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Big Bad Beast

Big Bad Beast, May 2011
Pride #6
by Shelly Laurenston

Kensington Brava
Featuring: Ric Van Holtz; Dee-Ann Smith
320 pages
ISBN: 0758231709
EAN: 9780758231703
Trade Size
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"The perfect balance of humor, romance, action, violence, and drama. A must read!"

Fresh Fiction Review

Big Bad Beast
Shelly Laurenston

Reviewed by Maria Munoz
Posted March 15, 2011

Paranormal Romance | Erotica Paranormal | Fantasy Urban

I have to say that when it comes to Shelly Laurenston I am completely biased. I love her books, and have read them all at least two (or is it four?) times. Her Pack and Pride series have the perfect balance of humor, romance, action, violence, and drama. She expertly brings to life both the animal and human aspects of the shifters. The men and women are tough, tender, and loyal. Given my love for these characters, I approached BIG BAD BEAST with a bit of caution. This is Dee-Ann Smith's story. This is the woman who, if you sprained your ankle, would give serious thought to killing you just to save you both the trouble of going to the hospital. How could an entire book revolve around Dee-Ann and still retain the twisted charm and humor of the earlier books? Now, I hang my head in shame at my lack of faith. By page five, I was laughing out loud and cheering for both Dee-Ann and the man who loves her, Ulrich "Ric" Van Holtz.

Ric, of the wealthy Van Holtz Pack, fell in lust (love?) with Dee-Ann Smith, of the Tennessee (and now New York) Smith Pack, the minute he spotted her at the apartment of mutual friend Lock MacRyrie in The Mane Squeeze. Now, Ric is her supervisor as she works for the Group to take down the evil full-humans who stage pit fights using abducted young hybrid shifters. Dee-Ann, who takes after her lone-wolf daddy, doesn't walk away from a fight and is more than capable of killing as needed. She plays by her own rules and doesn't hesitate to show up uninvited in Ric's apartment day or night. A chef by trade, Ric uses her visits as an opportunity to feed her (she's too skinny!). He also wants to charm her into getting naked with him. Dee's not buying it... except she's starting to realize that Ric may be one of the few people she can trust, and he is supermodel handsome. Now, if they can keep Ric out of the shallow grave Dee-Ann's daddy has dug for him, they just might have a future together.

I thoroughly enjoyed BIG BAD BEAST and have already started re-reading it to catch all the little details I missed the first time. Dee's terseness (and violent tendencies) are softened just a tiny bit, but it's enough to make her likable as a main character. Her toughness is balanced by the prominent re-appearance of many of the characters from earlier books in the Pride and Pack series. Ric is powerful and smart, and can both nurture and challenge Dee. They make a great couple!

BIG BAD BEAST is a must read. If you haven't read them already (and really, what are you waiting for?), start with the earlier books in order to get the most enjoyment out of the latest installment in the Pride series.

Learn more about Big Bad Beast

SUMMARY

When it comes to following her instincts, former Marine Dee- Ann Smith never holds back. And this deadly member of a shifter protection group will do anything to prove one of her own kind is having hybrids captured for dogfights. Trouble is, her too-cute rich-boy boss Ric Van Holtz insists on helping out. And his crazy-like-a-fox smarts and charming persistence are making it real hard for Dee to keep her heart safe...

Ric can't believe his luck. He's wanted this fiercely- independent she-wolf from day one, but he never expected teamwork as explosive as this. And now is his last chance to show Dee what she needs isn't some in-your-face Alpha male-but a wily, resourceful wolf who'll always have her back in a fight…and between the sheets.

Excerpt

EXCERPT (Unedited/Unproofed)

Ric paid the cabbie and stood, Dee-Ann glaring at him from the front stoop of his family's restaurant.

"What did you want me to do?" he asked.

"Tell them no."

He shrugged. "I liked the idea. Besides, we should all be working together to stop this -- don't walk away from me, Dee-Ann."

His stern warning ignored, Dee kept walking but Ric caught up with her and pulled her into the alley between the restaurant and the deli next door.

"Don't you find it curious," he asked, standing in front of her, "that suddenly felines who are so into pure bloodlines they could be British royalty are suddenly concerning themselves with hybrids?"

Folding her arms over her chest, Dee did that thing he hated where she looked right past him. Then again she only did that when he was right about something and it pissed her off.

"If you're really adamant about not working on this, I can put someone else on it." He tried to think of the one person who'd really set Dee off and he realized that one person was waiting for him right inside one of the private dining rooms. "I'll give it to Blayne."

Ric took a step away but Dee's hand shot out and caught hold of his arm. "Pardon?"

"I said I'll put Blayne on it since you don't want to -- "

"Teacup? You're going to put Teacup on this?"

"She's a great ambassador for the Group, gets along well with felines and bears, and she already knows Dez MacDermot."

"She babysits for Desiree."

"She's also taken on bigger responsibilities with the Group and that's worked out just fine."

"With the hybrid pups and cubs. It's not like she's ever been in the field."

"But she handled herself just fine in Ursus County." Ric still had a hard time believing that his goofy, loveable wolfdog buddy was the same She-predator he'd seen decimate a gang of full-human males trying to kill them. And she'd done it with nothing more than a couple of blades in her hands and sheer willpower. Then again, Blayne's knife skills only made a real appearance when she was backed into a corner with no way out. Of course... he didn't have to mention he knew that to Dee.

"Ursus -- " The She-wolf gritted pearly white fangs and snarled at him like he was trying to take her favorite chew toy. "The only reason she lived through Ursus County was 'cause of me. The only reason she has a job with the Group is 'cause of me. The only reason she breathes my precious, precious air is 'cause of me!"

