Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Juliette Cross - Wolf Gone Wild

What's the worst thing that can happen to a werewolf? Unable to shift for three months, Mateo Cruz knows all too well. His wolf has taken up residence in his head, taunting him night and day with vividly violent and carnal thoughts. Convinced he's cursed, he needs the help of a powerful witch before he literally goes insane.
​Evie Savoie has always obeyed the house rules of her coven--no werewolves. They're known for being moody and volatile. So, when a distempered, dangerous werewolf strolls into the bar and almost strangles one of her late-night customers, she's ready to bounce him through the door. But the desperation in his eyes when he begs her to help him softens her heart and convinces her to bend the rules.
​What Evie doesn't know is that Mateo's wolf has a mind of his own. And now that she's in his sights, he wants only one thing. Her.

Comment: I've decided to read this book after some interesting recommendations about it last year, most likely at the end of the year in someone's "best of" or something. Since I like PNR in general, and shape shifters in particular, I told myself this had to go to the pile.

In this book we meet Mateo Cruz, a werewolf who feels he must have been hexed, for his wolf ("Alpha" as he calls himself) is stuck and he can't change, although he can't avoid Alpha's thoughts, something that can become tiring. He tries the help of the local coven, even though werewolves and witches aren't the best of allies usually, and that is how he meets Evie, whom he likes the more they get to spend time together. Alpha also likes Evie but his thoughts are more along the sexy line... 
Since Evie does seem to calm down Alpha, allowing Mateo to work with some peace, they start spending hours of the day together, but as time goes by will they be able to find a solution for the hex? Will they be able to remain just friends or will they give in to the attraction that they feel for one another?

This book has plenty of ingredients in the genre to make it a good read: likable main characters, a problem to be solved, an interesting community of paranormal beings and world building associated with it, many hints on possible secondary characters romances... so a mix of plot and characterization to make this an engaging story with clues on what might come next, to make the reader interested in following the series.

Nevertheless, I was somewhat...bored with some sections of this story. There's something about how the author put the words on paper that, while fluid and nothing out there in terms of style, still seemed pretty bland and inconspicuous. The words, the scenes are there but I failed to feel true empathy with what was happening or to care for the characters as I assume we were supposed to do. I think that since this was a new world, with interesting types of beings in it, there was a lot of exposition on this and that character, there are many hints but we didn't get to really understand the dynamics of everyone. It's as if we should want to know more but what is given wasn't shown in the best light for me.

The romance between Mateo and Evie is the focus of the story, as is the problem Mateo has with his inability to shift. Because he can't, Mateo fails to be focused, to control all his impulses and his wolf comes through more easily in Mateo's behavior. Some readers have commented how the wolf, Alpha, is a bit unbearable, in the sense he is mouthy and doesn't have an acceptable POV on women, etc, which is an opposition to Mateo himself, who is a sweet guy. I admit some parts felt they were just a way to enhance how different Mateo is from the wolf and I wish perhaps this part (wolf and human identities) had been more balanced.

Of course, it becomes very obvious why Alpha likes Evie and why her presence calms him down. The romance progressed well enough in terms of pace but everything else didn't feel it went as smooth. Mateo is worried about the hex and so on but it felt the plot was mostly there to create tension and delays between Evie and Mateo deciding they were attracted and wanting to be a couple because by the time we reach the last chapters and the hex problem is solved, everything is easy, without much apparent worry in the big scheme of things.  

The resolution to the big conflict wasn't a big deal... I assume the author wants to keep a more quiet or low level of angst style in the series, and some author hae done such series but I don't feel this was well achieved here. Mateo is a nice guy but I feel he wasn't an important enough person, nor fascinating on his own, to merit protagonist status. Evie was likable but one of many sisters, so a lot about her is set on whose family she belongs to... I can't explain properly but to me this couple felt very bland and without much development. They didn't feel intriguing enough, nor did their story feel special enough for me to want to keep up with this world and find out more about other characters.

All in all, this cute, easy to read... but not engaging enough, not surprising nor addictive and while it's a perfectly average read, entertaining and all, I just don't think the author went as far as she could to make this into a memorable world/romance.
Grade: 6/10

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