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REVIEW: Wolf With Benefits by Shelley Laurentson

Wolf with Benefits (Pride #8) by Shelly Laurenston

Dear Shelley Laurentson:

Dear Ms. Laurentson:

Your trademark humor and lively set up was evident in this story but the overwhelming cast of characters and slow development made this book a chore for me to read.

Toni Jean-Louis Parker is a jackal shifter born into a family of prodigies. Her mother is a world famous violinist. Every other member of her family has some musical or art related skill whether it is an instrument or dancing or sculpting or painting. Toni’s gift is that she is a problem solver. She can deftly manage who gets to practice when and in what room. She balances their schedules, makes sure they eat, and basically keeps these intense individuals from killing each other. But Toni’s devotion to her family means she has no life.

Her father is portrayed as weak and her mother devoted only to her music. Toni is both mother and father to the ten other jackal shifting siblings in her family. The little twins, Zia and Zoe, had not manifested their gifts yet. Denny, at age five, was a painter. 7 year old Freddy liked to light things on fire when he wasn’t studying science. 9 year old Troy excelled in Math. 11 year old Kyle was a sculptor. 15 year old Oriana was into ballet. 20 year old Cherise was a cellist that suffered from agoraphobia. 24 year old Cooper was a pianist. Delilah is good at everything but was also apparently a budding serial killer or something. I could never tell. She didn’t feel pain, looked at the world detached, and the only thing that kept her from cutting her sister’s eye out with a knife was having to explain it to Toni later.

Delilah held her sister a little longer. Not to make her point clear but because she was really struggling with her desire to cut her sister’s eyes out of her head. But she knew if she did that . . . she’d have to deal with Toni. Delilah hated dealing with An- tonella. So cutting up her younger—and prettier—sister would have to wait.

Enter her aunt Irene Conridge Van Holtz (friend of Dee-Ann’s and also Ric’s aunt – are we getting the confused family tree picture?). Irene sees that Toni’s future will wasted on her family unless Toni can be forced outside the home. She arranges an interview with the Carnivores, the NY based shifter hockey team, which Toni aces by making sure their star player, Bo Novikov, gets to see his girlfriend and a new player who is afraid of fling gets on a plane to go to a hockey camp in Alaska.

Toni is going to turn this opportunity down but her father and Aunt Isobel won’t let her. So off Toni goes to travel with the team and with her comes Ricky Lee Reed (who has two brothers, Rory Lee and Reece) and lives with their extended family, a wolf shifter. Why Ricky Lee attaches himself to Toni is a mystery for the entire book. He lives across the street from the house that her family rents for the summer. He watches shenanigans go on in the house for a day or so and somehow immediately decides she is interesting.

It’s almost a mistake to read this as a romance. It’s more the strange and funny tales of Toni and the insane people she has to manage while Ricky Lee provides bodyguard services.

I’ve read most of the shifter stories in this series, but I felt like Wolf With Benefits was testing me at each stage. I needed a pull out guide or handbook. There are over twenty other characters that get scenes in this book and sly references to their past made me pause in my reading.

The pacing is super super slow. The first eight chapters are all set up and the remainder of the book are almost vignettes. Here we watch Toni problem solve. Here we watch her family fall apart. Here we watch Toni but heads with Blayne, Bo’s fiancee. Here we watch Ricky Lee stand back with his arms folded, sly grin on his face.

There are two main issues in the book: Delilah’s growing sociopathic, megalomaniac tendencies, and conflicts between the Russian bear shifters.

There is no way that someone who hasn’t read Laurentson could start with this book. I think even those who are long time readers would have trouble with it although someone on goodreads did say that this is the ultimate fan book and maybe that is it. This was written for the hardcore fans. There just wasn’t much of a story here. The tone is funny. There are funny moments but there was no arc, either to the characters personally or to the romance. It’s a filler book, a bridge book between one set of Pack/Pride/Clan stories to something else. D

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

16 Comments

  1. Lynn S.
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 12:17:52

    It’s a really slow Monday, otherwise I wouldn’t be reading this review, but…

    and a new player who is afraid of fling gets on a plane to go to a hockey camp in Alaska.

    … if only you had added an “s” on that typo, I would having been laughing, not simply grinning.

  2. HeatherU
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 13:00:47

    I loved the secondary characters and her typical humor, but I feel like she’s really moving away from the romance aspect that was what drew me to these stories in the first place. I loved that she could combine funny with hot sexual chemistry, and did it so well. But with Bear meets girl, and Wolf with benefits, I feel like that sexual chemistry is not nearly as prominent as it was. So now the books are a must-read, but not a must-buy anymore…at least for me.

  3. Miss_Malapert
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 14:44:23

    I found this book almost impossible to finish, and I’ve read all of the books in this series and consider myself a fan. The pacing was off, the action was chaotic and there was almost no development to the romance. With the exception of Delilah, Toni’s family members were annoying and made me want to smack each of them upside the head. I found myself wanting to know more about Delilah and what was going on with her than the main couple, who were really bland in comparison. I’ll check out the next book in the series but this one was pretty disappointing. Bummer!

