Kensey Deaton comes from an elite werewolf lineage, but just because her family is royalty, doesn't mean she'll fall in line like some perfect little princess. She has plans and they don't include an arranged marriage!
Slade McAlister has his own family drama. His Alpha father happens to be the most reviled wolf on the eastern seaboard, and it's a stigma he can't escape. So when his neighbor Kensey--the girl of his dreams and his nightmares--proposes a solution to solve *both* of their problems, he sees an opportunity he can
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Every once in a while, a loud crash came from inside the house. Glass shattering, wooden furniture splintering. Hell. I was willing to bet six of my toes — and maybe my tail — that even the Monet wasn't safe from my father's wrath today. Then again, when your father was a Fire Wolf, a werewolf with an infinity for the fire element, a nasty temper was to be expected. One might even say it was part of his charm.
Probably not me, but, yanno, someone ...
It'd started out like any other Sunday morning. Four-course breakfast, decadent rose-scented bubble bath, followed by warmed, sinfully fluffy towels — and me hiding out in the kitchen scarfing down a microwaved breakfast burrito while trying to paint my toenails orchid — apparently the it color of the season.
My father had stormed in as I'd stuffed the last oversized piece into my mouth, a clump of cheese making its way down my chin in a very unladylike manner, and proceeded to give me the lecture. I'd heard it a thousand times before. Grow up, straighten out — take more responsibility. Except this time, there was a nasty little add-on to the speech I'd memorized. A single sentence that, when uttered, had turned my entire body to ice and begged that breakfast burrito to make an unwanted reappearance.
"Your days as an unclaimed wolf are at an end, Kensey."
There was more to it, of course, but it all kind of faded to black after that sentence. His words freaked me out so badly that I'd run — pretty much literally — from the house and didn't stop until I'd climbed to the top story of my childhood treehouse in the back yard.
Run up a tree like a cat.
By my own father.
This was a personal low for me.
So here I sat. Trapped in my own treehouse, waiting for my father to leave for the day. Scuffle off and do whatever alpha wolves did with their Sundays. At least it hadn't been boring. Someone in the house next door to us, the McAlisters, was having as crappy a day as I was.
The side door burst open, and a familiar figure stormed from the house. I hadn't seen him in a while, but Slade McAlister looked exactly the same as I remembered. Strong frame, shoulder-length, dirty blond hair, and a bad attitude hovering in the air above him like a black cloud. He got to the middle of the yard before the door banged open again. Gavin McAlister, Slade's leather-clad, motorcycle kingpin father, stomped outside after him.
"We're not finished," he barked. Gavin was the leader of the pack whose territory bordered ours.
"No," Slade replied without looking back. He kept walking, making his way toward the back of the yard. Our property, and theirs, was bordered by the Falcon State Nature Preserve. It was technically our territory, but we allowed the other members in the coalition — a collection of six semi-local werewolf packs — to run on it. "Pretty sure we are."
"I command you to stop," Gavin said with deceptive calm. The underlying tone was menacing but, more than that, held the air of authority more befitting of a dictator rather than a father.
Slade had no choice. He froze mid-stride and turned slowly to meet his father's gaze.
Gavin stalked forward and stopped a few feet away. "You are my only son, so you will do this for our family."
"No," Slade replied. "I won't. And I think we both know that I'm not your only son, so don't try to sell me that bullshit."
It was technically true. Slade was Gavin's only legitimate son, but everyone knew there were a few other siblings floating around.
Gavin growled and grabbed the front of Slade's shirt then hauled him off the ground like he was tossing an empty cup into the air. "You will. That is a command from your alpha." They stayed like that for a moment, and I had to give Slade props. Even I would have looked away before he did. When Gavin was sure his son was properly cowed, he set him down and took a step back. "You have two months."
Slade made a show of smoothing out the front of his worn leather jacket and rolling his shoulders then lifted his head to meet his father's gaze. "Two months? To do the impossible?" He laughed. "Clearly your age is getting to you."
"You're a strong wolf. An outstanding specimen and prime example of our species. You are pleasing to the female eye — I've seen the way they look at you. This shouldn't be that hard a task."
An outstanding specimen. Gavin sounded just like my father. We weren't their children. We were brood stock used to improve the herd. Poor Slade was getting the same ultimatum I'd just gotten. I might have felt sorry for him if I didn't hate him so much.
"You're forgetting about the blood that runs through my veins, sir. Blood the other packs in the coalition view as unclean. Unworthy."
"It's about time that changed. It is time to show them how worthy we can be."
"And how do you suggest doing that? There are exactly five girls of claiming age — none of which would consent to be in the same room as me, much less be claimed."
"You are your mother's son," Gavin said. My hearing was superhuman even in human form, but my eyesight was another matter entirely. It was a running joke among my family. The only near-sighted wolf in history. But, even though I couldn't see the exact details of Gavin's face, I'd bet the bastard was wearing a big fat grin. "Be as charming as she could be — on the rare occasion she wanted to."
Slade's heartbeat quickened, and he held his breath as Gavin turned and strolled back into the house. After his father was gone, he let out an enraged howl and slammed his fist into the tree behind him.
Once. Twice. Three times, and I could smell the blood.
I rolled my eyes. "Seriously?" I called out. "What did that tree ever do to you?"
His head snapped up. He knew exactly where to look.
We'd spent endless hours up in this tree when we were younger.
Until he turned into a dick like his father, anyway.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" He stalked across his yard and propelled himself over the wooden fence between our two properties.
You had to admire his bravery. Technically, he was stomping around uninvited on another pack's territory. Then again, stupid little details like that had never bothered Slade McAlister.
"Duh," I said as he reached the bottom of the tree. I settled on the edge of the small porch and dangled my legs over the side. Swinging them back and forth, I added, "I'm sitting in a tree."
"You were spying on me?" He glared up at me, tightening his fists, and I couldn't help noticing that his nose still twitched when he was angry. It'd been years since we'd spoken. I saw him in school once in a while, saw him coming and going at home from afar, but we hadn't had a conversation since the start of seventh grade.
"Get over yourself, McAlister. You're not that interesting."
"Careful, Princess. We're dangerous. You should probably watch yourself."
I snorted. "Watch myself? Why? Are you gonna come up here and get me?"
"What's the matt — Oh, that's right. You've got a thing about heights nowadays, don't you?"
It was mean, and a part of me felt bad about ribbing him. I didn't know exactly what had done it, but the rumor was that it involved his father and happened a few weeks after we'd stopped talking. Ever since then, it'd been kind of a joke in the wolf community. The badass son of the even bigger badass alpha. Afraid of heights. It'd eaten up some of his street cred, and he'd done double time trying to make up for it. Slade was bad news wrapped in a flashing neon warning sign and dipped in dangerous.
He glowered up at me, shoulder-length, disheveled dirty blond hair blowing in the wind. "What do you want?"
"Just commiserating." I pushed off the edge and plummeted to the ground, landing in a half crouch. "Sounds like we have the same problem."
"The same problem?" he repeated with a snort as I straightened and took a step back. He ran a hand through his messy hair and nodded toward my house. "Which one would that be, exactly? The being waited on hand and foot? The never ending supply of gourmet food? Or the undeserved adoration and respect?"
Respect? Seriously? That pissed me off.
I gave him a good, hard shove. "I think you know better than that, asshole. Girls don't get respect freely in our world. They earn it. And you better believe any I've got, I earned." Not that I got much respect. Pretty much the opposite. They all either treated me like a breakable porcelain doll — there to accumulate value as I aged like a fine wine — or as a leaper. Those who didn't fall all over themselves to gain my attention or approval avoided me like the plague. Like my rebelliousness might be catching or something.
He didn't miss a beat. He shoved me back — not as hard as I'd pushed him — and scowled. "Oh, I'll bet. Bat your big brown eyes and flip your wild red hair around while they all fall in line. Hard work, I'm sure."
I blinked. Once. Twice. Three times ... He'd pushed me!
I opened my mouth but couldn't force the words out. Unheard of. The daughters of an alpha were treated with kid gloves. Wined and dined and showered with excessive amounts of adoration and love. You wanted an eighty thousand dollar car to cruise around town in? Done. In the mood for an authentic croissant? Hop aboard the private plane and take a quick trip to France. Needed a peek at your favorite author's unreleased book? Don't worry. Daddy knows someone who can make that happen for you.
"Jackass." I shoved him again, this time harder. Of course, it barely registered. Guys like Slade didn't go down easily. If he'd been a normal human, I would have sent him flying. But seeing as how there was a wolf under all that great hair and deceptively charming smile ...
"Spoiled brat," he fired back. Then he did it again. He pushed me. Only this time, he didn't hold back — much. He knocked me on my ass. I landed on the ground with a thud and was left staring up at him in shock. He gave me one final, nostril-flared glare before turning on his heel and starting back toward his own house.
As I watched him go, my brain kicked into overdrive. Slade wasn't afraid to break the rules. He didn't care about formalities and our society's stone-aged patriarchal bullshit and had a reputation for causing a stir — his whole pack did. It's what had them teetering on the edge of being dissolved.
An idea took shape. A plan that, if successful, might just spare me from being pimped out to the bluest bloodline.
Pack daughters were married off to strengthen the bloodlines. It happened all the time, the daughters of alphas being forced into arranged marriages to wolves their fathers thought would improve the family.
Every several generations, a different high-profile family in the wolf community forced one of its daughters to tie herself to the son of another alpha. It merged our supernatural gifts, creating stronger wolves, and brought new blood into the fold — especially for a pack like ours that hadn't added a new member in almost a century.
But my life was worth more than the blood that flowed through my veins. I refused to allow my future to be dictated by my pedigree. If there was even the smallest chance I could do something to save myself ...
My father wanted me to start looking for a mate? "Choose one or I'll choose for you," he'd said.
Fine. Then I'd do as I was told. That's what women in our society did, after all. Obeyed.
I wondered how he'd feel about the Big Bad Wolf next door ...
I smashed my fist against the dashboard and cursed again. Piece of shit van had been giving me trouble for the last three weeks. Now the engine wouldn't turn over. Sure, I could have bought a new one. Could have bought an entire fleet if I wanted to.
But I'd have to use his money — and I wanted no part of it.
I turned the key one last time then let my head fall back. I could walk. The school was only about six miles away. For a wolf, that was equal to jogging out to the mailbox and back, but I didn't feel like it. Maybe it was best to skip it altogether. After the day I'd had yesterday, and the scuffle Gavin and I had gotten into this morning resulting from it, I wasn't in the mood to be around anyone. My wolf was more restless than usual and was looking for any excuse to cause trouble. I unfastened my seatbelt and had moved to open the door when a blast of cool air blew through the car.
The passenger's door slammed closed with a whine, but I didn't turn. I could smell her the second it opened. Honey and apples. Same as when we were kids.
"I can't believe you still have this thing."
I gripped the wheel and pulled in a deep breath. "What. Are. You. Doing. In. My. Van?"
"Obviously, I'm looking for a ride to school."
This time, I picked my head up. "A ride to school?" She was insane. Why the hell else would she crawl into my ride? After I'd caught her spying on me? "And gracing me with conversation two times in two days? I'm sure I'm not worthy of the honor, Princess." I reached across her and pushed open the door. "Now get out."
"First, stop calling me princess. It's annoying." She pulled the door closed again. "And second, could you act like less of a dick for just a minute? I have something to talk to you about."
I grabbed my travel mug and took a long pull. The coffee was ice cold already, but I didn't care. One of my pack brothers made it, and it tasted like crap hot or cold. No one in that damn house could make a decent cup of coffee.
"What could you possibly have to talk to me about?"
"I think we should date."
I'd just started to lift the cup again and froze mid-tip. The liquid missed my mouth and splashed into my lap. "You think we should what?"
She rolled her eyes and proceeded to fasten her seatbelt. "I don't mean for real."
"So you wanna fake date me?" I mopped up the spilled liquid with the end of my sleeve. Either someone had slipped her something this morning at breakfast, or she'd lost her damn mind. "How would that work, exactly? And why? Also, you're not my type. You've got no tits."
Her expression darkened. "Pretty sure you don't have the opportunity to be picky." She glanced down at her chest then up at me. "And my tits are perfectly fine, thank you very much."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
She scowled at me and pulled her shirt tighter. "There is nothing wrong with my — "
"Not that. Picky?"
She slouched back in the seat, making herself comfortable, and flashed me a knowing grin. "I heard Gavin yesterday. He's pressuring you to find that special someone."
Pressuring wasn't the right word. It was too ... tame. Gavin McAlister didn't pressure. He demanded. You did. End of story. If not, well, the repercussions were one of the many things that had given our pack a bad rep over the years.
"What's that got to do with you?" I tried to start the van again. Nothing happened.
"I got the same speech."
I snorted. "Highly doubt you got the same speech I did." Mine had included several blows to the face and a choke hold. Hers probably happened over tea and fucking biscuits.
"Whatever." She shrugged. "The gist was the same."
I gestured between us with a snicker. "And you think this is the solution?"
"Got a better idea?" She folded her arms. "Because I doubt any of the other eligible pack daughters will see your ... potential."
"And you do?"
"Course not." She waved a hand in front of her face and scrunched up her nose. "You smell like cigarettes and ..." She leaned a little closer, breathed in a little deeper, and her eyes widened just a bit. There were flecks of gold in them. I'd never noticed before. "Is that — is that beer I smell?"
I pressed my finger to her forehead and pushed her back. "How does pretending to date you help me?"
"It's a mutually beneficial arrangement."
"Pretending to date is mutually beneficial?"
"It solves both our problems. Your father won't be pressuring you, and mine won't be pressuring me. Win-win."
"Oh. Yeah. Sure. It's a solid plan." I tapped the side of my head and gave the keys another violent twist. Nothing happened. "Oh! Shit! But what about the obvious?"
She blinked. "Obvious?"
"You know — when they want us to actually claim each other?"
"Obviously we won't let it get that far. And really, how could it? I think it's fair to say, with no particular prejudice to either family, that no one will be thrilled to see us together."
Excerpted from "The Big Bad Wolf"
Copyright © 2018 Jus Accardo.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Big Bad Wolf by Jus Accardo is told from both Slade and Kensey's point of view. I loved their personalities. Kensey is the sweet, yet rebellious girl next door. Slade is the boy next door too except he's more like the boy from "the wrong side of the tracks". Neither have an ideal home life as their father's are Alphas which gives them the right to dictate the lives of their kids in their wolfy world. Their story brings us some light fun, but it also has dark elements as well. There is much going on in their lives, most is out of their control, but they are trying desperately to make their lives their own. This was a fast and engaging story. I read it in almost one sitting.. things like sleep and work always seem to get in the way. I can see how this could be turned into a series, but it seems to be a stand alone novel for now. I actually like it that way. Sometimes a good stand alone is just what I need! (Not that I'd be opposed to reading more!) The ARC of The Big Bad Wolf by Jus Accardo was kindly provided to me by the publisher for review. The opinions are my own.
Absolutely loved every second! If I could rate it higher than 5 stars, I would.
Kensey is part of a royal werewolf family. She's still in high school, but her father thinks it's time for her to be claimed and that means she'll have to choose a partner. If she doesn't her father will arrange a marriage for her, which is exactly what he wants and he already has a partner in mind, a creepy wolf Kensey doesn't want to marry. Kensey has a plan though. She'll ask her childhood best friend Slade to start a fake relationship with her. This should give both of them the freedom they so long to have. Slade's father is a detested and aggressive alpha and Slade wants to get as far away from him as possible. Will their plan succeed? Kensey's father isn't happy with Kensey's choice to date Slade. Slade's family has a reputation he doesn't approve of and therefore he doesn't want his daughter to go out with the wolf she knows so well. He doesn't accept his daughter's choices without measures and Kensey and Slade have a tough road ahead of them to be convincing as a couple. However, while they're giving it a try their feelings become more real. Is their arrangement going to be a disaster or will they manage to make it work? The Big Bad Wolf is a wonderful romantic story. I love reading about shifters and really liked the way Jus Accardo portrays them. Kensey's from an elite family and that means she'll have to follow certain rules. She isn't happy with them, especially not with the choices her father has already made for her. Her whole future is depending on the relationship she has with Slade and I couldn't wait to find out if her father would go ahead with his plans for her marriage or if she'd have a chance to make decisions about her own destiny. I loved that idea for a story. Slade is a sweet guy and he's perfect for Kensey, but he does have quite a few issues. Being with Kensey is exactly what he needs and I kept hoping they'd find a way to make their plans work. Jus Accardo's writing flows easily. It was fun to read about the wolf part of her main characters as well as their emotional struggles and relationship issues. I was intrigued by her story straight away and liked the direction she's chosen. Kensey and Slade are werewolfs, but they also have regular teenage issues, which is a combination I liked. The Big Bad Wolf is vibrant and entertaining with a nice layer of depth and plenty of true love. I really enjoyed reading this amazing story.
I like my shifter romance to follow the mythical rules and this one reminded me more of a religious family wanting to marry off there daughter. This is probably the first shifter novel that doesn't follow the rules that I didn't hate. The story was engaging and entertaining. The wolf reminded me of a set of outback hillbillies and I liked this quality. Kensey is the alpha daughter. Her father is the head of a region of wolf packs. It is expected Kensey will find a mate soon. Unfortunately for her, the options of suitors are anything but appealing. She needs to come up with a plan which will get her father off her back. Slade's family are dysfunctional and so is his pack. His father is an unpleasant fellow and a bully. Slade dreams of escape his personal nightmare but it isn't that simple. He has a reputation for being a stereotypical bad boy and a bit of his loner. The other packs see him as undesirable. Slade and Kensey used to be friends. Now they seem to be on different pages. She's the princess and he's a rebel. Kensey sees Slade interacting with his father and an idea is formed. Operation Big Bad Wolf may just save them both. Que fake relationship and some dug up all feelings. This book had some funny parts and interesting ideas. It took me a little while to get into this book but I enjoyed the story. I just felt the beginning needed something more. This was an enjoyable read. 4 stars out of 5. *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
"I promise, I'm 100 percent committed to our fake relationship."--Slade I always forget how much I enjoy Jus Accardo's writing when I let too long go between reading her books--and The Big Bad Wolf is no exception. I loved the twists she brought to this shifter romance--Kensey definitely wasn't the "good girl" to Slade's bad boy, and the Romeo and Juliet slant to their story (minus the mamby-pamby attitude and the horrible ending, of course)--not to mention Kensey's fabulous t-shirt collection--made this book one heck of a fun read. I'm not going to lie--I also spent the last 15% or so blinking back tears, both the good kind (at the end) and the bad (a little earlier. Darn you, Slade). Fingers crossed that Ms. Accardo is going to bring us more from this universe, because the idea of each pack alpha having certain talents is intriguing, though not fully explored here. Plus, I definitely wouldn't mind reading a story from Risa's POV... Rating: 4 stars / B+ I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
I read my first Jus Accardo book back in 2012 and sort of drifted even though it was really good. Then, when Rules of Survival came out, I snagged a copy. It was a 5 star read! Loved it! So I went on to read the first two books in the Infinity series and they rocked. It should come as no surprise that The Big Bad Wolf was another fantastic read by Jus Accardo! Kensey was scrappy and stubborn. I loved that about her character! Being resilient and trying to buck traditional female rules kept her an exciting heroine with a positive message. Then there's Slade. He's the dark, damaged, and brooding character that screams trouble. And for the most part, he is. The character love intrest duo complimented each other in a way that made you root for them even when you wanted to scream at them for doing something stupid. In my opinion, that just means the book was good enough for me to care. Without spilling anything too important, I'll stop my review. BUT, go; go now and grab a copy of The Big Bad Wolf by Jus Accardo. You won't regret it. This modern day beauty and the beast story is a solid five glittery star read!
This is a very different take on the rich princess and the pauper, shifter style! Kensey Deaton is the daughter of a high ranking Alpha, a leader of the coalition of werewolves. Slade McAlister is the son of the abusive, renegade Alpha, a low life criminal, who is looked down upon by all the other shifter Alphas. They live next door to each other and, as children, were very close. Hierarchy, expectations and parental pressures all drove them apart but now her father is planning on arranging a marriage for her and she’s rebelling. Her solution is simple - pretend to be dating and in love with him! Can they pull it off? Can they fool their Alphas? What happens when pretending isn’t enough? This is a young adult shifter romance, with alternating chapters being told by the two main characters, giving readers an insight into their feelings, experiences, dreams and fears. It is so easy to relate to the two main characters in this story, making this another brilliant Teen read from Entangled. This time the initial friendship between the youngsters was broken deliberately but now has a chance to heal and develop into something more substantial, especially as the attraction between the two is still there, alongside some great memories. The pack politics may, however, be (ab)used by her father to force them apart. Can love find a way for them? This is a page turner that I hope will develop into a series. If you enjoy paranormal romance in a more contemporary style then I highly recommend you give this one a go - I really enjoyed escaping into it! I requested and received a copy of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review after choosing to read it.
The Big Bad Wolf by Jus Accardo is a werewolf YA novel in a high school setting. Kensey Deaton is the daughter of an alpha of elite lineage but she is of age and her father is threatening to pair her off and if she doesn’t choose someone to marry he will pick for her and in her culture the Alpha’s word is literally impossible to disobey. When she hears her neighbor, the bad boy of the werewolf world, from a reviled and downtrodden clan, Slade McAlister, getting the same speech from his alpha father she hatches a plan to get them both off the hook. For each the other is a forbidden fruit. Kensey is too good for Slade, and he, and everyone else, knows it. But only he knows the real reasons why. As they both go deeper into their fake relationship, it becomes more real and more dangerous. I liked how tough Kensey is, not the fragile princess she is perceived to be. In many ways she brings out the best in Slade and frees him from his own shackles to be a better person. Because they are physically neighbors, there is a history that they share up to a point and this gives them common ground, though their families are vastly far apart. Jus Accardo gives us both a detailed and complex world, and also characters with real issues who need each other for more than just the reasons they think. Overall I enjoyed the path that Kensey and Slade took and their development and growth as characters. They more they were together, the more I liked them. I recommend The Big Bad Wolf by Jus Accardo as an intense and interesting novel with a romance that deepened and grew and characters who have a lot more in common with each other than they could have imagined. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
I've been on a mission to read more werewolf books this year so when I heard about Jus Accardo's The Big Bad Wolf I needed it and pronto. I mean, elite werewolf lineage, a fake relationship, and a broody, hot next door neighbor? It sounded like things were about to get interesting and dramatic. The result? The Big Bad Wolf is suspenseful, charming, and romantic. If you love a good enemies-to-lovers romance as much as I do, you're sure to enjoy it! The Big Bad Wolf introduces Kensey and Slade, former best friends turned enemies. While Kensey comes from an elite family, she's never left their prim and proper ways stop her from speaking her mind. Kensey is gutsy, fierce, and true to her word, but she also possess a tiny bit of vulnerability, especially when it comes to teens her own age. She's never had a close group of friends. The vulnerability made her more relatable, in my opinion, and I enjoyed seeing her let loose over time, fully embracing Slade and his friends. Slade, on the other hand, is best described as a bad boy. He has a big reputation, but at the end of the day, all he wants is a simple life, specifically one far away from his father. I loved Slade's cockiness. He was full of himself for sure and he knew exactly how to push Kensey's buttons. It was just so much fun to read about it. The banter between these two always had me laughing and smiling. Now for the plot. Jus has a lot going on here. There's Kensey and Slade's enemies-to-lovers romance/fake relationship, tension between the packs, and family drama. I found the romance to be satisfying. There was plenty of chemistry and swoon. The tension between the packs also made things the perfect amount of dramatic, but I wish there had been more development/background given. We received a very small glimpse into their world, and I didn't always follow how everything worked. I wanted more about the different packs...How was the power divided? What powers did each pack posses? What was the rest of the werwolf community like? Why didn't anyone address the unhappiness of the women in the community? I had a lot of question, but little answers unfortunately. I also would've liked more background on the families. For instance, I liked Slade's sister a lot but she was barely around, and Kensey's siblings were almost nonexistent. If you can overlook the lack of development and focus on the main characters instead, I think you'll find The Big Bad Wolf an enjoyable read.
