Apparently the market for breathless YA romances with sexy vampires isn’t fully saturated yet, because Crave (2020), a new paranormal romance thriller by Tracy Wolff that cheerfully admits to being inspired by Twilight — check out the blatant knock-off cover — offers readers a slightly updated take on the genre.
When her parents are killed in an automobile accident, high-school-aged Grace reluctantly leaves San Diego and travels to the remote, icy interior of Alaska, where her uncle Finn is headmaster of an exclusive boarding school, Katmere Academy. Grace’s cousin Macy, who picks her up in Healy for a ninety-minute snowmobile ride to the luxurious, castle-like prep school, is anxious to help Grace fit in. The problem is, almost all of the other students at Katmere seem to be hostile to Grace — especially Jaxon Vega, the hot, dangerous-looking guy who is the first person Grace meets upon her arrival. Grace is (at least at first) determined not to let herself fall for Jaxon, although there’s something in his eyes that makes her think he’s as lost as she is. Their relationship runs hot and cold, but there’s something or someone at Katmere Academy that seems to want Grace dead, and she may need all the friends she can find.
Crave promises to deliver an updated version of Twilight, but other than a stronger erotic element and the addition of plenty of F-bombs, it doesn’t really deliver on that pledge. Heroine-wise, Grace is a slight improvement over Bella, but not markedly so. She makes far too many impulsive, rash decisions. Crave’s Alaska setting isn’t drawn in any detail, other than that it’s freezing cold there. Though it’s set in an inaccessible prep boarding school, shades of Hogwarts, I don’t recall any particular mention of any classes or teachers. The focus is on the social scene at Katmere, the romantic tension between Grace and Jaxon, and the mystery about who wants to kill Grace, and why.
Grace and the book take an inordinate amount of time to get clear about the paranormal nature of Katmere’s students, although the book’s cover and blurb spill the secret up front. There’s some interest for readers in finding out what type of powers each of the different cliques at Katmere have (hint: it’s not just vampires and werewolves). The romance stays in PG-13 territory, though the erotic bloodsucking scene was somewhat of an eyebrow-raiser. Crave’s mystery element adds some intrigue to the romance-driven plot, but readers should know that the book ends on a major cliff-hanger. Add to the above issues a first-person, present-tense narration, something that’s difficult to pull off well even in much better novels.
Twilight was a guilty pleasure at the time I read it, sending me scrambling for the next book in the series. Crave wasn’t nearly as much fun for me. Crave is a book I’d recommend only to readers who are still enthusiastic about paranormal romances and Twilight-type plots, and who are on board with adult language and steamier romance.