Book Review: Badger to the Bone by Shelly Laurenston

Posted September 6, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Badger to the Bone by Shelly Laurenston

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Badger to the Bone by Shelly Laurenston
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Published by Kensington Books on March 31, 2020
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: The Unleashing, The Undoing, The Unyielding, Hot and Badgered, In a Badger Way, Breaking Badger

Third in The Honey Badger Chronicles paranormal romance series and revolving around those indestructible honey badgers, intent on protecting their baby sister. The couple focus is on Max “Kill It Again” MacKilligan and ZeZé Vargas.

My Take

Crazy, funny, and lots of action — gunfights, knife fights, kidnapping, ambushes, lurking, spying, baking, barbecues, lol. Yeah, that sudden neighborhood barbecue was a crack-up. I’d love to live in that neighborhood *more laughter*.

Ooh, yeah! I love that the girls, er, women, in this series don’t take no, ahem, nothin’. That parade fiasco was deserved by the town. We also learn early on that the first two of the MacKilligan sisters are killers while Stevie is beyond brilliant but prone to episodes. Except for Grandfather, no one will accept them as family. The CIA, the FBI, and the military do, however, recognize them for their prowess.

Laurenston uses third person global subjective point-of-view from just about everyone’s perspective. And lord knows, there are a ton of characters.

Mmm, snacks — live scorpions, venomous snakes . . . mmmm . . . Not that the bears will eat any of that. They much prefer Charlie’s baked goods. They’ll do anything for Charlie, lol.

What is with Mairi MacKilligan? What’s her problem with Max? Their father is something else. He has no sense of shame. That Benjamin is a similar idiot. He actually thinks he can stop Charlie? Hah!

All Charlie’s efforts gone to naught. Seems Max (and her friends) have been up to forbidden things, and Max is terrified of her reaction.

Ooh, yeah, Stevie gives Aunt Bernice what for, and it was glorious!

Poor Zé has a major character arc as he learns about himself and what his grandfather did.

Badger to the Bone is a story that moves — you can’t help turning those pages to see what happens next.

An entire world underneath the full-human one, and Zé had never felt more at home.

The Story

She’s the woman he’s been hired to kidnap. But ZeZé Vargas has other ideas . . . like getting them both out of this nightmare alive. Just one problem. She’s crazy. Certifiably. Because while he’s plotting their escape, the petite Asian beauty is plotting something much more deadly . . .
Max “Kill It Again” MacKilligan has no idea what one of her own is doing with all these criminal humans until she realizes that Zé has no idea who or what he is. Or exactly how much power he truly has.
But Max is more than happy to bring this handsome jaguar shifter into her world and show him everything he’s been missing out on. A move that might be the dumbest thing she’s ever done once she realizes how far her enemies will go to wipe her out. Too bad for them Zé is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her alive . . . and honey badgers are just so damn hard to kill!

The Characters

The honey-stealing Max “Kill It Again” Yung-MacKilligan is a crazy honey badger and half-sister to the anxiety-ridden Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan, who’s a great shooter and part wolf and part honey badger who can’t shift (Hot and Badgered, 1), and Stevie Stasiuk-MacKilligan, the brainiac subject to intense panic attacks (In a Badger Way, 2). Charlie’s mother had been Carlie Taylor. Freddy MacKilligan is their hated and despised father who screws up anything he’s involved with.

Max’s team are…
. . . also on her basketball team, the Wisconsin Butchers (the Dunns call the honey badger teammates, the “Badger Force”), a shifter pro team that pays better than the WNBA. Diane Fitzgerald is their She-wolf coach. Cass “Streep” Gonzalez is the queen of the dramatic moment, the time-obsessed Emily “Tock” Lepstein-Jackson, Mads (she’s all honey badger genetically although her mother had been a hyena), and the styling Gong “Nelle” Zhao (she’s, um, not close to her sister), their power forward and a diamond connoisseur, are all honey badgers. Gavin is Nelle’s driver.

Dutch Alexander, a wolverine shifter, is Max’s best friend. Hannah is a bear hybrid (Bear Meets Girl). Livy Kowalski, a honey badger who is the black sheep of the Yang family and Max’s cousin, is the official photographer for most of the pro shifter sports teams (Bite Me, Pride, 9). Blayne and Bo have kids who can crawl across ceilings (Beast Behaving Badly, Pride #5).

Toni Jean-Louis Parker is her Livy’s best friend (Wolf with Benefits, 8). The about-to-be-eighteen Kyle is Toni’s younger brother and a truly arrogant artist who got slapped down in In a Badger Way, 2. It was lovely, lol. Oriana, another Jean-Louis Parker, is a ballerina prodigy.

The neighborhood where . . .
. . . the MacKilligan sisters live is full of bears. Berg Dunn, Charlie’s boyfriend and a grizzly shifter; Dag; and, Britta are Berg’s siblings and triplets. They live across the street from the MacKilligan sisters and offer protection for a price. Benny used to be Berg’s dog. Shen Li, a panda shifter, is Stevie’s boyfriend and her bodyguard.

