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Of all the things I had to face that day, the prospect of sticking my hand down someone else’s pants as part of my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, just didn’t seem right. Mind you, no one was wearing those filthy pants, but even a gal in therapy should have limits. Today anyway.
According to my therapist, I’d somehow give in to my obsessive-compulsive behaviors less often if I occasionally went out of my comfort zone. Still, in my opinion, my current assignment wouldn’t help me that much.
Five minutes earlier, standing inside the lobby of the local Jiffy Lube, my best friend, Aggie, had given the hot new mechanic a harrowing speech that left me wondering just how far she’d go to help me out. “My good friend Natalya here is one of those clean freaks. It’d be awesome if you’d help her out by letting her put her hand down your pants.
“Pants pocket, that is.” Her eyebrows danced while she grinned devilishly.
So, there I was, ready to do the deed with the mechanic’s grimy uniform.
“Oh, just stick your paw in there so we can go home,” Aggie begged. “Your mom said she’s making her special pot roast.”
How would soiling my germ-free hands with a journey into the grimy pocket of the admittedly attractive mechanic help me with my obsessive-compulsive disorder? I suspected that, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t really about my well-being. Agatha McClure just wanted the mechanic to take his coveralls off.
“Let the healing begin,” she purred as he bent over. The lean, yet hard lines of his body were quite evident under his jeans and white T-shirt.
Healing, my ass. She was staring him down like she was a werewolf on a full-moon prowl and he was the next rabbit she planned to snag.
My head swiveled to catch her running her fingers through her red hair. It was a habit she always fell into when she saw a good-looking man. She had such a blissful expression on her face, I felt bad taking the moment away from her. Eh, let her leer over him for a few minutes more. I had an emergency pack of baby wipes for days like today.
So I shoved my hand into the pocket and tried to think happy thoughts. Find that Zen place that didn’t involve freaking out over how slimy and lint-laden the pocket was. By the time my hand came out, it resembled a chocolate ice-cream bar with nuts sprinkled on it. Those “nuts” were balls of fluff.
“Well, look at that,” Aggie said with pride. “You stuck your paw in and you’re still alive.”
I handed the mechanic his coveralls with a straight face, and then scowled at Aggie. This exercise sucked. Ever since I’d joined my therapy group, Aggie was constantly searching for golden opportunities like this one to “help” me. As a werewolf with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I began therapy because I tended to stress out over the little things. I still do, mind you, but I’ve been learning lately to try to focus on the important stuff, like bonding with my family. Over the past few years, I’ve been estranged from them due to my disorder. I’ve made some progress, especially with my dad, but like any issue that dredges up painful memories, the healing had taken some patience.
However, that was a subject I didn’t want to fixate on right now. It was already hard enough to deal with this little exercise. While I cleaned off my “ice-cream bar” with baby wipes (many of them), I gazed through the window of Jiffy Lube out to the main street of South Toms River. Not many people may know it, but New Jersey in the winter is beautiful. Especially with a light dusting of snow. On the way here, I’d driven past South Toms River Park. There’s something about barren trees extending toward the sky. When they’re covered with just the right amount of fallen snow, they can be quite calming to the soul.
Even from inside the lobby, I could taste the winter on my tongue. With it came the promise of holiday decorations and Christmas cookies. The most perfect time of the year.
Once the oil change was done, we left. Aggie strolled to the passenger side of my Nissan Altima—a smug smile on her face—along with a coupon for a free oil change in her hand. I would bet good money the guy had snuck his number on there.
I shook my head with a grin. You couldn’t keep an outspoken wolf like Aggie down. We’d known each other for a long time. A few months ago, she’d left New York City to travel west, but a pit stop at my place had ended up as a permanent arrangement. I was grateful to have her company, even with her quirks. Really, they weren’t that bad. And although my problems constantly haunted me, Aggie’s own issue—an overeating disorder—didn’t bother her as much. Case in point: Once comfortable in the passenger seat, she whipped out a snack-sized bag of Cheetos and munched away.
I turned down the street to my parents’ house, and Aggie gave me a strange look. “You do realize we need to pick up my cakes at your place, don’t you?”
I’d completely forgotten about her baking spree this weekend. How many cakes had she made? Usually, I simply shrugged off her cooking—especially when she cleaned up after herself. But as I drove around the block to head back toward my place, a heavy weight formed in my stomach at the thought of going home.
I’d mentally prepared myself for the trip to my parents’ place; returning to my own home would be another unwanted reminder of my problems.
