Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Howling on Hold by E.J. Russell

Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.

That’s why werewolves embark on a Howling: a three-year rite of passage in which they’re sent to a group residence to wrestle with their wolfy instincts and assimilate into the Wider World. But Tanner Araya’s Howling is almost over, and he could be called back to his remote pack at any moment. His twenty-first birthday might be his last chance to act on his strongest instinct and finally kiss Chase Denney.

Chase is RA at the Howling residence affectionately dubbed “the Doghouse,” and he takes his job seriously. So seriously that when he realized he was developing feelings for a resident, he forced himself to keep Tanner at a distance. But now that Tanner’s twenty-one, he’s not Chase’s charge any longer. They could be friends or—if Chase is lucky—something more. At least until they both return to their home packs for good, as tradition demands.

It would take a miracle for them to get together—especially when the other Doghouse werewolves insist on “helping.”

Warning: Many Frisbees are harmed in this story, forgiveness is not always easier than permission, and the five-second rule does not apply.

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Riptide Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a sweet and sometimes silly story about the relationship that builds between two young wolf shifters. In parts, it’s a fun, new adult romp. At other times, it’s a wild and slightly confusing whirlwind of events.

Chase, Tanner, and the shifter storylines are the best parts of this story. Tanner’s fear of returning to his pack is heartbreaking – even if we don’t understand the fear until later. Chase’s sense of responsibility for his young charges is very sweet and the young shifters in his care are very entertaining. However, this story is incredibly busy with far too many minor characters and continuous action. With so much going on, it’s the character and relationship building that suffers and I really struggled to connect with Tanner and Chase. The book lacks the depth and detail necessary to build romantic suspense between them. The story works better as a supernatural adventure than it does as a romance.

Fans of the author will recognise the way this story sits between the contemporary world the Faerie world. To complicate things further, this is a shifter story with shifter worldbuilding added on top of the Faerie lore. With characters from previous books introduced frequently, my head was spinning pretty quickly. While I enjoy all the ideas, there is way too much content in this book for one rather short story. At times the story is reduced to string of actions and places.

This is another book that isn’t listed as part of any specific series, but if readers haven’t read the author’s previous books – or at very least the Fae out of Water books – they’ll be struggling to keep up. I really wish that authors and publishers would start making the links between books very clear to readers before purchase. There is nothing on any site I can find that suggests it is anything other than a stand-alone novel.

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Howling on Hold by E.J. Russell to read and review.

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