The Strip by Heather Killough-Walden (Deja Vu Review)

Green-eyed Malcolm Cole is a cursed werewolf, an alpha in the most powerful sense who has given up hope for any kind of happiness or peace in his life. Until he catches wind of Claire. Claire St. James, Charlie among friends, is an amazing young woman with an incredibly special gift. Cole recognizes this at once and swears on the spot to claim Charlie as his mate. Of course, he isn’t the only one with such plans. Charlie is too precious to let go without a fight, and one of the most powerful alphas in the world has already staked a claim, whether Charlie-or Cole-like it or not.

I’m not sure if this is the 3rd or 4th time that I’ve read through this series. I seem to get wrapped up in it every time I do, so it doesn’t really matter. Part of the reason why I like The Strip is because of Malcolm Cole. It seems almost wrong to like him as a character since he was the bad guy in The Heat, but that’s part of what makes it so good.  I love it when an author can turn your attitude toward a character around totally. Turns out Heather is a pro at it. ;)

Talk about damaged characters. Charlie is one of the most heartbreaking characters Heather has written so far. She lost her parents, she’s physically attacked more than once and the only person who seems to be able to make her physically strong enough to fight back uses mental and physical abuse to get the job done. She has a close core of very good, protective friends, but they can only do so much, especially when the bad guys even start chasing her in her dreams. What’s worse is, she’s about to find out that she is part of a world she never even knew existed.

Then there is Malcolm. He is damaged as well, but hides it behind his tough exterior. Lily saw through it, even though he kidnapped her and tried to break her. I think that’s what won me over. That, and there is no character more Alpha or respected by his pack than Malcolm Cole. He was still brass, opinionated, domineering and cruel, but you could even see that toughness slowly melt when it came to Charlie. It started out as the same type of scenario that drove him to capture Lily, but then it turned into so much more. The protective mate came out in him and that changed everything.

The twists and turns in this one keep the pages turning. Even after reading it more than once, I had a hard time putting it down. Sometimes knowing what is coming is even worse. I also loved getting to know characters from previous books a little better. The subtle foreshadowing gives you a hint of things to come. The snarkiness between Malcolm and Lily was fun too. I love those two together. After all they went through in The Heat, that should be so wrong, but I can’t help it.

There are aspects of these books that are hard to read. The abuse and violence is sometimes raw to the point of being painful. These characters suffer, mostly at the hands of pure evil. As hard as it is to read, I don’t think the outcome would be the same if it was totally left out. I don’t condone this type of abuse, and by writing about it, I don’t assume that the author does either. These books aren’t for everyone, as I’ve said before and not just about the Big Bad Wolf series, but about others as well. The concept of the Alpha is what it is. They are strong, domineering, powerful and fierce. They are also protective, love unconditionally and are fiercely loyal when it comes to their mate. It’s a totally different world and Heather does a great job of bringing out the pain and beauty of both aspects. Sometimes there’s a fine line between good and evil in both fantasy and reality.

The Strip is the second book in the Big Bad Wolf series. At the end of this one you find out that there is much more to come for all the previous characters as well as some new ones. There are 4 books and the next one, The Spell, is probably one of my favorites. It will be the last of my Deja Vu reviews for the series because I reviewed The Hunt months ago. I’m not sure why I skipped the rest, but at least I’m making up for it now. ;)

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4 comments on “The Strip by Heather Killough-Walden (Deja Vu Review)

  1. Another thoughtful review Deeds! I have also read through the BBW books more than once, sometimes just “stopping in” to have another glance when I noticed one of those distinctive covers in my Kindle library, but then unable to stop reading once I started.

    I think you were spot on with the characters, although I believe Charlie is much stronger and more of a fighter than she is usually recognized. I have often heard her character defined as a victim (which you never do) because the abuse she goes through is prevalent and extreme. But although she is victimized, Charlie never allows that to define who she is. She remains a very resilient character, which the author conveys through Charlie’s dialogue, her thinking process in the midst of chaos, and her sense of humor, which is appropriately ironic and dark.

    The distinction of alphas is important also as you pointed out, and which the author remains true to. A PBS special on the wolves of Yellowstone gave me renewed perspective.

  2. Thanks Mary. I’m glad you added the comment about Charlie, because I really did feel the same way. Her inner commentary really defined her as a character. Heather did a great job of getting inside her head as well as in the minds of the others. I never felt she or any of the other female characters were weak at all. The whole reason I started to post these reviews now is because I neglected to when I read them the first time. When I read reviews that totally bash the series, I find myself getting defensive. Then I realized if I didn’t put my two cents in, I really had no room to talk. Hopefully I got my point across without offending anyone. Thanks for stopping by ;)

  3. Yay! I just figured out how to sign up so I could “Like” your post!
    I think you’ve done an excellent job with the BBW, and with the “deja vu” series overall. It has always confused me how Heather’s female characters are often labeled as weak or victims because I see so many characteristics of strength and resilience in them – and that wry sense of humor. I feel the labels and/or bashing are often the result of people who react to events in a novel without taking the time to really follow the story in full, reading the finer points and especially following the character development. Thanks for a truly thoughtful look at this series and the chance to add my two cents.

    • It always amazes me when I read the bashing. And I think that your reasoning is right. You also have to go into these alpha books – regardless of whose they are – with a totally different mind set. If you can’t see beyond it to what the underlying story really is trying to convey, you’re better off just not reading it. I can understand how it would upset some readers, which is why I always try to warn them. Thanks!

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