Reviewed: August 9, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Blood Lust, Novella 2
Rating: 2 Stars
Picking up where Kept (Blood Lust, novella 1 ) ended, more or less, the vampire Anthony is reeling from the drugs he drew out of Greta when he came to Dayne's aid. In his flight from the circle in which Greta had been nearly killed he comes across Charlee's house, blitzed out of his mind and at the mercy of his demon. When he's near Charlee, the scent of her fear heightens senses already pushed to the brink and he feeds from her - almost drains her. Mindless with blood lust, he manages to keep from killing the young woman he's always enjoyed verbally sparring with, but when he wipes her memory of the event, Anthony accidentally wipes her entire memory. Charlee wakes up the next day with no idea who she is, where she is, or what's going on.
Charlee uses some deductive reasoning to hook up with Greta, who takes her to Dayne, who calls in Anthony. Over her friend's objection, Charlee goes with Anthony, who needs to protect Charlee from Linus, an ancient vampire in town for the centennial tournament to determine the king of the vampires for the country. Anthony's by no means a boy scout but Linus is pure evil, and he likes collecting mistakes like Charlee for his own nefarious purposes. Problem is, Charlee's memory might be gone, but she's not stupid, and she doesn't trust Anthony even before she finds out he's a vampire. After...well...lets just say she's got faith and a cross and isn't afraid to use either.
This is the second novella in the Blood Lust trilogy, and I was a little leery of it because I wasn't too fond of Charlee's character in the first one. What I did like about Kept, though, was the original and intriguing mythos and world building that Zoe managed to expound on to pleasantly surprising levels and the sarcastic banter between the two lead characters.
I had similar hopes for Claimed, and some of them were realized. I again give credit to Winters for her ability to flesh out a world and define a species and its culture, in this case the vampires, in a way that's more comprehensive than some full length novels I've read. I also liked the widened scope of characters here, with Greta and Dayne playing a part in the beginning, and later seeing the addition of others that added to the plot development. I liked Anthony the first time around and appreciated the closer look I got of him in this one, as well.
I still think the narrative is a little choppy, especially at the beginning, and I had some problems with the dialogue throughout, though again, much more heavily towards the beginning. It too often seems stilted and inorganic to the characters or to any natural conversational progression. Internal monologues didn't suffer in quite the same way, though, and that was an improvement. I wish the beginning had been conceived differently, because I really had some issues with it, and didn't think the novella really started to grow on me until Charlee and Anthony were back at his place.
The biggest problem I had with Claimed, though, is in no way a critique of the story or the author, and really isn't anything that can be changed. I couldn't stand Charlee. That happens sometimes, personal preferences in characters sometimes just aren't met. It doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't like her, because it's totally subjective, but she represented quite a few of my own personal bugaboos for female lead characters. When suffering from amnesia she came across as too weak and easily led, and even her brief flashes of temper seemed more petulant than independent, and after the amnesia was resolved, she alternated between horrified and bitchy, neither of which I found attractive. I only wish there had been a detente with Anthony prior to the events in the Tournament, because without it, the change in their relationship seemed a bit too abrupt. Further details withheld to prevent spoilers.
I wish there had been more banter between Anthony and Charlee, because Winters did that really well in Kept, and I wish I didn't detest Charlee quite so much. I still have Mated to read yet, though, and I'm looking forward to it.
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