Reviewed by May
The hybrid studied the jackal for several long seconds before he nodded. “Schedules, I understand.” Then he looked down at Reece and roared in his face, “Schedules! Learn the concept!”
I must begin this review by stating that Mr. Novikov (aka my favorite character in this series) got a good amount of page time and scenes – which delighted me endlessly. I simply adore him because he is so blunt, rude, and focused. He got loads of page time organizing schedules and bellowing at everyone as he’s known to do, and while for me he stole the show more than he should have I did find him to be a great connection between the characters we know, and Toni’s crazy prodigy filled family.
Oh yes, but silly me the book isn’t about Novikov. This installment of Laurenston’s Pride series features Toni (a jackal) and a very mellow beta kind of hero named Ricky Lee (a wolf). Let’s talk more about them – starting with Ricky.
“Fathers love me. I’ve got this winning smile.” And Toni didn’t have to turn around to know the wolf was showing that smile to her idiot brother. “Perfect Southern manners. I never cuss. I rarely get sloppy drunk and that’s only around my Pack if I do. And I treat my momma right at all times, and not just ‘cause I’m afraid of her. Even though I kind of am.”
He is very relaxed and a very good match for the very organized exceptionally wound up Toni who is used to running a family of overachieving prodigies. Her family of jackal siblings was really interesting, and I liked how they related in to the shifter world and set up that the author already has. From her siblings that are more quiet to the blunt and outspoken Kyle – they’re certainly a handful.
“One of the superior cats. Revered and adored throughout history as far back as the ancient Egyptians. And yet here you sit. At a desk. A common drone. Taking orders from lowly canine and bears. Do your ancestors call to you from the great beyond, hissing their disappointment to you?”
The kids brought a lot of comedy and conflict to the story in great ways, without weakening the story between other characters or the overall development of Laurenston’s world. Often times I don’t like kids in my stories as they can feel like they’re in the way – that was not the case here. The main plot is that this heroine lives her life for her family, and now her dad, aunt, and the wolf shifter Ricky Lee all are working to get her out, living her own adult life, and having a job of her own.
“her ex… not worth all this angst. Our father, who is a really great guy, still calls that man the ‘pimple on the cock of humanity.’”
Toni resists at every turn, but soon finds that she is in fact incredibly smart and well skilled to work with high maintenance highly talented sports stars. Between the drama at home, traveling to Russia to negotiate a hockey game, and the romance that seems to blossom before she knows it Toni has her own life too.
“I’m going to be direct with you right now. All right?”
Toni nodded at him.
“And I’m going to say what my momma said to me once… you need to balls up.”
Blinking, Toni leaned back.
That hadn’t been exactly what she’d expected…
“Balls up? That’s your recommendation to me?”
“I’m giving you my momma’s wisdom.”
“Thanks. That’s great. I’m going to eat now. Can you hand me those egg rolls?”
“Now wait, don’t just dismiss this.”
“I’m not. I’m just deciding to eat rather than locate my missing testes.”
Laurenston really scored with great humor, conversations, and memorable moments galore in this book. The only element of this book that I did not enjoy was the strange dramatic twists with one of Toni’s sisters. She is portrayed as a sociopath, and yet the entire family almost pretends as if she isn’t around or won’t end up hurting anyone. What bothers me about this is that essentially they are responsible for any harm she causes because knowing that she is capable of really bad things they just pretend she’s fine and that she isn’t harming anyone. There is some resolution to this, but for me it felt like too little done much too late.
I won’t share more because honestly this is one of those books where you really have to read and experience the secrets (what IS Toni’s friend Livy?) and moments to get the most from it. A hilarious, action packed, often nonsensical fun ride? Oh yes, this book was all of that.
If you’re looking for a shifter based series with a really large cast of characters, this is one to look at. I classify this book as a paranormal comedy with romantic elements, and I think it is important to understand that there will not be any deep emotional moments or scenes that will bring you to tears. Laurenston continues to annoy me greatly with her eye crossing characters (who does that?) and yet I keep coming back. While the pride series for me is notoriously weak in the relationship development category, I don’t visit this series for deep emotional romance. I come for the comedy and giggles, and stay for the action and bits of romance.
Looking at this book as a stand alone, it isn’t especially strong as a romance nor does it have an exceptional plot. I know it sounds like I’m picking on this book, but I actually enjoyed it tremendously. Faults and all, I loved every minute of my reading time with this book and I believe I’m finally going to have to call myself a fan of the Pride series. It was by far the strongest in this series I’ve read, and I am really excited to see what characters she features next time.