Review: The Unleashing (Call of Crows #1) by Shelly Laurenston

March 4, 2015 2015 Review Challenge, 4.5 Stars, ARC, Book Review, ebook, Erotic Romance, inter-racial relationship, Paranormal Romance, prickly pear heroine, Romance, Serial, spunky spitfire heroine, woman warrior 1 ★★★★½

Review: The Unleashing (Call of Crows #1) by Shelly Laurenston four-half-stars
The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Call of Crows #1
Published by Kensington on March 31, 2015
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
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Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn't for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig "Vig" Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life--but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can't give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera's discipline, Vig's loyalty... and the Crows' sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

Quite some time ago I read a book by Shelly Laurenston titled Hunting Season (The Gathering, #1). I loved Hunting Season and the entire world that Ms Laurentston created and I was disappointed to learn that she had no intention of finishing the series.

When I saw advertisements for The Unleashing…OMG, I was so excited! Ms Laurenston explicitly states that The Unleashing was not a part of The Gathering, instead it’s a brand new book and series based in the same “world.” I. Don’t. Care. This was exactly what I was looking for. Ms Laurenston’s world full of Viking gods and goddesses, Crows and Ravens, supernatural crimes and evil gods/goddesses is just amazingly detailed and wonderful. I can tell that Ms Laurenston made some significant changes in her world and the writing of this new book: The Unleashing is still funny and exhilarating but its a lot less vulgar (sad face) and a bit more serious.

I first started reading The Unleashing one morning while getting ready for work. I had a few minutes to myself and thought, “Why not?” 20 minutes later as I was running desperately late for work I realized I was going to really enjoy this book…and that this was a good reason never to read before leaving for work!

I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the heroine, Kera, having to learn (deal with?) her training as a Marine and her new life as a Crow. I can only imagine how difficult it is to have relearn everything you thought you ever knew about life. It was interesting watching Kera try to assimilate (or not) into her new Crow life as well as the Crows learning to work with (and not around) Kera. The hardest thing about Kera’s new life as a Crow was the lack of military discipline. The Crows are warriors but they are not soldiers. They do what is required of them (kill) but they are not trained and disciplined in the same way soldiers are – this really distressed Kera as military order was how she focused her life.

“What the hell was that about?” Alessandra asked.

“She had to go.”

“Aren’t you her mentor? Aren’t you supposed to be helping her?”

“She had a clipboard! There is no help for people who walk around with clipboards for absolutely no apparent reason!”

Alessandra went back to the tablet she was working on as Leigh stormed over, a beer now in her hand.

“You have to do something.”

“I know. I know.” Erin returned to her deck chair. “Trust me. I know. ”

“Not only is she a menace,” Leigh went on, now good and panicked, “but she’s all eager and hopeful, ready to change everything with her focused energy and positive work ethic. We can’t have that, Amsel.

One of my favorite parts of The Unleashing was the story of how the Crows were first started. I really appreciated that history as well as meeting the First Crow. The strength of the First Crow – her ability to survive after all of horrors life threw at her – was amzing. I also loved the visit to Asgard and the confidence that Kera achieved there.

Vig. I loved Vig and I loved how much he loved Kera. I also loved the way that Vig was scary to everyone else but when it came to Kera he was initially tongue-tied. That was simply adorable. I loved that while the Marines taught Kera to fight and defend, it was Vig who was able to “teach” Kera how to kill. Gosh, that sounds horrible but read the book and it’ll make sense! The relationship that Vig and Kera have was so touching. Unlike a lot of Romances where the couple’s major tie to each other is their physical attraction, Vig and Kera are shown comforting each other and growing together.

There must be special discussion about Brodie Hawaii – Kera’s rescued pit bull. OMG. I adored Brodie and thought she was the best. I loved that Ms Laurenston talked about animal rescue and the horrors of dog fighting. Brodie was the BEST and I’m sitting on a spoiler so freaking hard cause there’s a scene in here that had me cheering my ass off. GO Brodie!! 😀

“On one condition,” she’d told the veiled woman. “I have to bring my dog.”

Fathomless eyes had frowned at her over the veil. “What?”

“I’ll take your offer . . . but only if I can bring my dog. No dog, no deal.”

“You’re serious? You’re willing to give up your chance at a second life for a dog?”

“I won’t go without Brodie.”

Folding her arms over her chest, the woman had held what looked like a watering can . . . which seemed, to put it mildly, weird.

“You do know,” the woman asked Kera, “that you’re standing in front of me with a knife sticking out of your chest? Right? I send you back now, like this, and it’s over. No second life. No feasting at Valhalla. No Ragnarok. You do understand that, right?”

“Not really. I don’t know what Valhalla and Ragnarok have to do with anything. What I do know is that I don’t go anywhere without Brodie. I’m not leaving her. She comes with me or I don’t go. It’s that simple.”

“You’d give up everything I’m offering you for a dog?”

“She was there for me when no one else was. I won’t leave her.”

The woman leaned back a bit. “Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.”

Kera jerked the hammer again, dragging the man down the hall. While she did, her dog, Brodie, had her back. Snapping and charging at anyone who got too close to Kera.

To this day, Kera couldn’t tell what had possessed her to help the ugly little dog. Brodie had not been friendly. But Kera had just moved back to Los Angeles after leaving the Marines. She’d been feeling edgy, tense . . . and angry. Getting work had been harder than she’d thought it would be. Her old friends from high school didn’t know how to talk to her. They treated her like a freak, an outsider. At least that’s the way it felt at the time. And that was perhaps what had attracted Kera to the dog. God knows, Brodie had looked like a freak, an outsider herself at that moment. In the end, it had turned out that ugly, mean little dog was willing to do anything, risk anything, to protect Kera.

And Brodie’s apparent reward for that loyalty? Well, now she was a tall, muscular, one hundred or so pound, beautiful pit bull with all her teeth and her muzzle undamaged. But Brodie was still willing to do anything, risk anything to protect Kera.

I LOVED Brodie Hawaii.

I really enjoyed The Unleashing and I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series. There are very few things about the book that I didn’t like: I felt the story dragged in a few places and I wished for more sex and violence (how horrible that sounds, lol!).

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Unleashing and other books written by Shelly Laurenston can be found at Shelly Laurenston’s website.

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