Book Review: Shelly Laurenston’s The Mane Squeeze

Posted July 3, 2011 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 Mane Squeeze

The Mane Squeeze


Shelly Laurenston

erotica, paranormal romance that was published by Brava on November 1, 2009 and has 380 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include The Mane Event, The Mane Event, 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 Unleashing, The Undoing, The Unyielding

Fourth in the paranormal-romance Pride series based in New York City, revolving about the interactions between shifters and their clans, packs, family units of any kind. We started with lions, progressed to wolves, added in wild dogs — African wild dogs, no less, and now we gots bears. As Gwen puts it, a honey bun of a grizzly bear.

My Take

Laurenston certainly makes sure her shifters embody the characteristics of their animals. Lock was too funny as a grizzly bear with such range. From wild rage to playing with his toes and in lurv with honey…any way he can get it.

It’s an interesting contrast in Laurenston’s portrayal of two of the side stories. There’s the shifter kidnappings…I’m guessing…which are used to populate the fights-to-the-death matches which are so incredibly vague that it drove me nuts. Then there’s the well-done suggestions of Dee’s activities investigating the death matches as well as the mysterious blue van with the future actions Niles is promising.

It’s a slow rise of romance entirely in keeping with our honey-lovin’ bear and his prickly tigon. Lock likes to think things through before acting while Gwen acts without thinking. Characteristics that definitely come through in this romance as Gwen counters Mitch’s overly zealous protective instincts — thank god for Sissy Mae! I do love how everyone goes to bat for Gwen and Lock especially with the dinner date! And the way Lock keeps forgetting he’s dragging the lions around like stuffed toys…LMAO!!

Laurenston tidies up some long-lived issues for Gwen when she joins the Assault and Battery Park Babes for a one-time game to win the East Coast Roller Derby Finals to settle the O’Neill-McNelly feud that erupted at Jessie Ann’s Halloween party when Donna and pack tried to kidnap Kristan and Johnny to get to Gwen.

The Story

One brief encounter after another slowly raises the mutual interest of Lock MacRyrie in Gwen O’Neill. Handling an argument between two wolves at Jessie Ann and Smitty’s wedding, coming to the inadvertent rescue of Gwen and her BFF, Blayne, when a pack of wolves attacks them at a private shifter park, and trying to counter Brody’s fascination with how the plumbing works when Gwen shows up to repair the water heater.

Yup, things just keep getting more and more interesting…

The Characters

Laurenston certainly knows how to make them colorful!

Gwen O’Neill is a tigon. A lion-tiger hybrid. A genetic mix which will always make her an outsider in the O’Neill lion clan although she will always have the love of her lionshifter mother, Roxy O’Neill, and that of her brothers, Bren and Mitch. A love she’s not that happy about. (After working years as a nurse, Mom opened her first beauty salon and only went up with it. It seems she was also known as “The Rocker” on the roller derby circuit. She’s Gwen’s biggest embarrassment with her tendency toward men…all men…) While not too happy about inheriting her mother’s temper, she does make excellent use of her father’s genetic contribution. Blayne Thorne is a wolf-wild dog hybrid who has been best friends with Gwen since the first time they got into trouble at St. Mary’s of Perpetual Sorrow — “House cat her, Gwenie!

Lachlan “Lock” MacRyrie has been drifting along his whole life trying things out. He’s graduated college, did a stint in the Marines in their Unit, and now he’s working in computers…just until he can make enough money to retire and indulge in his real love. Fine woodworking.

Brody and Alla are Lock’s doctorate-holding bearshifter parents and they are so sweet! Brody is absolutely fascinated by anything and even his four-year-old granddaughter knows that’s a bad thing. Alla is a determined feminist with an intense interest in her son’s happiness.

Ulrich (Ric) Van Holtz is a wolf shifter and Lock’s best friend. As evidenced by his perfected technique in waking a slumbering Lock up. Ric is obviously gonna be a busy boy sometime in the future — he’s totally fascinated by Dee. Niles Van Holtz appears, as opposed to mentioned, for the first time and Laurenston is obviously setting us up for the future with her hints of “the Group” and his urging Dee to add her considerable shifter-Marine skills to it.

Dee-Ann is going to be an interesting character. She first appeared in Mane Attraction as a minor character helping her cousin, Sissy Mae, cope with Mitch’s assassin. Considering an invitation from Smitty to join him and Mace in their security business [and his NYC pack], Dee is one of Lock’s best friends as well as fellow ex-Marine.

“Ahhh! Where the hell did you come from?”

“Momma says from the love she shares with my daddy.”

The Cover and Title

Well, the cover model, I’m guessing, is supposed to be Lock. Doesn’t seem as big as Laurenston describes him in the book. I must confess the moon just doesn’t do it for me on this cover. With all the fabulous imagery Laurenston draws of Lock’s dreams of a honey-covered salmon leaping into his mouth as he stands in a sparkling, rushing stream…this was the best the cover artist could come up with??

I can certainly understand the title’s significance as Lock spends a lot of time grabbing up Gwen to prevent her doing something way too impetuous and squeezing, er, hugging her. He does sound like such a lovable, huggy-bear, The Mane Squeeze of Gwen’s life.