Title: Winter Wolf: A Werewolf Romance on Snow
Author: S.P. Wayne
Cover Artist: T.K. Hunter
Publisher: Self Published
Amazon: Buy Link Winter Wolf : A Werewolf Romance On Snow
Genre: Paranormal M/M Length: Novel 177 pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Review Summary: A most unusual and moving slow building werewolf romance.
Imagine having almost everything you want: a place of your own, mountains to climb, woods to roam, lakes for swimming, and, above all, privacy. It’s Axton’s definition of paradise, because a werewolf needs his space and his secrets. He’s the resident recluse of a sleepy, far flung town hours away from his cabin in the woods, but there’s more than one hidden truth in Axton’s life. The lycanthropy’s enough to make a hermit out of him, but it’s the fact that Axton’s gay and closeted that keeps him shy. Friendship–let alone romance–isn’t an option. Without a pack for support, Axton has to protect his secrets himself. And that means being careful.
All’s well in the shapeshifter’s life until the day a well meaning human decides to vacation in the cabin next door. At first Axton wants nothing to do with his new neighbor, but Leander Avilez is a dream: young, strapping, masculine. As if it’s not enough that Leander’s gorgeous, he’s also charming, and Axton finds himself falling hard. But visions of sweet romance aren’t in the realistic picture: Leander’s thoroughly human. Axton’s terrified of intimacy with someone who doesn’t know his secret, because his change isn’t forced by the full moon. Whenever Axton’s hurt or surprised or on edge, he goes wolf–and he can’t stop it. How is he supposed to keep his lycanthropy a secret from his new neighbor? And how is he going to hide his growing and undeniable attraction?
And why does Leander have to be straight, with a long list of ex girlfriends?
(I didn’t include the full blurb as I think it revealed too much information)
When you have read as many werewolf romances as I have you can’t escape certain tropes: fated mates, insta! love, sex, sex and even more sex, turning a human into a wolf by the mating bite, etc. Almost every werewolf story has these themes but this book has none of them, which is why I was pleasantly surprised by Winter Wolf : A Werewolf Romance on Snow – where the werewolf world is turned on its axis and the story is so completely original I was amazed that this first-time author was able to pull it off.
Axton had been kicked out of his pack at 16 when his father, the alpha, caught him having sex with another male were – werewolf parents apparently are just as intolerant about homosexuality as human ones. Consequently Ax had to fend for himself since he was a teen … a lone wolf in the true sense of the word. Eventually he found a place to call home in a forest uninhabited by humans, where he could hunt to his heart’s content and live the life of a hermit.
Several years later he was injured in a fight with a bear and lay by the side of the road in his wolf form recovering from his wounds, when Leander Avilez showed up and tried to help him – not a smart thing to do. Ax growled to drive his would-be rescuer away as he was not kindly disposed toward humans, although he didn’t want to hurt him. A couple days later Leander showed up on Ax’s doorstep and informed him that he was his new neighbour as he had purchased the only other cabin in the area. Ax was not pleased about this development. He had no idea what being sociable to a human entailed because he had very few dealings with them; all he knew was how to live as a wolf, and on the rare occasions when he shifted he had to almost re-learn being human.
Since Leander was determined to be friends with him Ax had no choice but to tolerate him, and gradually he started to look forward to his visits every summer. Lee lived almost year round in L.A. where he was a teacher; being with Ax in his environment afforded him the opportunity to hike and camp out, relieve the stress of his job, and be someone completely different. He had broken up with every woman he dated and didn’t seem to want to settle down with any of them. Ax didn’t currently date anyone as there were very few opportunities where he lived, although he had had short relationships in the past as well as the usual hook-ups with other weres .
Ax was confused by his feelings for Leander. He found himself thinking about Lee even when he was in his wolf persona, which was most of of the time, and he was starting to care about him. When Lee went home every year Ax was lonely and miserable and couldn’t understand why he was missing him when the entire forest was at his disposal and he could hunt to his heart’s content. Whenever Lee returned Ax became more relaxed in his company and showed his trust by revealing and sharing the secret places he frequented in his wolf form. Each day Ax stored up memories for when Lee would return to his job in the city, and this cycle went on every summer as he fantasized about having a romantic relationship with his human neighbour.
The complex character of Ax the werewolf was amazingly poignant and three dimensional as he evolved from almost entirely wolf to a combination of human and werewolf. He was wonderfully portrayed and at times I was so moved at how authentic he was in his wolf form where he was most comfortable. He was conflicted about his feelings for Lee as they deepened, and Lee seemed to care about him as a man as well as a friend as even their silences were companionable, but Ax wanted a mate not someone who went through a different woman each semester. The writing was superb and if you love slow moving, tension filled romances you will appreciate this story, one of the most profound werewolf books I have read because the author showed great imagination and skill in formulating her characters and their world.
Winter Wolf is a gem. I overlooked this book for several months but perhaps my timing was right because S.P. Wayne informed me a few days ago that she is releasing a re-edited version of the book today, so if you bought the previous version of Winter Wolf from Amazon you should be able to download it again in a few weeks. If you enjoyed this book you will be pleased to learn that this is a trilogy, with the second book, City Wolf, scheduled for release at the end of October.
Axton is incredible and irresistible and the story is told mostly from his POV as a werewolf; I didn’t learn as much about Lee, something I hope will be rectified in City Wolf. The world building and danger in their environment as well as the desolation in winter was never more apparent as one scary avalanche when the MCs saved each other’s lives, which led to the eventual big reveal that was really funny and gave me a different perspective of Lee. The characters are flawed and there is humour and pathos, friendship, loneliness and a sweet romance, as S.P. Wayne gives readers two great characters, one of whom is unforgettable, with whom you will fall in love.