Walking up in wolf form isn’t a new thing for Mateo. But being asked to eat kibble is. Vile, horrible, dry kibble with a wet glop of whatever passes for food in the shelter where he’s currently being held captive. And held captive not by the well-meaning humans tending to the dogs in cages, but instead by his own body … which won’t shift. Fortunately, the shelter isn’t going to neuter him. Nah, they’re just going to put him down as an unwanted stray. Mateo’s only hope is to find a family willing to adopt him and keep him safe and whole until he can figure out what’s going on.
Somehow, Wes’ four-year old, Lily, is getting her way. Again. She wants a dog, and not just any dog. She wants the large scruffy monster in the cage. But appearances are deceiving because instead of being stand-offish or even aggressive, “Wolfy” is as gentle as a lamb and has a natural herding instinct when it comes to Lily. He’s patient, watchful, and all in when it comes to childish hugs. If only Wes could find a friend of his own. It’s been years since Lily’s father left him, and his recent attempts to date haven’t gone well at all. Fortunately, Wolfy is willing to listen and cuddle.
One morning, Wes lets Wolfy out to do his doggy business only to have a handsome and very naked man barge in the door claiming to be a werewolf, a werewolf who needs his help.
Wolfy feels very much a book of two parts, and the don’t join up quite perfectly. In the first half, Wes, his daughter, and their new “dog” are settling down to life. There are bonding moments, cute moments, and sweet and charming moments where Lily is being precocious, Wes is being lonely, and Mateo is biding his time and trying to shift himself out of his wolf form. And then the tone takes a shift when Mateo gets his body back under control and it’s off to go be a werewolf.
Wes, in the first half, is an empathetic and kind man who just happens to be a little lonely for some adult company. He loves his daughter, but it’s been four years of being alone and he’s tired of every date being only about sex and almost never about the chance of a relationship. He’s not going to upset Lily’s life for someone who doesn’t mean it. But in the second half, Wes becomes less developed. Instead of building off of what and who he was before, it feels a though a second character was brought in — similar, but not quite the same — to stare wide-eyed at wolves and get jealous and sulky at the realization that Mateo, who he met as a man only that morning, had a life before Wes.
Mateo is interesting in that he’s neither an aggressive and dominant alpha, nor a weak and submissive beta/omega. While he is a beta in his pack, he’s also a born alpha, capable of receiving and using the alpha’s power when needed. Even so, he doesn’t want to be an alpha. What he wants is to fall in love, to have a family, to have someone to take care of and to be taken care of in return. Maybe it’s just the books I’ve read in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a beta written so well. Mateo isn’t weak in any sense of the word. He just prefers to follow the lead of the person he loves.
This is really a pleasant read, and I think — though I’m not sure — this is set up to be the first in a series. The reason why Mateo ended up in the shelter is left unresolved and a strong side character is introduced at the end, along with a mention of witches and hunters and other supernatural beings. If so, I’ll be more than happy to read more of this author’s world.