Genre: Fantasy, Romance
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay
Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild
About The Book
At Moonrise Academy, a private college for wolf shifters, it is Headmaster Julian Tett’s job to ensure the safety of his students. When one student manifests a condition called souperomega, he takes a special interest in the case.
Toby’s rare disorder causes him to have out of control heats. When the dreamy headmaster half the students have a crush on shows his protective side, both realize something more is happening between them.
Sparks fly, but there’s a problem. Teacher/student fraternization is against school policy. If they allow nature to take its course, Julian could be fired and Toby could face expulsion. Added to that, Toby contends with unwanted attention from another student, which puts him in possible danger.
Although I confess to being a little puzzled by the very concept of a universe in which there is no concept of “female,” I have to admit that Wendy Rathbone does a great job of working this world. Both Toby and Julian are fleshed-out and real, supported by characters who are less well-developed, but integral to the narrative, in terms of both action and emotion.
This universe of wolf-shifters, in which Moonrise Academy is both Hogwarts and Harvard, presupposes the interplay of three genders—alpha, beta, and omega. It focuses on the innate power of the alpha, and its potential for both leadership and abuse.
On the other hand, the omega is this universe’s stand-in for the female, and it is Toby’s strength, his integrity, and his determination to deal with the very strange hand dealt to him, that make him a powerful character.
Rathbone plays on this alpha/omega dynamic, showing how it works, but also how it fails. It is a very useful way to strip the emotional complexities of romance of all the real-world gender issues. It’s an artificial approach, but in a good writer’s hands it works.
The only thing I missed (and have always sort of felt was lacking in this genre) was the lack of attention given to the betas—those people who are essential, whose loyalty is critical, but who don’t seem to get much in the way of page time (or romance) in this genre.
I note this because my husband and I, two men who have raised children together, and who both have long seen ourselves as betas, have been through a lot because of that odd, middle status—not wanting to be the boss, but not wanting to be bossed around, either. I hope in future episodes of Moonrise Academy, we’ll see a little more beta story.
Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.
Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.
By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.
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