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REVIEW:  Wolf With Benefits by Shelley Laurentson

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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REVIEW:  The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer

REVIEW: The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer

Dear Readers,

We did a series of reviews of Georgette Heyer novels here last year and it dawned on me just how many I hadn’t read. A recent comment here about this book mentioned that it was funny and when I remembered that it is a Georgian, that made up my mind as to which of La Heyer’s books I would try next. Carrie G, thank you!

I’m going to pinch this summary from Publisher’s Weekly because to try and get my head around the whole plot would take me a week.

 

“An impetuous young lady and a fugitive nobleman…
When spirited Eustacie stumbles into a band of smugglers, she is delighted to be having an adventure at last. Their leader, young heir Ludovic Lavenham, is in hiding, falsely accused of murder. Pursued by the law, Eustacie and Ludovic find refuge at an unassuming country inn.

And the delightfully sensible couple who try to keep them out of trouble…
The resourceful Miss Sarah Thane and the clear-thinking Sir Tristram Shield gamely endeavor to prevent Ludovic’s arrest and Eustacie’s ruin as the four conspire to recover the missing talisman ring that will clear Ludovic’s name.”

What fun! When I loaded this ebook on my reader, I was stunned at the length and thinking that it would take me days to get through it but each time I dragged myself away and came up for air, I would be shocked to see how much of the story I’d swallowed in another gulp. The book practically read itself. Though the plot is carefully laid out as to why young Ludovic Lavenham is thought to have murdered someone, and of how events unfolded afterwards, I soon found that these pesky details wafted away as I got caught up in all the memorable characters, witty dialogue, near misses, and delightful romance. And while the charges against young Lavenham are serious and the danger only to real, honestly, it was fairly obvious from early on that nail biting suspense wasn’t really in the cards in this book. No, what captures the imagination is how deftly Heyer weaves the story, working now this part and then that, and how she moves her characters around each other like chess pieces. It’s more a riveted “now what’s going to happen next?!” instead of breathless “omg, someone’s going to die!”

The-Talisman-Ring
When I read the description of the two sets of characters, I had a flashback to my feelings about the young lovers of “Powder and Patch.” I saw them one way “back in the day” and with maturity, I find that they amuse me as an older woman is charmed by the rashness of Bright Young Things so intensely in love. I had a feeling that Sarah and Tristram would resonate with me more and this is the case. Still Ludovic and Eustacie are like delightful quicksilver. They’re energetic, sometimes rash, hurl themselves into anything and are brave to the point of idiocy at times but you can’t fault their determination or zest. Wanting an Adventure, Eustacie heads off to find it and to avoid a ‘mariage de convenance’ at her dying grandfather’s orders. She wants some Excitement, darn it!, and she’s going to get it. Reading her dramatic imaginings – such as what she’d wear in a tumbril on her way to the guillotine in order to present just the right image or how Tristram would be the type of cold husband who would not ride ventre a terre to her deathbed after being hauled out of a gaming hell – are hilarious. I think, perhaps, the events of the book wise her up just enough that she might not indulge herself in daydreams quite so much from now on. Ludovic is stunned to discover this spitfire, who’s come across him in his role of free trading, is actually a relative but he quickly realizes that she’s the woman for him – almost as soon as she catches on that he’s the one for her. He’s also the type who has to be dragged away from danger and – sometimes forcibly – stuck in a cellar for his own good. One exchange between them says it all. “Don’t you know you’re marrying a ne’er-do-well?” “Certainly I know it. It is just what I always wanted,” she replied. Life with these two will never be dull.

Meanwhile, the romance between Tristram and Sarah is a delight. Here are two thoughtful, intelligent and rational people who at first don’t quite know what to make of each other. Soon, however, they begin to develop a deep appreciation for the talents of the other one – even if Sarah doesn’t draw, something which the men are dumbfounded to learn since all females are taught the skill, aren’t they? Listening to them tease each other with their dry wit and deadpan delivery made my day. I think I enjoyed their courtship more just because it’s not something that gets rushed into or settled immediately. It’s subtle and requires the attention of the reader to catch the little steps forward. The youngsters know in a flash but watching Tristram and Sarah discover each other over the course of saving Ludovic and keeping Eustacie from doing anything foolish is like a nice mug of hot cocoa, sipped while wrapped in a snuggly blanket with someone you love. It’s delicious, romantic and lasting and with the promise of something intense later on. Don’t believe me? Wait for what Tristram says he will make sure is included in their marriage vows.

Two romances, the Georgian setting, some daring do and a heroine who is allowed to be sensible and is loved for it? Win for me! Plus the “blood will tell” stuff is kept to a minimum and there are some seriously wonderful secondary characters – I would love to read about Sylvester Lavenham’s life – to boot. I agree with the opinion that this is one of Heyer’s best lively romps.  A

~Jayne

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