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REVIEW:  Kinked by Thea Harrison

REVIEW: Kinked by Thea Harrison

Dear Ms. Harrison,

I’ve enjoyed the previous books in this series on audio – this is the first one I’ve read. Having listened to Sophie Eastlake narrate the previous five books though, I still heard her voice reading me the story as I devoured Kinked. I also have a confession to make.  Aryal was never my favourite Sentinel.  She’s difficult and abrasive and hard to like.  I have a thing for Graydon but Aryal never really caught my attention much.  Perhaps that was because she didn’t like Pia and I did?  Nevertheless, as much as I wasn’t Aryal’s number one fan I was still keen to read this book and see where your world building would take me next.

Kinked Thea Harrison

Recommended by Kati and Jane ( A | BN | K | S | G )* Paranormal Romance

What a surprise then to find that Aryal was an amazing heroine.  Spending time in her head gave me a new (and previously unheld) appreciation for her character. One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was that Quentin was not at all phased by her abrasive charm – in fact, he reveled in it and came to value it.  So Aryal realised new depths and revealed a softer side that perhaps even she didn’t know she had but she didn’t have to go through a personality transplant to find her HEA.  Aryal may be an unlikeable heroine but she is essentially the same person at the end of the book as she is at the beginning and for that alone you deserve the applause of Romance Stadium.  She didn’t have to conform to find love.  She didn’t need “fixing”.  I loved that. I can’t even tell you how much.

As it happened, Aryal and Quentin were perfect for each other – each of them driven and wild and just a little bit out of step with the rest of the world.

She quieted that internal whip that drove him because she became the whip, her soul as sharp as a knife.

He could cut himself on her, wrap her in his arms and be her buffer. Heal her from herself, bruise himself on her.

Let her heal him. Let her be his buffer.

They were so unapologetic, so kinked.

He said, “We’re perfect.”

The story begins closely after the end of Lord’s Fall – Quentin and Aryal are fighting and all the other Sentinels and Dragos are at their wit’s end  – Dragos sends them on an assignment together and orders them to work out their differences. They are to be away for at least two weeks, no longer than one month and if they don’t work out their differences, they will both lose their Sentinel positions.  Dragos is not fucking around here.  He is Over. It.   He sends them to Numenlaur – the elven Other land which was closed to everyone for many many years.  The Numenlaurians were held in thrall by Amras Gaeleval and those who survived the events in the previous book have not yet recovered sufficiently to return.  The way is open and Dragos wants Aryal and Quentin to scout around and ensure there is no looting and also to secure any sensitive items which may be unprotected.

I think the book works best if readers have read the previous books because it is easier to understand the world, the events that led to Quentin becoming a Sentinel, his and Aryal’s antipathy to one another, as well as the assignment Dragos gives them.  The romance is fairly enclosed so I suppose readers could pick this up as a stand alone, but I don’t think they would get as much out of it if they didn’t understand the background to this point.

On the way to Numenlaur, the sexual awareness of each other which has recently bloomed becomes an itch which has to be scratched.  Aryal and Quentin make a bargain with each other – fifteen minutes each totally in the other’s control.  As is so often the case in romance fiction, such a bargain only leaves them wanting more.  That, and the way they have to work together, how they actually start talking to one another, has each of them reconsidering their previous plan to arrange for someone to conveniently kill the other while they are away – thus solving the Sentinel problem.

When they get to Numenlaur, things there are eerie and incredibly sad.  And something or someone is watching them.  The main action does only traverse two weeks or so, but the pressure cooker environment and their previous two years of sniping at and baiting each other meant that I had no difficulty in buying into their romance.  Even when they hated one another, they each also respected the other’s strengths and abilities.  As they are forced to trust and rely on one another, their bond deepens.  And when they are threatened and their lives hang in the balance, they find in each other a true partner.  And, through it all, they remain true to their characters – while there is tenderness,

As the panther found his peace, the harpy stroked his hair and discovered tenderness. Then everything that lay twisted between them came clear as they reached the heart of the labyrinth they had been traveling together.

there is plenty of snark too.

He paused to make sure that sank in. Then he said, “Number four. There are people who love you. Niniane and Grym. Hell, maybe Grym is right, and Dragos does too. Graydon’s pretty mad at you, but you know he loves you.” He took a deep breath. It was time to throw himself on his sword. “Me.”

Her eyes dilated until they were mostly black. “You?”

“Yeah, don’t dwell on it,” he said. Okay, he was done now.

I completely bought into their partnership and their mating.

There was also plenty of action to the story and some very sad moments too.  I think the villian of the piece was lightly drawn.  I was so caught up in Aryal and Quentin and their perspectives of events that I didn’t really notice until very near the end, but her motivations were only very lightly touched upon and although she caused a lot of damage, she wasn’t featured strongly as a character.  I found the pacing of the book fine while I was reading it but it occurred to me afterwards that there is a huge flurry of activity and information right near the end  and up until then it was mostly about Quentin and Aryal working out their relationship (vastly entertaining as it was).  This didn’t bother me all that much, as I’m primarily a romance reader but those looking for a more evenly balanced mix of action and romance might find it a bit uneven.

