Once Upon A Wolf

Once upon A Wolf by Rhys Ford: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

Synopsis:

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.

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2.5 Stars

I LOVE Ellis. I love his wolfish shenanigans, the mystery of his story, and how far he came throughout… the problem is that it isn’t Ellis’ story. I think?

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Gibson is a wolf shifter that lives with his brother (Ellis) in a mountain cabin. One day Ellis decides to play a game of chase with an unsuspecting stranger… except the stranger is terrified and slips down the mountain. Luckily, Gibson is able to rush to the aid of the badly injured Zach.

Zach is the new neighbor that purchased a bed & breakfast and he connects with Gibson *super* fast. Well, maybe not a connection but they are attracted to each other right away… even badly injured, Zach is wanting to mount Gibson (which I would totally believe if this was a mates type shifter book). It just seems a foregone conclusion that because they are the only two men within miles, they would end up together. I get it, last man on Earth and all- but it didn’t seem authentic IMO. Unfortunately there isn’t much else to the Zach and Gibson show. The romance/connection between Gibson and Zach was put on the back burner as all focus went to Ellis. Because of this, the relationship felt forced.

As the synopsis mentioned, Ellis is stuck in his wolf form to cope with the nightmares that never leave. This book provides in-depth coverage of Ellis’ status, the growth he makes, the danger he gets in, and the care he receives from Zach and Gibson. Ellis and Zach form a special bond that I believed and a connection I felt. It’s a damn shame it wasn’t their story.

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One of the things I adore about shifter stories is the possessiveness. I love the growly mine and the unapologetic need to be near the other and the ultimate desire to claim them. With this book, any time Gibson showed a hint of possessiveness, he went apologetic. *sad face* There wasn’t much heat on page and I was glad for it. Without the connection between the MCs, more sex would have just felt out of place to me.

I can’t recommend this book for the MCs but I was a fan of Ellis and if he’s getting a story, then reading this would be necessary. I’ll continue on this series *only* if Ellis gets his official story.

Copy provided for honest review.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Undaunted

Originally reviewed for BMBR

4 Stars

“A warrior’s broken soul.
A vampire’s kind heart.”

Doesn’t that sound intriguing? I’m really glad I finally pulled the trigger and cracked this one open. The blurb is short and sweet but the story is so much more. Before I continue, please be aware: “Content warnings: Contains slavery, violence, body control, bottom shaming, misogyny, and rape mentioned in backstory.” This was a gruesome story and along with the listed warnings, there was necromancy which adds a whole other level to body control.

You’re still here?

If all those warnings didn’t send you running for the hills, pull up a chair and let’s get this party started.

Kelas Vartorvi was a warrior for his people until the Vampire’s took over his city and killed everyone they couldn’t use. Kelas was very proficient as a warrior which led to his capture, being turned into a werewolf (a Hound), and forced into slavery for the Master Vampire, Zoja. With Zoja forcing a blood bond, she is able to control Kelas’ body and he became her “sword.” He was forced to live as a dog, kill at her command, and be raped at her hands. For years he endured until he found a way to escape. He was on the run for months staying one step ahead of the trackers Zoja sent his way until he was outnumbered and poisoned. Just when he thinks it’s over and that he’ll be brought back and tortured, he’s saved by an unlikely hero.

Roshan is a rogue vampire that was abandoned by his sire shortly after being attacked and changed into a vampire. He embraces life and has built a family of friends around him. Roshan is light, sarcastic and caring. He is also a hell of a fighter, a mercenary, and is able to save Kelas from the attack.

Roshan being a vampire represents everything Kelas hates. He finally freed himself from Zoja and now owes Roshan a life debt as a payment for saving his life. Begrudgingly, Kelas agrees to stay with the group until he saves Roshan’s life. Kelas is like one of those abused and terrified animals you see at shelters. The ones that are heartbreakingly skittish and can’t bear to be touched. He was robbed of his pride, dignity, his name, consent, humanity, and choices on his physical actions. Slowly, Roshan earned his trust. Each day he showed Kelas that “what you were didn’t determine who you were.” That he wasn’t a monster.

Their journey as mercenaries takes them all over the lands, bringing them closer together until one job dangles the carrot of revenge. They have an opportunity to come face to face with Zoja and Kelas is eager to follow this path through, knowing that she will always be looking for him. Getting to the point of revenge takes trust and great sacrifice for both Kelas and Roshan. They have parts to play and can’t show their hand too early. Each step the group took brought them closer to Zoja, the castle of Kelas’ enslavement, and the battle that would take place. Their time at the castle was tense, engaging and eventually very gruesome. There were a lot of moving pieces and the prior world building supported them well.

Roshan and Kelas are opposites that fit. Their love is beautiful and transparent in each interaction. Roshan slowly brought Kelas back to life. But, Kelas feels “broken.” He needs to face his demons. He needs to face the voices in his head that tell him he’s nothing but a worthless Hound.

“I’m a pet, an animal. Not a person. Not someone you love. I’m a creature you lust after, one you can make do whatever you want. I’m a toy.”

This wasn’t a case of insta-love. They were slow to realize their attraction and as their feelings grew, love bloomed bright. With Kelas’ past, trust had to be the foundation before anything else was added and the author did a great job of making that a realization. There wasn’t a lot of sex in the book but each time it took place held purpose. It furthered the believability of their connection and the trust built between them. They got their HEA but it wasn’t without hardship, heartbreak, and a need for healing.

Was it perfect? No. Did I have to suspend reality? Yes, but that is to be expected with a paranormal/ fantasy romance. The time period was a bit confusing and I still don’t know if it was a historical with its talk of coin, carriages, and horses or in modern time with the way each character spoke. It was contradictory and pulled me out of the story a few times. Also, this was very heavy in gods talk. There are rites, rituals, thanking ceremonies, prayers, alters, statues, etc… The gods are mentioned in the blurb and are everywhere throughout. I could have done without all that but it didn’t ruin the book for me. Another unique aspect of this story was the feel; It has a vintage werewolf and/or vampire feel which worked for the heavy elements present.

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I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to fans of paranormal romance.

“Oh, Kel.” Roshan pressed their hands together. “You store up reasons to hate yourself, and I…” Roshan laughed, sad and sweet and surprised all at once. “I store up reasons to love you.”

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.