Book Review: In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston

August 21, 2019 Book Reviews 0

Book Review: In a Badger Way 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.

In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston
Genres: Paranormal
Published by Kensington on March 26, 2019
Pages: 400
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: The Unleashing, The Undoing, The Unyielding, Hot and Badgered

Second in The Honey Badger Chronicles paranormal romance series set in New York City, a spin-off from the Magnus/Pride universe, and revolving around those crazy honey badgers and their family and friends. The couple focus is on Dr Stevie MacKilligan and Shen Li.

My Take

I’m warnin’ ya…this whole series is a snarkfest! And I love it. I absolutely love how invincible these girls are! Laurenston really amps it up with their out-of-control personalities and the myriad conflicts that surround them, from governments out to get them, their father trying to scam them, to the domineering yet clueless Matt and James Wells.

Stevie both makes me nuts and makes me laugh. She’s so out of control with her fears — especially that of the bears!?! — that I wanna smack her. And yet, she surprised the heck out of me with her skill at assessing a situation and turning it on its head. You go, girl!

“Physics. Once you understand physics, you can do pretty much anything.”

It’s Matt’s misogynistic attitude that makes me wanna smack him upside the head for his lousy attitude about women, especially Stevie, and yet he brags about her to make himself look good. Jerk. A nice bit of show that highlights one of the subthemes in the series arc.

It’s James and their mother whose attitudes about shifters who aren’t just one breed that exemplifies the bigoted part of the series arc. And it’s Blayne who provides the biggest switch-up at the end, highlighting how bigotry evaporates with knowledge…so there, jaguar boy!

A major contribution to the series is supportive family and friends, although there are definitely friends and family who are not…just like real life *grin*

Shen Li’s bamboo obsession and how the resulting sounds affect the others cracks. Me. Up.

I do love the Jean-Louis Parkers! God knows why, but they do make me laugh with their outright rude comments and condescension.

“‘You two do know I can hear you, right?’

‘But do we care that you can hear us?’ Kyle asked.”

Kyle…KYLE!…actually understands what Kiki is telling him! This I gotta see ’cause Kyle is a total jerk with no thought for anyone…for him to get emotions…?? Dang, now I gotta wait a year for the next installment. I hate that! And it throws a completely different light on Shen’s actions, lol.

Kiki is going to be an interesting character with all that honesty flowing out of her. And I was shocked at her assessment of Oriana. Who’d’ve thought Oriana could be so different from Kyle?

Stevie absolutely, passionately hates the cold, heartless Irene Conridge. Then you’ll read Stevie’s description of an ex-flame. Hoo-boy! Oh, lord, and then Berg and Dag’s reactions to the cheesesteak in the SUV. LOLOLOL. It ties right in with those bears and their obsession about food, and I LOVE how Laurenston gets this across…a beautiful bit of show, lol!

Those shrinks are doing a great job on Stevie. She actually starts to make friends. With Oriana no less over a shared love of robotics and AI. Then there’s the invitation from Coop and his sister Cherise. Yep, and it’s all gonna lead to Charlie finding out how terrified her sisters are of her.

Their father. Freddy. How anyone can be as stupid as he is, has me totally gobsmacked. The whole funeral scene…there are no words… And the nerve of that idiot afterward???? Yep, I sure understand that “collective sigh” outside the church.

It says everything that the girls all want to be cremated…so their father can’t sell their remains for easy cash.

Laurenston uses third person global subjective point-of-view, as we gain perspectives from a range of characters. Naturally, Stevie’s and Shen’s perspectives are primary.

How can ya not love these three girls, if only for the totally unexpected actions (and reactions), lolololol. They’re like superheroes in that they will take on anyone and anything…and they. Will. Win. Want an SUV buried? Call the MacKilligan sisters, *laughing* Oooh, *lots more laughing*, then Stevie gives it to the Barettis! Oh, yeah, baby!!

On the negative side, I had so looked forward to Shen’s story, and I was disappointed. Oh, it’s all hilariously funny, but I didn’t buy Shen’s reactions to Stevie. They weren’t the same as in Hot and Badgered, 1.

Still, Laurenston does write a crazy whacked-out story you’ll be laughing at all the way through with lots and lots of action with the craziest characters whom you’ll adore. And. Ya know. The absolute worst part of this? It comes to an end!!! I really, really, really don’t wanna wait *she says laughing*

It’s also about acceptance…and Shen’s comment: “I know I don’t say this enough but…you have the best family.” Sums it up for me.

The Story

Petite, kind, brilliant, and young, Stevie is nothing like the usual women bodyguard Shen Li is interested in. Even more surprising, the youngest of the lethal, ball-busting, and beautiful MacKilligan sisters is terrified of bears, of anything that might startle her. But she’s not terrified of pandas. She loves pandas.

