From the BLURB:
Growing up on the tough Philly streets, Gwen O'Neill has learned how to fend for herself. But what is she supposed to do with a nice, suburban Jersey boy in the form of a massive Grizzly shifter? Especially one with a rather unhealthy fetish for honey, moose, and . . . uh . . . well, her. Yet despite his menacing ursine growl and four-inch claws, Gwen finds Lachlan "Lock" MacRyrie cute and really sweet. He actually watches out for her, protects her, and unlike the rest of her out-of-control family manages not to morbidly embarrass her. Too bad cats don't believe in forever.
At nearly seven feet tall, Lock is used to people responding to him in two ways: screaming and running away. Gwen-half lioness, half tigress, all kick-ass-does neither. She's sexy beyond belief and smart as hell, but she's a born protector. Watching out for the family and friends closest to her but missing the fact that she's being stalked by a murderous enemy who doesn't like hybrids . . . and absolutely hates Gwen. Lock probably shouldn't get involved, but he will. Why? Because this is Gwen-and no matter what the hissing, roaring, drape destroying feline says about not being ready to settle down, Lock knows he can't simply walk away. Not when she's come to mean absolutely everything to him.
‘The Mane Squeeze’ is the fourth book in Shelly Laurenston’s ‘Pride’ series.
Gwen O’Neill is a ligon (tiger/lion hybrid) – she can turn her head 180°, go ‘house cat’ on her enemies and generally take care of herself when anti-hybrid bullies want a piece. What Gwen hasn’t quite mastered is her smothering family. Her promiscuous and hot-to-trot mother, ‘Roxy’ O’ Neill. Her half-brother, Mitchell Shaw and the half-brother of her half-brother, Brendan Shaw. All of these people who make up her ‘pride’ and Gwen can’t actually stand them . . . it’s not that she doesn’t have love in her heart. It’s just that Gwen is a strong, independent female who doesn’t appreciate being the baby of the pride. The only person who really ‘gets’ her is her best friend and fellow hybrid, wolfdog Blayne.
And then Gwen meets Lachlan "Lock" MacRyrie . . . a grizzly bear shifter with thighs to die for and an adorable penchant for toesies and honey. Lock is certainly someone who doesn’t treat Gwen like a baby. Not at all.
Lock likes to be content. He doesn’t like crowds. He does like honey. He doesn’t like that people are so intimidated by his size. But he does like that Gwen O’Neill isn’t one of those people. Gwen is one ligon who makes Lock hum, so it’s a good thing he returns the favour by making her purr. . .
I love, love, loved this couple! Gwen and Lock are ranking pretty high on my list of favourite ‘Pride’ couples, purely because they are the perfect combination of funny and adorable.
Especially delightful is their ‘boy meets girl’ story. It all starts with a rousingly grumpy Lock falling down a mountain with Gwen. Then he had to rescue her from organ-thieving doctors. Their chemistry was instantaneous and simmering so Gwen’s bestie, Blayne, decided to help things along and play cupid. No matter how much Gwen’s half-brothers, Mitch and Brendan Shaw, tried to break the couple up . . . Blayne was tenacious in her cupid role;
Blayne slammed her hands against the table and leaned in. “Now listen up, you Navy-loving son of a bitch! If my friend wants that bear, she’s gonna get that bear. And neither hell nor you nor some big-haired, twenty-hour-sleeping king of the idiots is gonna stop me from making sure she gets that bear!”
And when Gwen and Lock do get together, it is sexy as all get out! For one thing, Shelly Laurenston has written some very interesting quirks for bear shifters, like their prehensile lips;
Gosh, this was awkward. “I mean . . .” Damn, what did he mean? “They can move independently. When I'm bear, they’re completely unattached from my jaw, and as human – I can kind of play with that.”She leaned back a little more, her furrowed brow turning to an outright frown and well on its way to a healthy scowl. “Are you telling me that your lips are like . . .” She had this look on her face that could be a look of disgust or a look of confusion, he had no idea which one. Confusion he could handle . . . disgust, however . . .“Your lips are like fingers?”
Yep. Lock’s lips act like fingers, independent from his jaw. And when Gwen discovers this interesting information . . . bedroom experimentation (hilariously!) ensues. Seriously, this scene had me laughing out loud.
Lock is perhaps my favourite male character thus far. It has nothing to do with the fact that bears are my favourite animal (and I had a teddy bear collection as a kid). Lock is just gorgeous. He’s a giant of a man, and somewhat shy of his imposing body. But underneath the grizzly morning personality, Lock is a big softie. He loves honey, and playing with his toes. He was too freakin cute!
How could Shelly Laurenston improve her already incredible ‘Pride’ series? How could her combination hilarious/hot writing get any better? I’ll tell you how - roller derby. Hells yeah!
As Laurenston is want to do in her series, she writes outlandish characters and even more wild storylines. ‘The Mane Squeeze’ is a fairly straightforward ligon meets bear love plot . . . but with an added storyline about an age-old roller derby rivalry between wolf and lioness shifters. Oh yeah. This series just got awesome(r) . . . and the skating finale of ‘Squeeze’ is a brilliant bit of jamming bloodthirstiness.