After a few minutes driving through the outskirts of South Toms River, I reached my house. On my good days, seeing the two-level cottage, with its bright red shutters and whitewashed wood, made me feel safe. Its surrounding woods created a haven from the outside. But on my not-so-good ones it was unnerving.
I pulled into the garage but didn’t get out of the car. It seemed like a good idea to just let Aggie fetch her food. Of course, my partner-in-crime had other plans.
Her head peered around the door. “A little help, please?”
Instead of getting out, I said, “For what?”
“Nat, get your ass outta the car and help me carry the cakes. What’s your problem anyway?”
I tapped the steering wheel three times. Then twice more. I should just get it over with. But after all the time I’d spent preparing myself for a visit to my parents’ home . . . I could undo it with one look—one reminder. Thoughts of my house—or should I say, its contents—wasn’t something I wanted weighing on my mind while I was at my parents’.
Normal people let things go. Time to pretend to be normal and help my friend. I got out of the car.
The hallway between my garage and kitchen was clear. Like it always was. In the kitchen, Aggie stood with her hands on her hips. With a groan, she shoved a cake container in my hands as I approached her, and I caught a decadent whiff of carrot cake with butter cream icing.
I tried to focus on the cake, on turning around and marching back to the car. But beyond the kitchen lay the living room. And, with it, my shame. Renewed and growing again. Stack after stack of white boxes with holiday ornaments mocked me. Christmas ornaments, Hanukkah candles, and even elaborate Kwanzaa displays. All of them taunting me with a reminder that I’d be facing a certain someone at my parents’ home. And that someone, a relative, saw me as a hoarder and didn’t appreciate all the changes I’d made.
On any other day, seeing those boxes and knowing what beautiful things they held would’ve brought me inner peace. They’d definitely sheltered me during the long days since I’d been ostracized from my pack.
I reminded myself that some things had changed in my life, like Aggie living here. I glanced at the boxes again and bit my lower lip.
While other things haven’t changed at all.
I scrambled out of the house with Aggie not far behind. She struggled to balance three cake containers and managed to get them into the car with only one wobble. As her best friend, I should’ve done a better job helping her, but I just couldn’t shake my doubts. I wanted to be well. Be normal. And sometimes coming home didn’t help that.
Ten minutes later, we pulled up to my parents’ place. Cars filled the street and driveway. Evidence that everyone had arrived already.
I checked myself for the third time in the rearview mirror. Not a single brown hair was out of place. My blouse and skirt were clean (no surprise there), but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something about me was screwed up and wasn’t fixable.
Aggie opened her car door then noticed I hadn’t done the same. “You have plans to come inside?”
“Nat, what’s wrong now? It’s not as if you haven’t been here before.”
“She’s here,” I mumbled.
Aggie rolled her eyes. “Oh, give me a break. Put on your big-girl panties and just brush it off.”
Aggie didn’t mention the name of the woman I referred to, but I knew we’d see her soon enough. After just one hundred feet, I would reach the house, knock on the door, and then see that particular person opening it. Every step was unnerving. The thought of my dad’s cousin greeting me at the door was worse.
As the matriarch of my family in Maine, “Auntie” Yelena Torchinovich led her brood with an iron paw. She’d come here a few weeks ago for my brother Alex’s wedding and had decided to stay for an extended visit. She claimed all sorts of reasons—from catching up with my dad to having missed spending quality time with her relatives. Certainly, in the past ten years, she hadn’t shown such eagerness to be with the family.
Auntie Yelena stood about an inch taller than me, with thin lips and eyes that conveyed her thoughts—and right now, staring at me, they were black and unwelcoming. Her short and sharp black hair added to her dark impression. I stared back at her. From the way her eyes formed slits, I was returning her gaze far longer than she preferred. No lower-ranking wolf stared down a higher-ranking one without repercussions.
“Quite a persistent little thing,” she said. “I think you’ve forgotten your place—”
“Hi, Yelena.” Aggie walked around me and entered the house. The move forced Yelena to step back, thus allowing me to step past her. I shifted my eyes to the floor and carried the cake into the house. For once I was grateful that Aggie was a dominant female.
All around me, my parents’ home was alive with activity. The dinner had started already, so everyone sat at the tables set up in the dining room and out into the living room. To any stranger, the whole scene would’ve seemed noisy and crowded. But to us it was normal. I reveled in this chaos—I had missed it.
