“Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” ― William Shakespeare
Author: Kendall McKenna, Jambrea Jo Jones, Cherie Noel
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages/Word Count: 227 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars Overall
Blurb: Welcome to the Big Bone Lick Pack: A more friendly and hospitable group of werewolves you’ll never meet!
Visit with; ‘Devil Dog & Bad Wolf’, a ‘Big Bad Bear’ and enjoy some ‘Shifty Fox Shenanigans’. Watch yourself, ’round the state park, ’cause we had a grizzly on the loose, just a bit ago. Our brave men and woman of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department have everything under control. (Except maybe their own love lives!) But if find yourself needing a doctor, head on down to Rabbit Hash clinic, or St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is just up the road a piece. We hope you enjoy your stay.
Review: Big Bone Lick Pack is a trilogy of short stories that are all centered in a small town in Kentucky that is home to a large wolf shifter pack and some various other shifter types, as well the mauling of a marine by an injured bear shifter.
As the stories spring one from another, each writer picks up the thread and different characters that were on the scene of the accident. Overall, this was a very light-hearted novel, with some very amusing moments interwoven in story lines where each main character finding their “mate”. These were fairly generic paranormals, so if you go into this trilogy thinking you are going to see new ground being broken in the shifter genre, you will be disappointed. However, there truly were some notable moments in each story worth mentioning. along with a few problems that sometimes caused the pacing to drag and the plot to lose focus.
In Devil Dog and Bad Wolf, written by Kendall McKenna, we meet the main man who the entire trilogy revolves around, Seth Price. While hiking in Big Bone, Seth is mauled by a grizzly bear and rescued by the local werewolf pack leader, Asa. Asa recognizes Seth as his intended mate but tries mightily to fight against the attraction. It seems his parents were mated and the idea of being tied to someone whom he has not himself chosen put Asa off in a big way. However, as Seth heals, Asa cannot deny the attraction he feels for Seth. Now he has to convince the skeptical Seth that werewolves actually do exist and that Seth should take the chance and fall in love with one.
Author Kendall McKenna knows how to write convincing shifter characters that have not only minds of their own but are fairly rock steady and able to communicate despite being pulled by the incredibly strong mating call. Asa is a leader and yet is sweetly vulnerable when it comes to Seth. Seth, who was uncertain of remaining in the marines at the start of the story, never falls willy-nilly into Asa’s arms—rather, there is a great give and take between these two men, and a nice sexual tension as well.
Where I struggled in this story was with what I felt were the abrupt transitions from one scene to the next. Often huge hunks of time were passed, and I was often unsure as to where we were in the story. I felt as though the pacing was very rushed and critical gaps were left in the overall plot line. As a result, the relationship between these two men seemed less real, very hurried, and too neatly settled in the end.
Jambrea Jo Jones offered up Big Bad Bear next. Deputy and pack beta Kane Farkas is tasked to hunt down the grizzly that attempted to eat poor Seth alive. What he discovers is a wrecked motorcycle and one very confused bear shifter, Dov Barrett. These two men were probably my favorite characters in the trilogy. I loved their seeming disparities, twink versus bear, and I thoroughly enjoyed their fast coming to terms with the idea they were mated. I laughed out loud at places in this story, particularly where these two could not keep their hands off of each other. They were just the happiest of guys and every concern the other may have had about mating another shifter species (wolf versus Grizzly) was met and superseded, mainly because these two were just plain thrilled to be together.
I think the only niggle I had with this story stemmed from the author’s attempt to add a bit of mystery surrounding Dov’s crash. She alluded to a mysterious figure showing up at Dov’s workplace right before he headed out to visit his parents. Nothing really came from that dangling plot point, and so I was left rather confused as to why it had been introduced. Other than that, I found this story was my favorite of the three, overall.
The last offering, Shifty Fox Shenanigans by Cherie Noel, proved to be the roughest, in my opinion. This one centered on the male nurse who had taken care of Seth in the hospital, Simon Vacchio. When Simon meets the resident psychologist, Josiah Swift, sparks fly. Clever and a wee bit sarcastic, Simon seems to be more of a klutz than ever when around the good doctor and Josiah is intent on helping Simon discover not only that he is Josiah’s mate but just what kind of shifter poor Simon is.
This story was very cute, with Simon and Josiah fumbling about trying to connect and failing miserably. However, clever dialogue was all too often buried under very expressive and lengthy sentences that seemed to diminish the main message. Often the author over described the scene, making it difficult to find her message that got lost inside run on sentences. After a while this style of writing just got too frustrating. and I found myself wishing for simple, unadorned interaction between her two characters.
All in this entire anthology was a bundle of fun and while there were a few hitches here and there in the different writing styles, Big Bone Lick Pack was a delightful addition to the paranormal shifter genre.