Series: Pride #9
Published by Brava on March 25th 2014
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life’s irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad’s untimely and unexplained demise.
That’s where Vic Barinov comes in—or his house does. Vic can’t step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he’ll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge…
Livy Kowalski is petite, shapely, vicious and all Honey Badger in Shelly Laurenston’s latest book in the Pride series.
Livy’s family is disappointed by her. From the cradle she has been taught by her family how to steal, how to pick locks, how to appraise valuables and instead of stealing art, Livy wants to waste her time creating it. Her art is everything to Livy but with a big show coming up, and she feels like her art has dried up and if a dry spell isn’t bad enough, somehow she has been dragged in to shoot the wedding of Bo Novikov and Blayne Thorpe. Artist to wedding photographer, could things get any worse.
Oh, but they can. Someone let her cousin Melly out of prison a few months early. It seems you can get good behavior even if you fake your own kidnapping to get more attention from your boyfriend. And now Melly has decided to move into Livy’s place for now. So going home is not an option.
And that’s why Vic has found Livy hiding up in his kitchen cabinet eating the rest of his honey. He wouldn’t mind so much if she used the key he gave her, but she keeps digging holes into the side of his house and the shifter-contractors are starting the jack the price up for fixing them.
Vic is more like his laid back bear father than his tiger mother, and like most hybrids, he has a few quirks of his own. But it’s his laid back nature that makes him able to roll with Livy’s volatile and usually violent nature. She’s not one for sharing anything–emotions, feelings, thoughts…honey, yet Vic is always there when she needs him.
Vic has been sent to find Frankie Whitlan, the man who has been organizing shifter hunts. He asks Livy to use her B&E skills to break into Allison Whitlan’s apartment to see if her father has contacted her. Livy finds something in that apartment that has her seeking out the family that she usually avoids, but Vic can’t get her to open up.
After weekend trip to the bear town of Honeyville (yeah, they know it’s quaint) to gorge on some gourmet honey and do a little jousting (yes, I said jousting), Livy finally confesses what she found in that apartment and it is enough to anger every shifter so that they agree to work with the honey badgers to bring in Whitlan to finally face shifter justice.
What I love best about Shelly Laurenston’s shifter series is how true to the animal nature she keeps the characters. The bears are either laid back or loners or aggressive, depending on the type of bear. The cats are sultry and protective. The wolves stick with packs. The honey badgers are all petite and aggressive and nothing says party like a backyard full of poisonous snakes.
I love the introduction of Vic’s new partner, Shen, who is very laid back and always snacking on bamboo.
This book could be read as a stand alone, but there are many past characters who show up in this story that you won’t understand the relationships if this is your first Pride book. We even get a surprise Smith showing up. And it is more fun when you understand that the Smith’s are the hillbilly/moonshine running wolf pack vs. the rich and powerful Van Holtz wolf pack vs. the prodigy-filled jackal family.
There is a lot of wit mixed in this paranormal series and the pack, pride or clan being featured has a lot to do with how the story goes.
Shelly Laurenston offers a lot of fun for anyone looking for a lighthearted paranormal series.
(Livy and Vic attend a Renaissance Faire in the bear town of Honeyville, and Livy decides to work out some of her aggression by jousting.)
Livy stared up at the horse one of the faire employees held for her. She glanced over and said, “You can’t be serious.”
“These are horses bred for two things. Handling the weight of big guys in armor…and not panicking at the scent of shifters. Helping some tiny feminist trying to prove something was not on our list of things to accomplish during the breeding process,” he finished.
Livy looked under the horse and asked, “Huh. What’s this? It looks bad.”
The faire employee bent down to see what Livy was looking at and that’s when she rammed the pummel of her sword into the employee’s tibia. She heard something snap, and he went down with a roar onto one knee. Before he could fall back, Livy climbed onto his shoulders and mounted the horse that was way too big for her.
She looked down at the now-sobbing bear. “Thanks for the help.”
Vic walked into the prep area and stopped when he saw her.
“Have you ever ridden a horse before?” he asked.
“No. There were horses at the private school I went to. Riding lessons were mandatory and were part of our gym grade, but every time I got close to them, the horses tried to stomp me into the ground. Eventually, I had to be excused.”
“But now you’re going to ride one that’s too big for you so you can…joust?”
“That’s the plan.” Someone put a lance in her hand. It was heavy and too long, but livy held on to it. “How do I look?” she asked again.
“If you’re going to be negative…”
Livy moved around in the saddle.
“What?” Vic asked.
“I wish I didn’t have to wear this armor. It’s making my skin itch.”
“Take that armor off, female, and still try to joust, and I’ll beat you to death myself.”
Livy nodded. “Subtle.”
“I’m not subtle. Never said I was subtle. Worried you’re about to do something stupid? Yes. That is accurate.”
“Honey Badger’s up!” someone called out.
“I’m up.” Livy stared at the back of the horse’s head. “You can go now,” she told the beast.
Vic dropped his head into his hands.
Chuckling, she tapped the sides of the horse’s flanks with her heels and rode to the field. True, she might not have ridden the horses at her fancy private school, but that didn’t mean the gym teacher wasn’t a bitch who hated Livy so much she made the fourteen-year-old sit and watch the others for the entire period. At the time, Livy hated Mrs. Webb, but at the moment, she’d discovered a new found appreciation.
Once Livy was led into position, she looked around at the crowd. The faire was surprisingly big and had a lot of attendees. Even the cats from the town next door came to the Honeyville Annual Renaissance Faire.
And apparently the joust was the most popular attraction; the makeshift arena was already packed, with the audience continuing to grow.
A seven-foot older grizzly stood next to her, his face obscured by an enormous beard and long brown and gray hair. Another hippie, she was guessing. Like Rita.
Livy took the offered honey stick, bit off the tip, and sucked out the honey inside while the grizzly studied her a moment before asking, “I know you honey badgers are tough and all, but you do know that we’re going to crush your tiny little body into the dirt, don’t ya?”
“Yeah. I know that.”
“You don’t mind?”
“Not as much as I probably should.” She shrugged. “Trying to work out some issues.”
“Ahhh. I see.” The grizzly leaned in. “Well, me and the guys had a thought. You see, the reason we have this first night of jousting is because we always have to work through the cats from next door before we can get to a good rousing joust with the rest of us. The felines bring a lot of money to this faire, so we put up with ’em. But it gets a bit boring.”
Livy again looked around at the audience, which was still growing…with bears.
“You want me to take out the cats…don’t you?” Livy asked.
“Cat humiliation and bear entertainment all rolled in one. Think you can do that?”
“What do I get out of it?” Because at the end of the day, Livy was still her mother’s daughter.
“Year’s supply of your favorite honey from Rita’s story?”
Livy immediately thought of the cinnamon-infused honey and she sort of shuddered. A good shudder, though. A delicious, honey-filled shudder.
The grizzly patted her leg. “Have fun, sweetie.”
Livy planned to…