Review: Wolf Country, by Mar Delaney

Russ Allbery eagle at
Tue Oct 17 20:54:43 PDT 2023

Wolf Country
by Mar Delaney

Publisher: Kalikoi
Copyright: September 2021
ASIN:      B09H55TGXK
Format:    Kindle
Pages:     144

Wolf Country is a short lesbian shifter romance by Mar Delaney, a pen
name for Layla Lawlor (who is also one of the writers behind the shared
pen name Zoe Chant).

Dasha Volkova is a werewolf, a member of a tribe of werewolves who keep
to themselves deep in the wilds of Alaska. She's just become an adult
and is wandering, curious and exploring, seeing what's in the world
outside of her sheltered childhood. A wild chase after a hare, purely
for the fun of it, is sufficiently distracting that she doesn't notice
the snare before she steps in it going full speed.

Laney Rosen is not a werewolf. She's a landscape painter who lives a
quiet and self-contained life in an isolated cabin in the wilderness.
She only stumbles across Dasha because she got lost on the snowmobile
tracks taking photographs. Laney assumes Dasha is a dog caught in a
poacher's trap, and is quite surprised when the pain of getting her out
of the snare causes Dasha to shapeshift into a naked woman.

This short book is precisely what it sounds like, which I appreciate in
a romance novel. Woman meets wolf and discovers her secret
accidentally, woman is of course entirely trustworthy although wolf
can't know that, attraction at first sight, they have to pitch a tent
in the wilderness and there's only one sleeping bag, etc. Nothing here
is going to surprise you, but it's gentle and kind and fulfills the
romance contract of a happy ending. It's not particularly steamy; the
focus is on the relationship and the mutual attraction rather than on
the sex.

The best part of this book is probably the backdrop. Delaney lives in
Alaska, and it shows in both the attention to the details of survival
and heat and in the landscape descriptions (and the descriptions of
Laney's landscapes). Dasha's love of Laney's paintings is one of the
most heart-warming parts of the book. Laney has retinitis pigmentosa
and is slowly losing her vision, which I thought was handled gracefully
and well in the story. It creates real problems and limitations for
her, but it also doesn't define her or become central to her character.

Both Dasha and Laney are viewpoint characters and roughly alternate
tight third-person viewpoint chapters. There are a few twists:
potential parental disapproval on Dasha's part and some real physical
danger from the person who set the trap, but most of the story is the
two woman getting to know each other and getting past the early
hesitancy to name what they're feeling. Laney feels a bit older than
Dasha just because she's out on her own and Dasha was homeschooled and
very sheltered, but both of them feel very young. This is Dasha's first
serious relationship.

Delaney does use the fated lover trope, which seems worth a warning in
case you're not in the mood for that. Werewolves apparently know when
they've found their fated mate and don't have a lot of choice in the
matter. This is a common paranormal and fantasy romance trope that I
find disturbing if I think about it too hard. Thankfully, here it's not
much of a distraction. Dasha is such an impulsive, think-with-her-heart
sort of character that the immediate conclusion that Laney is her fated
mate felt in character even without the werewolf lore.

I read this based on a random recommendation from Yoon Ha Lee when I
was in the mood for something light and kind and uncomplicated, and I
got exactly what I expected and was in the mood for. The writing isn't
the best, but the landscape descriptions aren't bad and the
characterization is reasonably good if you're in the mood for brightly
curious but not particularly wise. Recommended if you're looking for
this sort of thing.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2023-10-17


Russ Allbery (eagle at             <>

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