Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Title: Wolf Gone Wild
Author: Juliette Cross
Rating: ★★★ (3/5)
Description: 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.
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Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette Cross is book one in a new romance series by the author. The book takes place in the fantastical city of New Orleans and features all manner of supernatural creatures from vampires to werewolves. It follows Mateo, a wolf cursed to be unable to shift, who seeks the help of a hex-breaker witch. He finds who he's looking for in the powerful family and coven of the Savoie sisters, key among them is Evie who specializes in the kind of magic he's seeking.
The book is a darker telling of supernatural creatures that lurk in the shadows of a well-known city. The detail the author puts into the world of witches. werewolves, vampires, and grims is, pardon the pun, magical. There's definitely a rough way about the writing that adds to the overall ambience we experience. The author demonstrates such a creative take on the, admittedly, oversaturated werewolf genre we often see in fiction.
Saying that, there's a disconnect between the writing and the story that just doesn't perfectly click. The writing style is very direct and lewd in some instances. Nothing is left unapproached and is done so with the subtlety of a jackhammer. Ultimately the issue arises in that the writing contains a lack of cohesion.
As Mateo struggles with his inner wolf, he is initially shown as a character with sharp and jagged edges that make him hard to get a handle on. There's a gruff tone to the perspective of Mateo that is exuded from every word he says and thinks. Later on we discover his more tender and courteous nature, the exact opposite of his wolf. Honestly it's hard to understand the relationship between wolf and man as they battle for control.
The dialogue between wolf and man in the singular body of Mateo is unusual but isn't entirely out of place. The reader struggles to tell how much of the somewhat repulsive thoughts from the wolf should be attributed to Mateo - if at all. And, while at the beginning the inner wolf dialogue is presented alright, later on it becomes juvenile in a way that doesn't fit right as you read this romance between two adults. If a back-and-forth internal monologue isn't your thing this may not be the read for you.
Evie, while a likable enough character on her own, truly comes to life in the company of her sisters. Their coven consists of the sisters Evie, Jules, Clara, Violet, Isadora, and Livvy - two of whom are sadly not present for most of the book. But the remaining sisters more than make up for it with the unique personalities and gifts they bring to the table. The most grounding part of the story revolves around their sisterly bond and witchcraft. For the most part, their dynamic carries the story, not the predominant romance that takes up a significant portion of the reading time.
Side characters have quite a strong presence that makes them feel more involved in the story. A few characters can fall a little flat at times, excluding my appreciation for the sisters. Many of the characters' dialogue can be superficial to the point of annoyance. Aside from that though you can still empathize with them in some regards. Sadly, though, there seems to be an over abundance of characters that could have been trimmed significantly - even excluding the sisters from this.
Wolf Gone Wild contains more aspects of world building and development compared to other romances I've read. Information is more thorough in what could have been a very vague world. Rules for the world set in place provide a strong outline for the events that take place. In some moments, though, the world building, while ambitious, does become unclear. It's definitely a romance novel but it also has hints of a traditional fantasy style setup to it.
In my experience reading Wolf Gone Wild, I found the immediate affection and trust between Mateo and Evie to be unrealistic in that it is practically instantaneous. The romantic tension was too much too soon. The romance and the emotions associated with it can jerk you around a bit. They kind of direct the reader through their own emotional whiplash that flips on a dime.
Despite that there is an underlying intensity to the romance even if some elements may fall a little short. Once the relationship between Mateo and Evie is founded, it flows much better
Moments of pure romantic bliss are spread throughout to keep the reader attached to continue into the book with an actual caring for what is blossoming between Mateo and Evie.
Sex and general intimacy are well written to understand the connection between Mateo and Evie. There sensuality shines through in these scenes with a balance that is well done between Mateo and Alpha, his wolfish alter-ego. These scenes are easy to breeze through and enjoy. While there aren't necessarily an abundance of sex scenes, which could be a good or bad thing depending on who you ask, the author makes them count.
Chapter beginnings are a bit jumpy for the duration of the book but somehow that makes them even more intriguing. There's a lot of amusing pop-culture references that bring the work into a very current mindset. Sequences of events can feel a bit too fast paced though. Background knowledge is thrown haphazardly into the reader's face. Sometimes it feels like the author just put in information at the last minute to justify an already established point.
Scenes meant to be cute and fluffy deliver on their promise as being fun to read. Conflicts can be perceived as vain and surface-level which changes the seriousness one views them with. Sentences and thoughts can be downright cheesy to read. Some of the dialogue becomes a bit redundant in its endless repetition. It just doesn't come across as smoothly as the reader would like.
The mystery of it all keeps the reader contented but not enough clues are given to make the reader invested in solving it. Learning about the witches and their abilities as they work on a solution to Mateo's curse proves to be an interesting read. The twist, while I didn't see it coming, could have been better established with more interactions between the people involved. The climatic scene is very intense but the issue arises in that it happens too suddenly with little buildup. In the end leading into the epilogue, the writing felt abrupt and unfinished.
Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette Cross is definitely a book I think anyone can pick up and have a different reaction than mine. It was a good book, undoubtably, but there were some instances where I just didn't find it to fit what I wanted it to be. But it can be a genuinely entertaining book, it's just about finding the hidden gems of scenes and moments along the way and I'm sure some other readers will find these to be well worth it.
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