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Book Review: The Gentle Wolf, by Pia Foxhall (Perth Shifters #2)

The Gentle Wolf, by Pia Foxhall

Omega Aodhan Donne has buried his past, his life revolves around his chocolaterie, Little Star, a place where he creates sweet and happy memories. Demisexual, and used to being shoved in the friends category by the time he falls for someone, he throws all his energy into creating romantic moments for others in his store, neglecting his needs. His highlight for two years has been the man who visits his shop every Tuesday.

Beta Thomas Wilson is an historian who believes the past should be unearthed, working as the curator at Western Australia’s only shifter museum, educating children and adults about shifter history. Quiet and hard-working, he allows himself to visit Aodhan at Little Star once a week, as a treat.

When Aodhan decides he wants to get know Thomas better, he offers him a window into a complicated history that influenced the lives of shifters in the whole of Australia, and faces the possibility of Thomas learning too much about his dark past.

After deciding to take it slow, their unconventional relationship becomes a whirlwind, sweeping them up together and blowing open the doors hiding their painful pasts. They couldn’t face their truths alone, but if they’re willing to face them together, Aodhan and Thomas may get the love they’ve always yearned for.

Content warning (contains spoilers)
domestic emotional abuse, child sexual abuse

Rating: 5 out of 5!

I’m calling it now – this is the best book I’ve read in 2020. I loved Aodhan and Thomas so much, and they were so good for each other.

I’m a gay man who identifies as demisexual/gray-asexual, and many of Aodhan’s experiences and feelings as an adult really struck a chord with me. The author captures the emotions and worries of someone who is demisexual exceptionally well.

This is the slowest of slow-burn love stories, but I loved that. Both men have deep emotional scars from their past. I especially appreciate that their pasts weren’t presented and then – well, that’s over with, now on to the rest of the story. We are the sum of our history, and that can inform our emotions and needs. This is the case for Aodhan and Thomas. Over two years they have (unknowingly) laid the foundation for a strong relationship while becoming acclimated to each other. Watching these two men come to lean on each other for support was wonderfully sweet and gratifying.

While this is a shifter book in a genre that frequently treats the shifter subgenre as trope-laden connect-the-dots stories, The Gentle Wolf digs deeper. The personal histories, particularly Aodhan’s, can affect the larger world, and the hints of connections outside the immediate story setting were intriguing. I would especially love to hear more of the Noongar (SW Australia Aboriginal) shifters. Foxhall’s obvious respect for the Noongar culture and traditions is very much appreciated.

This is the second book in the Perth Shifters series, but I think it stands alone quite well. The first book (Blackwood) was enjoyable and worth seeking out (I rated it 4 out of 5) but it is by no means as deep or nuanced as The Gentle Wolf, though it is a good introduction to the author’s worldbuilding. I recommend them both, but I especially love The Gentle Wolf!

As a side note, between N. R. Walker, Keira Andrews, and now Pia Foxhall, I kind of want to spend a month in Australia to see all of the wonderful places mentioned in their books (and I know that still wouldn’t be enough time)!

Weight Loss A Go Go!

Well, here we go! As of today, Dan and I are participating in Centegra Hospital’s Optifast Program. You can find more info here, but here’s the short version:
•    12 weeks of nothing but Optifast shakes, bars, and soups.
•    8 weeks of transitioning back to real food
•    8 weeks of maintenance/consultation

During the first 12 weeks there are weekly classes, bloodwork, and metabolism monitoring. After that, there are monthly meetings/consultations, and follow-up with the program. This is a Really Big Deal, but it is something that we feel needs to be done.

Some Frequently Asked Questions:
Only Optifast products? Really?
We are supposed to have 7 servings per day. I’m taking the approach of a shake for breakfast, a bar mid-morning, soup for lunch, a bar mid-afternoon, a shake when I get home from work, soup for dinner, and a shake for “dessert”. Each serving has 175 calories, and has all of the necessary nutrients and fiber to keep us going.

Won’t you get hungry?
Really, these suckers are pretty filling. If anything, it’s going to be a bit of work to get 7 servings in!

Can you take a break, maybe have a salad or some celery?
Nope, not one bit. In fact, this creates a balance in your system, so if you suddenly shock it with, way, a salad, you can have some bad ramifications from the sudden influx of natural fiber, up to and including pancreatitis.

