Book Review: Shelly Laurenston’s The Unleashing

Posted April 1, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Shelly Laurenston’s The UnleashingThe Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston
This paranormal romance was published by Kensington Books on March 31, 2015 and has 400 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

five-stars

Other books by this author include The Mane Event, The Mane Event, The Mane Squeeze, The Mane Attraction, Beast Behaving Badly, Big Bad Beast, Here Kitty, Kitty!, Hunting Season, Pack Challenge, Go Fetch!, When He Was Bad, Everlasting Bad BoysS, Bear Meets Girl, Howl for It, Wolf with Benefits, The Undoing

First in the Call of Crows paranormal romance series revolving around the Crows and set in Los Angeles. The couple focus is on Kera Watson and Vig Rundstöm.

My Take

Laurenston has such fun with the Nordic myths and the creation of the Clans. These Clans do make me nuts, though. The women in the Crows annoy me, intensely. They all expect Kera to know exactly what is going on and what is expected of her, when she’s just arrived! Yeah. They don’t tell her anything! I wanna smack ’em.

I agree with Kera, I don’t see how they can expect her to be loyal to the Crows with the way they’re treating her. Of course, Kera does have a lot to learn about their new life, and some of the Crows are willing to cut her some slack. Nor are the Crows the only ones with integration issues. Hoo, boy. The other Clans are just nasty to each other as well. It’s weird. They’re all supposed to be fighting on the same side at Ragnarök, but I reckon they’re practicing for it on each other!

Still, it is an intriguing way to introduce Kera to the Crows and for us to get to know them as well. The events in The Unleashing provide all sorts of opportunities to introduce us to a number of other Clans as well. I gotta say, the characters come with a wide range of personalities.

The two primary Clans in the story — the Crows and the Ravens — are a lot like a wild sorority house that parties like there’s no tomorrow and a laidback fraternity house. Actually, now that I think about it, the Crows remind me of the Wild Dogs from Laurenston’s Pride series. If you love to laugh, you gotta read about Jessie Ann in The Beast in Him (Pride, 2).

Maeve cracks me up with her obsession with health and…avoiding all those icky, germy people. If you’ve ever been to a shrink or a psychologist or counselor, Annalisa’s remarks will crack you up as you recognize the annoying question habit. Erin. Yeah. Erin. Maybe y’all could gang up with me and beat the crap out of Erin. What. A. Bitch.

“‘We all know there’s no actual cure for sociopathy, right?’

‘There is when a god gives you’ — Annalisa made air quotes with her fingers — ‘”feelings”. Which, to this day, I have not forgiven Skuld for.'”

I also love how Laurenston has integrated Brodie into the story. That dog is loving Kera’s new digs. Laurenston has more fun with Brodie making more friends than Kera, who’s getting really annoyed with that situation. Can you say tutu and Swarovski crystals? The Crows do adore Brodie, and he certainly gives good payback when you read about Jacie.

“‘Comfortable?’ the new girl asked her dog. And, if Erin didn’t know better, she’d swear the dog grinned at her.”

Oh, yeah!! Brodie is definitely a Crow. You can tell when she takes off and gets revenge against those men who run the dog fights.

Laurenston uses a flashback quite nicely to introduce us to how the Crows came to be.

Oh, lord, that scene in Asgard when Holfi is giving Vig a hard time about wanting Kera. Oh, yeah, oh, yeah…lol! Led Zeppelin is quite popular in Asgard. Yeah, that’ll boggle the mind. That Laurenston has such a good feel for humor. You’ll be embarrassed even as you LYAO at the scene after dinner in Asgard. Poor Vig and Kera, *laughing even more*.

I absolutely adore Vig and how insightful he is. He’s too right about the best new career for Kera, and I cannot wait for The Undoing.

“Let rage be your guide.”

The Story

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service, Vig Rundstöm has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life — but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty…and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

The Characters

Kera Watson was a U.S. Marine, a highly organized one with a passion for clipboards. She got out after she got tired of fending off her fellow soldiers. Brodie Hawaii is the pit bull Kera rescued and brought back to health. Donnie is her ex-husband, a Navy SEAL.

The Swedish Ludvig “Vig” Rundstöm makes the most incredible weapons and terrifies his fellow Ravens.

The nine Clans are…

…the only official Clans considered valid by the gods. They are the human representatives of the Viking gods on this plane of existence.

The Crows are…
…one of the most feared Viking Clans due to the RAGE expressed by the girls and are known for their loyalty to each other and their hatred. None of them are of Nordic extraction. They serve Skuld, a Norn and wise woman goddess, as god-sanctioned killers and live at the Bird House where Chloe Wong, a writer, is the leader of the Crows.

