horny girl next to him? It's easier to believe in werewoofs than it is to believe in male moral chastity. Sorry.
- Parenting issues. I don't like the author's characterization of Grace's parents. They've basically abandoned her, which makes her co-habitation with Sam way too easy. However, I'd rather have absent parents than Sam's insanely murderous, overly religious parents. The author's characterization of Sam's parents is so much more effective; I wish she'd have gifted Grace's parents with an equally compelling quirk.
- The Jack subplot. Although I really, really like the bitchy sister, Isabel, I don't really care much about Jack, and I feel like he's stuck in there as a weak means for some extra conflict/complications.
- The easy/weird fix that leads to an easy ending. The science seems off a little. Then again, I'm an English prof.: what the hell do I know? And the very end: chop off the last scene and put it at the beginning of the next installment. I wish authors would do this more often.
- The white she-woof. Not enough evil here. She's out there peeing on the deck and scratching at the window--potentially scary stuff. No real follow-through, though. Bummer. I wanted a righteous standoff! Two bitches, some blood, and a reluctant victor.