I have fallen kind of madly in love with Shelly Laurenston's Pride series, y'all. THE WORLDBUILDING IS SO GOOD FOR ME. I poked at her Magnus Pack series, which predates and is loosely connected, but I had to tap out of that. The Pride series, though? I will be exchanging actual dollars for book 9 at the end of the month.
It would have been super easy for me to write them off as more terrible werewolf romance novels and that would have been a very sad mistake. Are they the best things I've ever read? No. But even the short story where a dude kidnaps a girl and they fall in love isn't rapey! He respects and adores her and she makes all the moves and it is great. That's, like, the unicorn of romance novels.
THERE ARE MULTIPLE BOOKS ABOUT BADASS FEMALE EX-MARINES. The scariest person in this whole generation of characters? Dee Ann Smith. Second place I can't decide, but the people in the running are three ladies and one guy.
Also, it's not just wolves, it's all kinds of shifters! THE HEROINE IN BOOK 9 IS A HONEY BADGER SHIFTER. SHE WILL RIP OFF YOUR FACE, SHE DON'T GIVE A FUCK. I LOVE HER. My favorite hero is Bo Novikov, whose dad was a polar bear and mom was a lion. His fiancee (herself a wolfdog, which is a famously unstable mix in-verse) insists on calling him a bearcat. There are jackals and grizzlies and tigers and African wild dogs and I am really hoping for a hyena hero(ine), because even as extremely minor characters those are some creepy motherfuckers.
There are main characters of color! And not just a couple - it's about half and half, at least on the ladies' side. YMMV on that, though, because species is treated as a much bigger issue than race. Personally, I kind of loved that we were halfway through Jess's book before I realized she was black, because it made sense. She and Smitty had known each other since they were kids. Of course he wouldn't think stuff about "that gorgeous black woman", he was just thinking "hot damn, Jessie Ann grew up nice". Blayne was targeted for a hate crime because she was a wolf/wild dog mix, not because she was black. (Blayne and the wild dogs are the best, btw.)
Anyway, the first book (actually two short stories) - not great. Book two, Jess and Smitty - pretty good, but it gets kind of weird for me at the end. Book three, Sissy Mae and Mitch - I love every redneck bit of it. Sissy has a fucked up relationship with her mother that's actually really well explained and the book itself is just really funny. It's the first book in the series I read and I find it a pretty good starting point.