Big Bone Lick Pack by Kendall McKenna, Jambrea Jo Jones, and Cherie Noel ~ Review by Shelby

First of all I just have to say, I know this is a real place and all, but using it for the locale, not to mention the title of this book is just bloody brilliant! I giggle every time I read it. It’s just so fitting for a MM book. 😀 Now it’s time for shifters, shifters, and more shifters…
Big Bone Lick Pack CoverTitle: Big Bone Lick Pack

Authors: Kendall McKenna, Jambrea Jo Jones, and Cherie Noel

Publisher: MLR Books

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Welcome to the Big Bone Lick Pack: A more friendly and hospitable group of werewolves you’ll never meet! Visit with; ‘Devil Dog & Bad Wolf’, a ‘Big Bad Bear’ and enjoy some ‘Shifty Fox Shenanigans’. Watch yourself, ’round the state park, ’cause we had a grizzly on the loose, just a bit ago. Our brave men and woman of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department have everything under control. (Except maybe their own love lives!) But if find yourself needing a doctor, head on down to Rabbit Hash clinic, or St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is just up the road a piece. We hope you enjoy your stay.

My View

Devil Dog and Bad Wolf by Kendall McKenna – 4*

While I did enjoy this book and Ms. McKenna’s writing is wonderful as always, I did have a few minor issues with it overall. Short stories are so incredibly difficult to write and all in all this one is pretty dang good. Great kick off action and a wonderfully sweet couple to fall in love with.

Seth is on leave after two tours as a Marine. On a dare from his brother Chris Seth is on his way from Miami to Kentucky to prove that werewolves don’t exist. Chris may believe the mythical beasts do exist but Seth is pretty damn sure they don’t. Two nights camping out in Big Bone Lick Park should be plenty to prove there’s nothing greater out there. As a Marine sneaking past the rangers on duty to find some open space and peace and quite by himself really wasn’t that difficult. Seth has the bare bones of what he needs to stay out by himself. Enough to get along just fine by himself…that is unless one is being attacked by a bear.

Asa has the night off and a quite night of running free by himself in the park sounds like a brilliant plan. The rest of the pack is of course only a howl away and as the alpha they all would respond if he needed them. Not expecting to run into anything at all out in the woods when he scents the smell of a lone man on the wind Asa’s intrigued. Scenting a rampaging bear bearing down on the stranger is something Asa can’t help but jump into the fray. Neither his wolf side or his human side can let this one go. As a part of the Sherriff department his job is to protect the visitors to the park and as a wolf, well there’s just something about this guy.

Ok I loved how this story started! Crazy intense and very real. I liked that Seth really did end up seriously injured and the balance of bear on man was realistically portrayed. I grew up in the great outdoors. You don’t escape a rampaging bear unscathed no matter who you are or who you have fighting on your side. Of course having one sexy grumbly wolf on your side sure does help.

These two were really sweet together and balanced each other well. I giggled watching Asa hint around at the things he wanted while trying to feel out Seth’s plans for the future. And there first kiss…awwwww beyond adorable and ever so sweet. I actually really liked the way the pack was structured here. They were mixed in well with society but still had a pack hierarchy outside of that as well. Besides both Seth and Asa’s extended families were just so cute.

And that leads me to the slight bone of contention I had with this story. For a man who doesn’t believe in werewolves to start this story Seth accepted the whole thing rather easily. I mean Asa never ever really says it out loud before Seth is behind it with no hesitation. Same thing with Seth’s mother, Ms. McKenna hints at Karen understanding things she shouldn’t know anything about (like Asa’s parents had explained it all), but yet we’re never really sure what she knows or doesn’t know. I just felt like a few things here were dangling. Though I do think that the bear question will be answered in the next story…at least that’s my guess.

Altogether pretty good for a short, but I would have liked to have seen a few more things fleshed out and given a teensy bit more time. I didn’t completely buy Seth’s reactions to the whole werewolf thing and how it played out, but I’m most definitely behind the results and Seth and Asa as a couple. Ms. McKenna’s lovely writing does not disappoint yet again.

The Big Bad Bear by Jambrea Jo Jones – 3.5*

So I actually enjoyed Ms. Jones tone very much. I had never read anything by her before and was pleasantly surprised reading this story. That being said there were a few things that threw me off about this story and left me wanting a bit more. The ending in particular I felt was a bit rushed…or maybe abrupt is a little more accurate. Things were flowing along and then all of a sudden it was just over. On the flip side, I did get the explanations I wanted about our dangling bear from the first story. 😀

Kane is the beta to his pack, and while his alpha is looking after Seth in hospital it’s Kane’s duty, both as beta and deputy, to try to figure out what was up with the crazed grizzly. Sure it could just be a random bear, but Asa thought the attack was a little too deliberate for it not to be a shifter. When Kane comes across a wrecked motorcycle not too far from the scene of the attack his thoughts that the bear might be a shifter gained some ground. With the severe amount of damage to the bike and the clothes lying around the probability of a shifter with a head injury were mighty high.

