Monday, November 12, 2012

ARC Review of Kept by Shawntelle Madison

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Series: Coveted #2
Format Read: eGalley
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Buying Links:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from goodreads):

Fresh from defending her pack in battle, Natalya Stravinsky, a whip-smart werewolf with a lovable neurotic streak, wants a little rest and relaxation. Once an outcast, she’s now eager to rejoin the ranks of her New Jersey pack, and has even gotten a handle on her obsessive urge to hoard holiday ornaments. Yet Nat barely has time to revel in her progress before the next crisis comes howling at her door.


Nat’s father has suddenly gone missing, captured by the Russian werewolf mafia. And as Nat steps up to save her dad from a mob boss’s deadly game, two men step in to play another round for her heart: her gorgeous alpha ex-boyfriend, Thorn, and her new flame, the sweetly sensitive wizard Nick. With her life growing more harried by the minute, Nat must stay cool, calm, and collected . . . or else risk losing everything.

Reviewed By: Bea

Quote:
The child leapt into my arms.
I expected to cringe. To cry out from the filth that crawled all over her. But she smelled of forever. Youth. The warmth of my babushka's blankets wrapped around me.
I cried out, but it wasn't in pain. It felt good to do the right thing.
Bea's Thoughts:

When the first book came out, I was intrigued. An OCD werewolf? That was different. I never did get around to reading the first book but that wasn't a problem when reading this one. Madison did an excellent job of working in information about events from book one without dragging down the story. That's a good thing as much of what happens in this story unfolds from those events.

Approximately the first half of the story is Nat and friends paying off her father's debt, but not in any way the mob boss expects. Despite the difficulties and some challenging choices, Nat is honorable. That sense of honor which led her to shoulder her father's debt also leads to her endangering her father and her place in the pack. Packs in this world live by a Code, a strict code with severe consequences for failure to abide by it. It's that Code that led to her father's debt and her assuming the debt.

Nat is a different sort of wolf, with her OCD, and attending therapy for it. The group therapy scenes were among my favorites in the book. Due to circumstances in the first book, Nat lost her place in her pack. Unlike most werewolf books I've read, the packs in this world don't grant automatic admission, you have to pass a trial. She lost her pack status previously and in this book, she strives to regain it. The actual trial itself happens at the very end of the book. There were some cliches and "twists" that really weren't twists but even so, Madison manages some tension about the outcome. The trial also serves to resolve the love triangle, no, quadrangle, that Nat's involved in.

Nat loves Thorn, the Alpha-elect, who loves her but is required to marry Erica. But Nat also has feelings for Nick, a wizard from her therapy group, who loves her. Happily, Madison doesn't drag out this storyline but resolves it by the end of this book. The book is a curious mix of straight up urban fantasy and romance. At times, the romance felt grafted on and while I believed Nat's feelings Thorn, his for her never felt real to me. I liked the romance between her and Nick and was rooting for them. Who does she end up with? You'll have to read and see for yourself.

I liked Nat; she's a little gruff but kind, loyal to her family and friends, tries to deal with her disability (trust me, in the werewolf world OCD is a disability), is snarky, and while she sometimes acts before thinking, she's not one of those too-stupi-to-love heroines so common in urban fantasy books. I loved Madison's world building and how different it is from other werewolf books I read; I loved the humor and the secondary characters (I really want to know what happens with Heidi and Abby).

In between the trial and paying off her father's debt, Nat deals with her family, her former lover's jealous fiance, her OCD, magic, and various other odds and ends. At times, the book felt less like a cohesive story and more like a collection of anecdotes and short stories.

There are some cliches and predictable events, the characters could have used some additional depth, but in all, it was a good book and I expect I'll be back for more.

The ARC I read did have a lot of typos, some wrong words and missing words, and several oddly constructed sentences. I hope that these were fixed in the final copy as they were frequent enough to keep me from buying it if not.

Some favorite quotes:
"You have the pace of a were-sloth participating in the Olympics. You'd slow me down to the point of aggravation."
"Do you do everything in heels? Never mind, don't answer that. My mind went to the wrong place real fast."
Thanks to being a clean freak, I was used to being stared at by the other werewolves back at home. In comparison, a few humans I'd never see again didn't seem like a problem. The cheap plastic gloves brought me a strange comfort just looking at them.
No one said anything after that. What the hell could I say to back up a story about an evil hitcher and his trained killer monkey?
I sighed deeply. Everything I'd learned so far should've been a warning, but I wanted to learn more.
He sounded all confident and smug. Too bad Auntie Yelena didn't know he had that rampant a***ole disease going around the on the East Coast.
"I'm not just your average truck-driving, bartending mermaid who likes roughnecks."
I received an eGalley from the publisher for review.

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