~~Moved from GR~~
Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)
by Patricia Briggs
Despite a ton of recommendations to try this, I've been avoiding this series like the plague. I've been burned more times than I'd like by urban fantasy novels with female protagonists--all to often, I discover that the innocent-looking UF disguises hardcore PNR, and paranormal romance with supernatural hunky males sends me running for a punching bag and a barf bucket. So, anyway, I have bad luck with female-protag UF even when the cover makes the protagonist look badass, and I figured any cover featuring a scantily-clad, provocatively posing female just wouldn't be for me.
As it turns out, the cover and marketing does the book a huge disservice. Moon Called is not PNR, and if you're looking for PNR, you're going to be really unhappy with this one. Granted, there are an impressive number of men who appear to be romantically interested in the protagonist, Mercy Thompson. Granted, two of them fall into the alpha-male-he-man-dominator style love interest, and have a low-key and continual battle with one another for her affections. But despite this, Mercy has the unusual ability to actually concentrate on little details like staying alive and rescuing her friends rather than being distracted by her ovaries every three seconds. She also doesn't see pushy, dictatorial, overbearing, possessive, and sexist men as hot--she sees them as pushy, dictatorial, overbearing, possessive, and sexist. She is aware of the men's interest in her, but she doesn't dissolve into brainless estrogen jello every time they look at her or touch her. Instead, she keeps her mind on the job. I don't think I've ever encountered a UF protagonist who managed that before. The only gooey (but skippable) romantic scene comes at the end, after the conflict has been resolved.
I also really liked the world itself. As is standard in UF, it turns out that there have been fey, werewolves, vampires, and more living amongst the myopic humans for millennia. However, in Thompson's world, the supernatural creatures have come to the realization that science is about to put an end to their days of hiding and are beginning to come out to the rest of the human race. The lesser fae, forced into the open by the Grey Lords (the high fae), are the first to be exposed, and it seems that time is running out for the werewolves, vampires, and the rest.
Mercy herself is a Walker, a Native American shapeshifter who can turn into a coyote. She tries to keep a low profile as a car mechanic, but as she was raised by werewolves, employed by a fey, and semi-friends with a vampire, she has a pretty good finger on the pulse of the supernatural world. So when a rogue runaway werewolf turns up on her doorstep with stories of kidnap, cages, and drugs, she knows that things are about to get complicated. As she works to assist the local werewolves, she is dragged into the political embroglios of werewolf, fey, vampire, and human alike.
Overall, I really enjoyed it--the mystery was perhaps a little clumsy, but the characters were vivid, there was a very positively portrayed LGBT couple, and Mercy herself is likeable and pretty badass. Sound like a good read? It is. It makes an even better audiobook--the narrator is terrific.