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Shawntelle Madison

REVIEW:  Kept by Shawntelle Madison

REVIEW: Kept by Shawntelle Madison

Dear Ms. Madison:

The “Coveted” series is narrated by Natayla, a werewolf on the very bottom of the pack hierarchy. She suffers from OCD and overall weakness in strength. I wasn’t sure from the text whether it was for psychological disorder or physical weakness that made her pack view her with disgust but she is concerned that her own relative weakness in the pack puts her family in jeopardy.  When her father disappears, Natayla gathers up her meager courage and attempts to rescue him.

Natayla comes from a large Russian immigrant family, all of whom are werewolves. Most of her family loves her and accepts her as she is, except her aunt who views Natayla as a blot on the family name.  She is given a chance to be fully enfolded into the Pack by completing a series of physical challenges that she must undertake in human form.  Her brother gets her ex lover, Thorn, to train her for these.

Kept Shawntelle MadisonNatayla finds that her father owed a blood oath to a criminal underworld boss.  His task was to deliver something.  Natayla agrees to do this for her father. Fortunately for Natayla, three of her friends show up to go on this venture with her. The sudden appearance of her friends and the ease at which Natayla finds her father is typical of the story’s weakened suspense thread.  While the story relies heavily on this action/suspense narrative to move forward, the resolution to dire situations always appear to be quick and easy.

Another problem with Kept is that much of the story seems to rely on the first in a series, Coveted. There are events that took place in the previous book which affect both her personal romantic life, her position in the pack, and the overall pack dynamics. While info dumps are largely viewed with disfavor as a writing technique, a judicious use of it in this book could have aided reading comprehension.  Major reveals occur in this book that explain Thorn’s behavior toward Natayla.  When they came out, I felt a bit sorry for those who had read Coveted.  It was likely a reveal those readers had been yearning for.

An  love triangle is included in the story.  Natayla longs for her former lover but she is also attracted to a white wizard she met in therapy.  While Thorn plays the traditional alpha male role familiar to romance readers, Nate seemed to be the better choice.

Natayla is an appealing narrator. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself and she is actively trying to overcome her weaknesses, but her OCD is played off for laughs.  I wasn’t quite sure if it was the debilitating disease that it can be and how it affected her werewolf status, or whether it was just an irritant used to inject humor in various places.  (Oh look, they are at a disgusting rest stop. Where are my wipes?) Her big family and their love for each other was another welcome component to the book.  While I struggled with the middle part and felt that Natayla’s OCD wasn’t well incorporated, there is still a lot in the Coveted series that appeals to the urban fantasy/romance lover.  C

Best regards,

Jane

 

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Debut Print Book: Coveted by Shawntelle Madison

Debut Print Book: Coveted by Shawntelle Madison

I’ve had some concerns by readers who are primarily print readers that the coverage at Dear Author has been too focused on ebooks. When I asked the readers what they were interested in seeing, they responded that they would like to know more about print debut authors. We developed a little questionnaire and every Wednesday at 10:00 AM CST (as long as we have content) we’ll post the questionnaire answers along with links to the author’s site and a buy link to her book. I hope this helps people discovery new books. Now, on to the answers.

Coveted-Final-Cover

Name of debut release: Coveted

Release date: 04/24/2012

Publisher: Ballantine Books

2 sentence summary: Natalya Stravinsky, a werewolf with an undeniable compulsion to collect holiday trinkets, must summon her inner strength to help defend her estranged pack against their rivals and prove herself worthy of her pack. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, the man she loved and lost five years ago, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and an adventure of redemption is waiting to happen.

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Characters: Natalya Stravinsky, Thorn Grantham, Nick Fenton

What makes this story different: Coveted is more of a romantic comedy. It’s about a woman determined to change her life and fight for what she’d once lost. Of course, a few laughs, a cast of colorful secondary characters, and some supernatural creature group therapy along the way never hurts either.

Is this a series?: Yes, this is the first book in the series with the next one coming out in the fall.

Why you wrote this book: The idea for this book came from an article in a medical journal. The article on the front page was about obsessive compulsive disorders and went in-depth on describing the symptoms and treatment for patients. A huge what-if jumped out to me and Natalya the werewolf was born—a holiday trinket hoarder with OCD.

I really wanted Natalya to feel relatable and be real. The pain of feeling alone without family—or a pack in her case—is something many people face today. Especially when the secrets you keep in your home is something that ostracizes you from others. I could easily relate to Nat’s situation and this really helped bring the story to life.

Why is this your first published book? How many did you write before? I’ve written two books before this particular book sold to Random House. Both of them were paranormal romances. I think out of the three heroines I’ve developed so far, Nat “feels” the most vivid and real in my mind.

What’s your writing process? I’m not an everyday writer. It took me a while to figure that out and now I’m comfortable with my process. For me, my words sit in a well waiting to be tapped in a well—and sometimes that well can run dry unless I give it time to refill. When I do write, I do it in sprints using Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die or I’ll just write directly in Scrivener. I’ll take a break for a day or even a week, but when it’s time to work, I will knock out 5-10K per day for a period of time when I’m in the zone.

Your next published book. The next book in the Coveted series is Kept, which will come out in Fall/Winter 2012. I can’t wait to reveal the new cover to everyone.

The last book you read that you loved. The last book that I read and still think about often was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s an 80s nerdfest of epic proportions. The book was very original and brought back a lot of great memories about the music and technology of that decade.

Now if I was thinking in terms of romance books, I’d have to say hands down that I fell in love with Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series. I started the series through audiobooks, since I’m a very slow reader, but each time I came back to listen to the next book, I can’t help but sigh thinking about Bones. Frost is a master storyteller and I can’t wait to finish the one I’m listening to right now.

The last book you read for research. I read Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, Conflict before I write new material. Each and every time. Her book helps me take a raw idea and focus it into something useful. I recommend that book to everyone and I even made a tool on my author website to create GMC grids.

The romance book character you most identify with. . This one is hard. There are many books where the heroine resonated with me, but I think the character I’ll never forget is Cherijo Grey Veil from the StarDoc series by S.L. Viehl. From the get go, Cherijo looks like any other woman. She’s not the strongest or even the tallest—but through her wit and her intelligence she gets out of the most dire and difficult situations. The saying, “Don’t judge a book by the cover” definitely applies in her regard. And that’s one of the things makes her very powerful. I can only hope that when I’m facing problems I can come them just like Cherijo has in those wonderful books.

You can check out more about Shawntelle Madison and her books at http://shawntellemadison.com

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