I love Shelly Laurenston's books like crazy. Crazy! So it pains me very much to say how much I did not love this one.
One of the things I like the most about this series is the sense of controlled chaos. The characters are over the top, the relationships are all intertwined and so many characters from previous books appear that it almost feels like this series is one long continuous narrative. However I think in this book the author lost control of that chaos.
Toni Parker has descended on New York with her parents and ten genius prodigy siblings. Toni, we learn, is not a prodigy at anything except wrangling her family. The siblings range in age from toddler to 18. To the child, they are precocious, arrogant and talented. Toni feels a deep obligation to her family, convinced they can't function without her. So she has subsumed her own desire to get a job and possibly start he own family. But her ability to organize difficult people lands her a perk filled job with the shifter Hockey team after she manages to defuse a situation with the notoriously difficult Bo Novikov.
Ricky Lee Reed meets Toni and is immediately smitten. He smoothly inserts himself into her life and ambles along as she grapples with her family and her new demanding job, finding her endlessly amusing.
All the markers that make a typical Laurenston book are here: the outrageous characters, the well-drawn concept of the different shifter types that make up the world, and the humor that wafts over everything.
And yet...yeah...I didn't love it.
I think Toni and Ricky's romance got lost in the midst of all other other stuff happening. There are at least 3 or more side stories going on, including the continuing story of Dee Ann & Cella's hunt for a slippery psychopath who organizes shifter hunting parties for full humans. And then there is Toni's mysterious sister Delilah whose own side story here seems like a set up of a continuing arc. Every one of the previous couples from all the Pride books make an appearance and some of them have major page time. Even Sara, Miki and Angelina from her Magnus Pack series appear. So yeah, this felt chaotic and not in a good way.
Also. Sigh. I didn't love Toni. Whew! That was hard to admit. Hands down I have been major in love with ALL
of Laurenston's heroines. Every. Single. One. Even Sissy Mae from [b:The Mane Attraction|3301564|The Mane Attraction (Pride, #3)|Shelly Laurenston|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347331758s/3301564.jpg|3687997]. But Toni veers dangerously near Mary Sue territory which is SO not what a Laurenston heroine is. And frankly I thought she was on the nasty side in her interactions with Blayne. I find the supposedly funny convention of deliberately not remembering someone's name to be a dismissive tactic meant to belittle someone. For someone who deserves it it can be funny. But Toni's dismissal of Blayne (she'd would mangle her name as 'Blank' or 'Bland') felt pointed and cruel especially because Blayne was really nice to her and just wanted to be her friend.
I also disliked her family with one or two exceptions. I think I was supposed to like them and find them charming, but I didn't. I found them obnoxious and overly precious. Strangely I found myself most fascinated with the evil Delilah.
Ricky Lee was great, though. Of all the characters that permeate this series I think this author has the best handle on the Smith clan, of which Ricky Lee is an honorary member. Now he was charming and felt comfortable in his skin.
Hence, I am putting this one in the 'ok, but not great' column. It is always great hanging out with the Pride crew and I did enjoy those parts, but I thought the romance got lost and I didn't really like Toni.
Still love this author's work like crazy, though.