I have been TEARING through these Shelly Laurenston books. Quippy, fun, off-the-wall shifters getting paired off in mismatched pairs like Noah’s Ark having a wife swap night. Lots of personality, lots of fun, lots of action, lots of sexy times, and hardly any big ol’ angsty drama.
THESE ARE SO MUCH FUN.
Okay, I have burned through an entire series, so I’m going to see if I can knock all these out really fast.
The books below are all Shelly Laurenston, and all from the Pride series. In order:
Him: Filthy rich arrogant shifter lion male.
Her: Brassy Puerto Rican cop human.
Meetcute: childhood friends reconnected.
Mason is such an arrogant bastard, you just have to like him. He’s a lion male shifter, so it comes with the territory. Mason comes back from his stint in the military to 1) find the girl of his dreams he met long ago and 2) start a security company.
It was fun to hear how the two interacted way back in the day, when he was a little pre-growth-spurt weirdo with long out of control mane-like hair, and she was the scholarship kid in a school full of snobs.
Desiree is pretty great, too. A take-no-shit NYPD officer that has two huge German Shepards she has trained to be nasty police dogs. Cats hate dogs. She is a dog person. Hardy har, get those jokes going.
And mostly the sex. Lots of sexy sex. I had figured that the beginning of the series would be filled with sexiness and tension, and it was. Yes, it very much was.
Desiree has the reaction to finding out about his shifter abilities as I probably would:
“That is SO COOL!”
Their dialogue is the kind that you can almost hear out loud.
“He has a rap-sheet that’s longer than your dick.”
“Wow, that must be HUGE.”
Part 2: Brenden Shaw’s story.
Him: Filthy rich owner of hotel chain, lion male shifter.
Her: Redneck she-wolf shifter straight from Tennessee, beta female to the Smith Pack in New York, who works at Mason’s (and Bobby Rae Smith’s) security company.
Meetcute: He is almost killed by Hyena shifters, and she takes care of him while he heals.
Brendan and Ronnie Lee have a cute time (I mean, who can turn away a nurse-back-to-health plot line?), but Brendan seemed a little lacking in personality. It was fun to watch him go through The Fever, as they do when they are recovering from really bad wounds. It makes them go a little loopy, and also get really horny (because: shifters).
At one point Brendan, delirious from his fever, does the mambo in lion form. Hilarious.
There is some naughty schoolgirl role playing in this story, so, uh, if that bothers you?
What are you reading, Wendy?
Oh, you know, human-animal hybrids playing out kinky schoolgirl fantasies. Nothing special.
The Beast in Him
Him: Redneck wolf-shifter, co-owner of security company, alpha male of the Smith Pack in New York
Her: Ubernerd tech genius, filthy rich African Wild Dog shifter, alpha of the wild dog pack.
Meetcute: childhood friends reconnected.
This was one of my favorites.
Bobby Rae (or Smitty) is a smooth talking Southern boy, with charm and that laid back demeanor that is really just veiled control. I like those leaders that don’t lead with outward aggression, stomping and yelling and things. I liked the way he handled things.
But I LOVED the Wild Dog Pack.
Omg, these shifters are ridiculous.
I didn’t know much about African Wild Dogs before I started reading it. Did you know they decide to hunt by consensus? They prep for hunting with playing, and then they “vote” with a sneezing sound. Dogs higher in the hierarchy need less votes to start the hunt.
They are extremely social, almost always together, love to play, and vote on major decisions.
Pretty sure Laurenston read the same Wikipedia article I did and based her characters accordingly.
The wild dog pack in the book are goofy, smaller humans, full of energy, and they love to play. Karaoke, role playing games, comic cons, you name it. They are fiercely protective of their children.
They are so. Much. Fun.
The goofballs of the shifter world. It really takes the wind of the sails of the super angsty shifter books.
