Review: Captured

Reviewed by Jen

Kenya Wright continues her Vampire Kings series with this second installment that feels just a little dirtier than the last.  It picks up right where the story left off in Escape.  Brie has discovered that her family has moved on and she has left with Samuel, determined that their relationship is only temporary.  But he has other ideas. Her blood is changing him from a Prince into a King and she is the only queen he wants.  He can’t imagine letting her leave him.

The decision gets put on hold, however, when the Silent King sends out his guard in force to search for Brie. They almost kill Samuel’s adopted mother in the process. From then, Samuel and Brie only grow closer and closer as they work side by side to evade the King’s men and figure out why they want her so much.  Of course there is more to it than that, but I don’t want to give away any of the big reveals.

I don’t know that I enjoyed this installment quite as much as the first. I think my biggest hiccup came with Samuel’s uncle Ian and the way he sits on the fringe of the sexual element of Samuel and Brie’s relationship.  There is definitely a voyeuristic thing going on there more than once. And while that might wet somebody’s whistle, it squicked me out a bit.  It also bothered me some that the story went on to villainize Brie’s husband.  I felt like this was done to “make it ok” that she moved on. But I was already ok with it.  This just made it too easy, belittling the struggle she has already faced in letting him go.

I did enjoy learning more of the backstory of the Silent King, Ian, and even Samuel’s mother.  Plus, we get a bit of an origin story on Brie and those who share her bloodline.  The book is surprisingly dark in places,  which gives it a little more depth, as well.

The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, which always frustrates me a bit. But I am interested enough to want to keep reading and see where it goes from here.

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
by Kenya Wright
Release Date: February 6, 2013

Review: Escape

Reviewed by Jen

Kenya Wright is quickly becoming my first auto-read indie author.  I am a big fan of her Habitat series –and though this book has a decidedly different feel, it reeled me in all the same.

Brie is a special breed of human, one of the few who can produce vampire offspring.   She and the other women of her kind are kept in the custody of the Quiet King. They are called dominas, but they are really conscripted breeders, forced to remain with the king to bear baby after baby.  Brie is one of the lucky ones. In her two years at the compound, the king has not forced himself on her… yet.  But her time is coming. So she plans an escape.

One of the king’s daughters helps Brie get out and hooks her up with Samuel, a vampire who helps people escape from slavery.  Brie can think only of getting back to her husband and twin daughters she was ripped away from.  OK, maybe, she thinks about Samuel a bit too.  But she tries really hard to fight it.

This part of the story tripped me up a little.  When Brie talked about being married, I was bothered by the idea of something happening between her and Samuel.  I don’t like cheater stories.  I put it aside, though, hoping for the best and letting myself revel in Samuel’s sexy goodness.  I won’t spoil how the husband thing plays out, but I will let you know that I ended up very ok with Brie and Samuel together.

The lion’s share of the story follows Brie and Samuel as he tries to get her back home –and as they try to fight the overwhelming attraction between them.  They fail miserably at one of these endeavors. I’ll let you guess which one.

The sex is hot, y’all. Hot. Hot. Hot.  But that’s not all the story has going for it.  The world building is really cool too.  I liked the characters… And some thing a little unusual: the illustrations.  The book has about 4-5 of them and I really think they added to the story. I’m not sure everyone will be as enthusiastic about the idea as I was, but personally, I thought they were awesome.

This is part one in the Vampire King series and there is clearly more story to tell, but I was satisfied with ending.  I often find myself rolling my eyes at Epilogues, but I really liked this one –which gives us a little first person POV on Samuel. It was cool getting inside his head.

I will definitely read book two.

Rating: B+

by Kenya Wright
Release Date: November 26, 2012
Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing


Review: The Burning Bush

Reviewed by Jen

I didn’t love every single thing about this book. But I still thought it was very, very good.  I really like the series. The world building fascinates me. It’s dark and disturbing, but very compelling.  The main character is a contradiction, but one that makes sense. She is flawed but powerful; maligned yet idolized; loyal but conflicted.  I like her. I want her to be happy. I want her to beat the odds. (I want her to be with Zulu.  –But we’ll get to that later.)

