Wednesday 15 December 2021

#CBR13 Book 54: "Breaking Badger" by Shelly Laurenston

Page count: 378 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer! This was an ARC from Netgalley. It has in no way influenced my review. 

This is the fourth book in an ongoing series. While this book works on its own, it will be much more enjoyable if you've read the first three books in the Honey Badger Chronicles, which start with Hot and Badgered. 

While the first three books in the Honey Badger Chronicles introduce us to the three MacKilligan sisters Charlie, Stevie, and Max who have different mothers but the same utterly irredeemable deadbeat dad. Not only do a lot of people hate and shun the women because of actions perpetrated by their father, or seek them out to hurt them in some misguided attempt to get revenge on him, but on more than one occasion, he tried to sell Stevie to drug cartels or Max into domestic slavery. No matter how bad the scrapes he gets himself into, their horrible dad seems to manage to survive against all odds to every so often pop up in the women's lives like a malevolent jack in the box to disrupt their peace. In the first three books, the sisters each find a romantic partner, and they also settle down in a New York suburb mostly populated by shapeshifters. Their closest neighbours are all various kinds of bears who are willing to put up with Max stealing honey from their hives because of the huge amount of baked goods provided when Charlie stress bakes (which she does a lot). 

In book 3, Badger to the Bone, the MacKilligan sisters discover that they have another half-sister, a young deaf woman with a devious mind and truly exceptional computer skills. Her entire family is comprised of Siberian tiger shifters and she has her three eldest half-brothers, known in the shifter community as the Black Malones, wrapped entirely around her scheming little finger. Only her youngest half-brother, who is also constantly berated and underestimated by the older Malones, has any idea of his sister's true nature. In Breaking Badger, Laurenston, having already paired up her first three MacKilligan sisters, moves on to the members of Max' basketball team, all honey badgers (they are also Max' gun-toting backup crew who get her out of trouble)

Finn Malone and his two eldest brothers are determined to find out not only how their father was killed but are out to avenge his death.  In this book, Finn is thrown together with Mads Galendotter, one of Max' best friends. Because of her truly awful family, Mads has a number of trust issues and has trouble even trusting that her basketball crew (they are clearly all sisters from different misters) won't abandon and disappoint her. However, by now the truly bonkers adventures of the MacKilligan sisters and their various loved ones take up most of the plot. The romance between Finn and Mads is rather secondary, and I didn't even mind, because I just love spending time with these characters. Learning more about the various women in Max' basketball team was enlightening, and it's very obvious that Laurenston has plans for at least a few more of these dangerous ladies and the other two Black Malone brothers.

In April 2020, I read The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston, the first in a series of books especially beloved by several of the reviewers on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I had trouble getting into the story and didn't find the romance particularly convincing. I was therefore a bit reluctant to start the Honey Badger Chronicles, but I shouldn't have worried, they are incredibly entertaining, ridiculously violent and the plots are completely crazy. The bonds between the MacKilligan sisters and later the found family of Max' basketball team was a lovely touch, as are the various ways in which these women are all utterly kick-ass. You do not want to mess with honey badger shifters, but you especially don't want to get on Charlie MacKilligan's bad side. There's a scene in this book that had me literally gasping out loud at the audacity of Laurenston, and if I wasn't completely sold on the books by now, that scene probably ensured that I will be buying and reading these books in perpetuity.

This book came out in late August 2021. Thanks to circumstances really keeping me apathetic much of the time, I didn't find the time to finish reading the book until early October and I feel really bad that it's taken me so long to finish this review. If you're unsure of whether these books are for you - ask yourself this - do you like the Deadpool movies and James Gunn's The Suicide Squad? Then you'll love them. I firmly believe that Harley Quinn and Max MacKilligan would be BFFs. 

Judging a book by its cover: While the first three books in the series have dudes (who are clearly meant to be the various heroes of the books) prominently featured on the covers, I really like the cover redesign which just has a tiger and a stylised heart - so the reader can use their own imagination to picture the protagonists. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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