finding release coverRating: 3.25 stars
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Length: Novel


Cole is a half-blood wolf shifter who runs Wild R Farm. Cole finds himself incredibly attracted to Jonah, an 18-year-old horse shifter who has rough home life due to his bigoted brother and stepfather. When Jonah asks Cole for a job to help him get away from his family, Cole wants to help, but he doesn’t trust himself around Jonah. Cole’s wolf sees Jonah as prey and he wants the young man too badly to be around him all the time. So Cole refuses Jonah the job, only for Jonah to leave town shortly after.

Now, it’s a year later and Cole is visiting a local horse rescue when he encounters a horse named Demon who has been badly abused by a previous owner. Horses usually don’t react well to Cole, given his wolf blood, but Demon seems surprisingly drawn to him, while he won’t tolerate anyone else. Cole wants to help the horse recover and brings him home to his farm. To Cole’s shock, Demon suddenly shifts and it is Jonah, who has been trapped for the past year as a horse after his brother forced him into shifted form. During that time, Jonah was abused, near starved, and nearly lost touch with his human side. But seeing Cole again has helped bring Jonah back to himself as a human.

Seeing Jonah again fills Cole with remorse for not having helped him a year ago, but it also brings his attraction to Jonah back to the forefront. Cole doesn’t trust his wolf, fearing his animal side will take over if he lets himself have Jonah the way he truly desires. But Jonah shares Cole’s feelings of attraction and wants him badly in return. The men act on their desire for one another and the connection between them is wonderful. But after his brother’s attack, Jonah is wary and feels like the only way to keep himself and others safe is to leave the farm. However, Cole is determined to see Nathan pay for what he did to Jonah, and hopes for a future with Jonah by his side. Unfortunately, getting anyone to believe Jonah’s story won’t be easy, and when Nathan begins to lash out, the situation becomes dangerous. But Cole and Jonah have decided they want to move forward together, and now they have to fight to stop Nathan and for their future together.

Finding Release is the first book in the Wild R Farm series. It was originally released back in 2012 under the author’s Silvia Violet pen name, and has now been re-released under the new paranormal pen name of Silvia Onyx. Onyx notes that the book has been “re-edited and updated” from the original, but it is not clear how much has changed between versions in terms of the story itself. I liked the set up here with a horse shifter, which is rare enough to find in romance, but then the added element of him paired with a wolf shifter added a nice twist. There is a predator/prey dynamic between the shifters, so it makes an interesting pairing. I liked the way that Jonah, despite being younger and more vulnerable after suffering such abuse, is able to also help Cole as he deals with managing the wolf side of his nature. Jonah has more experience shifting, so he can guide Cole at various points, which was a nice element to the story. Jonah is a sweet character and I really felt for him and enjoyed seeing him find happiness with Cole, as well as being able to move past the threats from his brother.

Unfortunately, however, I did struggle with some of this book, both in terms of the characters and the overall storyline. The book opens with a prologue set one year in the past. Thirty-year old Cole is picking up some feed from 18-year-old Jonah’s family store, and right away we are told how much Cole lusts after Jonah, but doesn’t feel like he can control himself around him. Cole is aware that Jonah has a terrible home life and, while he doesn’t know details of the abuse, he knows that “Jonah’s home life had to be hell” and his family doesn’t accept him for being gay. But when Jonah comes to Cole asking for a job so he can get away from home, Cole refuses because he is worried he won’t be able to control his attraction. Again, Cole is a grown man, Jonah is a vulnerable 18-year-old high school student who is coming to another gay man for help, and Cole denies him because he can’t control his attraction. It just didn’t sit great with me and made it hard to warm up to Cole.

I think part of the issue is it is never fully made clear what being a half-breed wolf really means, why Cole has trouble controlling his wolf side, and what he fears might happen if he is around Jonah. I am not even really clear if he is afraid of literally hurting him in a violent way, or if he means feeling too sexually aggressive. There is very little world building here and this issue is presented as a big problem and comes up many times in the book, but we don’t learn enough to really understand the situation.

Once Jonah is able to turn back into a human, he and Cole jump into sex almost immediately. He has barely managed to return to human after being abused, starved, tortured, and stuck as a horse for a year and then, minutes later, they are having sex. We know from the prologue that Cole was hot for Jonah before he disappeared (again, Jonah is in high school at this point), but we don’t get any background on their relationship and we don’t know anything about Jonah’s feelings for Cole at the point when they get together (though later in the book we learn he was attracted to Cole in return). So to suddenly have Cole having sex with this abused, ill, and traumatized 19-year-old was a rough transition for me (Jonah is also a virgin, FWIW). I have read and enjoyed many age gap books, including those with just barely legal characters like Jonah. But for whatever reason, I had trouble seeing Jonah at this point as anything other than a child and the sexual scenes felt super uncomfortable to me. Yes, Jonah said he wanted Cole, but again, Cole is the adult here and this just felt off to me given the circumstances. Things settled down as Jonah begins to heal and feels less vulnerable, but this start was just rough for me. There is a lot of sex here and while usually that isn’t a complaint of mine, I think it made for too little character or plot development.

Once the men are together, there is a lot of back and forth as Jonah feels like he needs to leave, Cole wants him to stay and fight, and Jonah seemingly gives in and sticks around because he wants to have sex with Cole. This carries on a lot throughout the book, but eventually the focus shifts more to the fight against Nathan. I’m not sure why Nathan has so much influence in town or why he is considered such a giant threat, as he is barely developed as a side character. But in addition to trying to prosecute Nathan, there is also the issue of Nathan stirring up trouble on the farm to deal with. I’ll note here that along with the abuse Jonah suffered when forced into his shift, we also learn about past physical abuse and attempted sexual assault. So use care if that is a sensitive topic for you.

I really wanted to like this one more than I did. I have enjoyed many of Onyx’s books under her Silvia Violet pen name, so I was sad to not be able to be more enthusiastic about this story. But it just didn’t come together for me the way I hoped. Still, if you enjoy shifter stories, particularly a non-traditional shifter like a horse, or enjoy cowboy stories, this one might work better for you.

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