Marilyn Barr’s Sound of a Wylder Silence is the sequel to her award-winning Dance to a Wylder Beat. But I had not read the first in her series within the broader Wylder series before reading Sound of a Wylder Silence, and you won’t have to either. It is a great stand-alone, which is a sign of an accomplished storyteller and author. You will WANT to read Dance to a Wylder Beat after experiencing Sound of a Wylder Silence, and if you have read it, you will undoubtedly enjoy the return of the characters, including an Ephraim-shifter, in this historical/fantasy romance.

Sound of a Wylder Silence is the story of forbidden love in 1880’s Wyoming Territory between an Arapaho craftsman and the daughter of Wylder’s founding family, whose plans for her do not include a quiet life in Wylder. After returning from her school in New York, Ava Wylder is thrust into the midst of the town’s Christmas party. She seeks solitude—a refuge from all the noise—where she can read one of her cherished books.

Ikshu’s silence resulted from an earlier trauma. Nobody understands him until Ava Wylder crashes into his hidden corner. But he has to face haunting memories and crippling fears if he intends to fight for the woman he loves.

The opening scene pulled me into the tale of Ikshu and Ava. Despite their families’ opposition, Ikshu and Ava are drawn to each other through their shared desire to escape the bustle and din surrounding them.

Barr has crafted a page-turning fantasy/romance in Sound of a Wylder Silence with themes of forgiveness, acceptance, courage, and swoon-worthy romance. I loved Ava’s strength and self-awareness, Ikshu’s struggles with his conscience, and the softness of the words Barr used to communicate their needs. Reading Sound of a Wylder Silence was like slipping beneath a comforter and sipping warm cider by the light of a gentle fire. Even though this is a tale of life in 1880, people who long to escape the overwhelming noise of modern life will identify with Ikshu and Ava and root for their success.

Excerpt:

“I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.” The words fly out of my mouth before I can stop them. The curtain swishes behind me as I step from behind it…

Her eyes widen before they roam over my body with brazen appreciation. The act compels me to fidget with anxiety. The tip of her tongue touches her bottom lip, and her eyelashes flutter. I sit at her feet, and the fluttering stops. Her eyelashes lift to hit my face full blast with her stare again. She’s practically panting with fear or something akin to it. We don’t move but sit in the quiet while the party fades from the background to another plane.

“I’m reading.” Her whisper is just as husky as mine. She delivers her words with a frown, but there’s no fire behind them. “I don’t like small talk, and I don’t want to hear your war stories. I’m not going to be impressed.”

“Then let’s not talk.” Three sentences in a row, and I’m home clear. I adjust my legs into a comfortable cross-legged position with my back to her. From this position, I can watch her reflection read in the window, hide from the party, and avoid disturbing her. I just hope she didn’t detect my sigh of relief when she said she didn’t want conversation. We sit in our quiet corner, but she doesn’t return to her book. She’s watching me as intently as I’m watching her.

Sound of a Wylder Silence will be available on October 12, 2022. You can preorder now.

For a limited time, Dance to a Wylder Beat is available for $ 0.99. Grab your copy while this promotion lasts.

Renee Johnson is the author of To Ride a Wylder HorseReminiscing Over Rainbow GelatoBehind The MaskHerald AngelsAcquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a sweet romance and a historical novel while editing a suspense novel with international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and two very spoiled German shepherds named Hansel and Hannah.