Dual REVIEW : Returning to the Werewolf – Holly Day

Returning to the Werewolf Book Cover Returning to the Werewolf
Holly Day
Two Hour Short Story, LGBTQ Short Story, Gay Fiction
Nov 4, 2022

Lex Gray was in love once. He was young and gave his heart to Cash Udolph, who he believed would be with him forever. When his world fell apart, Cash was nowhere to be found. Lex left Warwood, the tiniest village ever placed on a map, and swore never to come back. Seventeen years later, he's there to attend his grandmother's funeral.

Cash lost his mate. Lex begged him to run away with him, but as the enforcer of a werewolf pack, Cash can't leave Warwood. When everything came crashing down seventeen years ago, he shifted into a wolf and ran off into the woods. He ran to clear his head and make a plan of how to convince Lex to stay and how to get the pack to accept Cash having a human mate. But when he came back, Lex was gone.

Lex needs to get out of Warwood, but driving in the middle of the night might not have been his best idea. A naked man jumps up on the road only to turn into a wolf before his eyes, and Lex slams the brakes hard enough to slide off the road. When Cash is called in to sort a situation with a human, he never expected the human to be his Lex. He's been given a second chance, but Lex wants to leave as soon as possible. Can Cash convince Lex to allow him back into his life before the tow truck gets there?

5 *Review By Gordon Phillips

4 *Review By Linda Tonis

Both Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

Gordon says:

Returning to the Werewolf is a MM romance novella in the shape-shifter genre. At 70 pages it is a quick read, and a satisfying and delightful one.

The story premise is a common one,Lex Gray returning to his hometown for the first time in years to attend his grandmother’s funeral. This places him in the vicinity of Cash Udolph, his one-time lover,who still lives in the town. There have been misunderstandings between them in the past, and a complication due to the fact that Lex doesn’t know that Cash is a werewolf. The latter heightens the stigmaof same-sex relationships in society,increasing the challenges faced by the two main characters.

Though the premise is common enough in the genre, Day handles the story so well that it never comes close to slipping into cliché. And though fairly simple, the story works well, and it surprises now and then—in what are not so much plot twists as delightfully unexpected turns: the story has a confident sense of itself and follows its own inner necessity.

The story is written in the alternating point-of-view style, which can take getting used to. Holly Day, however, makes this easy to do and, like everything else she does in this story, it works.

This piece of shifter fiction not only makes the concept of shifters work, but actually shine—in the sense that the point of the fantasy is made clear: It allows characters such as wolf-shifters (werewolves) to display, in heightened form, the various human passions: competition, respect for tradition, group honor, and even perceptions and understanding (the werewolves can literally smell certain truths). And it presents what is perhaps the most common human conundrum: how to belong while still being true to yourself.

But the real gold of the story, quite apart from its other excellences, lies in the central romance. Nothing is ever laid on thick, yet early on in the story Day begins to create—subtly and simply—moments that twist the heart or make tears start in the reader’s eyes. And she continues to do this throughout the story. (In making notes for this review while reading the story, at one point I wrote in amazed appreciation: “Tugging on the heart-strings againdamn!”)

There are other elements that are handled with humor and realism, like the psychological struggles Lex goes through in trying to make sense of the bizarre events he is experiencing. For example, Cash lives outside of town in a cabin in the woods, where there is wildlife, including wolves. At one point, when they have met, Lex observes Cash’s reaction to something he is told:

“Cash growled, an honest to God growl. Maybe he’d lived out here with the wolves too long.”

The only element that might be called a flaw is occasional confusion over pronouns—something endemic in writing same-sex romance,in which the heterosexual phrase, “she told him” becomes, “he told him,” so that the clarity of which character was talking becomes unclear. For example:

“He ran his thumb over his neck in a circle as he’d always done when they’d been together.”

But this is rare and only produces momentary confusion, of little importance, for Day is an excellent writer, and Returning to the Werewolf is a wonderful, moving, and delightful romance story.

Linda Says:

This book was written to celebrate Drowsy Driving Prevention Week raising awareness to the danger of driving while tired. So many don’t pay attention and drive tired, risking both their lives and others.

Lex Gray left the small town of Warwood seventeen years ago and swore he would never return, unfortunately the death of his Nana forced him back for her funeral. The day was traumatic and staying in the motel room he rented became unbearable leading him to get in his car at 2AM. Tired trying loud music and keeping the windows open despite the freezing temperature and the snow coming down he saw a naked man in the road who turned into a wolf. He was lucky because he landed in a ditch and was not hurt but nonetheless leaving the motel and risking his life and anyone else on the road was selfish and dangerous.

He found himself surrounded by wolves and one looked like he wanted to eat him. Locked in his car he saw another wolf approach and disappear into the woods only to reappear once again as a man, a man that Lex knew immediately because it was Cash the man, he has always loved and the man who abandoned him when he needed him most.

When Cash saw Lex his dreams came true, Lex was his mate and there was never and would never be another one for him. Cash took him to his cabin and tried to rekindle the feelings Lex once had for him, but Lex has a lot to adjust to, werewolves are real and the man he has always loved is one.

The purpose of this story was to educate about the danger of driving tired and although Lex was lucky and was reunited with the love of his life his decision to drive at 2AM after a traumatic day was unwise and risky.

This book was much more than a story about a love lost and then found it is a lesson about the consequences of our actions and this one had a HEA but it could easily have been the opposite. I really enjoyed the love story and the lesson this book told.


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