Stephanie's Reviews > Kept

Kept by Shawntelle Madison
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's review
Oct 10, 2012

really liked it

Original Post on Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust 10/10/2012
KEPT by Shawntelle Madison
Love Versus Duty, Which is Right?

KEPT: A Coveted Novel
Shawntelle Madison

Ballantine/Random House November 27, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and e-book formats: 320 pages
E-Galley Loaned by Random House via Edelweiss. No remuneration was exchanged and unless noted otherwise, all opinions herein are my own.

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. Coveted Series Website

In every writer's were-world the wolves seem to have the strongest pack ties and the most rigid customs. They also seem to have really hot hook-ups. But once they pick a mate, they are pretty irretrievably bound. If THEY pick the mate. If the mating is arranged it can go downhill fast.

Such is the problem for Nat and Thorn. Their hearts have chosen each other but the politics of interpack relations has made an unhappy arranged engagement.

Nat is an wolf with OCD and,except for one nasty, hateful aunt who I think should be put out of Nat's misery, a loving family. I had an aunt like this and she made life tough for just about everyone but me, who she favored. Madison pegs that cyka (bitch). She also has some good friends—some really good friends.

I had a tough time engaging in the story; at first it just seemed the book would be about the various ways life rains crap upon Natalya. When the dangerous stuff started, I got caught up in the seamy Atlantic City Were-Underground plot and the quest Nat, the heroine, has to undertake (to Maine!). It's very much an "epic-hero-Joseph-Campbell" quest compressed into a shorter time period. It's here where we begin to see what Natalya is really made of, and she becomes a very sympathetic character who can push her own limitations when she has to. For Natalya, others come first and proving herself, saving herself, is less important than her family's honor and her father's well-being.

Some of the publicity for the book compares Natalya to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. Nat's character is pretty well developed and I didn't see her as being so similar to Plum. Her mom and grandmother are heavily reminiscent of Stephanie Plum's family though (which the publisher plays up). Like Plum's family, Natalya's is deeply rooted in its ethnicity. There's lots of Russian foods and culture, as well as a focus on the importance of family. Her mom is family oriented and her grandmother, while not obsessed with viewings (wakes) is Natalya's confidant and a wise wolf. And, while we know Stephanie Plum has a couple of interludes they are more along the lines of "The moon goes behind the clouds," sexy stuff left up to your imagination. Madison's scene in here is tasteful AND tasty.

It's family, duty, honor, friendship and love that are the constants here. Madison provides several arcs to the story which, of course, all intersect: Nat and Thorn, Nat and Nick Thorn and his fiance, the treacherous Erica (also a cyka), fulfilling a blood debt, a new niece, and surviving the Hunger Game style trials Nat must win in order to rejoin the pack. Can she move on from Thorn and settle for someone else? And, Thorn has to decide if he can be both a leader and settle for a treacherous woman he doesn't even like?
Can a leader ever put herself or himself ahead of the group s/he leads? What do you think?

There are lots of plot twists and some real tension about how things will pan out. Will Nat win, will she save her father, will she end up with someone or alone?

KEPT is the second book in a series but stands on its own with only a minimum of back story needed. It also blurs the line between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance by having non-romantic and romantic story arcs. This is a solid RECOMMEND.

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