Have always loved romance fiction, especially historical romances, and now have discovered paranormal and all kinds of different scenarios. After all, romance told against any background and in any configuration is grand!
Shelley Laurenston is one of those authors that is new to me and courtesy of my daughter is now populating my book shelf. She is an author that obviously has a head full of humor and creativity and her books reflect that wonderful mix. This is the first of the Magnus Pack series and it is a challenging read, to put it mildly.
Theew is a war going on -- a war between the werewolves and Cat Nation. And in this little Texas town, Zach Sheridan, the Alpha of the Magnus Pack is seeking a woman who is the daughter whose mother was supposedly killed by a Were-lion, and whose grandmother has kept her ignorant of her ancestry, her own latent were-abilities, and her own worth as an individual. She is now living in a Texas town that has more werewolves living there than none-were humans. Her protector, Marraec as he is called, is the Alpha and he is owner of a motorcycle business where Sara works. But that is not where Zach meets Sara. With his pack riding into town as a biker group, Zack, Conall, and his other pack members wander into the local bar where Sara's best friend Miki is bartender, and where her other best friend Angelina Santiago is "holding court" as the owner of a high-style fashion boutique and as style queen of Texas (to here her tell it). There are two problems here: Zach is instantly attracted to Sara in a personal, fall- in-lust-way, and Sara is bombed on tequila, a beverage which is the worst drink on the planet for her. Sara drunk is way different than Sara sober, and it is a shock to find her demure, shy, "hidden" and taciturn in Marraec's bike shop the next few days when on that night in the bar she was all over Zach proclaiming he was her "pretty man" and declaring: "I think I love him."
Demure Sara is sporting a bad scar on her face which has always convinced her that she is unlovely and will live out her life alone. She is also crippled due to injuries received at the same time she received her scar--when the lion attack on her and her mother resulted in her mother's death. Feeling like a total loser, Sara does find encouragement and a measure of emotional stability in the sisterhood that she has with Miki and Angelina. Loud, brash, argumentative, irreverent,cynical, and anti-authoritarian, these three keep the reader in stitches. They can argue over just about anything, and some arguments have been known to continue for days. They are all way too bright for their own good.
This is a complicated plot--there is the love story (a very bumpy journey for Zach and Sara), the on-going war between the werewolves and the were-lions, both of whom want Sara for their own reasons (the werewolves want to claim her and her abilities while the were-lions want to finish the attack on her mother years earlier and which Sara survived), the protectiveness of the town toward Sara, as well as the sworn loyalty of her friends to help her find some happiness and to protect her as much from herself as from others.
Laurenston knows how to surprise the reader with brash language and warm fuzzies. Under all the volume and swearing is a friendship that is stronger than a mother's love between these three friends, and while they are all so very different, they are all bound together by a mutual need to find a sense of family and acceptance. There were times I was deeply touched, and at the same time I couldn't stop laughing. Miki is way too smart and knows what buttons to push when her friends need some extra encouragement to be genuine bad-asses when they are in danger. Angelina, with her warm olive skin, her long legs that never end, and her five-inch killer high heels is often very effective in distracting the "enemy" so that Sara and Miki get in their shots. Most generals don't wage war as effectively as these three manage to protect those they love.
I think this was a worthy first in a series book. It is always more difficult to set up a series and introduce the major players that will inhabit future novels. I think this book as done an OK job, although it was a bit of a challenge at first to keep all the players straight. I found, though, that making the effort paid off big-time later on in the book.
Lovers of Laurenston's writing will like this book. Lovers of paranormal romance will like this book. And all of us who treasure good writing and great humor and warm family and friendship will like this book a lot. I give this book a 4.25 out of 5 rating.