Hawk isn’t really suited to the life of a solitary trapper. He isn’t particular good at hunting, shooting, or generally any of the survival skills required to live away from civilization. But Hawk doesn’t have a choice. After accidentally killing his violent and brutal father, he’s been forced into a desperate situation, one for which he doesn’t have the skills. And then Hawk sees the wolf. It should be terrifying and yet Hawk finds himself comforted by the big animal’s presence. Especially when the wolf starts hunting for him and protecting Hawk from his own idiocy.
The human calls him Ghost and it’s a name that suits as well as any other. All Ghost knows is that Hawk belongs to him. He doesn’t really know why, but he can’t separate himself from Hawk and everything he offers. But Ghost knows in his wolf form he’s not enough for Hawk. He needs to be more, especially because Hawk has enemies and Ghost is the only one who can save him. But doing so may change everything Hawk and Ghost know about one another and the world around them.
Once Upon A Wolf started off well for me, but pretty quickly jumps the rails. It ended up feeling like it didn’t really know what kind of story it wanted to tell. Hawk has depth and seems like a fairly well developed character. He’s pretty naive for someone who, presumably, grew up close to the frontier. So he’s a fish out water at times and, even though that doesn’t resonate as very realistic, his character is sweet enough to carry it off. Ghost is blank as a creation. We learn a little about his life as a wolf, but it’s not enough to evolve his character into anything I could really connect with. Hawk accepts Ghost shifting into a human far too easily. I mean really easy. Ghost shows up as a human and they have sex immediately. They don’t even discuss how the whole shifting thing occured. It’s almost laughable how fast it happens and how utterly nonplussed Hawk is by the whole thing.
The plot to Once Upon A Wolf is fairly simplistic, but for the first three quarters of the book it works because the focus is almost completely on Hawk and Ghost. But during the last quarter things derail quite a bit and we get an antagonist wedged into the storyline. There is a purpose for this, but he shows up out of nowhere and seems artificially set into the action. From then on, the plot becomes a bit manic and garbled and loses the thread of its own purpose. What was a romance morphs into something else, but it’s never quite clear what.
I wanted to enjoy Once Upon A Wolf more than I did. It’s not a terrible book and there are some sweet moments, but on the whole it just never develops beyond its very simplistic starting formulas. The relationship between Hawk and Ghost tends to be somewhat superficial and never achieved real depth. Once Upon a Wolf is okay, but I felt it failed to achieve it’s potential and I found myself really wanting more.