  4. SandyH
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 16:20:54

    I just finished Bear Meets Girl and it was a real slog. I haven’t read all the books in this series but I was glad that I bought this one when Amazon had the Kindle version on sale. I agree with your review – Just too much of nothing.

  5. Mary
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 16:46:45

    Oh no! I love all her books + her books as G.A. Aiken and I’m really looking forward to reading this one…hopefully either I’ll enjoy it more than you did or her next book will be better.

  6. Tina
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 17:39:24

    While my personal grade on this book is a bit more generous than Jane’s (I’d give is a C), I have to admit it was one of my least favorite of hers. I just couldn’t make myself really like Toni. And I have loved every single Laurenston heroine, even Sissy Mae.

    While I thought all the cameos worked in Big Bad Beast, here I think they felt like shoe-horns and killed the momentum of the story. And yes, I agree Delilah (the sociopath) was the only sibling I really was fascinated with.

    So yeah, chalking this one up as a not quite successful entry into the series. Still love her though.

  7. Jenn S
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 18:01:14

    Just finished this one. I agree with Jane’s review. It took a good two-thirds for more than flirting to occur and then it seemed a little hurried. Liked Ricky Lee. Too much going on with Toni’s family for all the past characters to come back. I’ve read them all and had a hard time keeping up with who was who. A family tree at the beginning would have been helpful! I kept thinking the Delilah story line was going to go somewhere and it never really did. I felt like there was some back story I missed.

    The last two books in this series have only been so-so for me. Love the humor still but it seems like too many past characters continue to pop up unnecessarily.

  8. rachel
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 18:06:30

    I liked this slightly more than you but definitely agree with everything you said. I’ve read everything in her shifter series and I think every couple in this world either gets a cameo or a shout out in this book to the detriment of the central romance. I still enjoy her style and and humor but hope she returns her focus to the romance like my favorites in her series: Blayne/Novikov, Smitty/Jess and Ric/DeeAnn.
    As an aside, I just looked at her website for the first time and her hilariously, blunt, clearly doesn’t give a f*** answers in the FAQ section made me fall in love with her again.
    I’ve never read her dragon books? Are they similar to the shifter books? Is there one that anyone would recommend as a good place to start?

  9. Susan
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 20:05:57

    This wasn’t one of the stronger books in the series (lacking somewhat in both romance and laughs), but I’d have given it a B/B-. Ricky Lee was more of the problem for me than Toni–nice enough but bland, and all he did was follow Toni around. Do something, Ricky Lee!

    @rachel: TBH, I’m not much of a fan of the dragon books. I read the first 4 or 5 and gave up on them–and it takes a lot for me to dump a series I’ve committed to. If you’re going to dip your toe in the water, tho, start w/ the first book, Dragon Actually.

  10. Mary
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 21:59:42

    @rachel: I LOVE her dragon books-but I’m a really big fan of funny rather than angsty PNR/fantasy so…but it’s probably best to start with the first one Dragon Actually because there is definitely a continuing plot line. Old characters crop up, but they generally have an actual PURPOSE unlike in the shifter ones (apparently). My favorite is the third one (with the 2nd and 4th being tied for silver), and I suspect with the characters you said you liked that you might like it (:.
    Also I guess they’re similar to the shifter books in that her characters are often mean/hilarious and not ashamed of it and the sense of humor is definitely the same. But they’re different in that, as I said, she’s got a story that she’s telling through multiple books. Each individual romance is still important and given the majority of the book, but there is a bigger plot arc. I think the only one that I didn’t enjoy as much was The Dragon Who Loved Me, because it felt somewhat repetitive and neither of the characters had been ones that I’d thought were important previously sooo it seemed like an odd addition.
    God, I wrote a lot but I hope that was helpful! Obviously I’m kind of a huge fan.

  11. ruth l
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 23:05:56

    I loved the book. I thought it was one of her better books in awhile. I like the story and I thought she intro’d some new story lines that I am looking forward to.

  12. Kaetrin
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 00:04:40

    Well I did start the series with this book and the cast was overwhelming. I thought it was just me! LOL

    I liked it okay but there were *so* many characters that there wasn’t enough room for much by way of romance. I take it this is not the book to judge her by?

  13. B. Sullivan
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 02:32:44

    In all her past pack books haven’t the jackals all been shallow villain types, and on the outs with all the rest of the shifters? Or am I thinking hyenas? I get my shifters mixed up at this point.

  14. kathy cole
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 07:24:24

    @B. Sullivan: you’re thinking of the hyenas, who were pretty uniformly dreadful.

    I did love this one, but I’m a fan of the prior characters popping up again, since they’re all so nuts. I can certainly see the downside of the overwhelming-ness of it all. She hooked me early though, and that kept me happy throughout.

  15. maria
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 16:19:22

    I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. It’s definitely not my favorite, and it might be at the bottom as far as SL is concerned, but it was still better than a LOT of other PNR, especially shifter romance.

  16. Bee
    Apr 16, 2013 @ 11:03:31

    I’m sad about Laurenston. I LOVED her books (Gwen and Lock!) but have been disappointed with every one since the Bo and Blayne book. They just totally lack the romance that sucked me into them in the first place. They’re still funny, but I just don’t care about siblings as much I would care about watching two people fall in love.

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