Just when I feared every single shifter in the world of the Pride series was an over-the-top, bizarre, or arrogant joke, Shelly Laurenston proves me wrong. Only HALF of this couple fits the bill. Yes, tigon shifter Gwen is violent, bawdy and a bit, er, low class. But the hero, Lock, is actually kind of normal. At least, as normal as a guy who shifts into a grizzly bear can be. This is progress.
You may remember Gwen from the earlier books in the series. She is Mitch’s half-sister from Philly. I mention her hometown, because it’s brought up so often in the book, it must be very, very important. Anyhoo, she is now moving to New York to join a business venture with best friend –and fellow hybrid outcast– Blayne. As the story begins, the two women are attacked by some vicious wolves –and they run to Lock for cover. Gwen remembers him from a friend’s wedding (Smitty & Jess from The Beast in Him) where he stepped in to save her from a fight. She figures he could save her again… and he does, but she is still injured in the skirmish.
The two forge a connection that day, but it’s not until months later that their relationship is rekindled, thanks in no small part to some friendly meddling by Blayne. These two are so different, yet they strike a real chord with each other. I liked Lock much more than any of the other heroes we have met in the series. He is humble and unassuming, even though he is one of the biggest and baddest shifters out there. He is earnest and genuine in his feelings for Gwen and he doesn’t take shortcuts in their relationship.
Gwen is somewhat less appealing. She’s not all that different from Ronnie, Sissy May, or the other farcical characters we have met already. She’s always spoiling for a fight; she loves to talk trash; blah blah. Just instead of making her hillbilly, the author makes her “street.” She does soften around Lock, though, and that is probably her saving grace.
There’s a bit of an external conflict going on with a family feud, but the romance is the real draw. Gwen and Lock really work in an “opposites attract” sort of way. The series’ trademark humor is still present; so is the smoking hot sex. And I feel like we got a pretty good set-up for a Dee and Ric story, which intrigues me.
I think this has been my favorite installment so far.
The Mane Squeezeby Shelly LaurenstonRelease Date: November 1, 2009Publisher: Kensington