I could feel Yelena’s heated gaze following us as Aggie and I headed to the kitchen.
While I tried to shake off my aunt’s oh-so-warm welcome, Aggie appeared to be relishing the loud conversations. Smatterings of English blended with bursts of Russian. Even though Aggie couldn’t understand the Russian parts, she felt at home among the Stravinskys. Under most circumstances, I would’ve enjoyed dinner here, too. As the weather got colder, my mother gave in to her urge to roast anything that could be herded, caught, and quartered. According to my nose, the meal would be extra tasty tonight. No one could resist the siren call of the savory scent of grain-fed Angus beef. To top it off, I knew the meat would be succulent and dressed with thick homemade gravy.
We reached the oversized kitchen to find my mother waiting for us. Thankfully, Overlord Yelena Torchinovich had not followed us this far, instead taking her seat at the dinner table.
Even as her guests ate, my fair-haired mother continued to mind her pots and keep the food coming. She quietly offered us some Russian salami with cheese and then assessed Aggie’s cakes.
Aggie said, “Everything smells divine, Mrs. Stravinsky.”
I expected my mom to glow with pride, but she only offered a small smile and gestured for us to go back to the dining room and eat. “Don’t let the food get too cold,” was all she said.
For Aggie and her never-ending appetite, Mom had effectively rung the dinner bell. With glee, she made a beeline for the table. Naturally, only two spaces were left. Both of them were right across from Auntie Yelena. How convenient.
Before sitting down, though, I approached my grandma and greeted her. After I kissed both of her cheeks, she whispered, “I’m glad you came.” Grandma Lasovskaya’s face might be wrinkled from centuries of living as a werewolf, but her brown eyes remained young, always shining with the warmth of her love for her family.
My dad sat at the head of the table eating a steaming bowl of soup. When one of my uncles slapped his shoulder after telling a god-awful joke, I expected him to laugh—or at least snort—but he didn’t. I guess I wasn’t the only one who didn’t feel like taking people’s crap today.
Not long after I sat, my aunts and uncles nearby passed me bowls of food. A generous spoonful of homemade and creamy olivie snuck on my plate first. I emitted a happy sigh. Nobody made potato salad like my mom. She used fresh vegetables and then added bits of chicken. Next up was her famous pot roast. The meat was so tender, the pieces fell apart as they landed on my plate.
Everyone, except Auntie Yelena, chatted and made jokes with me. Even Dad tried to crack a smile once in a while. Just a few years ago my interactions with family had been very different. They’d avoided me back then as if I didn’t exist, due to my obsessive-compulsive disorder. Even now, of course, all it would take was just one person to stomp on the precarious relationship I’ve built with them.
“How long do you plan to continue this charade?” Auntie Yelena asked.
A slice of beef almost got caught in my throat.
The question was directed to me, and I wanted to ignore it. But my grandma had taught me to mind my manners, even with people who apparently had forgotten theirs.
Yelena took a sip from her glass of merlot. “You do realize the trials are coming, don’t you?” Her snippy questions wrapped around my throat like a boa constrictor. “I bet you think you can just slide back into the pack like you did with this family.”
My auntie Yelena was referring to the trials the South Toms River Pack holds every year. It was a chance for me to not only rejoin my pack but to prove to everyone that I was no longer a weak and vulnerable member of the Stravinsky family.
I guess that even after I had survived the Long Island pack invasion not so long ago, I still hadn’t proved myself. I gave everything I had that night. Too bad Yelena still didn’t see that I had tried my best.
I sighed and tried not to squirm. The whole time thinking, The strong within the pack shall prevail, and the weak shall fall. Wasn’t that what the Code—the code of ethics for all werewolves—had taught Auntie Yelena? Being a part of a family that followed the Code for centuries should have given me a measure of pride. I had a history, a heritage. But for me the Code was nothing but a persistent reminder of my shortcomings.
Finally, I found my voice. “Forgetting about getting kicked out of the pack is rather difficult. Especially since I haven’t been included in anything for the past five years.” Like her daughter’s last-minute wedding this past summer to an overweight stripper. I bet she thought we didn’t know about her son-in-law’s cheesy website and his free in-home demonstrations.
From a few seats down, my brother, Alex, spoke up. “Hey Nat, unlike some other folks at the table, my wife is looking forward to seeing you at her baby shower.”
I glanced at Yelena, who stared back at me. “I wouldn’t exactly call that pack business,” she said. “But I guess someone has to take pity on you.”
