Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Hot Mess: Review of Pack Challenge by Shelly Laurenston

Pack Challenge by Shelly Laurenston

This book is a hot mess.

I have never before encountered an author who creates such unlikable characters. Cripes!

The first book I read by Shelly Laurenston was Beast Behaving Badly. The heroine was one of the most irritating, hyper, unlikable characters I've ever seen in a romance novel. (For the record, I thought the hero-polar bear was adorable, thank God).

But that was before I read Pack Challenge. In this book, the hero, the heroine, and all her side-kicks, are equally horrible. The hero Zach is horny and single-minded, and totally lacking in any leadership qualities as far as I could see. He is supposed to become the alpha male of the pack, but he spends the entire book worrying about getting it on with Sara, the heroine. Not such a hot leader. He borders on being disrespectful to her because of his extreme horniness, something I don't like in my heroes.

Sara, the heroine, is a sarcastic, snarky bitch. She is emotionally stunted due to her upbringing by a vengeful and hateful grandmother. She is so immature (as are her best friends) I thought perhaps I was reading a YA book. Speaking of the word "bitch"-- Sara and her 2 side-kick girlfriends, Angelina and Miki, spend most of the book insulting each other, calling each other "whore," "bitch," and other terms of affection. Their maturity level appears to be stunted at the tweenie-I'm-10-years-old-level. Miki and Angelina's other favorite activity is getting into slapping, screaming fights. I wanted to bang both of them over the head with a cast-iron skillet.

I am flabbergasted by this book. It is well-written, the pacing is excellent, the storyline was engaging, and the shapeshifter paranormal aspect was superb. I love shapeshifter books, and Laurenston does a great job with the animal instincts and pack behavior. But it's extremely difficult to stomach a book where the major characters are unlikable jerks.

The worst part of the book for me was the final-declaration-of-our-love scene. Zach is attempting to tell Sara he loves her (which is freakin' hilarious, since all these two have done for the entire book is ball each the heck they've "fallen in love" has escaped me), but he keeps getting distracted by the sight of her naked arse. Sara answers a ringing phone, and has a chirpy conversation with her bud about how Zach is trying to profess his love for her. Cute, right? No, not really. Not charming, not cute, unless you are maybe 8 or 9 years old. These two are now the alpha leaders of this wolf pack? This pack is so totally screwed.

After just finishing Molly Harper's adorable werewolf book, this one fell flat for me. The humor and characters were too immature for an adult paranormal romance. If anyone knows of a Shelly Laurenston book where the characters are more likable, speak now or forever hold your peace. I'm willing to give her one more chance, but I want a sure thing. (If the hero has a beard, that would be a bonus! hee hee).

Grade: C+