Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new M/M contemporary shifter romance from EJ Russell. HOWLING ON HOLD is set in the world of both Fae Out Of Water (CUTIE AND THE BEAST, THE DRUID NEXT DOOR, and BAD BOY’S BARD) and Supernatural Selection (SINGLE WHITE INCUBUS, VAMPIRE WITH BENEFITS, DEMON ON THE DOWN-LOW) but is a standalone New Adult romance.
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.
Tanner Ayala is am alpha were-in-waiting. He can’t assume control of his pack until his 21st birthday–and he’d rather never do it, truth be told. He’s only just learned to master his shifts in the two years he’s been a resident of the Howling House run by the were consortium in Portland. He loves his housemates, fellow young male shifters who hail from different packs in the Northwest, and he loves taking classes and learning about life far from his sheltered and conservative pack. He’d love to let his uncle continue leading the pack in his absence, and especially to avoid meeting up with his jerk-cousin, Finn. Plus, then he could stay near Chase, the RA for their Howling house.
On Tanner’s 21st birthday celebration turns into an epic disaster–following his clumsy kiss on Chase’s unexpecting lips. Chase is only a few years older, and terribly attracted to Tanner, but he’s held himself apart afraid to make a move on a younger, and undeniably impressionable, alpha. As the other pups lose control of their human selves, Chase gets hauled in for a reprimand, and is immediately removed from Howling house for a 3 month retraining without even getting to tell his charges what’s up. So, when he returns, he’s astounded to find Tanner missing–and no one can account for his whereabouts. His fellow residents thought he went back to his pack–and a check in gets everyone involved in the search.
And I mean everyone! This book is set in the same were-supe universe as the Fae Out of Water series and the Supernatural Selection series–so Chase reaches out to Mal Kendrick, co-founder of Quest Investigations, to help track down the missing Tanner. This begins a rollicking chase through haunted woods, Fae realms, and the backwoods of a Weasel Pit. I have enjoyed all the stories in these books, so getting little reprises of the imaginative and diverse mythological characters is always entertaining. This time we get a reluctant bean-nighe (the washerwoman of death) revealing important clues, as well as witches lingering in junk shops and cafes that help Chase and Tanner make all the right choices. I loved the call-backs to the characters and locales of previous books and I think I will never stop being charmed by the suit-shredding unfurling of Quentin Bertrand-Harrington’s incubus wings when his husband Ted is in danger. To see the racket of Tanner’s 21st party impinging on Mal’s proposal to Dr. Bryce MacLeod–who helps train the Howling weres so they don’t dig up yard–was a treat.
Tanner may have run to avoid his destiny, but soon he’s going to face his worst fears, and his potential doom. Seems a plot had been in place to kill him, but his flight from embarrassment has opened the door to a whole new path. Not exactly knowing the danger, Chase finally confesses his strong attraction to Tanner, and they are able to build the connection each man has longed for–over these years. Expect a little steam, as with all the books. NOt a lot of sexytimes, but some just where it needs to be.
There are so many cute characters–misfit weres–at this Howling House, and their talents, while not ideally suited to their own packs, makes them great partners for a pack of their own making. It’s not exactly clear if they will all stay together as a found family, but the potential is there for that, as well as future romances in this world. I’m so glad to have gotten this far, and hope to have many more forays into love in this universe.
About the Author:
E.J. Russell writes romance in a rainbow of flavors — from M/F stories grounded in absurd contemporary reality to M/M tales splashed with the supernatural — but you can be sure that while the couple makes their way to HEA, they’ll never stray too far into the dark.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!