Title: Camp H.O.W.L. (Dreamspun Beyond)
Author: Bru Baker
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 238 Pages
Category: Paranormal, Fantasy, Shifters
At a Glance: Camp H.O.W.L. turned out to be such a fun read! More good stuff from the Dreamspun Beyond line from Dreamspinner. Definitely check this one out, guys!
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Moonmates exist, but getting together is going to be a beast….
When Adrian Rothschild skipped his “werewolf puberty,” he assumed he was, somehow, human. But he was wrong, and he’s about to go through his Turn with a country between him and his Pack—scared, alone, and eight years late.
Dr. Tate Lewis’s werewolf supremacist father made his Turn miserable, and now Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L. to ease the transition for young werewolves. He isn’t expecting to offer guidance to a grown man—or find his moonmate in Adrian. Tate doesn’t even believe in the legendary bond; after all, his polygamist father claimed five. But it’s clear Adrian needs him, and if Tate can let his guard down, he might discover he needs Adrian too.
A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But is Adrian up to the challenge?
Review: Full disclosure right up front: I haven’t read very many shifter stories. Like, very few. But, I decided to challenge myself to read outside my normal box when I saw Bru Baker’s Camp H.O.W.L. pop up on the radar. Having liked Baker’s books in the past, and being super intrigued by the premise laid out in the blurb—which was extremely well-written—I had to go for it. The thing about not having read much in the shifter realm, though, is that there could be things in this book that are so well-done or mind-blowing, I might have missed how cool they were! Or, conversely, there could be something that the author took in a direction that others who are more versed in the genre might take exception to. People are probably picky about their shifter lore. I dunno. BUT, I can tell you that I really liked this book, and give you some reasons why. 😊
I liked both characters a lot, but found Tate’s character to be the most compelling. Probably because he felt the most fleshed out. After suffering an abusive childhood, going through his Turn alone, and then leaving his pack, Tate built a new life for himself in Indiana. In college, he found a dear friend in Kenya, one of his psych professors, and after, he found safe harbor as a counselor at Camp H.O.W.L., a camp built to help young wolflings through their initial Turn. I loved the parts of the book where we got to see Tate in action, whether it was teaching a class at camp or helping one of the kids, or later, Adrian, through something difficult. He was great at his job, and his love for his work definitely came across.
The initial part of Adrian’s story made my heart hurt for him. How awful it must have felt, going to camp at age nineteen, along with all his peers, and waiting to experience his first Turn at moonrise, only to have nothing happen. Instead of learning how to deal with his new status as a wolfling, and going through the things everyone else in his family went through, and all other werewolves he knew went through, Adrian visited doctor after doctor to try to find out was “wrong” with him. The conclusion was that he was a genetic anomaly, that he was simply…human. And, he had no reason to think that diagnosis wasn’t correct—until collapsing in the street one day on the way to a work meeting.
It turns out that Adrian is an hour or so away from Camp H.O.W.L. when he collapses, so Tate and one of the other counselors are sent by the camp director to the hospital to get him. The instant attraction both Adrian and Tate feel for each other is unsettling, but neither can deny that it feels right somehow. When a werewolf is transitioning for the first time, it is common, preferential really, to experience what is called a Turn bond. This bond comforts the wolflings, and helps ease them through the transition. When they realize that Adrian is, in fact, Turning, they assume what is happening between them is simply the Turn bond. However, the intensity of the bond causes everyone to believe that it’s much more than just the Turn bond, but is, instead, an actual instance of the somewhat mythical concept of moonmates. This is tough for Tate to accept, though, since his father bastardized the idea of the bond by claiming multiple women as his “moonmates” as a way to justify his polygamy and lecherous ways. Tate definitely put Adrian through his paces while he worked through everything.
You’re going through a huge, shocking change, and then there’s this wacked-out bond thrown on top of it with a broken, angry guy who doesn’t believe in that kind of mumbo jumbo.
At the end of the day, Tate absolutely can’t deny how easy and perfect things feel with Adrian. And, it’s not just the massive physical pull he feels; he also wants the domestic bliss he is picturing in his mind more and more. I dug the idea of moonmates, and loved what the author did with this part of the storyline. The guys were really sweet together when we got to see it. I wish there had been a little more of them hanging out and getting to know each other, to help establish the relationship even more.
So, I’ll admit to being a bit nervous when I started this book, for the reasons I mentioned at the beginning, but Camp H.O.W.L. turned out to be such a fun read! More good stuff from the Dreamspun Beyond line from Dreamspinner. Definitely check this one out, guys!
You can buy Camp H.O.W.L. here: