Standing in a German train station attempting to leave for England, Lucilla Osbourne learns that Germany has just declared war on Russia, and that this night begins what we now call the Great War. Lucilla, a 40 year old spinster, is a chemist who has been in Germany working at a scientific Institute on a research project that will enhance pain killing pharmaceuticals. As no outbound trains were leaving, she is turned away and forced to retreat back to the facility. Arriving at the front gate in darkness, she finds it chained tight, with no way inside. Screaming for someone to please let her in, another outsider, a young Frenchman named Pascal Fournier, informs her that all foreign scientists associated with the institute are no longer welcome. With concern she will be sleeping on the street, Lucilla accepts an invitation to join Pascal at his hotel room until they can devise a plan to get out of Germany. In the heat of the night, on this forbidding evening that starts off World War I, these two strangers find intimacy, friendship and passion. In each other's arms and as they drift off to sleep, Pascal lies with a pistol under his pillow and a plan to garner help from a relative's friend that may help them escape. Their night of passion is detailed with one erotic sex scene after another, and the following day has them stealing a car and driving all the way to France accompanied by many stopovers for heated sexual encounters.
Deep in an underground complex beneath the Institute, Herr Krau, a scientist who has proof that werewolves exist, is torturing beautiful Tanneken, a female shapeshifting wolf. He is using her as a lab rat for experimentation. She endures painful imprisonment day after day, and paces the floors hungry for an escape from her hell. He breaks her bones, he shoots her full of bullets, he tempts her with animal and human flesh, all to watch for healing regeneration and to examine the fascinating mysteries of her wolven body.
Along with Lucilla's brother Crispin, many young men of England and France are called to war. Gearing up under hasty training, they board a train to the trenches of horror. Bullets fly, young boys die, yet friendships bind and boys become men. They talk of their mothers, they write letters to their girls, they sit with rifles in hand as they dream of home, and pray the war is swiftly over. Some sit under the stars and talk bravely of their first sexual encounters, they crave whiskey, cigarettes, and the warm touch of a woman's skin. Or in the case of this novel, sometimes a man's skin as well; for this novel serves up many scenes of steamy straight, gay and menage erotica.
Half way through this very unusual story, I decided to throw in the towel. I wasn't sure if I was reading a war novel, a romance novel, or a werewolf book. The different ingredients didn't blend, and the story did not flow for me. It was executed in a very disjointed way without focus. Midway I was very bored, feeling the characters were very lifeless, and I found no interest in them or how their lives would unfold. The writing style of the author is o.k., not fabulous, adequate but not in my opinion polished. It could be that this book was just not to my personal reading taste, but I wonder if maybe the author tried to do too much at once. I give her two stars credit for creativity that's for sure, and the attempt is certainly not a total disaster. I think more focus and character depth would have helped streamline the plot. I believe the story of Lucilla & Pascal and their involvement with the German institute that revolves around the werewolf twist would have been very sufficient. Removing the extensive war sections and keeping that as a background historical event for the time period feel, would have also worked better I think. I wanted to really like this book because I'm so big on authors who have ingenuity and unique story plots to offer, but I just couldn't find enough to keep me heading toward the finish line. On the whole I say "close, but not quite there".