Tessa Kelly is Chloe’s second-in-command, manages the nursing crews at Giant Strides, the Bird House “rehab” center, and leads a Strike Team. Mike is her husband; she lives with him at his horse farm. The team includes Alessandra Esporza (she came from money and uses it to produce Mexican soap operas); Leigh Matsushita (she’d been a bank robber in her first life) is a painter with a show coming up; Erin Amsel (a famous tattoo artist who owns Amsell Tatts) is assigned as Kera’s mentor; the hypochondriacal Maeve Godhavi (it’s no surprise she runs a medical blog tracking deadly diseases); Annalisa Dinapoli (a diagnosed schizophrenic who is a forensic psychologist in this life); and, Jacinda “Jace” Berisa, a berserker who is terrified and can be found, eventually, in the oddest hiding places. Lev is Jace’s new puppy.

Mitzi “Junie” June, a former supermodel, owns June Beauty, a very pricey line of cosmetics. Paula is the Crow treasurer who used to work for the Russian mob. Yardley King is a movie star. Rachel is another Strike Team leader — of a team of Venice beach bodybuilders. Padma Shakofski and Sherri are more Crows with yet more who are actors, producers, casting directors, professors at Cal Tech, doctors, models, musicians, agents, lawyers, bank executives, etc.

Betty Lieberman, another Crow, is Yardley’s mean, vicious Hollywood agent. She’s also the Clan “Seer” and can show you what you need to see. Brianna, with her Harvard degree, is Betty’s latest assistant trying to survive her boss. Carol is another, very ambitious agent. Dr. Rosen. Crows who now live in Asgard include Aggie, Raisa, First Crow, Dao-Ming, and Aditi along with some very famous people you will recognize.

The Ravens are…
…big, built, pretty, and all-Viking. Men who give years of service to the Allfather Odin with their purpose to stand toe-to-toe with or against the Crows. Josef Alexandersen is Chloe’s ex and their leader. The unsmiling Stieg Engstrom and Siggy Kaspersen (he’s a great accountant) bought Vig a TV he doesn’t watch, so they can play games on it. Rolf Landvik has a gift for Runes. Holfi and Jarl Rundstöm are Vig and Kat’s ancestors.

The Valkyries are…
…choosers of the slain, the death maidens who follow Freyja, the goddess of love, beauty, and jewelry. Katja “Kat” Rundstöm is Vig’s sister whose day job is working with a horse rescue group. Alfgeir is her snarky winged horse.

The Giant Killers are…
Thor‘s Clan. Freida is their leader. Other Clan members include Snorri, an Old School Viking; Anders who likes his hammer, too bad he doesn’t get to keep it; Pieter; and, Lorens.

The Silent are…
…peacekeepers, beholden to the god Vidar, who do a lot of work with the UN. Brandt Lindgren is their leader with a long history of negotiations. Notto Oveson, Singvlad Voll, and Embla, their Seer, are part of the Clan. And they despise the Crows, Ravens, and Protectors.

The other clans include…
Isa who serve Skadi. Rada leads the Claws of Ran, a Clan of surfers and fishermen on the Pacific Coast. Holde’s Maids have the best healers, bitchy hags.

The Protectors are…
…thinkers originally developed by the god Tyr to hunt and kill Ravens and Crows. Now they make sure no one of the Clans becomes too powerful. Ormi Bentsen is the leader of the L.A. Clan with Danski “Ski” Eriksen as his second-in-command.

The Mara are…
…black-fanged and also known as the Mardröm; they are what nightmares come from. Shona-sari is their leader and an Elder Mara. They’re damn scary, enough to terrify the Ravens and Crows.

Gullveig is a Vanir, a goddess, from Vanaheim, one of the Nine Worlds. The Aesir gods hate her.

Simone Andrews is the Crows’ complaining neighbor. Darrbee is Simone’s assistant. Armand is a glass installer getting rich on replacing Bird House windows. Mrs. Vallenadro is the building manager at Kera’s old apartment. Bobby is a boy the Ravens rescue, and whom Odin takes for his own. Mr. Jeffries was the school psychologist whom Erin tormented. Well, at least she’s consistent. Dustin is former military and dealing with PTSD. Devon and Clem are Yardley’s directors (they could be the same guy). Herik is the father of the jarl Slave killed.

The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology by Snorri Sturluson is the main book on Viking mythology with the World Tree, a.k.a., Yggdrasil, an essential part of it. Asgard is the home of the Aesir Gods including Odin, Thor, and Freyja who lives in Valhalla. The angry Lady Hel rules in Niflheim. Odd-marr is one of the warriors practice fighting in Asgard.

Archangels are the hitmen for the gods. The Greek gods have their own clans. Nachthexen are night witches.

The Cover and Title

I’m assuming it’s Vig on the cover and wearing a zip-front, pale gray cashmere hoodie, unzipped to show off that great chest, his thumbs hooked in the pockets of his jeans. The background is a gray on gray stormy sky with crows and ravens flying everywhere, and two blue feathers and a red one drifting down. The title is at the top and in red while the author’s name is at the bottom and in white.

I think the title actually refers to the end, when there’s The Unleashing of the Crows in a brutal battle…and its aftermath.

five-stars

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