Though Kept is the second in Shawntelle Madison's
series, it's the first I've read, leaving me at somewhat of a disadvantage given that urban fantasy novels are notoriously tough to dive into unless you start at the beginning. But the notion of a werewolf heroine with OCD was something I couldn't pass up, so I downloaded the book via Netgalley. Then I sat down and didn't get up again until hours later when I'd finished reading.
Natalya Stravinsky lives in Jersey. She comes from a large Russian immigrant family. They love her--well, except for her horrendous alpha great aunt, who has my vote for Bitch of the Year. Nat suffers from OCD and a lack of control when stressed out, something which led to her being tossed out of her pack. But she's got great friends from her paranormal therapy group, in particular, a wizard, a mermaid, and a muse. When her father goes missing, they assist her as she tries to find and free him from a paranormal mobster in Atlantic City. Turns out her dad owes a blood debt, and Nat swears she'll pay it. To fulfill the debt, though, she must fight an ever-more and ever-growing number of dangerous paranormals.
As far as her personal life, well, it's a mess. Nick, whom she met in therapy, wants to be more than a friend. But he's a wizard, and werewolves and wizards don't mix. Even worse, she still has feelings for her ex-boyfriend Thorn, the alpha heir of her pack, now set to marry another werewolf. Okay...let me revise. That other werewolf is actually Bitch of the Year. Nat's great aunt is just Bitch of the Family.
And then there are the trials, a set of physical labors she will need to endure if she is to rejoin her pack. Her brother arranges to train her for them, but it's really a trick to re-involve Thorn in her life. While this works in terms of the story, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Why would her brother put Thorn and Nat together knowing they cannot have each other? As a plot device, therefore, it's both a strong and weak one.
Her re-involvement with Thorn extends beyond their training sessions when Nat goes to free her dad. Along the way she learns scary and sad things about both men who love her regarding their paranormal skills and futures. But she also learns what her heart wants, and what she's willing to do get her man.
It's pretty hard to categorize this series in that it rarely requires more than one book to unite a couple in a romance. Then too, a great deal of Kept is straight urban fantasy, including the descriptions of intimate moments (which means they aren't as well written as those in a romance), although I will say that there is no indiscriminate sex. In the end I'd put this one in the romance camp because as the story shifts to home and the trials she must endure, Nat's love life becomes a major focus. She shows herself to be pretty spectacular, as does the man she loves.
Look for Kept in late November in both print and digitally. My digital copy came from Netgalley.