“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilisation, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.” – Christopher Hitchens

“I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me.” – Bob Dylan

Wolf with Benefits (Pride, #8)Antonella ‘Toni’ Jean-Louis Parker’s life is, well, let’s just say “unusual”. As the oldest child of eleven children, you would expect that a lot of the load for child care would fall to her. But when all your brothers and sisters are prodigies, totally absorbed in themselves, well, it is sort of like herding cats. Really spoiled, really demanding, really obnoxious cats. And everyone dumps their complete and total care (and really difficult scheduling) on Toni. ‘Toni I Want’, ‘Toni Do This, Toni Do That’ – nothing like being personal slave to ten little monsters . . . And sweet, gentle Toni simply takes it on herself to do it all, with no complaints. But she is getting pretty tired of it – especially when her mother tosses their lives into chaos once again, throwing all the careful plans and schedules out the window in order to keep the family in New York to stalk the wolf teenager across the street who lives with the Wild Dog Pack. Well, she really does want to mentor him! Being a music prodigy herself, mum is a little odd. Ok, let’s call a spade a spade. The whole freakin’ family is nuts – except for ‘normal’ Toni and their ‘normal’ father.

This is Shelly Laurenston, so I always know when I pick up one of hers I am going to enjoy it. Especially her Pride series. These books are hugely fun. I skipped around more than a bit, reading and reviewing the first in the series, The Mane Event, then the ninth, Bite Me and I got tremendous pleasure out of both of those, (though I admit to enjoying Bite Me more than The Mane Event – the female character was more likeable to me in that one, and I feel like she hadn’t really hit her stride in the first book. And Wolf With Benefits keeps the humor going – I literally laughed uproariously the whole time I was working on stripping down and cleaning every inch of my kitchen all day. What made it even better is that I listened this time instead of reading, and Charlotte Kane made it all just that much better. As I said in a previous review, “I read the first two of Shelly Laurenston’s “Pride” series quite some time ago and remember liking them, and finding them rather funny. “Bite Me” is sooo much more! I laughed so hard all through the book I had tears running down my face. The story is great, but the characters make the book. From Tennessee hillbillies (and proud of it) to savants in everything from art to music to science, Shelly takes what could be cliché characters and make them so much more. There is tremendous humor here, but also depth – the love of family and friends, the sacrifices friends are willing to make, and a lot about love and duty, greed and egotism – and the best way to break into an unbreakable vault, of course. No breaking into unbreakable vaults this time, but when one of the children is taken, family and friends will move heaven and earth to get him back.

If you are in the mood for laughter, if you are feeling blue and need a lift, and want a story populated with quirky characters, you can’t go wrong with the Pride series. The first two were more of the typical ‘paranormal romance’ with some humor thrown in – lots of sex and not as much story. Bite Me and Wolf With Benefits? LOTS of story, lots of laughs, and a tiny bit of very well-done sex – lagniappe rather than main course! Ricky Lee Reed is one of the infamous Smith Pack – hillbilly redneck wolves with good hearts, hard heads, lots of fight and really, really scary family members. But Ricky Lee is a bit different from his brothers – in a very good way I found quite appealing. He is perfect for this story as Toni’s bodyguard when she travels to Siberia to meet with the Russians Bears – who happen to loath canines. And of course, a Jackal and a Wolf are not going to get the friendliest of welcomes . . .

I know where my Audible credits are going to be going for a bit – grabbing up the rest of the series in audio instead of simply reading them. Charlotte makes the stories come alive!

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