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Review – Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badger Chronicles #1) by Shelly Laurenston

Reviewed by: E

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.

Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up . . .
This blurb came from Goodreads

I see Laurenston’s name and my fingers get tangled up I am trying so hard and so fast to order whatever it is. Even with my enjoyment of her work, I might have a few favorites. One of those favorites happens to be Livy and her family of Honey Badgers. Throughout the Pride series I thought the honey badgers stole whatever scene they entered as a result when I found out Laurenston was working on a new series set in the same world but featuring Honey Badgers I think I screamed with joy so loud my family across the country heard me. Given how they were portrayed previously, I really didn’t know what to expect except the unexpected so I really came to this with a sense of eager anticipation for the unknown. I wasn’t disciplined enough to completely avoid all spoilers but even with those I was still caught off guard as events developed.

For those of you new to Laurenston, this story does stand on its own so you do not have to read the previous nine Pride stories, although they are really good. A few characters show up in the supporting cast but their roles are small enough or enough information is provided so new readers won’t be lost. Laurenston makes it very evident this is an entirely new arc with a very different plot sequence. The first few chapters provide a great taste of what the main characters are like and the sheer amount of chaos that follows, through no fault of their own really. I mean who doesn’t travel with rocket launchers just in case or stress bakes enough to feed an entire town *looks around* no not me, my sister didn’t tell me to stop bringing baked goods over.

Anyway, this was a very enjoyable start to the new series. Charlie and her two sisters, Max and Stevie, are unusual for honey badgers which meant their interactions with each other, relatives, and outsiders were always slightly different from what you might expect. Their unusual aspects set them apart from most of their species leading to a different sort of upbringing. Charlie was outwardly the most stable of the three sisters, however in no way should you expect a calm, cool, serene individual. She does spend a considerable amount of energy trying to talk her sisters down from various acts of vengeance or panic attacks with the aim of keeping them out of trouble. During a calm period, trouble found them and just seemed to follow no matter where they went, really through no fault of their own.

If you have read some of my previous reviews of Laurenston’s world or seen some of my tweets you know I like my bear shifters regardless of their particular species. Hot and Badgered really delivered bear shifters in quantity and variety. I enjoyed seeing their interaction and for the first time I actually saw the Bear Preservation Council (BPC) in a positive light. Fascinating what can happen when honey badgers are involved. Berg’s relationships with the other bears are free of angst and I think I laughed each time his siblings entered the scene because their bond was evident. Their love was very evident in their teasing and yet watching each other’s back regardless of the situation.

In addition to enjoying the two families separately, I really enjoyed seeing Berg and Charlie together especially set against the backdrop of their siblings and their umm quirks. One of the earlier scenes I found really illustrated both the bonds and the personality was during a meal with the six of them. Watching the interplay some of it appearing habitual really cemented the feeling of family. Going from feeling like a cozy family to the sexual and relationship tension between Berg and Charlie kept me emotionally invested in both aspects.

As Hot and Badgered unfolded, Laurenston introduced some additional new characters, and even showed two of her fiercest characters receiving a dose of humility. I found the world expanding and with the surprising revelations about exactly who the MacKilligan sisters were facing the stakes for this series raised a considerable amount. Family can be so messy…. I enjoyed reading this so much, each time I referenced a scene to write this review several minutes and several pages later I would have to refocus on writing and not on reading. I am so glad Laurenston decided to return to this world.

I give Hot and Badgered an A.

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