She had some nerve. I should just hand her my butter knife so she could get it over with and stab my damn heart out.
Aggie threw her fork down. “I’m a guest here, but I’m also Nat’s good friend. Could you just knock it off?”
Other than my grandma and my father, Auntie Yelena was considered an elder and should be a respected—or should I say tolerated—member of the family. No one told her to knock off anything.
Yelena shot to her feet. “Who do you think you are—”
My mom had picked the perfect time to bring in one of Aggie’s cakes. “Oh, shut up, all of you,” she snapped in Russian.
She slammed the cake on the edge of the table. The poor chocolate masterpiece never had a chance—it plopped on the floor like a gob of mud.
I took in everyone’s faces. Aggie’s expression was horrified. She screeched, “Man down!” Meanwhile, a few seats from me, my grandma broke out in a fit of giggles. The laughter spread like wildfire, until everyone was laughing.
Except my mom and dad. Mom turned away and began to cry.
Dad sat there silently, then reached out to comfort his sobbing wife. He turned to us. “She had a hard time at work today. I’ll take care of her.”
Posted January 1, 2014
I liked Kept better than Coveted. I am so glad I continued reading although I still don't get the attraction to Thorn. I am still Team Nick all the way baby!
Kept picks up not long after Coveted, with Natalya mostly back in her family's good graces, and a plan to get back into the pack. She has also realized she has friends in her supernatural support group, especially in Nick, the white wizard. Who ironically always wears black. Makes me giggle. :-) These friendships were reinforced when they show up to help Natalya fulfill her father's moon debt.
The story seemed to have two separate and entirely unrelated parts - the moon debt part and the pack challenge part, which I did find a little strange but not entirely unpleasant. It was just ... weird.
We do see a lot of growth as a character for Natalya. Her hoarding seems to be a little easier for her to manage, and her OCD over cleanliness is something she can make herself overcome to help those she loves.
Of course she isn't perfect, and she makes some stupid STUPID decisions. STUPID. And you want to yell and scream at her but then you realize 2 things: 1) Yelling at her would only cause to get more stressed and increase her OCD tendencies, and 2) She is a fictional character so no amount of yelling or throwing of books would change what she does. She does, I am happy to say, for the most part learn from her stupidity.
All in all, Kept was an enjoyable read and I am looking forward to the next installment.
Posted December 20, 2013
Fun, high intensity urban fantasy. I only dabble in the genre but I really liked the lighter take on paranormal creatures with a nice dose of contemporary for balance. I am a bit over werewolves, but this has so much more going on, and great characters.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 17, 2013
I really love these characters. I love the drama and flare, but I have a special spot for the wizard. He's always dependable and there when he's needed. I enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the next.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 31, 2013
I received this from Random House Publishing Group for my honest review
Some things are meant to be kept.
After everything that has happened to Nat, you would think she would catch a break. Unfortunately, trouble always has a way of finding her. It seems another member of the pack has gone missing, and this time it’s someone from her family. She’s going to need all the help she can get for this one. Also, what is she going to do about Nick and Thorn? She'll have to put them in the back of her mind if she wants to save her family and train to get back into the pack.
It’s Nat vs. everyone who says she is not good enough in this sequel to coveted.
This was much better than the first one. There is a lot more fight scenes with Nat in them. She has come a long way in this book. Well... the book did start off slow and I kept waiting for something big to happen. I just kept waiting for something unexpected. We don’t get that surprise until the end of the book. Hopefully, we will be able to see more in the next one. In Kept we get to see some character develop not only from Nat, but from Thorn, Nick and their friends. There were a lot of tear jerker moments, too. I cried at a couple of parts, but that’s just me. This book makes you think. It made me think about my life and how I am living it. Like are some things worth taking risk for? Nat also asks herself this question. And sometimes you never know until you take a risk and find out.
Nat: She was more independent in this one. I was very proud of her. Her family means everything to her and she proves it time and time again. I can also see her getting stronger and trying to reign in her hoarding problem. She has a lot of tough decisions to make and not all of them were easy. I’m really attached to Nat and I can’t wait to see if she overcomes her weaknesses.
Nick: He is such a sweet guy. You can’t help but to love him. I just want to put him in my pocket. :D He is powerful, hot, and an all around good guy. He has also come a long way in his hoarding. I loved seeing all the progress, little as it may be. I look forward to him in the next book.
