N&N Reading Club: The Beast in Him

NGWN Reading Club Pic

Welcome, READERS, to the March edition of the Nice & Naughty Reading Club! This month we’re discussing one of author Shelly Laurenston‘s Pride series books, The Beast in Him.

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 Animal magnetism has a whole new meaning. . .

Some things are so worth waiting for. Like the moment when Jessica Ward “accidentally” bumps into heartthrob Bobby Ray Smith and shows him just how far she’s come since high school. Back then, Jess turned to jelly any time Smitty got near her. Some things haven’t changed. Except now Jess is a success on her own terms. And she can enjoy a romp–or twenty–with a big, bad wolf and walk away. Easy.

The sexy, polished CEO who hires Smitty’s security firm might be a million miles from the lovable geek he knew, but her kiss, her touch, is every bit as hot as he imagined. Jess was never the kind to ask for help, and she doesn’t want it now–but someone is targeting her Pack. And Smitty’s not going to turn tail and run. Not before proving that their sheet-scorching animal lust is only the start of something even wilder. . .

the-beast-in-him

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Laurenston is known for her snarky humor and fun, fast romances. What did you think of Jessica and Smitty and The Beast in Him? I’ve included a few questions below to get us started.

Remember, comment with your opinion and you’ll be entered for a chance to win this month’s Reading Club prize, a $10 Amazon gift card! Comment with a suggestion for a future Reading Club book selection and you’ll be entered into the drawing twice!

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Humor is a difficult genre–what one reader finds funny, another may not. Did you find The Beast in Him funny? Why or why not?

Smitty comes from a wolf shifter clan known for their crazy ways. He’s distanced himself from them by moving to New York and forging his own path. Was Smitty the perfect alpha, or was he a more beta hero?

Jessica grew up abused and alone. She created her own clan and a successful life as a gaming guru. What did you think of her as a heroine?

One of the things I didn’t expect to deal with in a humorous read was abuse. It’s made pretty clear in the first chapter that Jessica is abused by Smitty’s family and the local clan, to the point where she is “covered in bruises” and gets “the shit beat out of her.” She’s eventually forced to push one of the bullies off a cliff to get the abuse to stop. Later instances in the book show fights for dominance, and Jessica ultimately believes Smitty isn’t tough enough to be her mate because he refuses to give in and maul her during mating. What did you think of this aspect of the book? How does Smitty’s failure to protect Jessica as a teen reflect on his character, if at all? Did you feel, as Jessica did, that Smitty was holding back with her?

Shifter clans, like regular humans, are segregated by species, and a hierarchy of races is clear. The weak aren’t supposed to be at the top, and yet in the human realm, it is Jessica and her “wild-ass dogs” that come out on top. Who do you see as “top dog” in this story?

There are a ton of characters in this book! Did you find that confusing?  Who were your favorites among the clans?

As a Southerner, I couldn’t help being annoyed by the stereotypical “Jessie Ann” and “Bobby Ray” and other Southernisms (good ol’ boys who only like to fight, etc.) that were sprinkled through the book. Does this accurately reflect the South? Is it meant to, or is it just meant to be humorous?

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Let’s discuss! Remember, one commenter will win a $10 Amazon gift card for their very own. Tell us what you thought of The Beast in Him, or give us a suggestion for a future Nice & Naughty Reading Club selection. I’ll announce the winner — and our APRIL Reading Club selection — on Monday.

*Please present all comments — positive and negative — in a respectful manner. We reserve the right to remove any comments we feel are derogatory toward the author personally or are inappropriate.*

~ Ella

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13 responses to “N&N Reading Club: The Beast in Him

  1. I finished the book a few days ago and enjoyed it. I’d never read anything by Shelly Laurenston before. I really enjoyed the humor and the fact that the females were just as feisty (and in some cases more deadly) than the males.Like Tina I found the large cast of characters confusing at times, though I’d like to read more about Jessie’s friends Maylin and Sabina. And I was glad to see Jessie get some revenge on that bully Sissy Mae! 🙂

  2. i agree with Tina, way too many characters to keep track of, but they were needed in each part. Would’ve been nice if each pov was separated by larger spacing or design thingies and names were used more instead of he/she. I got lost a few times.
    I love BR and JA’s dynamic because they both have weak/strong points and they bring out the best/worst in each other lol.
    I haven’t read all off the Pride Series but Mane Event is still my fave.
    Shifter mommas are scary!
    And there ain’t nothing wrong with Jessie Ann! (It’s Jessica Ann that I cringe and wonder what I did or didn’t do 😘)

    My recommendations:
    Immortal Ops by Mandy M. Roth.
    Bluegrass series by Kathleen Brooks.
    Anything by Cherise Sinclair, Eve Langlais or Carrie Ann Ryan.
    Yes, I L-O-V-E shifters LOL

  3. April is my final push to get my next release, Take Me, complete. Know what I tend to do when I’m on a deadline? I can’t stop reading for a whole month (*gasp*), so I tend to reread my favorites from years past to get me through. That’s why this next month’s book is a favorite blast from the past:

    Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard
    http://www.amazon.com/Shades-Twilight-Linda-Howard-ebook/dp/B002XQAB26/

    Think old romances are nothing but bodice rippers? How about the fear that some of the mavens of the romance genre can’t write as erotic as we do today? Let me prove you wrong! You will love this classic romantic suspense novel that has the most erotic first-time-together sex scene I’ve ever read.