It was true. The one person who could really set Dee-Ann Smith off was and perhaps always would be Blayne Thorpe.

"I understand that, but -- "

Dee's head dipped low, bright gold eyes looking up at him through dark brown lashes. "Fine. I'll do it."

"Not if you're just going to use this as an opportunity to beat up on Cella."

If it was possible, Dee-Ann's expression turned even angrier. "That's true. I wouldn't want to hurt your girlfriend."

Ric blinked. "My what?"

"Forget it." She stepped around him, ready to leave, but Ric caught hold of her wrist, keeping her in place.

"I promised you food."

"I don't need you feeding me, Van Holtz. I'm not some charity case."

"I never said you were. And what happened to Ric? It sounded so nice when you called me Ric. And you have to eat, Dee-Ann." He gripped one of the loops of her jeans, tugging at it.

"Hands!"

"One good tug and these will come off. You're too skinny."

"When did you become my mother?"

"See? Even your mother is concerned."

"No, she's not."

He led her to the backdoor. "Come on. You have to eat, otherwise I'll be up all night worrying you've passed out somewhere. Unable to take another step due to lack of nutrition."

Ric had his hand on the doorknob, giving Dee a wink over his shoulder. But the door swung open from the inside, shoving him back and right into the She-wolf. He slammed into her, his body pushing hers into the wall behind them.

"Sorry, boss," one of his crew said, tossing a bag of trash into the Dumpster. "Didn't see you there."

Ric didn't reply, he was too busy being seriously aware of the woman he had pressed against the wall.

"You planning to get off me anytime soon, supermodel?" she asked.

"Or we can stay this way forever. That's an option." One he was more than willing to explore.

"Good Lord!" Dee pushed him back and walked toward the alley door. "If Cella's not your girlfriend, we need to get you one."

"Cella's not my girlfriend. She works for me. It would be inappropriate."

Dee-Ann stopped in the open doorway and faced him. "So do I, but that hasn't stopped you from demanding I get naked every other day."

"True, but I don't sign your checks."

"Which means what exactly?"

"I don't know, but if you give me some time I'm sure I can come up with something completely logical that could be argued in front of the Supreme Court."

"Ya know... I bet you could."

*****

Dee didn't know why she should suddenly care if Ric was going out with Malone or not, but she'd admit to herself that she kind of did care. Maybe she was just feeling moody. Maybe a little homesick. Whatever. She'd get over it.

She stood outside the kitchen while Ric went back in and got their food. It seemed to take longer than she thought it would, which meant that he was cooking it himself. But when he finally came out, he smiled at her -- back to his happy-go-lucky, goofball self because he'd cooked something up in a pan -- and motioned down the hall toward the private dining rooms. Figuring he probably wanted to discuss next steps before she had to deal with Malone on a daily basis, Dee started walking. One of the waiters slipped past her carrying a big tray piled with more food.

"Here," Ric said, when the waiter stopped at one of the rooms.

That seemed like a lot of food for the pair of them, but maybe he was hungrier than she realized.

Once at the door, Ric reached around her with his free hand and pushed it open. The waiter went in and Dee followed, but she froze at the doorway and snarled, glaring back at Van Holtz.

"What?" he asked, trying to look innocent.

"I really should have killed you when I had the chance, supermodel."

"And where would the fun be in that?" He pushed her into the room before she could make a break for it, and that's when she was noticed.

"Deeeeeeee-Annnnnnnnnnnnnnn!" she heard seconds before a crazed wolfdog female wrapped herself around Dee and held on, hugging her tight.

"You've been missed," Van Holtz whispered in her ear before he walked into the room, grinning at the table filled with a small group of people she tolerated but didn't necessarily want to spend much time with.

"I'm so glad you're here!" the wolfdog said, arms tightening so that Dee's air was almost cut off.

"Get off me, Blayne."

"You're staying, aren't you?"

"Get off me, Blayne."

"You have to stay so we can eat and talk. It's been ages!" She rested her head against Dee's shoulder. "I've missed you so much."

That's when Dee reached for her bowie knife but Ric caught her hand before she could clear the sheath and held it behind her back.

"Why don't we all sit down and eat before the food gets cold?" he offered.

"Okay!" The wolfdog released her death grip on Dee's neck and skated back to the table -- why she was wearing roller skates in the middle of a restaurant, Dee didn't want to even hazard a guess -- unaware as always how close to death she came every time she insisted on the touching.

"Put it away," Van Holtz whispered in Dee's ear, "or I'm taking the whole hand."

With a grunt, Dee shoved the knife back. "There, supermodel. Happy?"

"Thrilled." He released her but not before she felt his fingers slide across the skin of her forearm. "You have the smoothest skin," he murmured, looking down at her arm.

"Yeah. It's the scar tissue from all those knife fights. After a few years, it heals up real soft."


What do you think about this review?

Comments

2 comments posted.

Re: The perfect balance of humor, romance, action, violence, and drama. A must read!

I think the reviewer hit the nail right on the head. In this book Shelly Laurenston shows why she is an excellent author and a must read. When an author can take a character of whom you are not too fond, make her the heroine and have you end up really liking her, you know that is someone you are going to read again and again. And when you and your friend talk about the characters as if they are real, you also know that Shelly is going to be around a long, long time.
(Pat Richardson 8:35am March 20, 2011)

Looking forward to a great read. I've followed the series from the beginning and have always enjoyed a great ride with the Van Holtz,Smith and Magnus pack.
(
Adaiah LaVonda 8:26pm March 20, 2011)

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