Title: Once Upon a Wolf (Wayward Wolves #1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 16, 2018
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 96 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Once Upon A Time, There Was A Wolf….
Gibson Keller’s days are fairly routine: wake up early, get some work done, drink lots of coffee, and take care of Ellis, his older brother stuck in wolf form after coming home from the war. It’s a simple life made up of long runs on two legs—or four—and quiet evenings…. Until Ellis chases a handsome man off a cliff and into the frozen waters beside their cabin, changing Gibson’s life forever.
For Zach Thomas, buying an old B&B is a new start. Leaving behind his city life, he longs to find peace and quiet, and hiking the trails behind his property seems safe enough—right up to the moment an enormous black wolf chases him into a lake, nearly drowning him. Discovering werewolves are real astounds him, but not as much as the man who rescues him from the icy water then walks into Zach’s heart as if he owns it.
Loving a werewolf—loving Gibson with all his secrets—has its challenges but Zach believes their love is worth fighting for, especially since his heart knows the big bad wolf is really a prince in disguise.
This book is somewhat shorter than much of the author’s catalogue and arguably it suffers for the lack of length. The richness of writing is still present and if anything is more florid. This is applied to both character development as well as contextualisation. Sadly it is this that undermines the story, as there is little to the plot and it often gets lost amongst the description. The difficulty with books of this length is that they do not always allow for full development of backstory. Characters appear and behave based on their history; this can be left vague deliberately to allow for revelations that enhance the story, but the integrity of the character’s development is undermined where the gaps in who they are and why they act the way they do are not resolved. It is acknowledged that this is the first in a series of books but most of the unknowns are based on the characters rather than the situations that make up the book. The description of the environment is well done even though there are few locations described.
The relationship between the two central characters forms the focus of the story and yet through much of the book they hold themselves apart for no sensible reason. As snippets of background about the characters is revealed it is apparent that there is something that draws the two together and makes the relationship important to them, but there is not enough explained to for this to make much sense to the reader. There is clearly chemistry between the two and ultimately there is some expression of physicality but this is muted. It is unfortunate but, for each of the characters presented, the reader is left with questions as to why they act the way they do.
There is a steady pace to the book with plot features revealed throughout. A limited amount of tension is provided which maintains the reader’s interest. It should be noted that much of the drive through the book was to find answers to questions that ultimately were not answered.
There is a positive ending to the book where the relationship between the two lead characters is resolved. There are a number of threads to the plot that are left open to allow for later books in the series. However the gaps in understanding mean that unless the next book starts to answer these, there will always be a hollow feeling to the plot.