The world is such a weird place. Traumas, viruses, racism, sexism, ‘otherism’ etc abounds… and sometimes it just all feels like Too Damb Much. And when that happens I dive deep into the worlds of Shelley Laurenston.
Okay, I dive deep into her worlds no matter what – Because I Can. And because they speak to me. Let me explain (in my own, skittery, Musetteish way).
Back in the Jurassic Era, when I was a young girl, in thrall to BVM nuns (the meanest order on Planet Nun – honestly, they could go toe to toe with Godzilla and win) – I was told, over and over, that I was Too Much.
Too smart (which translates to ‘too smart for your place’)
So. Many. Too’s. All designed to confine and diminish a girl. Never a boy. ONLY ever a girl (and I wasn’t the only girl, btw – but this is my story so we’ll stick with me). That desire to diminish and confine continued until I got to undergraduate school and met the amazing Reta Madsen who taught me to get over all that. As long as I kept my brain up to her standards and turned my GRE work in on time she couldn’t have cared less if I worked with edge weapons. Or climbed out a second-story window. Or…
Alas, society was still sitting there, coiled like a cobra-python hybrid, just waiting to squeeze me into my place, in whatever box it deemed proper for a Too Much kinda gal like me (h/t to Rachel Vorona Cote, who write a great book of the same name, working from the Victorian Era’s constraints on women. I highly recommend it!).
It was all just so very damb exhausting. And demoralizing. Too many men (and, sadly, a lot of women) who really don’t like my Muchness didn’t help the situation, either.
Enter Shelly Laurenston. I have no idea how I came upon her books but omg. I am so flippin’ HAPPPPPPPY! that I did. Lemmetellya about her worlds.
In Laurenston’s paranormal Worlds women rule – they are usually ‘shifters’ (humans who hereditarily can shift to another species – my favorites are the honey badgers (because every other shifter, including my 2nd favorite, Siberian Tigers (hoo-rah!) are scared of them – in Laurenston Worlds, she gives her badger sisters an even more terrifying edge: cursed (or lucked) by their crazy badger dad’s nutty genes. Totally weaponized in myriad ways, all 3 of them bizarre bi-species hybrids, they see the world in a mamba-eating Badger Way – and I am here for it. Lethal Charlie MacKilligan, My Murderous, Cupcake-Baking Queen, an entire neighborhood of dangerous grizzlies – and me – in the palm of her .9mm -holding hand.
Other predator species: wolves, big cats, bears, hyenas etc who inhabit her books are every bit as gutsy, raw, terrifying, lethal, fabulous (and if they’re hybrid, look out! they are double the fun!). They see the world in the natural way, with fewer societal/moral constraints than full-humans. Killing is (usually) for a reason (food/protection/etc, though Charlie’s and her sisters’ father is definitely an anomaly. A badger more needing killin’ you will not find.). Shifters are the epitome of ‘don’t start none, won’t be none’ – and again, I am here for it.
‘So? why these books? Paranormal stories abound!’ Welp! Glad you asked!! I love that Ms Laurenston turns the paranormal trope on its ear. In other paranormal novels it’s usually a shifter or were male trying to get with some winsome, fragile human female. Sigh. But! Not in Laurenston’s Worlds. Here, the shifter females are the object of desire, all linebacker shoulders, size 13 feet and scars for days (one of my favorite lines from Dee-Ann Smith, contract-killer and the most lethal wolf on the planet: “there’s a difference between survival scars and “I kill for a living” scars”).. one of Laurenston’s books has a wolf-heroine who, in human form, sports a scar full across her face! The alpha wolf male who wants her is hotAF and thinks she is, too! No ‘frail and fluffy beauty’ here. Solid Girls RULE! Just like in Nature. Hoo-rah!
And if you are one of the rare full-human woman in these books? You, too, are a Solid Predator. You’d better be, to run with this crowd. A lot of them are former combat Marines (like me, Laurenston loves her some Marines), solidly-skilled in tactical, smart, predatory and unafraid to use any/all of that Fabulous. And the shifter males who fall in love with them appreciate this. Of course the males are fabbo as well – rich, gorgeous, incredible lovers, great fighters. You know, Tuesday in HEA World ;-). But as in Nature it’s the females who generally do the heavy lifting. And they decide when they will let these males into their lives. Nobody female is sitting around, waiting for a damb thing. (I’m currently in a pseudo-‘waiting’ scenario irl, which makes me want to start swinging a mace (or a mamba), so I’m a bit salty right now – see, if I were in a Laurenston novel this would’ve been sorted already! Alas, irl, if I make a move I might end up in the back of a squad car. Alas. 😉
And.. omg.. the solidarity!!! These women can be coarse, profane, non-PC to the max (‘feline’ and ‘canine’ are not just used as species identifiers 😉 they are happy to beat the hell out of each other at the drop of a fang but when faced with adversaries, they will kill for each other. They are willing to die for each other (luckily, because these are HEA novels, nobody I love dies because that would make me cry – and I don’t do ‘cry’). Cold-blooded but huge-hearted, these women are protectors. And these women be FIERCE! My people. MY people :: sniff:: My people.
And they are funny as hell, these books. Like lip-curling, Shout/Cackle funny! I started reading Laurenston back when TGirl was still here and the number of times I shocked her with a gut-busting laugh … good times, especially when I read her the parts about the immortal Battle Dog!
