Bitchin' Blog Posts
Title: Big Bad Beast
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Publication Info: Kensington 2011
I have a serious weakness for Laurenston’s books. They’re not the most succinct things, and this book had a few flaws that drove me batshit, but there were times I laughed out loud, and a few spare moments where I had to put the book down and guffaw. Laurenston writes some funny shit.
Ahoy, ye summary, the hardest part of writing a review. Dee Ann Smith is a, by her own admission, redneck she-wolf assassin, trained by her father to be among the most lethal and frightening of the shifter killers. Ric Van Holtz is a member of the very regal Van Holtz family (hence the name, y’know) and has loved Dee Ann since they were kids. They met while her daddy was negotiating a place in the shifter corps of badassery, known as The Group or something bland like that (these shifters are not much for inventive names, random capitalization, or cutesy acronyms—thank the Baby Shifter Jesus). Now Dee Ann is a former Marine, Ric is her boss, and she’s trying not to notice him while being paired up with another shifter she hates and a human cop to find out who is kidnapping hybrid shifters and forcing them to fight in cage matches for profit and death.
First, the things that drove me batty.
Holy hell. There’s an endless Rockette line of characters to introduce, of past stories to sum up, of partnered lions and wolves and wildebeasts (maybe not that last one) living in furry bliss, and they all have to be mentioned and their many-paged books summed up in a few paragraphs of infodumpy. Ugh. Hate that. I also hate that I can’t keep them straight in my mind, because so many of them have similar names. Eventually the most important players distinguished themselves and the rest could fade into Greek chorus background noise punctuated with the occasional funny-funny punchline.
There are also! Many exclamation points! Like valley girls! On Red Bull and that five! Hour energy drink! At the gas station!!
Laurenston saves the books from the JR Ward style heroine round up where they all float into the foyer wearing Disney princess dresses to hold the arms of their respective mates in silent glowing harmonious bliss. The past heroines are as feisty as Dee Ann. No ballgowns and floating do be done here, unless they’re floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee carrying a concealed howitzer.
But even with my occasional bouts of ‘Who the hell is that person again?’ I enjoyed the crap out of this book. There’s wooden dialogue, there’s plotting that is probably much more logical if one has read the whole series, and there’s some seriously campy silly goofy fun, and I finished the book chortling. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that was exactly what I needed. The death and dismemberment and asskickingness is all real - but the characters are sanguine and at times hilarious about it so there’s no doubt that it’s not at all super serious about itself.
Because really, only a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously can contain scenes like this:
She was stupidly fallen for a Van Holtz. The enemy wolf of her Pack….
He’d pushed her onto the bed and had buried his face into her pussy, licking and sucking his way into her heart.
YES. THAT IS WHAT IT SAYS. I only wish Love Handel had recorded that song, too.
Moving on, same scene.
Turning her inside out, making her come again.
It just wasn’t fair. How was she supposed to fight this? And…she wasn’t real sure anymore she wanted to fight this.
Because, in the end, the man did make a hell of a waffle.
Awwwwww yeah. It’s all about the waffle lovin’, y’all. (Actually, considering that he’s a chef, those waffles are a pretty good reason, epic earth shaking head aside).
And now, the good stuff I loved:
The hero is a beta male, but oh hot mother of glock, he’s hot. Ric (Ulrich) is a chef, and master of his kitchen domain, but he’s been in love with Dee Ann for a long, long time. Pretty much since they were kids. Their families hate each other, their lives don’t intersect in the least, but he wants to take care of her, feed her when she isn’t eating enough (which is pretty much most of the time), and bang her senseless.
He doesn’t want to be alpha. He doesn’t have to pound his chest and prove his manliness. He knows in the kitchen he’s the man, and that by the key, important members of his family he is loved. That’s plenty for him. He knows one day he’ll get her to notice him, and he’ll get her to fall for him. He’s a confident, happy, hot smoking beta male.
The heroine, for her part, is a loner Alpha. She’s lethal, sneaky, clever and fast, and hates most people. The fact that she can tolerate, and maybe has a soft spot for Ric, is a complete mystery to her, but so long as he keeps cooking, she’s ok with him. She doesn’t like false friendships, she has limited tolerance for idiots, and she prefers to be alone. And she can kill you with her eyelashes.
There isn’t a whole lot of conflict between them aside , but their differences make for enough to keep the story moving while Other Plots Are Solved And Stuff, and watching her snarl and him saute until they end up in the same place is adorable.
And did I mention the funny? The funny funny? Seriously, there were some scenes that made me laugh so hard. I can’t even excerpt them because out of context they’re not nearly as snort worthy. I can see how the dialogue and the characters’ behaviors and habits wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but the humor, the dry sardonic tone of the heroine, the dialogue between different women, and the way in which the characters don’t take themselves too seriously in the least hits my funny senses in just the right place.
Laurenston’s strength is in her humor, her wit in her writing, and in the fact that her women are unapologetically fierce. Fierce. Like outrageously killing fierce. Laurenston’s writing is a giggly treat to myself, like sugary confections that are surprisingly flavorful. Now I want to go back and re-read her dragon series, which is like ultra violent fairy tales with campy sauce on top.
Come to think of it, most of her books have extra campy sauce on top. That’s probably why I like them. It’s not rich and meaty and thought-provoking, but it’s funny and lighthearted with a hidden thread of seriousness, and campy.
That and the fierce bloodthirsty women.