OK, I admit it. I am a complete sucker for Shelly Laurenston's shifter books. She just makes me laugh. And In Big Bad Beast, she's back on track with a direct story line and characters that stay in character.
Ulric 'Ric' Van Holtz is a model handsome, wildly rich, shrewd wolf and master chef the NYC branch of the family steakhouse chain. He's been in lust for the dangerous Dee-Ann Smith of the NYC Smith pack since he ran into her at Lock's apartment (The Mane Squeeze). [There is a prologue that has them meeting as children.] After 10 years in the Unit, a Marine shifter only group that hunts humans who hunt shifters, Dee-Ann is out and recruited into the Group, a US based group that does does much the same thing. As the daughter of the most feared wolf, Eggie Smith, she has her daddy's cold eyes and "Time to start the killin'" philosophy, but something about the easy going, and slightly younger, Ric appeals to her.
The humor is fast and furious without getting strained and ridiculous. Earlier characters, including Dez MacDermott, Lock, the Shaw lions, and others are all here weaving the story of friendships together. Dee's very limited interpersonal skills create some very funny scenes. I liked when Dee ran into the only female character with fewer social skills than her own, Irene Conridge-Van Holtz, but the best scenes are with Dee and the hyenas, and Dee beating crap out of Ric's brother.
The relationship between Dee and Ric is front and center, played out against a rapidly growing problem with hybrid fights. New character Cella 'Bare Knuckles' Malone, another former Unit member, tigress, KZS security team member, player on Ric's hockey team, and generally bane of Dee-Ann's existence, adds more dimension to the story. Dee, Dez and Cella are the hand picked team leaders to go after the hybrid fights and hunt down the person funding them. The ending is multi-fold and well done.
Even though the book is shorter than her last two, I felt it read better. There was none of the 'Lucille Ball' moments that annoyed me, and it generally hewed closer to my all time favorite book of her's, Here Kitty, Kitty. Not deathless prose, or brilliantly inventive, but a good, entertaining, fun read that gets a 4.3* rating from me.
Shelly Laurenston really is a fantastic writer and adds another winner to her ongoing series.
"When it comes to following her instincts, former Marine Dee-Ann Smith never holds back. And this deadly member of a shifter protection group will do anything to prove one of her own kind is having hybrids captured for dogfights. Trouble is, her too-cute rich-boy boss Ric Van Holtz insists on helping out. And his crazy-like-a-fox smarts and charming persistence are making it real hard for Dee to keep her heart safe...
Ric can't believe his luck. He's wanted this fiercely-independent she-wolf from day one, but he never expected teamwork as explosive as this. And now is his last chance to show Dee what she needs isn't some in-your-face Alpha male-but a wily, resourceful wolf who'll always have her back in a fightand between the sheets."
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Miss Shelly Laurenston for delivering another awesome book!!! In Big Bad Beast we have hard-as-nails Dee Ann Smith and Ric Van Holtz. This story is a wonderful example of "opposites attract". In previous books we've seen Dee Ann fight and protect other shifters without even blinking an eye. She's great at what she does. She's a down-home, Tennessee girl but just don't try to get too close or you may regret it. Ric is an all around nice guy. He's rich, smart, owner of their shifter hockey team, and runs one of the world famous Van Holtz restaurants. As supervisor of The Group, Ric and Dee Ann have to work together alot to protect all shifter breeds, especially now that some one is capturing and forcing half-breed shifters into pit fighting. Eventhough you will probably never hear Dee Ann express how much so loves the shifter race, she will do whatever it takes to make sure they are all safe, even if its "time to start some killin'". Ric, Dee Ann, Dez, Malone, and the rest of the Group have to find out who is behind the half-breed kidnappings and stop the fights before more shifters are killed. I liked the romance between Dee Ann and Ric. Some how, Ric seemed to understand Dee Ann and give her what she needed without being pushy or making her feel smothered. While there wasn't alot of sexual tension between the two, I liked that Dee Ann didn't waste time playing hard to get. Once she realized how she felt about Ric, she didn't try to deny what she felt or second guess it.
As always, Ms. Laurenston writes the funniest stories I have EVER read! I laughed so much my husband put me out of the bed!!! It was so funny seeing shifters trying to keep Dee Ann from killing them (friend and foe). It was also funny to see how crazy in love Ric was but still trying not to scare Dee Ann off. But I really loved how Ric pulled the Jedi Mind Trick on Dee Ann to get her to agree to a relationship and not just a fling. That was hilarious!!! Uncle Van reminding Ric and Dee Ann about the after 10:00pm rule after their mating had me screaming!!!
And ofcourse there is the action. I love how Ms. Laurenston's books have strong female characters. There's no sitting at home, waiting for a man to save the day for these ladies. Not that they don't love and respect their men, but they are equal partners and know how to protect themselves. I loved seeing Hannah and Abby step up to protect
those in need also. I look forward to see how they will grow and mature.
Another thing I loved about this book was seeing characters from previous books without them taking over the story.
And I really, really loved the cameos from a few of the Magnus Pack. Just wished I could have seen more of them.
Warning: Below review is filled with gushing enthusiasm
I LOVED this book. How much you ask? Id read the prologue and two chapters before I went to bed figuring Id read another chapter before going to sleep. I finished the book in the very small hours of the night havent done that in awhile.
Shelly Laurenston [or her alter ego, G. A. Aiken] consistently delivers good books but I really thought this was exceptional. Her plot didnt get in the way of the romance and the romance didnt get in the way of the plot, her characters and the relationships between them were strongly defined, and her world building is excellent.
Dee Ann is a Smith a backwoods Tennessee wolf with a trained assassin for a father, an ex-marine with the all-shifter unit, current employee of The Group [think shifter cops], and a stone-cold killer. She has no social skills that dont involve violence and havoc, doesnt own a dress, and has no desire to be involved with anyone especially that pretty rich boy boss of hers at The Group. So why does he keep trying to feed her? And then theres the part where hes always trying to get her naked
Ulrich van Holtz is the supervisor of the New York chapter of The Group, owner and goalie of the Carnivores hockey team, and a chef who with a skill level so high that recipients of his art drop to their proverbial knees in ecstasy. Ric is a saver; he wants to save the world, hybrids, various individuals and Dee Ann Smith not necessarily in that order. He doesnt want to save Dee from what she is but from what she is neglecting herself. He doesnt mind the gun and knife under the pillow, he finds the scars rather attractive, and sure he worries when shes on a mission but as long as he gets to take care of her when she comes home hes good. Most of all he just wants to feed her, that girl has no sense of nutrition. He wants to mate her too but hes not telling her that
Meanwhile The Group is zeroing in on the money trail behind the hybrid fighting ring. Dee is assigned to work with NYPD cop and full human Dez [Mace's mate from The Mane Event], and Malone, a tigress and old rival from the Marines. The hybrid fight ring story started back in The Mane Squeeze, youll need to read that and Beast Behaving Badly before this one for story continuity. You could read it as a standalone but youll miss some important backstory.
1. The Mane Event (2007)
2. The Beast In Him (2008)
3. The Mane Attraction (2008)
4. The Mane Squeeze (2009)
5. Beast Behaving Badly (2010)
6. Big Bad Beast (2011)