In Marriage Claws by Paige Cuccaro, Kate Affetto has a small family–her younger brother and the five other people that work in her diner. When billionaire Jack Pensione, whose company owns the building her diner is located in, wants to kick her out, Kate is determined to do anything to save it, if only to keep her employees employed. Then Jack, who is also a werewolf, offers a deal: marry him, which will allow him to become alpha of his pack, and he’ll let her keep the diner.
I started out really enjoying this book. Kate is fiercely devoted to those she considers her family, willing to fight to keep the diner open just so they could have jobs. Jack comes across as a bit of a charmer, easily amused by Kate and surprised when she refuses his invitation to his home to discuss his offer. Where it lost it for me, however, was starting with the introduction of one of Jack’s packmates, Lenny, as her brother’s boyfriend. She first meets him one night, not even knowing her brother, who lives and works with her, was seeing someone. Then the next minute George is announcing that Lenny is going to turn him into a werewolf and he was going to join Jack’s pack. Their whole relationship came out of nowhere and it seemed rushed, yet Kate accepts this announcement with only a little bit of upset, all while not completely believing werewolves were real.
I wasn’t totally cool finding out that my little brother believed he’d been secretly dating a werewolf for almost two months before I saw him feeling the big husky type dog-wolf scraps in the alley a few days ago. But then when is a good time to tell your overprotective big sister that you’re in love with a supernatural being and plan on becoming one yourself?
When Kate finally realizes that werewolves were real, due to the fact Lenny shifted in front of her, she’s a bit surprised but then easily accepts this, too. I would have expected the surprise, but not how quickly she decided she wanted to see Jack in his wolf form. The passage below happened right after she witnessed Lenny’s shift.
I looked at Jack, in his tailored shirt and expensive slacks. So civil and distinguished, sipping his wine. But inside the sexy Prince Charming of Wall Street lurked the body and soul of a wild animal–a beast–a wolf.
And a part of me couldn’t wait to meet it.
What also took away from the book for me was the changes in the characters. Kate went from being strong and independent to worrying about what the other wolves thought of her, as well as starting to believe the lies Marcus and Alexia were feeding her. It felt like the Kate at the beginning of the book would have approached Jack and demanded answers instead of taking their words and pulling away from him.
Jack goes from being charming to a bit of a jerk. He begins to pull away from Kate, and when she tries to tell him about something that happened, he’s not even willing to entertain that it was possible. Instead he says something that hurts her. It felt like both characters did a one-eighty personality-wise.
I found the situation with Alexia and Marcus to be a bit anti-climatic. Considering everything they put Kate through, I thought the consequences of their actions should have been worse. Instead, it felt like they were basically patted on the back and sent on their way.
So while I started out really enjoying the book, by the end I was left feeling so-so about it. If this was to branch out into a series, I’m not sure I would want to read the next one.
This book would be for readers who enjoy paranormal shifter stories. It would also be for those who enjoy the marriage of convenience trope.
There are two things Kate Affetto will do anything to protect: the younger brother she’s raised ever since their father walked out, and the small diner she’s managed to start from nothing in New York City. Things might not always be easy, but at least she gets to call all the shots and follow her own heart. That is until Jack Pensione, irritatingly gorgeous billionaire playboy and CEO/heir to the family empire shows up at her diner with an ultimatum: find $3 million to purchase the space, or vacate so it can be turned into condos.
But Kate isn’t going down without a fight. So when Jack offers a third option—marry him, and he’ll gift her the space—she agrees, knowing it’ll save the life she’s built for herself and her brother, and that the marriage will be over practically before it’s begun. After all, it’s not as if she actually likes Jack, or as if he’s actually attracted her at all… Little does she know he’s also a werewolf, that he’s vying to be the alpha of his pack, and that her problems are just getting started.