‘Once Upon A Wolf’ by Rhys Ford #LGBTQ+ #GroupReview #MMRomance #NewRelease

Dana, Bethany, Wendy, and Melissa review Once Upon A Wolf (Wayward Wolves Book 1) by Rhys Ford (Published by Dreamspinner Press, February 16, 2018, 96 pages)

NOTE: A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.


Gibson Keller’s days are fairly routine: wake up early, get some work done, drink lots of coffee, and take care of Ellis, his older brother, stuck in wolf form after coming home from the war. It’s a simple life made up of long runs on two legs—or four—and quiet evenings…. Until Ellis chases a handsome man off a cliff and into the frozen waters beside their cabin, changing Gibson’s life forever.

For Zach Thomas, buying an old B&B is a new start. Leaving behind his city life, he longs to find peace and quiet, and hiking the trails behind his property seems safe enough—right up to the moment an enormous black wolf chases him into a lake, nearly drowning him. Discovering werewolves are real astounds him, but not as much as the man who rescues him from the icy water, then walks into Zach’s heart as if he owns it.

Loving a werewolf—loving Gibson with all his secrets—has its challenges, but Zach believes their love is worth fighting for, especially since his heart knows the big bad wolf is really a prince in disguise.

Buy links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | B&N || Add to Goodreads


Dana – 

Rhys Ford is an auto-buy author for me. Ever since I gave a bit of my heart to her Cole McGinnis series I’ve bought every book, or when I’m lucky enough I get a copy to review. I am also a big fan of shifters so this book definitely seemed right up my alley.

Once Upon a Wolf is a novella with the same basic characteristics of a Rhys Ford full length novel. There are family problems. Gibson and his brother Ellis are estranged from their family and Zach is as well. I am particularly not a fan of Zach’s family. There is also the same gritty realness that I’ve come to expect. I appreciate the fact that Rhys doesn’t pretty everything up in her writing. (At times, I can even be disturbed by the descriptiveness.) In this story, it was the shifting process that was described in a whole new way. It wasn’t gory but definitely not a clean process.

I really like Gibson and Zach. They are both hard working stand up guys that want to protect their own. That includes each other. Gibson with his wolfy temper is a bit more stubborn and stand-offish, but I thought they were great. Ellis seems to also want to take care of his brother even in wolf form. His experience in the war is the only thing keeping him from being a more known character in this book. But there is a development near the end of the story that makes me hope that Ellis’s story will be next. I really want to know more about him and his pain. Other than the three of them, the supporting characters are minimal. A lesbian couple who work at the bed and breakfast and are in the know about the wolves’ secrets. The last being a sheriff with a misplaced sense of revenge. He seems despicable but I admit a small interest in seeing if he comes to terms with what he learns on the mountain.

It’s a sweet story. A good romance with good characters. I think the only thing I am missing is more of it. I want to feel like I’ve lived in the characters skin for a little bit. I want to feel more for the characters and I think I just needed more time and words to do it. I don’t want that to sound like a complaint because it only makes me want the next book of the series so I can get that more. I would totally recommend it if you are a fan of Rhys Ford because I’m sure whatever happens next is worth waiting for.

Bethany – 

Holy crap, a short shifter book from Rhys Ford, um yes please.  You see I love Rhys’ books.  I haven’t really found one that I don’t like/love, and this one was no different.  Yet this one is not the “typical” Rhys book I am used to buying or lucky enough offered in exchange for an honest review.  When I think of Rhys’ books, I think murder and mayhem, gore and carnage.  Mystery and love, and the start of a beautiful relationship despite the fact there are dead bodies strewn along the way to a HEA.

See I was told this one was different.  No bodies, just a short sappy shifter story.  But I shouldn’t have worried that Rhys would venture too far off the norm I am used to when I open one of her books.  This was just a condensed version.  There is family drama, issues that come up for both men that will either break them, or make them stronger together.  Things that stand in their way, that they must work through.  Oh this one wasn’t all fluffy, happy, sappy, lounging in bed all day book.  No it was very remnant of Rhys’ books.  Just one that I finished in one sitting, instead of a few.