Basically, the story picks up where Fire Baptized left off.  Lanore is in a relationship with Zulu and helping him with the MFE.  MeShack is still a part of her life, as they raise little Ben together.  But he opposes how she and Zulu are fighting the war against the vampire Dante.  MFE is working with a more radical organization and they’ve bombed one of Dante’s factories.

The bombing gives a crooked cop ammunition against Lanore, to force her to help him solve a murder case.  Someone has killed a shifter and a Mixie, and hung each body on a magically burning bush. Either Lanore figures out the identity of the killer or the cop fingers her for the bombing.  The story follows Lanore as she works to solve the case.

Of course, there is much more going on. There is the dangerous feud with Dante… a wealth of strong secondary characters.  And the love triangle.  The damn love triangle is killing me.  I am firmly and completely Team Zulu.  MeShack is a whore. He is unapologetic. He doesn’t hide it. He simply blames the biology of his “season” and expects Lenore to be there waiting for him when he gets tired of humping every female in a 50 mile radius.  It bothers me tremendously that even as we see Lanore move forward with Zulu, it feels like a foregone conclusion that MeShack is the endgame.  And I DO NOT WANT that.  I could go on and on about this, but I’ll spare you.

What you can tell about my small rant is that I actually care about these characters a lot.  There is no way I could say that this book is “meh.” Even when I yelled at it (and I did,) I was completely engrossed in it. Invested.  And not just in the relationships –though that part gave me the most angst.  I was wrapped up in the murder mystery.  And the politics. And the horrible racist (species-ist?) atmosphere in which the story is set.  I can see Lenore becoming something so much more than what her society relegates her to. It all just… speaks to me. It affects me.

Then there is the ending.  To call it a cliffhanger would be kind.  I read the Epilogue and said out loud, “What the actual fuck was that?”  I don’t know what the hell happened to two of the major characters.  I think I would have preferred if there had been no Epilogue at all. We would still have the same questions unanswered, but I wouldn’t feel so confused.

That aside, this is a book (and a series) I would wholeheartedly recommend.  It’s just captivating. And different.  Worth a read.

Rating: B+

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Burning Bush
by Kenya Wright
Release Date: September 19, 2012
Publisher: Dragonfairy Press

Review: Fire Baptized

Reviewed by Jen

Before I get into the specifics, I have to say that books like these are the reason I keep my door open to indie authors. Fire Baptized flies in the face of self-published stereotypes. It’s fresh and unique. It has great character development, a fantastic plot, and steamy love interests. It’s unpredictable; it has great pacing; and it clearly had a proficient editor.

Our heroine is Lanore, a mixed breed supernatural, who lives in the caged ghettos where humans relegate the preternatural community. Like other “mixies,” she is looked down upon by the full-blood supernaturals. But she is trying to make something of her life, going to college, while living with her ex-boyfriend and longtime friend MeShack. She is also trying to make things better for others of her kind, working with MFE, a mixie-rights organization. Things are going fairly well for her, until she witnesses a murder in a back alley.

Generally, Lanore’s ability to wield fire can save her from most dangerous situations. But she is in real danger, once the killer recognizes her and seeks her out. It turns out that our bad guy is actually a serial killer. And since no one cares much about what happens to the mixies, Lanore takes it upon herself to solve the case. She has MeShack at her back –as well as Zulu, the head of MFE and a potential love-interest.

I’m not going to spoil the particulars of the murder-mystery. But I will say it’s very well done. I didn’t figure out the identity of the killer, but it made perfect sense once all was revealed. I’ll also take a moment to talk about the love-triangle between Lanore, MeShack, and Zulu. Usually, I hate love triangles, but this one worked. Personally, I am in the Zulu camp, but I can see how some might root for MeShack. The action is definitely the forefront of the book, but the relationship issues are woven in seamlessly –and are an integral part of the story.

One other thing to mention is the diversity among the characters. Our heroine is African-American and the supporting cast features an array of ethnicities. It’s just another way this story escapes the cookie-cutter feel of so many other books flooding the genre.

I thought it was fantastic and I can’t wait to read the next installment. 4 1/2 stars.

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Fire Baptized
by Kenya West
Release Date: January 16, 2012
Publisher: Dragonfairy Press
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