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REVIEW: Howling on Hold, by E.J. Russell

Howling On Hold, By E.J. Russell

Title: Howling on Hold

Series: Mythmatched Book Seven

Author: E.J. Russell

Genre: Paranormal Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages: 252

Reviewer: Pat

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About The Book

Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.

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.

The Review

Fans of Russell’s writing will enjoy and adore this latest gay romance novel. Those who are new to her books might have a little trouble slotting into her fantasy universe.

The premise of the story is simple: Teenage werewolves need a three-year stint in a group residence to learn the ways of the human world before they come of age and can be released back into their packs without embarrassing all of weredom.

Such is the case with the current members of the Doghouse, headed by resident advisor Chase Denney. His charges, from impetuous Jordan to reclusive Tanner, have kept him on his toes—especially Tanner, to whom he’s attracted. Advisors aren’t supposed to have personal feelings about the wolves they’re guiding, but Chase and Tanner have been eyeing one another for quite a while.

The night Tanner turns twenty-one and is no longer part of the Doghouse is the perfect time for Chase to make his move, but that’s when Tanner disappears and they discover his life is in danger. Up through this part, new readers will be fine.

But after this point, the world of the Doghouse and the fantasy world brought to life in Russell’s previous books merge. Suddenly, Ted, Q-Bert, Mal, Rusty, Cas, Alun, the supe council, and others beloved in Single White IncubusVampire with Benefits, and the companion books threaten to take over Chase and Tanner’s story. Fans will be thrilled to renew their acquaintance with these fabulous characters, but those new to this series might be flummoxed since there are a host of new pairings and characters to be absorbed.

Did I enjoy the book? Yes, mainly because I loved the previous books and their cast of unique characters. But even I had moments of confusion, trying to decide whether a character was someone new to this story or someone I’d forgotten from a previous one. So I could see how a reader coming into the howling might easily struggle to keep up with who’s who and what their relationships are.

Am I eager to read Russell’s next book? Absolutely. I always enjoy the journey she takes me on. Although this might not be the best introduction to Russell’s work, it expands an already superior series in delightful ways that I can’t wait to read.

The Reviewer

Pat Henshaw:

* Is a she, not a he.

* Writes MM romances.

* Has interviewed Arlo Guthrie, Big Bird, Fred Rogers, Liberace, and Vincent Price.

* Has lived and worked on all three US coasts and in the middle of the country, too.

* Has been a reviewer, costumer, librarian, and teacher.

* Has ridden an elephant, touched the pyramids, and stood at the edge of a volcano.

* Believes love is essential to everyone’s happiness.

* She wants you to remember: Every day is a good day for romance! 

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