The Mane Event consists of two linked stories in one volume. The first story, "Christmas Pride," follows the meeting
during the holidays of two people who were very close at school but whose lives diverged for twenty years. Mace Llewellyn is a human who can turn into a lion, and he is being pressured to take up responsibilities within his Pride with regard to the females.
However, he remembers Dez MacDermot from his youth and believes she is the woman with whom he wants to spend his life. Their meeting again isn't entirely auspicious as it is over the body of one of his Pride members - Dez is a police detective and Mace has just left the Navy
- but he instantly insinuates himself into her life, trying to show Dez that
they should be together while she investigates the murder.
The murder plot, although good, is definitely subordinate to the sex part of the book. In some ways that's a disappointment, as there
are some interesting angles within the mystery - the Lions, Wolves and Hyenas' fighting for territory, and various individuals crossing boundary lines within species. Most of the action in the book is between Dez and Mace and between the sheets (or in the shower, against a wall, on the couch...), with just a brief fight between the Hyenas and the Wolves to add some interest. Mace's plan for Dez appears to be to wear her down
through sex and proximity so that she will agree that they should be together. There are some amusing moments with her two police dogs, her family and Mace's partner Smittty, but most of the story focuses on the relationship between the main characters - although as a lust-at-first-sight relationship, there's little growing or changing between the main characters. For those who enjoy reading books that are largely about sex, this is a better example than most with more characterization than you often see, but I felt it would have been a little better if more were made of the murder mystery and of the turf war breaking out between the various Were creatures, and if the characters themselves, particularly Mace, changed and grew through their relationship.
The second story, "Shaw's Tail," starts where the first story ends as Brendon Shaw, one of the lions, is rescued by some of the werewolves. One wolf in particular, Ronnie Lee Reed, is detailed to take care of him after he has been injured. He has a fever, and
that means Ronnie has quite a tricky time caring for him - he keeps turning into a lion, escaping and trying to seduce her.
As they spend more time together, Brandon begins to understand the ties that bind him to his family as well as his desire for a more settled life. Ronnie Lee is a lighthearted, fun girl who never stays anywhere long, who isn't serious about relationships and often gets into trouble.
Now she's turned thirty, she wants to settle down a little and stop using men for sex;
but when she meets Brendon, she finds it difficult to change her nature and relax into his care
This story is pleasant enough, but the plot is rather thin - most of the action is about Brendon and Ronnie. Ronnie's skittishness as she tries to change from free spirit to settled woman is well written; Brendon's character is less clear - he decides he wants Ronnie and that's it, although he is learning how to handle her as the story continues. Brendon's relationship with his brother and sister, as well as his two children, serves to show us a little more about how Pride and Pack dynamics work, but there is less story to this part of The Mane Event and consequently it's less of a satisfying read.
Overall the two stories are similar in that their main (mane?) focus always appears to be sex. "Christmas Pride" has more plot but still not a great deal; the characters are interesting but not as well defined as they could be in some cases, and the background world of the Pride and the Pack deserves more detail as it
is an interesting construct. It's enjoyable enough reading, but without the depth that some other books in this genre have.