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Monday, June 29, 2015

Tasty Book Tour: Wolf with Benefits by Shelly Laurenston (ARC Review + Giveaway)

See, I told you I wasn't completely gone! I just had to review Shelly Laurenston's latest book, Wolf with Benefits. Have you read Laurenston? Do you have a favorite book?

About Shelly Laurenston

Originally from Long Island, New York, Shelly Laurenston has resigned herself to West Coast living, which involves healthy food, mostly sunny days, and lots of guys not wearing shirts when they really should.

Shelly is also the New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken, creator of the Dragon Kin series. For more info about Shelly’s books go to www.shellylaurenston.com. Or to check out G.A.’s dangerously and arrogantly sexy dragons go to www.gaaiken.com

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Format: .mobi (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: June 30, 2015

There’s nothing like a good ol’ boy wolf. And ace security expert Ricky Lee Reed serves, protects and seduces with all the right moves…

Sure, Toni Jean-Louis Parker has to be the responsible oldest sister to a crazy-brilliant clan of jackal siblings. But now she’s cutting loose for some hot, sweaty, no-commitments fun—and the sexy, slow-talking, swift-moving predator assigned to keep her family safe is just the right thing to shapeshift her love life into overdrive. Trouble is, he’s starting to get all obsessive wolf on her every time he looks in her direction…

Getting serious about anyone isn’t in Ricky Lee Reed’s plans. Hell, even now he doesn’t really have a plan—outside of catching whoever is threatening this dangerously brilliant family. But the more he sees of Toni, the more he’s howling for her. And whatever it takes to convince her that what they have is everything, well, this wily wolf is down for the sizzling chase…

Toni Jean-Louis Parker literally has her hands full taking care of her ten, yes TEN younger siblings. As the “average” jackal in an all prodigy family, Toni’s almost resigned herself to being a glorified babysitter. Then she decides to have a little fun with the wolf assigned to keep her and her family safe and everything’s going great until he starts stepping out of the “fun only” territory and into “forever” territory.

Ricky Lee Reed should have all his time and attention focused on keeping the Jean-Louis Parker family safe and catching whoever wants them gone. Instead, he’s trying to figure out why he’s getting so obsessed with spending time with Toni outside of bed. She’s stubborn, defiant and doesn’t seem interested in long term, especially with him but that doesn’t mean Ricky doesn’t want to chase after her every time she walks away from him.

If you’ve never picked up a Shelly Laurenston book before there’s a few things you have to know:

     1.) Laurenston’s books are heavy on the snark. This does not change. Ever. Her characters are quick with the comebacks and quicker with the insults. This to me is part of the appeal.

     2.) Her female characters are more often than not BITCHES. These women don’t hold back what they’re thinking and often reinforce their opinions with fists, fangs and claws. That’s not to say they’re not awesome because they are but if you’re looking for females who take crap lying down, these are not the women for you. They have an odd way of empowering themselves.

     3.) There are a lot of characters in every book. I mean a lot. It’s easy to get confused with who is who and who belongs to what family. For example, Ricky Lee has brothers named Reece Lee and Rory Lee. Just that alone is confusing enough and this isn’t my first Laurenston book!

If you can overlook that then Wolf with Benefits shouldn’t be a problem. I enjoyed jumping back into this particular series that has been going on for quite some time. Jackals, wolves, bears, bobcats and more types of shifters than you can imagine make one funny, complicated mess of things for Ricky Lee as he tries to do his job and chase after the woman of his dreams. He’s a charmer and used to getting his way. I loved his charm but Ricky Lee could steamroller over someone without that person knowing it until after he was gone. So he needed a female who would give him hell and that’s where Toni fit in perfectly.

At first I thought Toni wasn’t going to be a typical Laurenston heroine. She was essentially allowing her family to guilt trip her (unintentionally for the most part) into being a long suffering babysitter for her brilliant but spoiled younger siblings. As sassy as she was, Toni let her affection for her siblings control her and she nearly lost herself taking care of them. She had a smart mouth on her though and brought out her attitude often enough to make Wolf with Benefits feel like a Laurenston novel.

With as many siblings as Toni had I thought Wolf with Benefits had more than enough characters but apparently I was wrong. There are so many characters, old and new that come in and out of the plot that it made my head spin. I didn’t mind the old characters so much like Mace and Desiree Llewellyn from The Mane Event or Sara Morrighan from Pack Challenge (and my absolute favorite Laurenston female) but all the newbies? I could have done with a smaller dose. I felt like I was caught in the middle of a revolving door with how many characters were in and out of the story, some only appearing for literally a second before disappearing altogether. There were so many characters and sub plots that I felt no one really got a chance to shine and grow, particularly the main characters.

I’m pretty used to the dynamic between characters in these books, they’re snarky bordering mean and homicidal and their pack/pride/clan relationships can sometimes be complicated and harsh but they ARE animal shifters and those traits dominate 90% of the time so it doesn’t bother me. What I couldn’t get used to however were Toni’s siblings! They just got on my nerves with their hoity toity attitudes. I know they were child prodigies but seriously they were little a-holes in training, especially Kyle! I don’t know how Toni could have cared for those little brats. Well, except Freddy, the youngest. He was cute in a maniac kind of way. So many super egos in one book drove me nuts!

Wolf with Benefits is definitely heavy on the paranormal side with all the shifters and their behavioral traits sometimes overwhelming me and while I enjoyed all that I did wonder: Where exactly was the romance? Ricky Lee and Toni went from strangers to lovers (I think there was maybe one love scene) to “I love you” in like, three scenes from beginning to end. No in between, no relationship development, nothing. Since Wolf with Benefits isn’t the first book in a series there was no need to spend so much set up time on scenes. I think that in regards to the romance aspect, this is where the book fell flat for me. I didn’t feel that Ricky Lee and Toni had a strong enough connection to warrant them becoming mates. They didn’t even have a physical chemistry in my opinion.

Shelly Laurenston does a superb job of world building and creating unforgettable, if not always likable characters but I do feel that the romance suffered in Wolf with Benefits. Ricky Lee and Toni spent WAY too much time with other characters instead of with each other and there weren’t any sparks between them when they were together. The large ensemble of characters slowed the plot’s pace to a crawl in some areas and made the book seem longer than it actually was. Trimming down the characters would have done wonders for pace and length and probably left more time for Ricky Lee and Toni.

Final Verdict: Overall though Wolf with Benefits is an entertaining if character filled read. I wanted more Ricky Lee and Toni and less… Well everyone else but there were still a lot of laugh out loud moments and curiosity surrounding some of the hybrid shifters. With this book, Laurenston still remains a unique voice in paranormal romance.

Book Rating:

Heat Rating:

* Purchase Links:
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* Using the purchase links on this blog allows me to see a small percentage of the sale. It will help sponsor future giveaways. You can read the full disclosure OVER HERE

Three (3) copies of WOLF WITH BENEFITS

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