Thorn: Dang it dang it dang it!!! I take back everything that I said about him in the first book and that is a hard thing to say coming from me. I hated his guts in the first one. Well it turns out we didn’t get the whole story in the first one. When I found out I was utterly shocked. I didn’t see it coming. He is not such a bad guy after all.
Overall: Werewolves, Wizards and Fairies OH MY!! You’ll see all that and more in this book. I really enjoyed this, so don’t miss out.
Since he didn't have a seatbelt on either (future lesson here), we both crashed forward.
Hello, windshield, my name's Natalya.
Posted February 11, 2013
Posted February 2, 2013
In the second of her werewolf saga, Kept, Shawntelle Madison continues to weave the exciting tale of obsessive-compulsive werewolf, Natalya Stravinsky, who will do anything to protect her family. Banned from the pack, Natalya’s therapy sessions do little to help her hoarding ways or cope with the fact that the love of her life, Thorn Grantham, is engaged to a higher ranking female, Erica Holden. When a moon debt threatens to tear her family apart, Natalya must risk her life to save her father. With goblins and shady werewolves threatening Natalya, her family and the pack, Thorn comes to Natalya’s rescue, causing her to question his true feelings and motives. Could their relationship be saved after all? Kept is a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat, romantic story that’s packed with adventure. Toss in some wizards, mermaids, nymphs and muses and you have a story filled with powerful, enchanting and well-written characters that keep you turning the pages to read what happens next. I give Kept 4 stars ****.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 13, 2013
Posted January 9, 2013
Kept picks up where Coveted left off. Natalya is a werewolf with OCD , anxiety disorder, and an obsession with collection Christmas ornaments. Due to all of her issues she was thrown out of her pack. She was just recently accepted back into her family. One thing positive in her life is her best friend Aggie. She goes to therapy with other supernaturals who are trying to deal with disorders. In therapy she has met Nick the wizard and she spends the entire book struggling with her attraction to him. The problem is her heart will always belong to Thorn who true love.
Kept has a much more in depth story line and plot. Nat has a purpose in this book and that is really is to prove to herself and her family that she is stronger. She takes on the responsibility of fulfilling her father's debt to the werewolf mafia. With the help of her therapy friends she battles the constant roadblocks to she has to face. Thorn tries to stay by her side and protect her but since he is engaged to another as part of a pack arrangement Nat knows she must keep her distance. Her heart can only take so much.
In addition to all of this she is suppose to be preparing for the pack trials. This is her chance to prove she is worthy to be part of the pack again. The problem is with everything that keeps happening she hasn't even began to condition for tests. This girl has the worst case of bad luck ever. The good news is there is a happy ending in sight. True love conquers all and with a heart as determined as Nat's there is a way to overcome some of life's challenges.
I hope there is more to the series. I want to see how much further Nat can go. I also really want Aggie's story big time. I want to see her go head to head with her dad and ex.
Thank you to Ballentine Books and Netgally for allowing me to read.
Posted December 27, 2012
Keeping it short unlike other reviews of this book. All the characters are memorable. Loved every word of this series. Cannot wait for the next and hope every one of Nat's friends gets a happy ending.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2012
Natalya Stravinsky struggles with OCD every day. She definitely has some interesting neuroses. Did I mention that Natalya is also a werewolf? She was recently an outcast but after valiantly defending her pack/family from another pack attack, Natalya has a chance to redeem her position.
Although she wants to regain her life in the South Toms River pack, every time she turns around she is tormented by her ex-boyfriend, Thorn. His father has decided as pack leader, that Thorn will marry Erica.
Natalya is constantly tortured by her failures which are repeatedly thrown in her face by Erica and her aunt. Although Natalya has lots to face, she has a great core group of friends and her family (except for her one aunt) are extremely supportive.
When Natalya’s father is kidnapped by the Russian werewolf mob in Atlantic City, Natalya is willing to sacrifice everything to save him.
I really enjoyed Natalya’s story. A quick, entertaining read, Kept had the perfect mix of action, adventure and romance to keep you invested till the end. I grew up one town over from South Toms River so it was really interesting to have your home town area included in the storyline. Heck, we could have gone to high school together and I never realized the werewolf pack lived so close by…although I did know the Jersey Devil wasn’t too far away. I will definitely be following the Covet series, it truly was a fun read. 4 Stars.
This copy of Kept was given to me by Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review. Publish Date November 27, 2012.