    Let’s explore the past in April!!!

  4. This was my first book by this author and overall I enjoyed it.
    I admit that the amount of characters, packs, species, etc, was a bit overwhelming for me. I had to keep going back and checking who was what and related or knew whom. Lol.
    I liked Smitty as a character and too think that he was a blend of Alpha and Beta. I loved what he did to those bears! Jess is a devoted, loyal, quirky heroine who I felt had been through a lot and finally got her “family” that she deserved. I love her pack and the secondary characters/friends that she surrounded herself with. The abuse thing is not something that bothered me all that much though, probably because it was based in a shifter world. Smitty’s daddy’s way of dealing with his sons can even be considered abuse. I am from the Northern part of the east coast, but now live in the South. The names annoyed me some because I thought they were just stereotypes. I don’t know anyone with names like those. I found some of the things they said with that southern drawl humorous. 🙂
    I am looking forward to reading more stories set in this world.

    My suggestion for reading next month…A Highland Knight’s Desire by Amy Jarecki.

    • Hey Tina, I think it helped me that I read the first book in series before reading the beast in him, but I got lost a few times too.

      • Thanks, Jess. I started it, but realized that I didn’t have enough time to finish both before the discussion. Lol. I will be reading it next. 🙂

  5. Woohoo! I LOVE Shelly Laurenston, and I find most of her books infinitely re-readable. I think something about her mix of humor and heart really works for me 🙂 That said, I did enjoy The Beast in Him, but it probably isn’t my favorite in this series. I think that maybe that has to do with the abuse theme, or maybe just that I didn’t click as well with Jessica or Smitty.

    To answer your questions, I did find TBiH funny, but again, I tend to find all of Shelly’s books funny–her sense of humor works for me. I love the shifter laughs and I guess the low-brow part with many of them pounding on each other just cracked me up.

    I think Smitty was definitely a mix of alpha and beta–he was very take charge and able lead his pack, but beta enough to listen to reason and to be able to change and accommodate his woman’s needs 🙂

    Jessica is quite the heroine–I did like how she really rose above her circumstances and found/made her own place in the world. She was every bit Smitty’s equal, though it took some time for him to come to see that also 🙂

    I think what I like about the shifter aspect of the stories is that it lets me deal with the abuse aspect from a bit of a remove–it is far easier to stomach the thought of Jessica surviving that kind of torment knowing that she’s later able to give as good as she got. And while the mauling thing would be ludicrous in reality, it shows how much I buy into this Laurenston universe that it made perfect sense to me in this story. I think that Smitty’s failure to protect is not great but forgivable given that they’re both less than full grown then, and that they’ve both been able to get past that. And yes, I found it believable that Jessica felt Smitty was holding back in not giving her the traditional Smith mating 🙂

    That’s part of the fun–that the mix of shifters and humans make the shifter hierarchy topsy turvy sometimes.

    And yes, there are a ton of characters but since I’ve read and loved the whole series, it’s like catching up with old friends 🙂 I do love the wolves, although it’s so hard to choose since each clan has some strengths and weaknesses to laugh over.

    I have no idea–I’m NOT a Southerner, but loved the feel Laurenston gave the books. It worked for this Yankee 🙂

    • Thanks, Fedora! This especially made me laugh: “he was very take charge and able lead his pack, but beta enough to listen to reason.” We don’t get that in heroes all the time, do we? 😉

      I assumed, this being only the second book, that the cast of characters wouldn’t be too much of a problem. I gather not all of these characters are just from the Pride books, though; she has another shifter series, and I can only assume there’s some bleed-over. It seemed like the reader should know these characters far better than one previous book would warrant (at least, this many characters). That did make it hard for me to get into the beginning. But I did really enjoy getting to know Jess’s particular clan. It’s usually the atypical ones I like, lol!

    • And Fedora, you won our gift card this month!!! Congratulations! Email me at ellasheridan.writer @ gmail.com (no spaces) so I can send you your prize. 🙂

  6. I fully admit this one was harder for me to get into than I’d anticipated, Dakota. I’m glad I read it, but it was a good halfway through before I got there. Part of it was the huge cast of characters, which I think is why the double names irritated me so much — not only was I trying to remember who everyone was, but then half of them had two names!!! 🙂

    But there were moments when I laughed out loud at Jessica and Smitty and especially Jessica’s clan, which I liked very much. They weren’t the typical shifters, and I think that’s what drew me. They weren’t as physically tough or aggressive, but they got the job done when they needed to — and they were funny on top of it. :p

  7. 1. Humor is a difficult genre–what one reader finds funny, another may not. Did you find The Beast in Him funny? Why or why not?

