Book Reviews

Camp H.O.W.L. (Dreamspun Beyond) by Bru Baker at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Paranormal / Shifters / Romance
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 02-November-2017

Book 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?


Book Review

I continue to be super excited about Dreamspinner Press’s latest house line ‘Dreamspun Beyond’ which are stories of a paranormal bent in the old-school Harlequin and Silhouette models. The description for ‘Camp H.O.W.L.’ pulled me right in - I loved the idea of werewolves going to camp to learn to control their shifts to prevent accidentally outing themselves to humans - and since Bru Baker is a new-to-me author I was more than ready to jump into the worldbuilding.

In this world, wolflings turn the first time on the full moon following their nineteenth birthday. All of them do. Always. Except Adrian. He didn’t shift when he was supposed to and after consulting four doctors it was determined to be some kind of quirk of his genetics. So, in essence, Adrian is human, regardless that his mother is alpha of the Pacific Northwest’s werewolves and head of the West Coast Werewolf Tribunal. All of his siblings shift, it’s just Adrian who is different, and he carries that weight on his shoulders every single day. So, imagine Adrian’s surprise when the day after his twenty-seventh birthday, while he’s in Indianapolis on business, out of the blue he begins the Turn, or a werewolf second puberty, which prepares their body to shift for the first time. Luckily for him, Camp H.O.W.L. is close enough that they can send two counselors to get him before his first full shift occurs.

Tate has been a counselor at the camp for almost ten years and is a packless wolf, a relatively rare occurrence in their world, but once I knew everything he had endured at his old pack with his father as alpha, I could certainly understand why he chose to break ties with them. It also explains his fear of commitment and roots, plus the many issues he keeps hidden away. Tate and Adrian are attracted to one another immediately, and Adrian forms a bondmate relationship with Tate. A bondmate usually occurs between two campers and more often than not, is a friendship versus a sexual relationship, although those are not discouraged. It is a way for each wolfling to feel safe and secure with another during their full moon shifts.

“You can talk about rules and distance all you want, but the fact of the matter is you two share a deeper connection than a simple Turn bond can account for. For your bond to be this intense without consummation….” She trailed off and offered him a small, apologetic smile. “It’s something out of a fairy tale.”

I was absolutely gobsmacked by the fabulous - and completely realistic - way the author wrote, not only the entire story, but specifically the burgeoning romance between Tate and Adrian. There was obvious insta-attraction on both sides and their Turn bond certainly was stronger and had all of the obvious hallmarks of a moonmate, but they didn’t jump straight into sex. Tate has a number of issues from childhood and having a relationship, of any kind, but particularly one this strong, is terrifying for him. He and Adrian are so very different in many ways. Adrian had a happy, loving, wonderful childhood, and Tate’s was a horror story. Even after leaving his pack and severing his ties, there were so many things he had to learn to do, because his misogynistic alpha father believed in men’s work versus women’s work. A lot of Tate’s issues and concerns stem from learned ideologies that he continues to struggle with.

I really enjoyed the worldbuilding the author did and I was fascinated by many aspects of it. I thought the relationship was done beautifully and all of the characters were interesting and complex. Where she lost me, just a tad, was Tate’s “big reveal” of his secret about his father’s pack that was, in my opinion, not that big of a reveal. The storyline fell a little flat for me right there, although this is only my opinion. There were also some parts of the ending that didn’t ring true for me but, again, this romance is in line with the genre created by Harlequin all those years ago, so I can’t complain. Plus, in my opinion, ‘Camp H.O.W.L.’ has some of the best worldbuilding I’ve seen in quite a while. The story and the writing don’t disappoint.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 238 pages/59764 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 01-November-2017
Price $4.99 ebook, $9.99 paperback, $9.99 bundle, $19.95 audiobook
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