Posted December 15, 2012
Posted December 3, 2012
I Also Recommend:
Kept continues the Coveted Series, following low ranking werewolf Natalya Stravinsky as she works to control her compulsive need to collect holiday trinkets. After the threat to the New Jersey pack has been resolved, Nat is vying to get her position back in the pack. Between her father going missing and Nat's taking it upon herself to fulfill his debts, there's not much time left for her to train for the pack's trials. Shawntelle Madison takes readers for a wild spin in this novel and surprises all with it's finishing touch!
Nat is a stronger character as she takes on responsibility in the midst of her own personal turmoils. While she has the looming trials over her head, she still has to deal with the pain of seeing her ex-boyfriend Thorn, who is also the future Alpha, with his intended, a mean-spirited and high ranking wolf. At times it seems as though Thorn would rather be back with Nat than doing his duty to the pack. Even though the wizard, and fellow collecting-buddy, Nick is a contender for Nat's heart I don't think what is supposed to be a love-triangle is explored enough. Nat and Nick have a wonderful connection and are really sweet together, but it was obvious that her passion was reserved for only Thorn. Nick is more like a minor distraction than a serious player in the game for a relationship with Natalya.
The romance is sometimes just okay and at very specific times sensual and passionate, but the action is absolutely the star of the plot. When Nat takes on the Russian werewolf mafia the story builds in tension and mystery. Her journey is dangerous and unpredictable, even if she brings along a few friends to help with her task. When the story gets to the much awaited pack trials readers will be head over heels with anxiety, wondering if Nat will come out on top, or even alive. The conclusion of Kept is what really brings me to really love and cherish this series. Natalya is a very determined wolf that surprises time after time and ultimately inspires one to believe in hope. I can't imagine what future trials might befall Nat, but I have a strong feeling that she won't be facing them alone!
*eARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Posted December 3, 2012
This review will be posted on My Paranormal Book Review.
What can I say? I ABSOLUTELY love this series! I read Coveted and fell in love with the characters. I counted down the days until Kept was released. You wouldn’t believe how excited I was to receive a review copy from Net Galley. Believe me, Kept did not disappoint.
Shawntelle Madison is an amazing author. She brought to live amazing characters with real problems. While reading Kept, two questions kept popping up in my mind. Does having character flaws make you unworthy of love or acceptance by others? Do you sacrifice your own happiness for the good of the pack or family? In Kept, Nat struggled to find her own answers to these questions.
Kept picks up where Coveted ended. Nat, an OCD werewolf, continues to do everything in her power to regain the respect of her family and her pack. Although most of her family and pack view her as being flawed and weak, Nat shows strength and courage in protecting what she loves the most…her family and her pack. Nat is even willing to risk her happiness for the betterment of the pack. Most of all, Nat’s character shows significant growth and strides in her recovery from OCD.
The love triangle between Nat, Thorn, and Nick evolves in Kept. Nat feels torn between the two men, who will do anything to protect her. The most heartfelt moments came from Thorn as he explains his five year absence and from Nick as he finally reveals his heart to her. In the end, Nat makes her decision between the two men. No spoilers…but I’m not sure how I feel about her decision. With everything Nat has endured, I kind of wished she would have responded differently in the last few pages.
Overall, I loved Kept. The fast paced story made for a wonderful read. Now, I must wait for Shawntelle’s next book…please hurry!
Posted December 3, 2012
Like the first book in the series, Kept is filled with awesomeness. It’s funny and heartbreaking and heartwarming and action-packed. The characters are well developed and interesting even down to the clichéd mean girl. Shawntelle Madison has quickly jumped on to my must read author list. I’m actually bummed that there are only two books of hers to read so far, but I can’t wait to purchase them for my collection. This is most definitely a series I can read over and over.
Natalya is exactly what I love to see in a main character. She’s flawed, yet strong and after everything that happened in Coveted she has grown instead of remaining stagnant. I absolutely hate when characters don’t learn from the events in their lives. In this book she no longer whines about her circumstances. Sure she might complain, but she looks her circumstances in the eye and faces them head on. She stands up for things even though she knows that she is weaker than those around her.
I am glad that we got to see storylines wrapped up in the end of this book, including the love triangle between Nat, Nick and Thorn. And even though it seems like the next book in the series (if we’re lucky enough to get one) will likely not feature Natalya as the main character, I know that the book will be amazing. I will not be disappointed because I know that whichever character Shawntelle picks to headline the book will be strong enough and dysfunctional enough to make me care about what happens to them…especially if it’s Aggie, or Abby or even Nick. ARC provided by Netgalley.