Do you think Twilight would be such a hit if it was about a love triangle between a human, a vampire, and an ADHD nerd-tastic goofball African Wild Dog Shifter?
Bobby Rae begrudgingly deals with the goofballs while maintaining his serious wolf demeanor as much as possible.
Jess, at first, is out for blood. She was a nerd in high school, and was hopelessly in love with Bobby Rae. At that time he was your typical star quarterback, and had friend zoned Jess for unknown reasons. Now she comes back in his life, wearing a kick ass dress and heels, fabulously rich and a rockstar in the tech industry. Take that, asshole!
Turns out he always liked her! Daww!
It’s never explicitly mentioned, but there is an insta-love mate-bond thing going on. Usually it’s a look (or a sniff), and one or both of them are inexplicably hooked. They will never love another ever again. There usually isn’t any kind of elaborate ritual, but the wolf shifters do “mark” their mates. Ya know, take a big bite of them.
I’m cool with it.
Shifter novels sometimes go in too deep with the insta-love, mate-bond rituals, pack politics, and what have you. The main purpose this series, though is TO BE FUN. So they don’t worry about it overly much.
The emotional conflict of the story is Bobby Rae’s self-control. As in, he has too much of it. When they finally get together, he takes her hand and wants to go somewhere private to “mark her proper” and she will not stand for it.
Smith is from a long line of crazy ass shifters that maul first and ask questions later. Bobby Rae prides himself on being the sensible one, and he represses that side of him.
But Jess wants all of him. And she won’t stand for less.
Hell yeah, girl. Go for it.
It was pretty damn fun.
The Mane Attraction
Him: undercover cop, younger brother of fabulously rich hotelier, male lion shifter
Her: Tennessee redneck trouble maker, female alpha of the New York Smith Pack, sister of Smitty
Meetcute: buddies to lovers, hiding out together in hometown
When I started to read this book, I liked Mitch. The younger ne’er-do-well brother secretly an undercover cop? Too cute!
I was intrigued by how he was nice to Ronnie, and nobly accepting his fate as The Ne’er Do Well Brother as good cover for his job.
Now that I have read the whole series, I can’t stand the man.
OMG he is too much. After this novel, he is hooked up and no longer needs to be an interesting character, so he becomes a caricature of the outspoken annoying guy in the group. He is always in the middle of everything, eating people’s food, demanding he be waited on, just generally annoying the shit out of everyone.
I wasn’t too happy about focusing on Sissy Mae, either. I was still attached to Jessie from the last book, and Sissy had bullied Jessie when they were in high school.
At times, they were too annoying together. But in general, it was fun. It was fun to see them in the Smith Pack’s hometown. It was great that they solved pack issues with football. Throwing each other around her childhood home was adorable.
Greatest part: two lions playing tug-o-war with the “pet” alligator in the Smith lake.
The Mane Squeeze
Him: Grizzly Bear Shifter, former Navy SEAL turned computer programmer, secret artisanal furniture craftsman, friends with Jess Ward.
Her: Half Tiger/Lion Hybrid Shifter, plumber, half sister to Mitch Shaw, Philly native.
Meetcute: startles him (in grizzly form) awake to use his rage against the lions trying to kill her. They fall off a cliff together.
Alright, here we go. Bear shifters!!!
I love them. I love their dopey, pottering ways. I love that they are chill and go with the flow. I love that they are curious to a fault, and easily startled.
And her name is Gwen! This basically means it is fate for me to marry a bear shifter. Right?
It was fun to see shifters at a retreat. They can lounge or hunt in their shifter form. You don’t see them very often in their shifter form in these novels.
And, dawwww LOCK! He was just so adorable! He was so nervous about showing her his hobby of making beautifully hand crafted furniture.
Also introduced in this novel is Blayne, the wolf/wild dog hybrid who is the goofy off-the-wall friend that has a side role in the rest of the series. If you don’t like oddball side characters, then you won’t like the next one, because it is her book!