Title: Running Wild
Author: Joely Skye
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Buy Link: Running Wild
Genre: M/M paranormal romance
Length: Category (203 Pdf pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest review by Jenre
Summary review: Another in the Northern Shifters series pairs sweet nervy horse shifter, Ri, with human Seamus. A pairing which worked for me but the story was a little too abrupt abrupt at the end.
The road to believing can be one wild ride.
A Northern Shifters book.
Seamus O’Connor thought his friendship with Zachariah Smithson was just that—a relationship born on one horrific night seven years ago. He never thought he’d end up inheriting the old man’s farm.
Tons of chores and hard work are nothing new for Seamus. The farm comes equipped with all he needs—and something he didn’t expect. Unsettling, late-night visits from Zachariah’s grandson Ri, a man who appears and disappears like a ghost.
Ri has had little contact with the outside world, with good reason. Horse shifters aren’t any human’s idea of normal. Plus, he’s wary of being the next target of the werewolves who took his twin brother. Trust his matchmaking grandfather to give him a reason to come home—Seamus.
As Seamus gradually learns the truth of Ri’s life, their relationship tentatively grows—and danger grows closer. For it was Ri who rescued Seamus on that terrible night long ago. Seamus is about to realize he’s had his own encounters with werewolves. He just doesn’t know it—yet.
I really like these shifter books from Joely Skye. Her characters always draw me in and I quickly become engrossed in her books. This book was no exception. It begins when a runaway nineteen year old Seamus is rescued by a horse from dangerous men he encounters on the road. The horse brings him to an elderly man, Zachariah, who shows him a gruff kindness. Fast forward 8 years and Zachariah has left his farm to Seamus in his will. When Seamus arrives at the farm he meets the horse who rescued him, and also Zachariah’s grandson, Ri. Ri is skittish and naive about the ways of the world, but Seamus finds that he is drawn to the strange young man who comes and goes as he pleases.
The best part of this book for me was the relationship between Ri and Seamus. Seamus is independent and practical, but has drifted through his life up until this point. His strong and steady personality is the perfect fit for the nervy and skittish Ri. He seems to know exactly how to gently coax Ri to stay, and yet also knows how to allow him his freedom. At times Ri exasperates Seamus but he recognises that Ri is lonely and is willing to help Ri and to be his friend. The author has managed to successfully combine the characteristics of a horse, strong and wild but with an inbuilt tendency for flight in times of trouble, with Ri’s personality and I liked the parts where we see Ri’s perspective on things. He’s protective of Seamus but by spending too much time as a horse he has an unbalanced perspective on how much danger they are in and I liked that Seamus was used to show Ri how things are in the human world.
I had mixed results about the introduction of Seamus’ ex-boyfriend, Pete. At times I liked the way he forwards the relationship between Seamus and Ri through the conflict he brings. However, I was disappointed by the way things turned out with Pete, especially because his behaviour was a little extreme towards the end and didn’t fit with what we learn of him when he first appears. It also didn’t help that the ending was a little abrupt, going from tense action to an epilogue very quickly. I had some sympathy for Pete at the end and it will be interesting to see whether the author continues with Pete’s story in a further book.
Fans of the series will be pleased by an appearance by Trey and Jonah (after all, it seems obligatory that Trey will pop up somewhere in a Northern Shifters book). In this case I liked the way that Jonah is a support for Ri. Other than these two characters, Pete, and a vaguely humourous couple of appearances by Seamus’ parents, the story is mostly focused on the main pairing. I was happy about this because I liked both characters and was invested in their relationship. I also liked that we get to see some of Ri’s feelings for Zachariah. His passing is handled sympathetically, allowing the characters to grieve in their own way, whilst also retaining the optimism to be found in a new relationship. His death is sad, but not overwhelmingly so.
There were a couple of other tiny niggles. Firstly, there are a few loose ends at the end of the book, mainly to do with Pete and with Ri’s brother and I’m hoping that further books will tie up those loose ends. Secondly, I was surprised by a couple of glaring name switches in the book which pulled me out of the story. This is very unusual for Samhain, and I’m hoping that they will have been ironed out, since I think I was reading an ARC.
Overall, this was a successful addition to this series. The writing was as strong as I’ve come to expect from this author and the characters were likable. Those readers who have been following this series will no doubt be pleased with this book, and even with the scenes involving Jonah and Trey, new readers could read this as a standalone, although you may want to read the previous books afterwards!