What about variety?
Well, the shakes come in powder and Ready To Drink “juice boxes” in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. The bars are chocolate, peanut butter chocolate, and strawberry. The soups are Garden Vegetable or Chicken. The good news is that calorie-neutral additives are A-OK. Herbs in the soup? Sure! Diet orange soda with the vanilla shake to make a creamsicle-flavored drink? Sure! Extracts/oils to add to the shakes to change up the flavor, like chocolate almond or vanilla mint? No problem. (Also: instant coffee in the vanilla shake may become my morning ritual!) I suspect that by week 12 we’ll be ready for something different, but there are enough options that we should be able to keep things moderately interesting.

Is it just diet? No exercise?
We’ll be doing exercise too! The program comes with a free 2-month membership at Centegra’s Healthbridge Fitness Center (and it’s just $100/month thereafter for both of us). We intend to start in on that soon (me next week, Dan the week after that since he’ll be traveling next week). I hope to sign up for a class or two, and probably spend a good number of our evenings there.

What is your goal weight?
Honestly, I don’t have a goal weight. I don’t want to become fixated on numbers. I’m at a size 42 waist right now. Size 38 would be great, and I haven’t been in Size 36 pants in decades. That would really tickle me. I like Dan’s approach: he wants to lose enough weight that he can ride every single roller coaster at Great America. That’s a good, attainable goal, I think. As far as what’s possible, we have friends who have lost over 50 pounds on this program, and some double that. It depends on metabolism, and how we apply ourselves and take the classes to heart.

Won’t you just gain all the weight back?
That is always a hazard. The purpose of the classes, consultations, follow-up, and exercise are to prevent that from happening though. As I commented at our initial meeting, I’m not interested in where I’ll be in 6 months. I’m more interested in where I’ll be in 5 years. This is a huge commitment, but it is a commitment to greatly improve both of our lives and so is well worth it.

Sounds expensive!
It’s not cheap. The sign-up fee is $950 per person, and food each week is $175 per person. All told, this program will cost Dan and me $5,500 or so, though the sign-up fee may be covered by FSA. It’s a lot, and has called for some sacrifices, but again: so worth it.

So that’s where we are right now. Watch Twitter and Facebook for updates throughout our adventure. Many, many thanks to Smackjackal, Stormy Kittyhawk, Shyhoof, Tugrik, and many others for providing the idea and inspiration to pursue this, and for showing the incredible possibilities which may lie ahead!

Tumblr post: evaunit08: miss-nerdgasmz: grandwhizbang: When you have to…

evaunit08:

miss-nerdgasmz:

grandwhizbang:

When you have to make your own food, and you’ve been watching too much food network lately

What you have before you are deconstructed, rustic chicken breast fritters coated lightly in breadcrumbs and toasted until crisp and golden- the sauce is a tomato, worcestershire, and vinegar reduction, with the vinegar for some brightness, and some brown sugar for sweetness to offset the umami of the chicken

I love what you’ve done with the presentation of your plate. it’s simple yet fun. it shows that you’re mature but you’re not afraid to show your inner child. However, with that being said, there is way too much sauce on the plate and the flavor could use more acidity. Your chicken is under seasoned. I feel like you could have used more salt. For these reasons, we had to chop you.   

on tumblr: http://ift.tt/1MhmOGz

Tumblr post: I’ve been reading romances lately, and a thought struck me. It’s comforting and even…

I’ve been reading romances lately, and a thought struck me. It’s comforting and even jealousy-inspiring to read of burning hot relationships and declarations of undying love, but in reality? Maintaining a relationship like that would be absolutely freaking exhausting! It’s an interesting reminder of the realities of relationships, and that holding up romance fiction as some sort of ideal is a really bad idea.

on tumblr: http://ift.tt/1LC4Zv2

Tumblr post: Amy Lane’s books keep me up far too late. So wonderfully written, and the relationships are so…

Amy Lane’s books keep me up far too late. So wonderfully written, and the relationships are so very sweet, and yet very real as well. I feel like I should feel silly for reading romances, but if I enjoy them and they make me feel good, then why the heck not?

on tumblr: http://ift.tt/1UYW7oM