ARC Review: Kept by Shawntelle Madison
Series: Coveted #2
Author: Shawntelle Madison
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: eBook, 320 pages
Published: November 27, 2012
ASIN #: B008AI77F0
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Copy: NetGalley
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.
I was impressed my Shawntelle Madison’s ability to bounce back after a, in my opinion, sub-par first installment. I’m not going to lie; I expected the worst when I first started reading Kept but the blurb sounded promising and I’m not one to give-up on a series after only one book, especially when werewolves are involved! It quickly became obvious after the first couple of chapters that Madison took her reader feedback to heart and made huge steps towards rectifying the shortcomings of the first novel. There’s nothing that I admire more than a debut author who actually listens to her fans. The pacing was excellent, the story entertaining and the characters showed amazing growth and maturity. Shawntelle has completely redeemed herself with this second installment!
I began this book absolutely hating Nat because of the way she acted in Coveted. Originally I’d found her condescending, immature, weak and incredibly scattered-brained. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that that was the old Stravinsky. This new version is taking steps to deal with her illness, facing adversity head-on and no longer seems to suffer from a superiority complex. I like the Nat in Kept; she’s actually someone who I’m interested in learning more about! By the end of this novel she’d done a complete 180 from her original character and I was overjoyed with her transformation.
Thorn is another character that evolved into a much better version of himself. In book one I found him underdeveloped, unappealing as a love interest and just plain bland. It’s extremely hard for me to become interested in an alpha male when he’s not overly hunk-y. Thorn really brought his A-game in this installment and by the end I was no longer adamantly opposed to him being a potential mate for Nat. I still prefer Nick over the werewolf but seeing how I gave this series a second chance I think that Thorn deserves one as well. Plus, there were some interesting twists thrown into this love triangle that lead me to believe that even though a choice was made at the end of Kept, nothing’s final.
The overall story was 100 times better than the one in the first novel; this book actually felt like it had a purpose instead of the previous one’s questionable attempt at a relevant plot line. I was engaged to the point of being eager to find out what was going to happen next. There’s a few storylines in this novel and I enjoyed the way that Shawntelle transitioned from one to the other. It was smooth, logical and ensured that there was never a dull moment to be had. The ending was surprising and I’ll definitely be picking up the third book when it’s released.
Kept is a fantastic read that can easily stand on its own; in fact, I’d probably recommend you start with this one. The quality of the writing, story and characters is remarkably better than those seen in the book one. Had this been the first installment I wouldn’t have been so hesitant to continue reading this series. I’m happy that I gave Shawntelle Madison a second chance and if you also struggled with Coveted, you should too.