A Barb the Zany Old Lady: Howling on Hold by EJ Russell

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I admit, I was attracted to this story by the cover and the blurb—and the fact that it was a standalone since I haven’t read any of the author’s other stories and I don’t like starting in the middle of a series. But I was disappointed in that there were multiple characters from previous books who played a strong secondary role in this story. There were also references to situations and past events that those who’ve read the other books would likely recognize. 

Apparently, though, when it comes to werewolves, this is the first time they’ve been explored. Those other books were about the Fae, and vampires, and other shifters and more, whereas this one focused on werewolf packs, their hierarchy, and the training of “juniors,” those who have passed certain criteria and now enter a three-year Howling school where they learn how to suppress the things that make them wolves so they can pass unnoticed in the human world. This book is about Tanner, a young wolf howling student who turns 21 and is worried that his uncle will call him back early so he can take over his legacy as pack alpha, his dad having died years before. And it’s about his RA in “the Doghouse,” Chase Denney, a guy with high moral standards who refuses to act on his attraction to Tanner. 

After a series of misunderstandings and a possible threat on his life, Tanner goes into hiding for three months. Chase isn’t aware he’s gone, due to his own series of misadventures that bans him from going back to the Doghouse, and when he returns, he immediately sets out to find Tanner and tell him how he really feels. Even when the two find each other, there’s still threats from otherworldly creatures to contend with, intercessions and assistance by the (apparently important) characters from previous books, and a dirty, underhanded plot from one of Tanner’s family members.

To be honest, the story felt way too busy with information overload. Perhaps it hit me that way because the author was trying to fill in all the past issues for those new to the book, or perhaps that’s the author’s writing style, but there was a lot of narrative, and in proportion, very little dialogue. Facts, facts, and more facts had my head spinning with information I did not find interesting so I had a difficult time following many parts of the story. I enjoyed the sweet and simple romance between the two young men, but that took up very little page time. A few less characters, both new and past, and a few less plot twists would have gone a long way toward making this a better book. More face-to-face time with more dialogue, less about the antics of the other wolves in the house (which didn’t seem to go anywhere or have a point to them), and a note linking this to the other books in this paranormal world would definitely have made the story more enjoyable.

The cover by L C Chase is really attractive and shows, in cartoon style, a wolf standing on a cliff edge, howling at the sky, with a cartoon bubble filled with hearts coming out of his mouth, instead of the traditional howl. Very cute and it’s what sold me on reading this story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 237 pages
Published January 13th 2020 by Riptide Publishing
ASINB081H7NLR6
Edition Language English

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