The Better to Hold You - By Alisa Sheckley


“Less concerned with embarrassing pratfalls for her neurotic heroines than many of her chick-lit sisters, Kwitney still wants them to find love, and not a little bit of sex. The single girl here is Marlowe, a Manhattan psychologist with divorced parents providing her with distant affection and a trust fund. Joe is the NYPD detective with more crime smarts than tact…. The relationship is fitful, playful and exciting, then cold and hostile, swinging wildly about as each tries to figure out what game the other is playing, all the while trying to find the killer to boot. Kwitney deserves credit for not throwing out illogical roadblocks, and there's a refreshing absence of stock best-friend characters.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“A teasingly good read. Sexy, sassy and a little kinky. A different take on Manhattan life—more handcuffs than cocktails.”

—CAROLE MATTHEWS, USA Today bestselling author


“Alisa Kwitney is my guilty plea sure.”


Hugo Award-winning author of American Gods and

New York Times bestselling author of Coraline

“Witty, charming, funny and real, Alisa Kwitney brings a fresh voice to Chick-Lit and Romance!”

—JENNIFER CRUSIE, New York Times bestselling author

“Sharp, sassy, and sexy.”

—CARLY PHILLIPS, New York Times bestselling author


“Her search for the perfect boyfriend and the perfect hair-color is delightful. It belongs right up there with all the legally and naturally blonde bombshells of our time.”

—LIZ SMITH, nationally syndicated columnist


Flirting in Cars

Sex as a Second Language

On the Couch

Does She or Doesn't She?

The Dominant Blonde

Till the Fat Lady Sings



Destiny: A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold

Vertigo Visions: Art from the Cutting Edge of Comics

Sandman: King of Dreams


This one's for Mark,

who feeds me,

keeps me sane,

and reminds me that I say

there's no way I can make

my deadline every year.


I wrote this book five long years ago and was helped in my research by a lovely young veterinary intern at a large teaching hospital of veterinary medicine in Manhattan. I've lost the intern's name, and the hospital asked me to lose theirs when I mentioned werewolves and mad scientists. But thank you both all the same. More recently, one of my local vets at the Pine Plains Veterinary Practice, Dorraine Waldow, helped me sort out my (fictional) sedatives.

This is the first novel I've written using the name on my birth certificate; I'd like to thank my father, the late, great science fiction writer and grand master of irony Robert Sheckley, for all the writing advice he gave me over the years.

My mother, Ziva, believed in this book from the first, but I might never have taken it out of its drawer if Neil Gaiman hadn't prodded me by asking what had become of it, and if my marvelous and motivational agent, Meg Ruley, hadn't believed in it and helped find it a home. Liz Scheier, my editor, inspired me to go back into this world and helped me to realize how much larger and more complex it really was, and Holly Harrison kept me from getting lost, freaking out, and forgetting how everything tied together.

Kim Canez and my son, Matthew, have braved snow, rain, ticks, mud, snakes, and a very aggressive fawn to go dog walking with me in the woods, which is vital when writing a wolfish book; Liz Maverick and the rest of my bat guano posse helped keep me a prisoner of Starbuck's until it was written. Last but not least, a special mention for my wolf-loving daughter, Elinor, who slammed her pinky finger in the car door just as my agent was telling me about Ballantine's offer, thereby sealing my fate in blood.


There are many different Manhattans. Which one you happen to live in depends partly on geography and partly on perception. I live on the Upper West Side, in the midst of an eccentric animal kingdom.

In my Manhattan, people like their animals big: aristocratic hunting dogs with wide, soft mouths, overfed guard dogs and pit bull mixes, sled dogs that have kept the look of a wolf about them. These are large animals for large apartments: six-room prewars, with a couple of children and possibly a weekend home in the Hamptons. Nobody has time to go jogging with the dog anymore, and the nanny refuses to pick up feces from the sidewalk, so a walker is hired.

Elsewhere, on the East Side, are toy breeds with their adorably hydrocephalic heads. The owners are older; the children have grown up and been replaced by skittish canine midgets with the appeal of perpetual infancy. Downtown are