Ever since I read Rebecca Zanetti's Consumed (the fourth book in this series) more than a year ago, I've been dying to pick up the backlist. The world-building was so great in that book (and then in book 5, Provoked) that I really wanted to see where it all began before continuing with the series. I waited, though, because I thought $12 was a bit too pricey to pay for a two year-old ebook. Thankfully, a sale, coupled with a Kobo coupon, put this in a more reasonable price range --and I finally got to reading.
I'm glad I didn't pay full price.
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that I finally got the chance to learn more about the history of the series. This book lays all the foundation for what lies ahead. Unfortunately, I had issues with the romance that kept me from enjoying this installment as much as I have the others I've read in the series.
Cara is a scientist and single mother with a special psychic ability. As the story begins, she and her daughter Janie are kidnapped by a sexy vampire named Talen. It seems the bad vampires, the Kurjans, are aware of Cara's gifts and they want to kidnap her and her child to force them into mating with their warriors. Instead, she is forced to mate with Talen to ensure their safety. --It's not rape or anything. Cara and Talen are physically attracted, but things have to progress much further and faster than she wants.
In short order, Cara goes from knowing nothing about the supernatural world to learning all about the vamps, shifters, and their age old wars. And we, too, learn it all along with her. We find out what the Kurjans are plotting and see their plan as it all begins to unfold --and meet some of the fantastic characters that will feature heavily in future books. All good stuff. Lots of action, hot sex too.
But I had a serious problem with the balance of power between Cara and Talen --or the lack thereof. There is a certain expectation of "alpha" in most paranormal romance, but in the successful ones (for me) the heroine manages to find her own power in the relationships. Yes, it's usually more subtle than the hero's power, but they each have a chance to win some of the battles. Here, Cara never gets to win. It's all Talen's way and he never gives an inch. I appreciate that he loves her and she holds his heart or whatever, but he controls everything, including, at times, her body and her will. He orders her around. He "punishes" her. I'm just not down with that dynamic. It's also got some of the more eye-rolling PNR tropes, like the heroine having an orgasm on demand --and sex so good she blacks out.
I'm glad I didn't read this book first because I likely would not have continued with the series. But I know I liked the later installments, so I will keep reading. I know they get better.