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.
Natayla 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