Which means that whether Shen wants her to or not, she simply won’t stop cuddling him. He isn’t some stuffed Giant Panda, ya know! He is a Giant Panda shifter. He deserves respect and personal space. Something that little hybrid is completely ignoring.

But trouble is eager to find Stevie, whether it’s our own or a foreign government who wants her brain, going undercover to suss out a scientist experimenting on other shifters, or simply surviving her fears from day to day.

The Characters

The very self-aware and extravagantly moral Dr Stevie Stasiuk-MacKilligan, a skinny white girl, is brilliant, more brilliant than brilliant, in fact. With a panic disorder that causes her to freak out at the drop of a hat, seeing danger where there isn’t any. Maxine “Max Kill It Again” MacKilligan is the Oriental middle sister with a love for edge weapons who can slice and dice like an old-school butcher. She loves her imprisoned mother. Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan, half-honey badger and half-wolf and all black, is the oldest sister with a penchant for firearms that beats out trained military professionals and holds it all together. To relieve stress, Charlie bakes…and the bears in her neighborhood LOVE it. Unfortunately, Steve freaks out and thinks the bears are out to eat her!

Uncle Will is a Scottish mobbed-up uncle from whom Freddy embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars. Dougie is Will’s oldest son and the smartest. Will’s brothers (and Freddy’s half-brothers) include Samson and Jim. Mairi MacKilligan is Samson’s daughter, who just escaped from prison. Not good. Aunt Bernice is Freddy’s sister, and her daughters are all thieves. Creepy Roy doesn’t let being married hold him back. Kenzie MacKilligan is another cousin. Livy Kowalski, a honey badger, is a cousin to Maxine on their Yang mothers’ side, plays with the Assault and Battery Park Babes, and is mated to Victor Barinov (Bite Me, Pride #9).

Freddy MacKilligan is their effed-up father. He’s working with Caterina and Celestina Guerra, twins out of Italy and Freddy’s half-sisters, who stole the money from Freddy. They just found out they’re honey badger shifters. Devon.

Berg Dunn is with Charlie (Hot and Badgered, 1), a grizzly bear who is a triplet with Dag and Britta who all share a house across the street from the girls. Benny is their purebred Caucasian Shepherd dog; Artemis is the rescue Berg adopted to keep Benny company.

Charles Taylor is the girls’ grandfather (he hates the Van Holtzes) who lives in Wisconsin. Okay, so he’s only Charlie’s blood grandfather, but the other two consider him theirs as well, as does he. Peter MacKilligan is the girls’ great-uncle who lives in New Jersey; Doreen is his scared, sixth wife. Daphne was divorced from Peter ages ago.

Shen Li is the most sweet-natured giant panda who has a passion for bamboo shoots and hanging upside down. The Jean-Louis -Parkers hired Shen to bodyguard Kyle who prefers to hang with Stevie. Shen’s very well-known at the Panda Garden restaurant where Dorie is a waitress. The influential Kiki Wen Li, the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine, and Zhen Li (who is completely different style-wise) are his sisters. Suze is Kiki’s assistant. Leonard Steinberg is Kiki’s very helpful neighbor.

The Jean-Louis Parker family are…
…jackals and scary with their plethora of brilliant, whacked-out geniuses who have no social skills but tons of arrogance. They’re renting the house from the Wild Dogs. Kyle, a narcissist, considers himself the world’s greatest artist. He’s seventeen. Oriana, a ballerina prodigy at five, is with the Fuller-James Ballet Company of Manhattan; advanced engineering is a hobby. Cooper “Coop” is a world-renowned pianist. Cherise. Jacqueline is their suffering mother whose best friend is Irene Conridge. Thirteen-year-old Freddy, er, sorry, Frederick, is a physicist. Zia and Zoe are nine-year-old twin sisters and language prodigies. Dennis “Denny” is a younger brother who is also an artist whom Kiki uses to great effect. Toni is the eldest sister and the only normal sibling. She’s mated to Ricky Lee Reed, a wolf (Wolf with Benefits, Pride #8). Their father, Paul, is also “average”. Poor things. Delilah is the older sister and a true psychopath.

The Wild Dogs are…
…the Kuznetsov Pack led by Jessie Ann Ward who is mated to Bobby Ray Smith, wolf alpha of the New York Smith Pack (The Beast in Him, Pride #2). Sabina is Jessie’s second-in-charge who is married to Uncle Phil. John DeSerio, an orphaned wolf taken in by the wild dogs as a teen, is a violin prodigy and friends with Coop.