Best part, though, takes me back to the BVMs (and beyond). These shifters could. not. care. less. about the full-human world. Obviously they keep their world on the q.t. since it’s essential to their survival (and because they live in the full-human world most spend more time in human form than shifter). But they are not trynta be ‘more human’. They consider themselves superior and if you are full-human you’d better come completely correct, if you want to enter that world (and very few do). In this world, the shifters are normal. In this shifter world, they’re perfect. And their world is the only world that matters.
I love the living snot out of these women who are Too Much (I mean, who survives being shoved down a working incinerator??!! Badgers do!!!) And I love Ms Laurenston for creating worlds where Too Much is just right.
Warning: these hysterical novels contain some seriously explicit sex (hoo-rah!) – but the sex isn’t integral to the stories (which are real stories, not just sexalicious HEAs masquerading as a book). If explicit sex isn’t your jam, you can jump ahead to the rest of the story. They’re marketed as romances but honestly? the romance is secondary to the excellent storylines (which usually revolve around sisterhood and the sorting of some horrible thing (like the abduction and murder of hybrid shifters) that takes precedence over boy/girl stuff. Although I’m all for that, too.
So. if the world is getting to be Too Much. Or if the world is telling you (again!) that you are Too Much, c’mon over to My New World. Come meet my girls. I promise you’ll come away feeling refreshed, energized, in love AF (they are incredible women, trust me) … and maybe just a bit vindicated! It isn’t you. You are not Too Much.
My reading list just expanded -thank you!
omg! you are so welcome. Hope you enjoy her as much as I do! xoxox
Okay, I am intrigued! Haven’t read Laurenston before, but onto my list she goes!
Start with the Badgers – and read in order (the first one is a lot of establishing, so be patient). I hope you love them! xoxoxo
Of course the guys are rich. Heterosexually speaking, the guy is always going to check out the size of a woman’s chest and she’s going to check out the size of his …ahem…wallet. But anyhoo, to paraphrase Mae West, ‘too much of a good thing is just about right.’ So let’s here it for tooooo much.
Mae West ain’t nebber lied! LOL!
Not an author I know. I guess I’ve stuck to vampires, finding other supernatural stuff a bit much. She certainly gets a lot of love which is a good recommendation.
She’s amazing! I don’t know your tastes so let me just say – she’s a bit… rowdy! But funny!
Haven’t been able to do a lot of reading since the pandemic started. If I am not working, it’s trying to manage the chaos at home. I might have to check this out.
Total escapism, Eldarwen!! Very, very well-written and howlingly funny (heh). I would recommend audiobooks except for the swearing (lots of swearing) and blistering-hot sex. So.. mebbe not, if you have kids.
So happy to find another Shelly Laurenston fan! Im relistening to Breaking Badger this week. Love the badgers. Have you dipped your toe into the dragon/historical paranormal Shelly writes as G.A. Aiken? Still strong, powerful women, but also dragon shifters and n her most recent GA Aiken series, centaurs.
Oooh! I absolutely LOVED Breaking Badger. The scene with the Inland Taipan was hysterical!!!
I have read one (maybe the first) of her dragon series. Am holding off on the others, like I would that last piece of chocolate cake… 😉
I am SO glad you wrote about a genre I knew nothing about, and you talk about it so compellingly! It makes me “get” why you love these stories so much! They also sound frankly hilarious (in all the right ways.) Xo
Hon, they are SO. DAMB. FUNNY!
And totally made for a psychopath like me.
Never heard of this author….this type of book wouldn’t normally be on my radar but boy, you made them sound….interesting to say the least! Now I’m gonna have to look into one cause…you gots me curious!
I remember when my kids were younger and enjoyed reading the Animorphs series by K.A.Applegate where the main characters would also change into animals.
Interestingly, it’s not the shifter part that is all that interesting – it’s the idea of how that part of their nature translates into their everyday existence (thinking about Cella Malone (Siberian Tiger) and Dee-Ann Smith (Grey wolf) – best friends and assassin partners who always have each other’s back… but whenever they are together they end up beating the living crap out of each other. Because Cats & Dogs! LOL!
I gotta look for this author!
Pam – if you decide to read her, start with the Badger Chronicles and read in order! They can be read as standalones but they’re better in order!
Musette my glorious, hilarious, erudite, sharps wielding, salty woman….you are my reading soulmate!
Firstly I love to read your articles as you leave me in stitches and often times saying out loud to two very bewildered fur babies “ YES, Musette you’ve Nailed it” or some such phrase in agreement.
I stumbled onto the fabulous Shelley Laurenston and I haven’t looked back or up from reading her books. She has given me books with wonderfully strong, intelligent and hysterical funny Hero’s who have ovaries! And the really hot sidekicks are the ones who have the d**ks. These females kick ass and don’t care and in todays world I live to read these books. Anyway thank you for your time spent writing these articles they bring me joy and at times tears but regardless I love love you’re way of turning a phrase! I wish you & the family a wonderful holiday season.
Omg, Lej! YOU nailed it this time – the really hot sidekicks really are the ones with the d*cks (and always such heft with those d’s – hoooo-RAH! to the max!) –
Laurenston really does capture the basics of the natural world, amended to our human one. I find it both fascinating and refreshing.
And thank you for all those compliments!!! They really made my morning!