Reviews of Naked Brunch (2003)
Review by mojosmom (2005-06-15)
One day, Annie Engel wakes up after having had the wolf dream again. There's blood on her chest and face, and she feels sick. After throwing up watery rust-colored vomit, she realizes that lodged in her teeth is a piece of something that looks and smells like raw meat, which is really odd, because she's a vegetarian. Then she sees the news about a man's throat being ripped out by a killer dog.
Annie isn't the only one who wonders what's going on. The New York branch of the Potenza family, an old werewolf clan now devoted to helping werewolves overcome their Lycanthropic Metamorphic Disorder (an inherited trait), worries about "free werewolves" and decides to track her down. So does Jim Valiente, a free werewolf who had been associated with Potenzas until the female werewolf he loved died during treatment.
As the killings increase, the pressure on the Mayor and Police Commissioner to find the serial killer intensifies. So does the pressure on Sam Deverall, a TV news reporter who was on his way down until he got some inside information on the killings.
After a bit, Annie doesn't know who to trust, Marco Potenza and his (completely) human wife, the male werewolf she had hot sex with in Central Park, the Potenzas' "enforcer"?
Hayter has written a delightful fantasy of werewolves in New York, at the same time skewering all sorts of targets: media, politicians, mega-conglomerates, and artsy, pretentious twenty-somethings. Her characters are believable, and it is fun to watch the meek inherit the earth, so to speak, as some characters change and grow, and others get their comeuppance.
If you are writing a novel about werewolves, you have to deal with the fact that your protagonist is killing people and you have to find a way to make her sympathetic in spite of that fact. Hayter passes this test with flying colors. She also has a quite credible explanation for why Annie hadn't transformed earlier. A funny, sweet, romantic horror story.