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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Lying in Wait
Liz Nugent
Progress: 186/310 pages
The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Kraus
Progress: 72/313 pages
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines
Judith Newman
Princess Prince
Tomoko Taniguchi
Progress: 310/336 pages
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Peter Godfrey-Smith
Progress: 41/255 pages
FREE: Locke & Key
Tatiana Maslany, Audible Studios, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osment, Full Cast
Progress: 91/806 minutes

The Mane Event (Pride Stories Series #1)

The Mane Event - Shelly Laurenston "Christmas Pride":Mace Llewellyn, a lion shapshifter, has just come back to his Pride after being in the Navy. He plans to break things off with his Pride and go off on his own - male lion shifters in the Pride are expected to have sex with all the women and get as many of them pregnant as possible, but Mace is unusual in that he would like to settle down with one woman. Specifically, he'd like to settle down with Dez, an Irish-Puerto Rican woman he was friends with as a kid and who he hasn't seen since. When Mace gets home, he discovers that one of the Pride's males has been killed, his sister, the head of the Pride, is one of the suspects, and Dez is part of the investigating team. Mace isn't particularly upset about the murder, and he hates his sister, so, rather than get worked up about the murder investigation, he flirts heavily with Dez. Mace's sisters have made it clear that they don't consider Dez to be worthy of Mace, but Mace is determined to convince Dez that they're perfect for each other. Soon, however, Mace finds himself having to show Dez what he is - she's a little freaked out at first, but it isn't long before the two of them are having sex. Dez's objectivity is blown, so she can no longer work on the murder case, but she finds herself getting involved in it anyway. She and Mace have to deal with the danger this puts her in.I disliked parts of this novella so much that I almost quit reading it at several points. I'm not very good with erotic romance - I don't like it when the main characters of a story use the word "f**k" when they talk about having sex with each other, and I want main characters of a romantic story to actually engage in activities that show that they like each other and have more in common than sex. If I remember right, Mace and Dez don't actually have sex until at least half way through the novella, but they think about sex all the time. Mace frequently says that his feelings for Dez are about more than sex, but there's little proof of that. When he's around her, all he can think about is her breasts and having sex with her. Dez feels pretty much the same way when she's around Mace. The only things they do around each other than don't involve sex or thinking about sex are talking about the murder or about their past or the bit where Mace finds Dez watching Cops.Speaking of Dez's breasts... They were mentioned a lot, and apparently they are huge. Like, porn star huge. Laurenston couldn't seem to decide whether to make Dez shy about her body (a little chubby; she was self-conscious when she was a girl because she developed early) or really bold (wearing a leather corset for Mace, tricks with her breasts, etc.), so she tried to do both, and it didn't really work. Laurenston wrote about Dez as though she were making sure that potential male readers would have something to drool over, and, who knows, maybe she does have a lot of male readers. That would explain the emphasis on sex over romance.The most romantic parts of this book were the bits where Mace or Dez thought about their relationship when they were younger. Their relationship sounded really sweet. Mace was the funny, skinny boy with the wild hair whom Dez befriended. If Laurenston had spent more time on those parts and used them to develop scenes where Dez and Mace get to know each other again (after all, it's been a long time since they've last seen each other - 17 years?), I think I would've liked this novella much more.I don't really know for sure, but I felt like Laurenston went a little over the top when she wrote about Dez and dogs. When Dez was in the military (yes, she was in the military, too), she trained dogs. Her dog was so vicious that it scared even her, but she managed to get the dog under control. When the dog was given to a different handler, however, it apparently took the handler's hand off. Tell me, if Dez was such a good trainer, wouldn't a dog she'd trained be able to handle being with another trainer? I don't really know for sure, but it seems to me like that would be the case.[If I were rating these stories individually, I would probably give this one 2 stars.]"Shaw's Tail":Brendon Shaw, a lion shifter and wealthy hotel owner, got into trouble during the events of the previous novella. A wolf shifter named Ronnie makes sure he stays safe while he recovers from his wounds and a fever, and she is both amused and dismayed when the feverish Brendon acts attracted to her. Wolves and lions don't generally mix, and, besides, Ronnie is trying to clean up her act and be a good girl - she's spent years as a wild child, doing dangerous things, getting banned from whole countries, and sleeping with anything attractive and male. She's decided that she should be a proper female wolf shifter and find another wolf shifter to settle down with. Things don't go as planned, though, because Brendon is still interested in her, even after he gets over his fever, and Ronnie is attracted to him, too. Brendon has to convince her they'd make a good couple, and they both have to overcome the objections of their family members.After the previous novella, I was afraid of what I was going to have to deal with in this one, but I enjoyed this novella much more than the previous one. That doesn't mean I thought it was great, but it certainly was a quicker and more enjoyable read.Brendon and Ronnie actually manage to have fun with each other and get to know each other a little. Granted, during a good portion of the "getting to know each other" part, Brendon was delirious with fever - I loved how goofy the fever made him, and I actually liked Brendon better in his lion form than in his human form sometimes. Later on, after Brendon has recovered from his fever and after he and Ronnie have begun something of a relationship, Brendon takes Ronnie to meet his children. I enjoyed that scene, and it wasn't as weird and tense as it could have been, since the mothers of Brendon's children weren't upset that he had a new woman and Ronnie wasn't jealous and upset that Brendon had had children. It was just understood that these children were part of the life Brendon had to lead as part of his agreement with the Pride - he didn't like having to be a breeder, and was getting out of that life, but he loved his children. In addition to Ronnie meeting Brendon's kids, Brendon gets to meet Ronnie's family. Unlike in the previous novella, where Mace and Dez can barely keep themselves from pawing each other when her family is over for Christmas dinner, Brendon and Ronnie behave themselves when they're around her family (for the most part), and I liked that.Ronnie wasn't always presented in such a nice way as Brendon - she of the Tennessee accent came across as a bit of a hick sometimes, and she frequently thinks about her mother and others calling her a whore because of her tendency to sleep with lots of men. Laurenston had already established in the previous volume that female wolf shifters tend to have big feet, and she continues that with Ronnie. I found the references to her big feet somewhat distracting, but at least it wasn't as annoying as Dez's breasts.As with the previous novella, Laurenston went a little over the top with some things, particularly in her presentation of Ronnie's "wildness." Ronnie tells Brendon that her behavior has gotten her banned from several countries. Laurenston later continues the joke by having Brendon complain about the list of places he can't take Ronnie to, because she's been banned. While I'm sure it's possible to be banned from a country, it's a little over the top for Laurenston to act like Ronnie has managed to get herself banned from a long list of places.Oh, as an added note, in case you are interested in the sex in this book, the second novella has something that I don't think I've ever seen before in erotic romance (or any other romance, for that matter): role play. A couple times during the story, Ronnie pretends to be an inexperienced schoolgirl who's come over to tutor Brendon, who's role playing as a bad boy jock. It was a bit weird, and it wasn't really something that interested me, but it's worth mentioning. Bondage comes up a lot in erotic romance; role playing does not.Although I hated the first novella, I liked the second novella enough that I might give Laurenston another chance and try something else by her. In a final note, unrelated to the content, the copy of this book that I read had a publishing error - pages 329-360 were repeated. It's not too big a deal, because no pages were actually left out, but it confused me a bit at first.[If I were rating these stories individually, this one would probably get 3 stars.](Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)