Dov’s head hurts. He’s not quite sure whether he’s human, bear, where he is or what he’s supposed to be doing. After protecting his space from the human he’d smelt Dov has been trying to relax. Now something wonderful is in his nostrils, the man coming towards him smells fantastic and he knows he’s found his mate. Bear form or human he’s going to find a way to claim what’s his.

Again I very much enjoyed the way this story started. It fit very nicely with the first short of the novel. I liked seeing things from Dov’s side, especially as we really got an idea for how confused his head injury had left him after the accident. And that initial introduction had me grinning maniacally at the image of Dov in his bear for pinning Kane down and stripping him the only way he knew how. *giggle*

My biggest problem with this particular story though came in the descriptions of the characters. So Dov is described as this big bear of a man, cool, but then we find out he’s 40 and Kane is 23. Now I don’t have a problem with the age difference at all. But, the way both characters reacted to things and each other felt like they were the polar opposite ages. Dov’s this sexed up bundle of energy that can’t wait to tumble Kane into bed. His energy just feels like a kids’. That absolute conviction that nothing can harm you and that you’re invincible tends to be a youthful ambition. Kane on the other hand is much more careful and thoughtful. He seems wise beyond his 23 years. His patience and deliberate planning balanced out Dov’s impetuousness nicely, but as I said really did make me feel like I had the ages backwards.

In the end though I think the biggest thing I felt was missing from this story was the chance for Kane and Dov to meet Seth and Asa. Dov needs the chance to make amends and frankly Kane doesn’t even know his alpha is mated as well. Now granted this story takes place over a much shorter period of time than Ms. McKenna’s story does. Also there was a bit of a dangling storyline as we’re not really sure how Dov’s accident occurred after all the hints of foul play.

Altogether I liked the writing style and the characters (even if they were in the wrong heads) but I would have liked to have seen a little tighter story all told. I will look into something more from this author though. I think there’s a lot of potential here.

Shifty Fox Shenanigans by Cherie Noel – 3*

Soooo both these boys are what I call in my head, “vibrating with energy.” The sheer amount of twitchiness made me think they were going to come apart at the seams, but it was too adorable at the same time. Again I enjoyed Ms. Noel’s writing style and all three contributors to this book I felt are definitely worth another look. There were things I liked about this one and again a few things I didn’t. Overall though a solid conclusion for this little spot in the world.

Simon is still relatively new in town after moving over from Britain. He’s settling into his job as a nurse at the hospital and and may be developing quite the friendship with Rae, though Ryan he could do without. Of course the drool worthy Dr. Swift is such wonderful eye candy around the hospital. Still Simon is happy with his life and likes his patients for the most part. Now if only everyone and their mother would stop sniffing him.

Josiah Swift may have returned home to his hometown to work at the hospital in the psych ward, but it’s still not a hundred percent comfortable. He was never very happy within the pack as the omega and left to get away from it all. Since he’s been back he still hasn’t been involved at all in pack business and plans to put it off as long as possible. That all changes the minute the adorable nurse stumbles into a comedy of errors that end pretty much in Josiah’s lap. One sniff was all he needed, he knows what he’s found and he’ll do anything to keep it.

So things I liked…I think Josiah and Simon are just too cute together. The bumbling over eagerness on both their parts was just too cute for words. I can just see them bouncing down the sidewalk, most especially Simon. I loved the fact that Simon had no clue he was a shifter and his nighttime escapades made me grin. That first date was wonderfully sweet and romantic and ended wonderfully. I liked the chemistry between these two a lot.

That being said I struggled to understand large parts of this story, mostly because I didn’t feel things were really explained all that well. First of all Josiah, to me, in no way comes across as a psychologist. He doesn’t have the confidence and calm demeanor one would expect in that sort of profession most of the time. As a regular doctor I could have bought in, but as someone who understands what goes on in the human psyche I struggled.

Also, there were a lot of unanswered questions and dangling ideas in this story for me. Like what exactly does being the omega entail? There were a few references to it maybe not being such a bad thing, that there might be benefits to it, but yet we never really get any sort of explanation. There are a lot of hints and itty bitty pieces of information dropped about Simon’s past which were wonderfully tantalizing. Yet, I never got a clear picture of what happened to him and the girl he mentions. I’m still very confused about her and what she meant to Simon. Which lead to a lot of confusion over his reactions to Ryan, and Ryan’s reactions to him. I almost felt like the author was trying to set up a ménage here and instead am left worrying about Ryan not just enjoying Simon and Josaih.

The fox thing was cute and very fitting for Simon and his worry about being eaten did make me laugh. I liked the characters here more than anything else and kept feeling like this story needed more time to really develop and explain how all the pieces fit together. I will look for something else from this author and I have to admit, I hope she gives Ryan his own story. I hate to think of him dangling out there in denial land. 😀

————–

All in all I enjoyed this book and the epilogue wrapped up a lot of things nicely. There are still things I’m curious about within the world, but I still walked away from it all satisfied. It’s hard to make a short story work and together these three authors gave a lovely collection for us to enjoy. I think all three have wonderful qualities as authors and will continue to look for books from them all.

Buy Links:

MLR Books
Amazon

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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