    I loved the humor in this story. Shelly Laurenston’s characters always make me laugh. They have just enough humanistic traits, despite being shifters. I guess what it boils down to for me, is the fact that unlike other paranormal books I read, these shifters seem so down to earth. They could be relatives of mine, dealing with the same issues, and I always seem to find the humor in a bad situation than ‘crying over split milk’.

    2. Smitty comes from a wolf shifter clan known for their crazy ways. He’s distanced himself from them by moving to New York and forging his own path. Was Smitty the perfect alpha, or was he a more beta hero?

    I don’t think I’ve ever run across the perfect alpha in any story. However I will say I love how Shelly balanced Smitty’s need to control his own destiny with that of carrying for his family. Family means everything to him – even if he has to get away from them to avoid maiming a few of them. To me that shows true leadership – instead of challenging his dad for the right to lead, he chooses to find his own way. (Something that I’ve noticed is a reoccuring theme in all of Shelly’s books – her heroes and heroines choose their own path, instead of just doing what is expected.)

    3. Jessica grew up abused and alone. She created her own clan and a successful life as a gaming guru. What did you think of her as a heroine?

    I love the fact she overcame adversity to succeed – the ultimate revenge. Want to really get someone’s goat? Be happy. The fact she was bullied as a child and young adult, made her seem stronger – everybody loves to root for the underdog.

    4. One of the things I didn’t expect to deal with in a humorous read was abuse. It’s made pretty clear in the first chapter that Jessica is abused by Smitty’s family and the local clan, to the point where she is “covered in bruises” and gets “the shit beat out of her.” She’s eventually forced to push one of the bullies off a cliff to get the abuse to stop. Later instances in the book show fights for dominance, and Jessica ultimately believes Smitty isn’t tough enough to be her mate because he refuses to give in and maul her during mating. What did you think of this aspect of the book? How does Smitty’s failure to protect Jessica as a teen reflect on his character, if at all? Did you feel, as Jessica did, that Smitty was holding back with her?

    I think you’ve touched on a subject that if it was in a regular contemporary setting would end up getting the cops called and human services involved – along with getting Smitty knocked upside the head for not stepping into stop it. However with it being a paranormal book, with characters who by nature are stronger – tougher and heal twice as fast as us mere humans, this is more like a shifter version of one kid getting pushed down on the playground, than true life and death stuff. So because of the world building that Shelly has created for her wolves and other shifters, toughness is desirable in a mate (Much like in past generations when our ancsetors came west – a woman wants a strong mate – one who can protect her.) So when Smitty didn’t act like the typical Smith, I could relate to Jessie’s frustration. It’s the typical, I want what every other Smith mate gets…and quit treating me like I’m still that little girl who got bullied.

    5. Shifter clans, like regular humans, are segregated by species, and a hierarchy of races is clear. The weak aren’t supposed to be at the top, and yet in the human realm, it is Jessica and her “wild-ass dogs” that come out on top. Who do you see as “top dog” in this story?

    While Smitty should be considered the top dog, because he ultimately claims Jessie and “mauls” her – I still can’t help but see Jessie as the alpha bitch in this story. (This could also be that I’ve read the rest of the series and seen her in action more than once – no doubt she’s a force to be reckoned with.) She’s not the biggest, or strongest being around – but that brain power? Ooooo. She’s the type of character that won’t challenge you head on, but you better sleep with one eye open, because she might slip a poisonous frog into your bed.

    6. There are a ton of characters in this book! Did you find that confusing? Who were your favorites among the clans?

    Believe it or not – one of my all-time favorites in this series is Dee-Ann. Yes, I really like Jessie’s arch nemesis. But then again, I’ve read her story and feel in love with her. She’s the ultimate bitch and makes no excuses for her behavior – no woe is me, I had this tragic childhood, which is why I’m like this. She just cocks her hip and says…so what are you gonna do about it? And if she gets punched in the face and knocked across the desk for her actions – so be it. You got me – this time.

    7. As a Southerner, I couldn’t help being annoyed by the stereotypical “Jessie Ann” and “Bobby Ray” and other Southernisms (good ol’ boys who only like to fight, etc.) that were sprinkled through the book. Does this accurately reflect the South? Is it meant to, or is it just meant to be humorous?

    While I’m not a Southerner, I just assumed that author did it make the story humorous. I realize that not everyone from the south loves to fight etc….however meeting a clan of hillbillies who seem to love it – just tickled my funny bone. To me it’s just like peeps thinking peeps from Iowa all live on farms growing corn and pigs. I was born and raised in an urban city. Did I see lots of corn and pigs…hell yeah. I live now less than five minutes from a corn field, but I’m not a farmer. (Although I am an avid gardener.)

    Great discussion questions this week, Ella. I can’t wait to find out what next month’s book is. 🙂

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