"The Big Bad Wolf" is a YA fantasy that follows Kensey and Slade, next door neighbors and werewolves in two different packs. Kensey's pack is wealthy and in charge of most of the decisions with a coalition of the packs in town- they are the upscale pack. Slade's pack is the one everyone wishes did not exist- they commit all sorts of crimes and violence. Slade and Kensey are both looking for escape (although different kinds). Female werewolves tend to not fare well- they are often given to another male to make connections or strengthen the packs, and as a result, suicide rates are high. Although Kensey has not yet finished high school, her father has given her an ultimatum- choose a mate or he will choose for her. To make matters worse, his choice is Carter, who physically and sexually assaults women (and has assaulted her in the past). To be fair, her father seems unaware of this and things get marginally better once he figures it out, but it's a symptom of a bigger problem that Kensey does not feel she has a choice/cannot tell him about this. The ingrained sexism in the werewolf packs runs deep and is present even in Kensey who has really internalized the sexism of their culture (for example, views other girl's clothing as exposing their "bimbo-bits"). Slade has been physically and emotionally abused by his father, Gavin, who also forces him (as the pack alpha) to hurt others and commit crimes. He is looking for a way to escape, but it is nearly impossible to leave one's pack. To cope with all of this, he frequently turns to alcohol and is an undiagnosed alcoholic. He has had a crush on Kensey- until an event which separated them, they were the best of friends- but he thinks he is no good for her and will avoid a real relationship at all costs (and this conversation happens quite a few times). The story is somewhat a werewolf Romeo and Juliet, and in many ways, it delivers on this along with the premise of a fake-relationship-turned-more (which is something I typically enjoy). However, there are so many bigger issues and concerns (assault, abuse, alcoholism) that are left unaddressed in favor of the romance. The sexism is pretty rampant also, and even Slade is constantly sure he knows what is best for Kensey (because of course she couldn't possibly know her own mind in terms of their relationship). As a fan of Accardo's Infinity Division series, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Maybe I set the bar too high, but I found myself disappointed by the myriad of big issues (mostly) swept under the rug. I would have liked to see some resources and problem solving of these major issues, especially in a YA book. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
The blurb of this book gave me high expectations before I even turned to the first page. It did not let me down. Kensey and Slade have been next door neighbors for years, and were friends up until a few years ago. Both get an ultimatum from their fathers to claim a mate. Kensey and Slade hatch a plan to fake a relationship to get their fathers off their backs. I couldn't put this book down. I loved the world and the characters. Kensey and Slade are each trying to be their own person in a world that makes you put everyone else first. The only reason this is a four star and not a 5 star read was I found some consistency issues. A few things were mentioned as character flaws, but were never brought up again. I kept expecting something to happen to make the character overcome a flaw, but then it was like it never existed. I would love to read more stories in this world. I received an advanced readers copy for an honest review.