In some respects, this book reminded me (in a good way) of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series – perhaps that was in the nature of the magic that was used, I’m not sure.  It was sexy and romantic and refreshingly different.  I really liked it.  I give it a B+.

“I think you might be both my suicide and my salvation.” And he needed her for both. “I love you like a heart attack, woman.”

Regards,
Kaetrin

 

 

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REVIEW:  Kinked by Thea Harrison

REVIEW: Kinked by Thea Harrison

Kinked-Thea-Harrison-195x300

Dear Ms. Harrison:

I’ve been a fan of your Elder Races series since Dragon Bound. I’m one of those readers who is always delighted to hear that a new entry in the series is coming out and was even more excited to hear that Aryal, one of Dragos Cuelebre’s Sentinels, was going to get her Happily Ever After. Why? Because I really strongly disliked Aryal (as I think you intended) and I was really interested to see how you would make me root for her.

Aryal jumped off the page from the moment she is introduced into the series. She’s a Harpy, an Ancient, and vicious. She’s the only female on an all male crew of Sentinels, and is just as lethal as any of the guys. She’s recently won her way back onto the Sentinels in the Games, a gladiator-like competition that Dragos organized to find two additional Sentinels, as his most trusted team has been falling in love on a routine basis and leaving him to be with their mates. His remaining Sentinels all won their battles, and two new team members were added. They included Quentin Caeravorn, a Wyr Panther, and owner of the bar where Pia (Dragos’s mate) used to work.

From the moment Aryal meets Quentin, she’s suspicious. This is a bad guy. He’s shifty, clearly dangerous, and obviously up to no good. She basically hates him on sight, and will stop at nothing to prove that he is colluding against Dragos and is an imminent threat to all Dragos holds dear (including his new infant son). She begins digging into his life, leaving no stone unturned. She’s positive that she will find something. This starts off irritating Quentin, who is not a danger per se to Dragos, although he doesn’t particularly like the guy. But one night, Aryal oversteps herself by coming to his home and Quentin is enraged. So furious that he drives to the Tower (Dragos’s fortress) and attacks Aryal the moment he sees her. Aryal is delighted. This is what she’s wanted all along. To beat the snot out of this guy, who she’s sure is betraying Dragos. Sadly, the two of them decide to go at it in very close proximity to Pia, who was walking her infant son, trying to get him to sleep. Needless to say, they’ve now seriously pissed off Dragos, who has had enough of their sniping, fighting, and endless battles. He banishes both of them. His plan being that they’ll either work it out, or one of them will literally die trying.

He sends them on a mission to Numenlaur, an Elven Demense, that has been abandoned after the last battle between the Elves and the Wyr. Quentin, who has very close ties to the Elves, is suspicious of Dragos’s intent, but all Dragos wants is to be sure that Numenlaur isn’t being looted. And, he wants his Sentinels to work it out. Forced to team up with the very woman he has come to hate, Quentin must put aside his loathing for Aryal and work with her to secure Numenlaur. But as the two work together, they come to admire each others abilities. And a grudging admiration and attraction grows. They hate that they are attracted to each other, but can’t seem to fight it. And when they find that they must depend upon each other wholly to survive what awaits them in Numenlaur, that attraction boils over into something more.

Oh I liked this book. Particularly, I liked Quentin. He’s complicated, difficult, moody, loyal, gorgeous, and a consistent character. He’s an amazing foil for Aryal, because even as he hates that her tenacity has her invading his life, he’s attracted to those things that make her a pitbull. Their chemistry is really incendiary, and I so appreciated that their relationship was intense from the start. This is not a romance that turns hearts and puppies when the couple falls in love, they are tough on each other, they fight, they argue, and you never doubt that they are falling in love. I appreciated that there were no punches pulled between them.

I also liked that you somehow redeemed Aryal in my eyes. I think probably because as a reader I’d never been exposed to her inner thoughts, I didn’t understand her motivation. She has her own code of honor. It’s not pristine, it’s not shiny, but it IS a code of honor, and she lives by it. When she gives her loyalty, it’s forever, and those she loves, she protects, no matter what. I found her to be admirable. And I found myself rooting for her to find her way with Quentin. I really liked that Aryal’s edges were only slightly softened by love. But her ferocity and her deep well of love was uncovered as well. While her nature is doesn’t change, her ability to love is uncovered for the reader. It really was lovely to experience.

I should also note that the title is not really indicative of BDSM. The sex is down and dirty, but it never really ventures into what I would call BDSM. I do not think that this book stands alone well. Plus, reading the series is a treat that I think readers should experience. But I think that regular readers of the series will be pleased with this entry and will happily come back for more. Kinked gets a B+ from me, and a happy recommendation.

Kind regards,

Kati

 

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