Rating: 5 stars out of 5 ★★★★★
There’s nothing like a fresh start, and for Randy, still nursing wounds left by a cheating ex and harboring a deep mistrust for all things corporate, Wolf, Wyoming seems like the perfect place to start over. Secluded, quiet, and self-sufficient, Wolf is bound to not only inspire, but to bring Randy the peace he needs. The view’s not bad, either.
Vaughn O’Connell and his family are Randy’s only neighbors for miles, and while Randy knows it’s somewhat unlikely that a man with three kids is gay, it doesn’t hurt to look. When a misunderstanding brings Randy face to face with both Vaughn and his eighteen year old son, Lyle, Randy’s not sure what to feel about either of them.
But things are not what they appear in Wolf, and the closer Randy gets, the stranger the O’Connell family seems…
The beauty of this novel has two parts. The first was how easy it was to sink into the world of Wolf, WY. The second lies in the two story perspectives presented in every chapter. The first and most obvious perspective is Randy Connor through whose point-of-view we follow in the story. The second, less obvious one is of the wolves that the author shares at the beginning of every chapter in italics. It did such a beautiful job portraying the cold – emotionally and of-the-weather, as well as the loneliness and isolation of Wolf, WY and its inhabitants.
While I wished those italics parts were longer, Henley’s ability to convey so much in so little is, in and of itself, a thing of wonder. They are a very powerful depiction of, presumably, Vaughn – a man of few words but full of emotion from holding on and keeping in all the secrets that protected himself, his family, and his community. I can just imagine how he must’ve wrestled with the notion of sharing who and what he is (and Lyle) with Randy. For me, all of that made me ask many questions about Jackie (you’ll have to read to find out who that is, I’m afraid).
As much as I could ache (and cry) for the head of the O’Connell family, I couldn’t help laughing, groaning, and shaking my head at Randy Connor, an attorney who left all he knew behind in search of a fresh start. One of the best things about Henley’s stories is his knack for getting the main character’s introduction out of the way so the story could unfold without interruption. The prologue found (“stupid”) Randy buried in the middle of his dry and sarcastic introspection about life. The following chapters unfold the mystery of the O’Connell family and how Randy changes as a person – from an arrogant and egotistical city-brat to someone who realizes that there’s a lot more to being out in the country other than self-efficiency, and that running away can’t keep being the answer to his life’s problems.
As a lover of the winter season, I loved how Henley described Wolf, WY in the cold months: a rare and most beautiful place of a winter wonderland where snow danced and both the wolves and the winds howl in harmony with each other. There is ample warning though, and as Randy came to learn, the more beautiful winter became, the more likely it is to find fun ways of maiming a person, if it doesn’t succeed in killing you first.
I found the story predictable in some areas, but I think Henley did a good job in keeping the mystery going and left plenty of opportunity for some of the questions to be answered in a sequel. I like how several of the paranormal elements were kept simple while the author inserted his own creativity and kept the characters and the circumstances real. We didn’t have two characters who meet and immediately try to make things work. What seems like indecisiveness in Vaughn (along with his coldness and curt behavior) really drives home just how much the man struggles within himself – something that Randy didn’t, and couldn’t, understand. Many of us have been there ourselves, finding that one interesting and overly intriguing person who refuses to open up. In fact, such silence tends to annoy and frustrate some more than others, doesn’t it? It certainly frustrated Randy.
If nothing else, reading the book for the children is well worth it. Hannah and Isaac are positively adorable in this novel, so full of life and character, yet don’t let their young years deceive you. They can be quite the adults when the circumstance calls for it, much to Randy’s chagrin. It made me so proud and made my heart ache all in the same instance: children grow up entirely too fast. Faster in Wolf, WY, it would seem.
And per Henley’s usual arsenal, it does contain a couple of very hot, very erotic scenes.
This is the first time this author has published a book intended for a serial. I think the readers of this book are going to fall into two groups: the ones who absolutely love it (like me) and the ones who will absolutely hate it. I do recommend the book – highly, in fact – but if my personal experiences can be called upon to make a judgment about serials for those hesitant about this novel, sometimes reading Book 2 before Book 1 might be better. It’s worked for me before.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have yourselves a lovely Fall day! ❤
The cover artist for this novel is Raphael (Boys in Ink and Color), and I must say he did a splendid job. If I had been walking the aisle of a bookstore and strode right by a showcase with this novel on it, there would definitely be a pause in stride to pick it up. The wolf eyes just draws me in. On top of that is a snow covered landscape that suggests an adventure is about to happen, or is happening, and will involve at least a wolf.
- Author: A. F. Henley
- Length: ebook, 223 pages; kindle edition, 260 pages
- Language: English
- Series: Wolf, #1
- Genre: Fantasy – Paranormal, M/M Fiction
- Published: 1st edition October 21, 2015 by Less Than Three Press LLC
- ISBN-13: 9781620046180
- Digital ISBN: 9781620045398
- Print ISBN: 9781620046197