Posted December 1, 2012
I was really nervous when I started reading Kept. I did not like Coveted very much so I was worried that Kept would be more of the same. It wasn’t! Kept is so much better in every way possible. The plot was there from the get go and the lead character Nat went from being the most dislike main character to one I actually could stand.
Nat is still a very OCD and a Christmas Ornament hoarder with anxiety issues. As a werewolf that means she is weak and now has to go through a set of trials to get back in the pack her family belongs to. Just when she starts training her father disappears. She and her brother Nick along with the second in command of the pack Thorn (who is also her ex boyfriend) chase her father’s trail only to find he owes a debt and is unable to pay it. Her brother can’t help because he gets news that his first child is coming and Thorn is forbidden to help her. So she call on her friend Nick to help her pay the debt and restore honor to her family.
The good news is that I really don’t think you have to read Coveted to enjoy Kept. The only thing I think you would gain from reading Coveted first is that you can get a better look at who the characters are. If I had known that I most likely would have skipped Coveted and just read Kept. If you like urban fantasy that involves werewolves, goblins and fairies and has just a bit of romance I would totally recommend Kept to you!
Posted December 1, 2012
Coveted Book Two
By Shawntelle Madison
Natalya Stravincky is working to rebuild her relationship with her family and rejoin the ranks of her New Jersey pack. Suddenly her father goes missing she soon finds out that he owes a debt to the Russian werewolf mafia and she must work to repay his debt so they will free him. Along the way she gets assistance from various sources including her ex-boyfriend who is now engaged to someone else and she still loves, and a wizard who is patiently waiting for her to come around and see that he is the right man for her.
Ok so even though this is a paranormal romance there is so much more to it than just that, first off we have Nat who has OCD. I mean come on a werewolf with OCD I love it! Then the author encompasses several side stories that are absolutely fascinating in their own right, making this one book that is hard to put down. In a lot of books where two men are vying for the attentions of one woman you always get the sense of who the author is leaning towards, this is not the case in this book which is a pleasant surprise that leads me to wonder if the author knew or just decided at the end who Nat would end up with. I haven’t read the first book in this series yet but the author does a wonderful job encompassing enough of what happened previously to catch you up but still make you want to read it if you have not. I personally hope I will get the chance to read the beginning and the rest; I am dying to know what happens next. I was sent a free copy of this book for an honest review.
Posted November 28, 2012
Reviewed by Guest Reviewer/Jessica & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog
With action, mystery and sexy males in between, Kept will have you on a whirlwind of emotions.” ~Under the Covers
Natalya Stravinsky isn’t your average werewolf. Having OCD and an obsession with shiny Christmas ornaments can definitely help a gal out. But after being kicked out of the South Toms River Pack, Natalya will do anything to rejoin her pack and gain some honor to her family name but her plans are cut short when her father suddenly disappears.
Being her parent’s older child Natalya takes full responsibility by taking matters in to her own hands and sets out to find her father. Only problem is she’s in way over her head and to make matters worse, her sexy Alpha ex-boyfriend, Thorn decides to help her on her mission. Too bad there aren’t enough shiny Christmas ornaments in the world that can help her get over him and the fact that he’s engaged to be married.
After getting attacked on numerous occasions and almost dying more than once Natalya finds herself dealing with way more than she bargained for but it didn’t matter as long as her father was safe, even if it meant learning the truth about him.
I couldn’t help but root for Natalya in every situation she encountered. I felt myself getting frustrated with her because she tried so hard to fight the wolf that wanted to take control and I just kept yelling “Let the wolf take over!” I knew deep down that Natalya had an Alpha wolf in her, yet she kept acting like a submissive. Every time she’d conquer an obstacle I’d find myself excited only to have my celebration cut short because of her submissive ways, yet Natalya kept surprising me with her will to just survive and be part of her family. It was great to see the underdog get her day.
With action, mystery and sexy males in between, Kept will have you on a whirlwind of emotions.
*ARC provided by publisher
Posted November 27, 2012
Kept is the second book in the Coveted series which stars everyone's favorite OCD werewolf Natalya Stravinsky. This book starts shortly after the last book, Coveted, ends. We find Nat (our heroine) trying and failing to prep for the Pack trials. With the help of her brother Adam and Thorn (one of our heroes and Nat's ex-boyfriend), they conspire to get her butt into shape so she can pass said trials and be welcomed back into her pack, which is just one of the major hurdles she needs to accomplish to get her life back on track. While focusing on the training, she has discovered her father has gone MIA. Thorn, Adam and Nat decide to go on a man hunt to find him. What they discover is that he's being held to an old debt by the werewolf Russian mafia. Like any great family, they'll do everything in their power to help him and like any self-sacrificing daughter Nat eventually ends up taking on the debt.