When I read the blurb, I was a tad sceptical, because yes Rhys does paranormal, but I have yet to read a shifter book by her.  The idea that Gibson’s brother has been in wolf form for a while intrigued me, as I haven’t read one like that before.   Gibson has taking it upon himself to care for his brother, even if it pains him to not see the human side of Ellis, only the wolf side.  He knows that something happened to him while at war, but has no clue as to what.  This right here was what drew me in, I wanted, no needed, to know why Ellis has spent years in his wolf form.  But the why I feel in love with this one, was Gibsons undying devotion to Ellis.  You know he is a good one.

Zach is, well at first to me he seems lost, like he is running from things.  And I guess the more we get to know about him he kind of is running.  He just didn’t expect to find exactly what he needed when a huge wolf almost drowns him.  At first I stereotyped Zach as fragile, needing to be taken care of.  Oh how he proved me wrong.  If anything Zach, is strong enough to put not only Gibson in his place but Ellis as well.

I loved the dynamic of the three of them, all as separate relations, and all three of them together.  Can’t go more into that because it will give too much away.  Now I know that some just don’t enjoy insta love, and while yes I guess technically this one can be called insta love, I just didn’t see it that way.  Maybe because for most of the Rhys books I have read, I would consider them in a round of bout way insta love.  The connection is there from the very beginning, it just develops quicker in this one due to the size of the book.  But that took nothing away from the story for me, if anything added to it.

While I wouldn’t call this one a cliffhanger, I was left wanting more.  Needing more answers that I hope are answered in upcoming books in this world, hint, hint Rhys.  But I do highly recommend it.  It is a brilliant departure from what we usually read from Rhys, which just goes to show you, that woman can write ANYTHING.

Wendy –

I liked this story. It felt like a prelude to a series to me with a lot of world building and so many unanswered questions and I’ll talk about that more in a minute. I love shifter stories because they all have their unique distinctions. Some are done better than others and I thought this one was really good. The way they share the shifter history (or not) by passing it down throughout the families and how not everyone with shifter blood can actually shift. I also liked this take on family and shifter dynamics.

I’m intrigued by Ellis who has chosen to remain in his wolf form after experiencing something so bad that he escapes into that form and stays that way for almost two year when this story starts. I do like that he still has a sense of humor even in wolf form (it was one of the things that gives me hope for this character). He’s one of the characters I need more answers for. I think his story could probably catch me right in the feels and might require a box of tissue and some rescue chocolate.

I liked that Gibson knew there was something special between him and Zach right away but they didn’t act on it. The slow burning build up to them actually physically acting on their feelings was great for me. I like it when people enjoy the journey and don’t rush into sex, when they may want to but realize that they aren’t in the right space emotionally. Zach is just a super sweet guy that you can’t help but like him. Even with that sweetness, he has moments where some real grit shows through and he stands up for himself and what he believes in. I would have been happy with more about these guys but I can be happy if this is the beginning and I can find out more in future books.

All in all, this was a nice, short shifter story that leaves me wanting more from not only the main characters, but from some of the secondary ones as well. Like I said earlier… so many unanswered questions!

Melissa –

This was ok for me. I liked the story ok, but the insta-love/connection was a little much. The trust that Gibson put into Zach so quickly seems far fetched and the fact that they both have an instant attraction to the other while Zach is half dead after falling in the lake, just wasn’t realistic. It was cute and enjoyable seeing Gibson and Ellis interact, and then seeing how Zach reacted to Ellis. I love shifter books and this one was good as far as explaining the wolf history. I bet it was super cute when Ellis and Gibson were baby pups!

The majority of the story is about Gibson trying to coax Ellis into turning into his human form again, since he has been in wolf form for about 2 years. It was rough seeing Ellis so tortured from what he experienced, he was so wounded. But I could see his playful side too, especially when he tooted in Zach’s truck. 😉

These characters were so fun, and if you take away the instant love they have going, this story was really good, and I would like to read more about these men (do they want kids, is the question; I want to see baby pups!!). Overall I give this 3 stars/6 pots.


Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.

She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo cat and Tam, a diabetic black pygmy panther, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.

One thought on “‘Once Upon A Wolf’ by Rhys Ford #LGBTQ+ #GroupReview #MMRomance #NewRelease

  1. I’m a little concerned that the reviews I have read talk about how short this story is, but I am still curious. Thanks for all of your thoughts!


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