Tiny is the MacKilligans’ landlord and a hoarder. Mr Kapowski is not happy when Zé kidnaps his cub nephew. Matt is the youngest Kapowski. Lloyd is another neighbor. Mr Longchester will never break in again. Ruth Barton wishes that Max would stay out of her hives. Cathy Jakes follows Max’s basketball career. Mrs Demmings is part of the heart to heart.

ZeZé Vargas, a.k.a. Lord Unhappiness, Colonel Fussy-Bottom, and Captain Destructo, is a jaguar shifter, former Marine, and undercover. He was raised by his grandfather, Xavier Vargas, after his mother and grandmother died. Mrs Maducci is one of Grandfather’s neighbors.

Part of Zé’s kidnap team, all ex-military, includes Patowski and the sadistic Anderson. Devon Martin is their benefactor.

Amelia Kamatsu, ex-Navy, leads her mercenary team and is friends with Zé. David is her boss.

Benjamin, a lion; Bryan, a maned wolf; and, Oliver are part of a new group — and they’re willing to blackmail Max and her friends. (Imani doesn’t like that tactic, so she destroys all their evidence.)

The Group is . . .
. . . a protection organization run by wolves and headed up by Niles Van Holtz, Ric’s older cousin. Niles is married to Irene Conridge (When He was Bad: “Miss Congeniality”, Magnus Pack #0.5, Pride #3.5). Miki Kendrick had been Irene’s prodigy (Go Fetch!, Magnus Pack #2). The New York division is headed up by Ulrich “Ric” Van Holtz who is also a chef and runs the Fifth Avenue Van Holtz Steakhouse that caters to all shifters.

Katzenhaus is . . .
. . . similar to The Group but only concerned with cat shifter issues. The New York head is Mary-Ellen Kozlowski. Mandy has an offer for Zé.

The Bear Preservation Council is . . .
. . . similar to The Group but only concerned with bear shifter issues. Its head is Bayla BenZeev.

The Unit had been . . .
. . . a shifter-only division in the Marines.

Captain Dez MacDermot, an ex-Marine, is the current full-human head of the shifter division. Mace, ex-Navy SEAL, is Dez’s mate and a lion shifter (Mane Event: Christmas Pride, Pride #1). Detective Lou Crushek, a bear shifter, had been Dez’s partner and still a close friend (Bear Meets Girl, Pride, #7). The D.A. is a coyote shifter, a.k.a. Rabid She-Demon.

The Ako Pride of Tanzania cats is led by Imani Ako, a She-lion, who lives in Queens.

The Malones, Siberian (or Amur) tigers, are Travelers with their own street. Celle Malone, a well-regarded sniper (Bear Meets Girl), is with Katzenhaus, a policing organization for all cats, and partnered with Dee-Ann Smith (Big Bad Beast, Pride #6), of the Smith Pack. Smitty, a wolf, is Dee-Ann’s cousin and Mace’s best friend (The Beast in Him, Pride #2).

The de Medici Pride is a criminal organization led by three brothers, grizzlies. One of the prisoners is Darren.

The Black Malones are Siberian tigers and include Keane, Finn, Shay, the college-bound Daley “Dale”, and their young sister, Natalie, who’s a computer whiz. And no, they’re not on terms with Celle Malone and her family.

Celestina “Tina” and Caterina “Rina” Guerra are wealthy Italian twin sisters with a major hate for the MacKilligan sisters. Mairi “the Kraken” MacKilligan is a cousin who has it in for Max. Renny Yang, Max’s mother, is in prison; Devon had been her partner. Their Scottish uncle Will MacKilligan is the head of the family and vindictive. Dougie is Will’s oldest. Bernice MacKilligan, the sisters’ aunt, is the unofficial head of the American MacKilligans.

Charles Taylor, a.k.a. Pop-Pop, was Charlie’s grandfather who raised Max and Stevie as his own blood. Betsey is one of their tolerated hybrids, half wolf and half black bear. The three girls found a puppy and named him Karris.

Ándre is a high-end fashion store. Danny Parker had dated Max in tenth grade. Mrs Juanita and Miss Frannie had been librarians back when Zé had been a child. Mrs Merchant‘s cat had been a lesson.

The Cover and Title

The cover is split into thirds vertically. The left third is a deep purple with the series info in a pale blue with a badger in profile on top of a horizontal rule, the text below and another horizontal rule. The rest of the text is set vertically with a pale purple testimonial. The author’s name is directly to the right in a bright golden yellow. The title is in a white script font. Separating this panel from the graphic is a thin grayed-out violet. The remaining two-thirds is a graphic of Zé in a black leather vest and no shirt — nice abs! — and jeans. Behind him is an animal skin in black and gray.

The title is so Max, for she is a Badger to the Bone.

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