I love reading series as a whole. So, sometimes I'll buy a series but put off reading it until there are several books in it. Patricia Briggs series with Mercy Thompson is one of those series that's been sitting on my bookshelf for months (well, okay, maybe a year - I've added the new books as they came out, but until now I haven't read them). I think it was because it was werewolves. That's no excuse on my part. I love all things supernatural except werewolves. Because in my head, they're these awfully hairy (I knew a guy once I'd swear was a werewolf from all the hair growing on him...yuck) men & in my head it would have to HURT to shift.
So Mercy has sat there waiting for me to get over my dislike of werewolves and reach a point where I felt like reading about her.
I am officially stupid.
These are fantastic books. Mercy is a magical shapeshifter (a coyote), born of a teenage mother and a rodeo cowboy native american father. She never knew her father. Her mother, not knowing how to deal with a shapeshifter daughter, turned her over to the head werewolf to raise. She's an auto mechanic who lives next door to Adam, pack leader of the local werewolves. Mercy understands werewolves, but she's not particularly liked by them. She's under Bran's (the man who raised her) protection, tho & Adam has claimed her as mate to protect her as well. Well, okay, maybe its more than just protecting her.
Are the wolves scary. Maybe a little bit. But they're also sexy and loyal and intense. And yes, it hurts them to shift. But reading about it wasn't the torture I expected it to be because they're so compelling. I love how Patricia Briggs relayed the pack mentality and the individual roles of the various wolves within it. I think it's brilliantly done.
Mercy doesn't have just Adam to deal with, tho. She has Samuel - Bran's son - he's a very old werewolf who had claimed her as a teenager. Not because he loved her, but because he wanted children & werewolf women can't have children. Mercy ran from him when she learned the truth, which is how she came to live in Adam's territory. Samuel went lone-wolf & he's not doing so well. (Mercy lived with her mother for a while, but their relationship is awkward, because her mother is remarried & has other children who didn't know about Mercy.)
Anyway, Mercy is very self-sufficient. She's used to being rejected & so doesn't allow anyone to get close enough that she has to deal with it. You know how that's going, right? She can't possibly keep out everyone - Adam, Samuel, Adam's daughter Jessie, Zee (the fae something who sold her the shop), Warren (a gay werewolf), Kyle (his lover), Ben (a badass wolf), or Stefan (a vampire who's car she repairs who is in love with her, too).
Some really horrible things happen to Mercy in this series. And some really wonderful things. From book to book, she adapts to everything and grows. And I seriously would love to go on and on about everything that happens, but that would mean spoilers & I'm just not going to do it.
My favorite scene is one in which Adam is kneeling in front of her and presses his face to her stomach. Swear to God, it took my breath away. He's patient, strong, and he really loves her. As Alpha, it makes their relationship tricky - especially because she doesn't want to be controlled & he really doesn't want to control her - going against all instincts. (Okay, I might have a mad crush on Adam...he's...yum...sigh....delicious.)
If you've never read this series, I recommend it. Strongly.