Bo Novikov, a hybrid polar bear-lion a hybrid polar bear-lion who is also a descendant of Genghis Khan, is a homicidal hockey player and OCD about organization. He’s mated to Blayne “Lame” Thorne, a wolf-wild dog hybrid (Beast Behaving Badly, Pride #5), with a passion for indiscriminate hugging. And they have kids! Blayne is also the captain of the New York roller derby team. Gwenie, a half-Chinese, half-Irish tigon, is Blayne’s partner and best friend; she’s mated to Lochlan “Lock” MacRyrie, who is known for his fine carpentry (The Mane Squeeze, Pride #4). Lock’s uncle Duff owns the bar. Uncle Hamish is worried about the peanuts. Mitch Shaw is a lion who loves karaoke night; he’s mated to Sissy Mae, Bobby Ray’s sister (The Mane Attraction, Pride #3).

Dez McDermot is the full-human head of the NYPD’s shifter unit. She’s mated to Mace Llewellyn, a lion (Mane Event: Christmas Pride, Pride #1).

The Van Holtz pack has…
…a string of expensive restaurants. Niles Van Holtz, a.k.a., “Van” to his friends and “Holtz” to his wife, is married to the terrifying (known for making the Pope cry) Dr Irene Conridge, PhD (When He was Bad: “Miss Congeniality”, 3.5) and is the alpha in charge of all those restaurants. Publicly. In private, he’s also in charge of The Group. Edgar Van Holtz ensures the girls are safe from the government. And he has some good advice for Charles. Ulrich “Ric” Van Holtz is Van’s younger cousin and mated to Dee-Ann Smith, one scary-ass Marine who shifts into a wolf (Big Bad Beast, Pride #6). And Dee-Ann HATES Max. Dee-Ann’s father, Eggie Smith, is even scarier (Howl For It: “Like a Wolf With a Bone”, Pride #0.5).

Manhattan Behavioral Center
They know about shifters and can actually help Stevie. Dr Becca Morgan, a bear, is a psychiatrist who specializes in prodigies and geniuses. The receptionist is a fox. Dr Kelly Lewis, a wolf who likes weird, will see Charlie. Dr Deb Ortiz-Paredes, a jaguar, is a forensics psychologist who specializes in sociopaths and criminally violent schizophrenics and will be seeing Maxine.

The bigoted Brunetti Pride has…
…a habit of winning at the Wild Dogs’ karaoke night. ‘Cause they go way over the top. Mary Marie Brunetti seems to lead the pride, and she is not gonna be happy, lol. Denise is Mary Marie’s sister.

The Group…
…takes care of shifter problems, including those of hybrids. Now. Dutch Alexander, a wolverine, is best friends with Max and works for The Group.

Katzenhaus is similar but focuses on cats and is led by Mary-Ellen Kozlowksi. Cella “Bare Knuckles” Malone, a tiger, is coach of the New York Carnivores pro hockey team and head of the Wet Works division. She’s also godmother to Dee-Ann’s child with whom she frequently partners up.

Father Jimmy is a Malone who’s actually a good one, and he says the funeral Mass. Father Jones takes over for the burial service.

The Bear Protection Council (BPC) focuses on bears and is led by Bayla Ben-Zeev.

The Fuller-James Ballet Company of Manhattan
Svetlana Romanov is the prima ballerina in competition with Oriana. David Connelly is the music director. Ida Swan is the ballet master. Dominique Gagnon is Oriana’s agent from Uniondale.

The Wells Pride is…
…led by Jennifer Wells, Matt and James’ mother, who is a control freak. Dr Matt Wells is a socially clueless scientist working in biogenetics whom Stevie dated for six months. He might be experimenting on hybrids. James is a bigot who doesn’t do well on his own.

Agent Hall is with the FBI. Mr Machenski‘s Rotteweiler will never be the same. Miki Kendrick, a computer hacker based on the West Coast, had been a student under Irene (Go Fetch!, Magnus Pack #2). Mrs Bartman is a really nasty neighbor in the bear neighborhood whom everyone hates.

The Cover and Title

The cover is unevenly split with a deep royal blue vertical band on the left serving as a background for the vertically positioned info blurb in a pale blue on the far left, the author’s name in a bright yellow, and the title in a white script. A pale blue line is slightly to the left of the divide. At the very top, horizontally, is a pale yellow silhouette of a badger crossing a horizontal rule with the series information below that in pale yellow followed by another pale blue horizontal band beneath that. The wider right panel features a short-haired Oriental Shen in a forbidding pose, his well-muscled naked chest and right arm, his blue jeans sitting very low on his hips, and his head cocked to the left with an overscaled fur tiger print in the background. A testimonial in white is at the bottom left of this right panel.

The title is all about those MacKilligans and how they handle it all In a Badger Way.

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