I’ve read every one of the 11 books of Shelly Laurenston‘s Pride series, and Beast Behaving Badly is my absolute favourite. I will go even further in saying that it is one of my all-time favourite romance novels about shapeshifters. And the reason is very simple: I absolutely love Bo and Blayne’s relationship!
So, for those of you who haven’t read any of these books, let’s start with quick intro: shapeshifters exist. They can change into all kinds of animals and are born that way. “Normal humans” don’t know about them, but they all know about each other. When shapeshifters of different species get together, their children will be hybrids of the two species in their shifted forms.
The male main character Bo “The Marauder” Novikov is a hybrid with a polar bear for a father and a lion for a mother. His parents died when he was young, so he was raised by his uncle on his father’s side in Ursus County, which is completely populated with other bear shifters. As a human, he is very tall and wide with some of his Asian roots showing in his looks. His job: a hockey player. He is very rigorous when it comes to rules and schedules and always keeps to a strict workout routine. Shifted, he looks partly like a lion and partly like a polar bear with tusks that Blayne insists on calling “fangs like the sabre tooth tigers of yore.”
The female lead, Blayne Thorpe, is a hybrid shifter that is considered unstable: an African Wild Dog and Wolf hybrid. Her father is a loner wolf and her mother was an African Wild Dog that died when she was young. As a human, she is a small black woman and she works as a plumber. She is very happy and chipper, befriends everyone she meets and is especially fond of other hybrids. In her free time, she is part of a Roller Derby team. Shifted, as far as I can tell from the descriptions, she looks mostly like an African wild dog, and a small one at that. I saw no descriptions of wolf-like attributes.
Bo and Blayne first meet at a hockey game: he is playing and she is in the stands. He is immediately struck by this beautiful little shifter and she feels him staring at her. Afraid that he is a serial killer with plans to kill her, she runs away in fear. They don’t meet again until 10 years later when he is a pro hockey player and she is, again, sitting in the stands. This time, when she runs away in fear, he follows her.
She couldn’t get past him. After another minute, she screamed, “You’ll never take me alive! I’ll never let you get me to a secondary location!”
They talk to each other and when Blayne figures out Bo isn’t trying to kill her, she becomes much friendlier. Blayne is apologetic and easily distracted, so she isn’t as good as she could be at roller derby. They have a championship coming up, so to keep her place on the team, she asks Bo to help her out and train together. Bo is so charmed by her and wants to get close to her, so he agrees and makes time for her in his schedule. Even though she is late a few times, they still continue spending time together. But when she doesn’t show up to training at all after an accident at work, he goes over to her house and finds her half passed out on the couch. He helps her and ends up staying. That evening, they eat Chinese together and spend the rest of the time talking. Bo eventually ends up spending the night (on the couch).
Because according to my father, many teachers, and quite a few anger-management counselors, I seem to lack that little internal device that stops things that are best left unsaid from being said.
As is per usual in this series, something else is going on. In this case: there is a group of humans that is abducting hybrids and making them fight in illegal pit fights. Blayne her name has been sold and the shifter police have been using her as bait (without her knowledge). When they try to abduct her as she is driving with Bo, they barely escape alive. They call in the bears for help and they are taken back to Ursus County. After a brief stint in the hospital, Bo and Blayne recover and find out that the police have been using her as bait and they even microchipped her to keep track of her. She refuses to go back to the States and demands that they bring her father to her before she will go back. Her father then asks the police to round up the criminals and then his daughter will come back. Of course, it isn’t that easy because it turns out that the gang is taking the hybrids to an abandoned farm close to Ursus County to train before they get them back to the States all fighting-fit. So the entire police come in, together with Blayne and her new-found bear friends and they shut down the ring.
“I don’t hate you, you idiot. I’m in love with you. That’s why I’m panicking!” She marched to the door and yelled, “And our children will not be freaks!”
And of course, all’s well that ends well. They both admit to loving one another and get ready to spend their lives together. I know it probably doesn’t sound like much, but the interactions between Bo and Blayne are just to die for and I absolutely love their relationship. I’ve reread this one over 5 times!
I’d definitely recommend it for people into romance novels and/or shapeshifter romances. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!