The Mane Event
The Mane Event features two novellas set in New York with shapeshifter heroes. Most books I’ve read featuring shapeshifter characters are very serious, dark and angsty, but this one is humorous. The plots are loosely constructed to non-existent, but the characters are funny and likable as can be. When I have as much fun reading a book as I did this one, I am willing to overlook a few flaws.
In Christmas Pride we meet the Llewellyns of New York – a rich and socially powerful family. They are all lion shifters, and like lions, are a matriarchal group. Missy Llewellyn heads the pride and she and her sisters run the family business (a lioness shifter equivalent of going out to hunt). The males in the clan father the children and serve as protectors. When the story begins, one of the males has been killed. At the same time Mace Llewellyn, Missy’s brother, returns to town. Mace has never been one to follow the rules of the pride. Instead of joining another pride as its alpha male, Mace joined the Navy where he served as a SEAL for a number of years. Mace’s SEAL unit was all made up of shape shifters, and one of them – Smitty – became Mace’s best friend. Smitty is a wolf shifter and technically cats and dogs aren’t supposed to get along at all, but SEAL brotherhood trumps pride and pack loyalty (Missy is horrified). Now that they are out of the Navy, Mace and Smitty have plans to go into business together.
Desiree MacDermott is one of the detectives investigating the murder. Dez and Mace have known each other since high school when he was a nerdy twerp and she was a busty/brainy Bronx kid with attitude. After high school Dez joined the Marines and became a dog handler. After she got out of the service, she joined the police force. Mace loved Dez back in high school and now that he’s a full maned male, his feelings are overwhelmingly strong. Missy does not approve. In her opinion, an Irish/Puerto Rican chick from the Bronx is not a fit consort for a Llewellyn. Dez is insecure under her tough outer shell and has internalized Missy’s bad opinion of her. Mace begs to differ with Missy; to him, Dez is The Woman and he sets out to show her just how devoted a cat can be.
There’s not a lot of logic to the plot, the middle sags, and the murder plot sort of lies there. You got a problem with that? I didn’t. I fell hook, line and sinker for Mace, Dez and the rest of the characters. There’s lots of hot, tender and sometimes silly sex, Mace is tough and tender, Dez is smart and strong and there are enough funny secondary characters to keep this series going indefinitely.
Shaw’s Tale begins where Christmas Pride ends. Brendon Shaw is a breeding male from the Llewllyen pride. In the first story he was rescued by Mace, Dez, and Smitty’s wolf pack after being attacked and nearly killed by a troop of punk lion shifters in cahoots with hyena shifters. The wolves notice that there are a couple of shady characters hanging around the hospital where Brendon is recuperating. To protect him, Ronnie Lee Reed from Smitty’s Pack takes him to her aunt’s house and nurses him through a high fever.
Fever in shifters makes them uber horny, and Brendon comes on to Ronnie like a house of frat boys on Viagra. She manages to hold him off, but since lion shifters are the best looking men on the planet and Ronnie likes a good time, she eventually succumbs to his charm.
That’s about it. There’s a teeny bit of plot involving Brendon’s no good brother Mitch, who turns out to be not so no good after all. But most of the action in this story is banter between the characters interspersed with hot and funny sex. Brendon and Ronnie are both likable as can be, just don’t look for any depth or seriousness in this tale at all.
Review by Ellen Micheletti