Monday, July 8, 2013
Mini reviews: Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper, It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis
Caged Warrior (Dragon Kings #1) by Lindsey Piper
The first installment in this fierce and sensual new paranormal romance series features demonic gladiators, ruthless mafia villains, and a proud race on the brink of extinction.
Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation—which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.
Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning. ~ Goodreads | Buy it!
My thoughts: This is a dark book -which I loved. The heroine, Nynn, has been locked up and experimented on for years. Her husband murdered and her only son taken away. Her only hope for survival is to become a Cage warrior for her captors with training from Leto - the ultimate Cage warrior.
The world the author created is incredibly complex and riveting. Nynn and Leto were fascinating both individually and as a couple but the pacing of their relationship was off. Leto is as much an anti-hero as I've ever read. He's brutal and crass in his training of Nynn. I liked that the book didn't take the insta-love route and I found their dynamic very interesting. It was slow to build which is great but when you take a guy like Leto and turn him into the good guy…that takes time. Several books even and it felt rushed to me. I'm not sure I bought the ease of the transition from early brutal trainer Leto to the later boyfriend Leto.
There are a lot of things that were hinted at concerning Leto and Nynn's potential together as a couple when it came to their powers but it never came to fruition. As far as I can tell the next book in the series will focus on a different couple but I hope that doesn't mean the end of Nynn and Leto's story because I'm still in need of closure for them. I liked them a lot but I don’t believe in their HEA just yet.
Very interesting world and I'll be sure to pick up the next book even though this one didn't 100% work for me.
It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor #7) by Jill Shalvis
Ali Winters is not having a good day. Her boyfriend left her, everyone in town thinks she's a thief, and now she's about to be kicked out of her home. Her only shot at keeping a roof over her head and clearing her name is to beg for help from a police detective who's as sexy as he is stern....
After a high-profile case goes wrong, Luke Hanover returns to his hometown for some peace and quiet. Instead he finds a bombshell brunette in a heap of trouble. As he helps Ali put her world back together, the pieces of Luke's own life finally seem to fall into place. Is this the start of a sizzling fling? Or are Luke and Ali on the brink of something big in a little town called Lucky Harbor? ~ Goodreads | Buy it!
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher (Grand Central Publishing) at BEA
My thoughts: I’ve never read anything by Jill Shalvis before but she is one of those authors that people keep saying I need to read so I was happy when I saw this book at BEA. Despite being the 7th book in the Lucky Harbor series I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything. I’m sure some of the characters were introduced previously but I didn’t notice. It was very accessible as a new reader to the series.
My favorite thing about Shalvis’s writing is the humor. The introduction between Ali and Luke alone is the worth the price of this book. I almost fell off my couch laughing.
The other thing I enjoyed is that these characters felt mature and realistic to me. Both Luke and Ali are people you could sit down and chat with.
I usually dislike small town settings. I like the close knit community but it’s usually used as an excuse for wacky, nosy neighbor hijinks. Lucky Harbor definitely has the nosy neighbor thing down but you can feel the love and friendships leaping off the page.
The one thing I disliked was Ali getting all bent out of shape all of a sudden when she felt that Luke couldn’t commit. He had been nothing but honest and upfront with her and she agreed to it all knowing that it may come to an end when he needed to get back to his job in another state, yet she freaked out anyway. It’s a minor complaint and didn’t ruin the story for me one bit. More like it left me scratching my head.
And Jack….Luke’s best friend. That boy stole the show every scene he was in. I believe his story is next and I’m looking forward to reading it! Looks like a friends to lovers tale!
My first foray into reading a Jill Shalvis novel won’t be my last. I love how she writes heartfelt, sexy, humorous romance.