As part of the terms of the debt, Adam and Thorn must not help and she ends up having to go it alone but along the way she encounters some nasty baddies, so who's her next call for backup? Her therapy group of course, which includes Nick, our other hero and Nat's possible love interest. They of course come to her rescue and ban together to help her in her time of need. During Nat's new adventure, she gets to spend some much needed quality time with Nick and realizes that she needs to make a decision about Thorn. He is engaged to another woman, whom his father and pack are forcing him to marry and the other woman has become the Bain of Nat's existence. Nat knows she needs to move on and Nick is definitely the right person to help her do that but her heart just won't let Thorn go. Thorn also isn't making it easy either because he wants Nat back badly but won't act on it because of his impending vows. It's a total mess and makes for one heck of a fun story!
What I loved most about this book is that it's totally action packed, full of adventure with unique characters and on top of it all, it also has a wonderful love story. Shawntelle Madison delivers a fun addition to the PNR/UF world without going over the top. The story has a wonderful epic ending that will leave a smile on your face and eager for the next book. I definitely recommend this series and I'd even recommend it for teens as well.
Posted November 27, 2012
At the start of “KEPT” Natalya Stravinsky is exactly where she left off in “COVETED,” at least mentally. Though she fought beside the pack and showed herself to be a brave wolf that will defend her family, she is still not accepted. Farley, the Pack Alpha, is finally willing to give Nat a chance to regain her place in the pack. First, she must succeed in ‘The Trials.’ The trials are a series of boot camp like tests that start with a 10 mile run and end with a fight to conquer the other wolves struggling for a place in the pack. On top of the training for the trials, which Natalya has yet to begin, Nat discovers that her father is missing.
Armed with the assistance of her colorful cast of co-stars and a bag of disinfected wipes, Nat goes on a journey that takes her throughout the North East in search of her father. Like its predecessor “KEPT,” is full action, heartbreak, triumphs and obsessive compulsive behaviors.
“KEPT” is a story that questions right from wrong and duty vs. desire. At the start of the series, we learn that despite their obstacles and past behavior Natalya and Thorn love each other. Thorn went to the west coast and didn’t return for five years. It was Thorn’s abandonment that led to Natalya’s breakdown and ultimately her being kicked out of the pack. Finally we learn what kept Thorn away and why they were separated, still excuses and explanations cannot solve the problem. Natalya is an outcast and Thorn is promised to be the mate of a rich female chosen by his father. No matter how hard they try, these two cannot seem to avoid each other and sparks always fly.
Natalya made choices that weakened her character. I don’t mean due to her OCD or the actions she takes to rescue her father and win the respect of the family. Madison made some choices that really villainies Thorn’s fiancé Erica and even to a lesser extent, Nick. It was as if Madison wanted to give her characters reason to make choices that are not really acceptable.
There were times where I downright disliked Thorn. He’s this alpha male, who has buckled underneath his father’s demands and yet refuses to leave Natalya alone. There were moments where it felt as if Thorn was purposely baiting and making Natalya crazy with jealousy and want. He never takes a step back and always finds himself in the middle of her business as if he wants her to rely on him. Even if she cannot have him. Madison tries to explain this away and make it seem that no matter what his situation, he loves her and must help her. Unfortunately, I made my mind up about Thorn in book 1. Also, Nick really comes through when Thorn is off being a pack wolf.
Love triangles aside, the story progresses in a way that did not stun me. I thought that Natalya’s journey to help her family was interesting, but as a whole I wasn’t wowed. There are new creatures introduced in this book, but I was more interested in learning about the creature we’ve already met. I wanted to know more about nymphs, muses and mermaids. Still, we’re introduced to the Fae and Madison’s vision of them is very interesting. They are terrifying, vengeful and powerful. They have powers that could keep you up at night and at moments I was happy to see their power at work.
Despite being slightly disappointed, I will continue this series. Huge events take place at the end of this story and I really want to see where Madison is going to take her characters from this point. Originally @ bookgeekconfessions.tumblr.(com)
Posted July 21, 2014
No text was provided for this review.