Winter Wolf by S. P. Wayne ~ Book Review by Lirtle

winter wolf cover 1 Title: Winter Wolf

Author: S. P. Wayne

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: unknown

Rating: 4.00 of 5 Stars

Blurb:

Imagine having almost everything you want: a place of your own, mountains to climb, woods to roam–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, manly. As if it’s not enough that Leander’s gorgeous, he’s also charming. 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?

When Leander goes back to his life in Los Angeles, Axton can breathe a sigh of relief. There’s moose to hunt and chores to do, and Axton doesn’t have the time for a whirlwind werewolf romance, no matter how compelling the fiction of his erotic daydreams might be. But just when Axton’s settled back into the werewolf bachelor groove, Leander comes back for another vacation–and then another, and another. They grow closer in time, but as drunken confessional conversations show, Leander’s still straight and, oh, yeah, still totally human. Leander is two types of forbidden temptation at once, and Axton doesn’t know how long he can stand it. What’s a gay werewolf to do?

After Leander stumbles across what looks like a big bad wolf in the woods one day, he’s understandingly a little panicked. Axton feels fifty shades of irrationally rejected by Leander’s fear, and it’s what finally makes him kiss his gay bromance-turned-romance dreams goodbye.

The stakes are upped when Leander visits during a brutal winter, just before the blizzard of the decade hits. The cabins aren’t winter proofed, because Axton spends all winter comfortably in his werewolf skin. For a human, the cabins are uncomfortable at best, and skittering towards dangerous as the storm worsens. It’s Leander who decides they need to share a cabin and tough out the storm together–and if it was hard to keep his lycanthropy a secret before, Axton’s got no idea how to keep Leander from waking up to a face full of fur and teeth now, with temperatures plummeting and emotions running high. But it’s when skies clear and a hike goes wrong that things really go deadly.

Alone in the snow and hurt, how long can Leander survive? Will Axton find him in time? And when face to face with a wolf, will Leander be struck silent with wonder, or will he fight for his life?

Lirtle’s View:

Axton, Axton, Axton… what are we going to do with you? Ah, maybe Leander knows, yes… it appears that he does.

Axton ‘s voice is snarky, intelligent, fun, a bit anti-social and distant. Of course, this is understandable as he’s been living in near isolation in his cabin in the woods, away from people and other werewolves. Ah, yes, he’s a were, who was banished from his pack. I’ll let him tell you that story when you read it, just like he did with Leander. Back to the distant thing for a moment, it seems to be a fragile thing that he’s ready to break free of if given a chance – not necessarily by someone else but by his own self.

And then there is Leander. He’s kind, capable, in tune, caring, teasing and his level of smartassery is quite healthy. Man, gotta love when two smartasses get together! I know I have more fun. 😉 Anyway, these two challenge each other, physically and otherwise. They are two strong men with solid beliefs but wavering ideas. They seem at once both very compatible and yet at odds. It’s not that they aren’t trying because they are. It has that familiar ring of when you’re getting to know someone and there are fits and starts, successes and failures when reading and reacting to each others’ actions and emotions. Things are always more difficult when there are secrets and unknowns.

I had no idea what was coming about ¾’s of the way through this book. My heart was strangled, racing, the desperation and despair were dripping from the pages. The clashing elation and fear, what was going to happen??? My heart could barely take it, especially when I would insist on holding my breath. For those first three quarters, we experience the two steps forward, three steps back Axton and Leander take through several of their seasons. Sometimes together, sometimes not.

The tub scene. I shall only say that is one of the most tenderly and sensuously written passages I have read in a long ass time. It’s a turning point, it’s palpable the significance in this quiet act. When you know, when you want… mercifully, Axton has no clue at this moment, he’s simply in it.

I could see some readers tossing this into the pile with others who conclude that the ending was too fast, things were resolved too quickly. I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree. What we have here is how life measures itself often: in millennia and milliseconds. It can be months or years before you hear the crackle and see the flash and smell the change. Suddenly, your plans, assumptions, fears and resignations get tossed right out of the swinging porch door, our heart taking command. We get to see, hear, taste, smell and feel their starts and stutters until their life together may finally be beginning. They have many seasons, and more, yet to share. There is immense promise for so much more.

So if you’re looking for a fun, creative story with character voices that can’t help but give you no choice to keep reading and find out what they’ll next say and do, this book is for you. 🙂

I reviewed City Wolf here for PBA, take a gander at it, too.

Buy Links

Self Published
Amazon US
Amazon UK

This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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