by Juliette Cross
Series: Stay a Spell #1
Also in this series: Don't Hex and Drive
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
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.
What a pretty cover, and the blurb caught my eye immediately. A wolf who can’t shift? A witch who could possibly break the curse? That sounded like some great forced-proximity goodness, and indeed it is, all packaged up in a sort of light paranormal rom-com! Also, there’s a zombie cat.
Evie is nerdy, loves comics and especially Star Wars, and has a heart bigger than New Orleans. Which certainly causes problems for her, especially when Mateo, a werewolf, comes to her family needing help breaking a curse that’s preventing him from shifting. All of the Savoie sisters are witches with different specialties, and Evie’s a hex-breaker. While the initial attempt to break the hex fails, Mateo realizes that just being around Evie makes Alpha calmer, so he bargains with her to spend a few hours a day with him. Well, we can all see where this is going, right?
“I don’t see how that’s a problem. To be trustful and kind isn’t a defect, Evie. It’s rather wonderful really.”
Evie’s such a sweet person, and I loved how geeky she was. She helps out at the family store and waitresses at a bar, but dreams of drawing comics. Her artistic endeavors were denigrated as childish by a previous boyfriend, so she’s reluctant to share them with anyone, especially Mateo, who works as a sculptor. Mateo was just about as sweet as Evie, and despite having zero idea about any of Evie’s fandoms, dives into them wholeheartedly, leading up to a particularly sweet Star Wars-themed date. Alpha, his wolf, however, was the absolute definition of an alphahole, one missed turn signal away from violence or screwing someone. For the most part, I found his comments hilarious, though it did veer into overkill a few times. Since the book’s told from both main character’s first-person POVs, it’s easy to get a good sense of each character, and it also added to the great sexual tension. Despite their obvious chemistry, Mateo’s reluctant to start anything with Evie until he has better control of his wolf, which leads to a lot of arguing back and forth with Alpha and definitely ups the tension.
“You think I can’t handle the big bad wolf?”
In terms of pacing, I loved the first few chapters and the last chapters, but found the middle slow. The building of Evie and Mateo’s romantic arc was great, but it felt like the plot thread about figuring out Mateo’s hex was completely backburnered. I would’ve preferred a more entwined story where both arcs were given equal time. The good thing about the focus being so much on the romance is that it keeps the storyline light and funny for the most part, so if you’re looking for a not-very-angsty paranormal, this would definitely fit the bill.
Overall, I’d give this around 3.5 stars, rounded up to four. There’s some definite sequel bait going on with Evie’s sisters, and II’ll definitely be watching for the next book!