Tanner Araya doesn’t want to go home—he doesn’t want to be the alpha to a dwindling were community in the remote Oregon countryside and he definitely does not want to say goodbye to his RA, Chase Denney, on whom he has had a major crush for the last two years. Ever since beginning his three-year training to prepare for the Wider World, Tanner has loved his Howling experience. The guys he dorms with are a diverse and quirky group, from the frisbee, butt-sniffing, and hole digging Jordan, to the pizza eating, computer geek Hector. Tanner loves them all, but it’s Chase who he longs to be with as more than just friends.
Chase looks at his Howling residents as his family—one that he must watch after, counsel, and help train to deal with all the nuances of living in a human world and learning to control their were instincts and reactions to everyday life. But he has held back from spending too much time with Tanner since the moment he realized he was attracted to the man. Any fraternization between RAs and their residents is absolutely forbidden until they turn twenty-one, at which point they can remain at the compound to complete their last year of training or return to their pack. Either way, they no longer fall under the “do not touch” rule held by RAs like Chase.
When the guys decide to go to the local shifter bar to celebrate Tanner’s twenty-first birthday, little do they know it will set off a chain of events that will find Tanner suddenly disappearing, Chase being reprimanded and kept apart from his guys for a considerable amount of time, and the sudden appearance of a signet ring that is much, much more than what it looks like. Things are about to get even crazier at the “doghouse” and more than one life may be in danger from a surprising source.
While Howling on Hold could definitely be considered a standalone, I do think that having read both of Russell’s previously published series, Supernatural Selection and Fae Out of Water, would be a huge help. I mention this because one of the main characters seeks out help from a few of the characters in those books and they end up playing a pretty important role in the last third of this novel. I feel skipping them would make a reader feel a bit lost as to why these characters are so well known to the guys at the Howling residence and, honestly, I loved those other series so any chance to read more by this author is a win for me personally.
Having said all that, I will say that this novel had some terribly funny moments that mainly included Jordan and his propensity to be a slightly unhinged were with no self-control and a penchant to blurt out whatever came to mind. It also had some really poignant moments when Tanner discovered that all he had believed growing up might not be true and those he depended on to keep him safe in his younger years aren’t exactly what they seem to be. There are a few interesting twist and turns in this novel and the idea that all these guys were in this college dormitory-like atmosphere to work out the wolfy kinks before going into the big bad world was a delightfully funny and original premise.
I do wish there had been just a bit more backstory and/or revelations about Tanner’s dying pack. It would have been nice to see him in that environment to fully understand his loathing of ever having to go back and rebuild his pack. However, this book focused more on the Howling years and the different experiences the guys had there in order to prep them to return back to their individual packs. I do wonder if this author will expand this novel into a series. I, for one, would love to get to see these guys function as their own pack and read about their antics. Each one of them had a little something unique to their character and expanding on that would make for a lovely series if Russell decided to go down that path. Until then, if you are a fan of this author’s other supernatural works, I think you will find great delight in this latest release, Howling on Hold.