Reviewed by: Lexi
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Summary: Will has a temper as wild as the bear he holds inside. Normally he’s an easy-going, caring guy, but if someone crosses him, he uses his claws and shifter strength to set them straight. His temper ruined his chance at the career he wanted, but now he’s working at Wild R Farm, enjoying the camaraderie and longing for more with one special man.
No one at the farm knows much about Ryan. He’s done time in prison and he carries scars that tell of something horrible in his past. When he gifts Will with one of his rare smiles, Will decides to do whatever it takes to get him to smile more often. Will is used to being a protector, and even when he learns Ryan’s dark secrets, he refuses to turn away. What he doesn’t realize is that he needs Ryan’s quiet strength as much as Ryan needs someone to show they care. Ryan’s past threatens to send him running, but Will and the rest of the crew of Wild R prove that no matter the danger, they take care of their own.
Review: Will was the bear shifter Tristan met in captivity in the last book, Taming Tristan. He was strong, capable but never stayed in one place too long. His bear had a temper and more often than he would care to admit, he ends up scaring people. He feels he lost out on the opportunity to become a vet and carried around the worry he would once again fail to control of his bear, thereby losing this new life he was starting to build on the Wild R.
Ryan was the skittish human who didn’t speak much and occasionally would gift Will with shy smiles that Will desperately wanted more of. Ryan’s past was dark and dangerous, but anyone who watched how he handled the horses under his care knew, that despite what came before, Ryan was a good person. Not that Ryan wanted believe it.
Will made Ryan want things he hadn’t wanted with anyone for a very long time. Will was gruff and growly, but he didn’t scare Ryan. When Ryan saw Will shift for the first time, and I thought maybe Will’s bear helped Ryan to come out of his shell a bit because he wasn’t great with people but he was excellent with animals.
The details of Ryan’s past were divulged a bit at a time and several times I was ready to take Will to the side and council him that he too needed to share. When Ryan’s past rose up to threaten Will and the ranch, Will needed to do some fast talking and quick maneuvering to keep Ryan from running. Being on his own for so long, never fully trusting anyone, Ryan didn’t know how to lean on his friends at the ranch.
There came a point near the end where I had to disagree with Will. Personally I would have hogtied and put Ryan under the bed instead of allowing him to participate in a search. I had a conniption fit myself and a, “Oh, no, you did not!” moment. Somebody needs to sit down with that boy and explain to him there are things you never, ever do.
In the end both Ryan and Will changed, each giving the other something that prompted them to strive to be better. They discovered they both had a strong circle of friends who were more like family. The sweet moments of their growing relationship caught fire turning smoking hot. I enjoyed that Ryan’s issues didn’t magically go away, nor did Will’s insecurities over his bear’s temper. Something else to note, the Wild R was full of people who’ve been drawn bright and vivid so that even as I’ve read through the series, they didn’t turn faceless… and reminded me why I bought a roll of duct tape for Wes and Tristan.
If you like shifter stories, growly and impatient bears, battered souls, a place where friends are more like family, with a bit of action, then you may enjoy Willing Hands.