Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: Empath, Bonded and Secrets By HK Savage

Claire Martin, having struggled all her life with  an ultra-heightened emotional sense of those around her, just finished  high school and cannot wait to go away to college, even if it is just  across town.  Her ability has left her socially impaired and intolerant of those around her.  Away  at school, the emotional “noise” of others is muffled and after meeting  a few special people, she is taught how to handle her “curse”, as she  calls it.

There is something different here.  Something else is going on, right there under the surface.  It’s almost like a sub-plot.  Our main character can’t figure it out.  I couldn’t figure it out either, not until the end.  And did I try!  I kept guessing and wondering.  I love a good mystery, especially one that I cannot figure out halfway through the book.  This had a great mysterious element to it.

This Twilight-esque story has some of the same mythological rules and properties as other paranormal stories I have read.  There are a lot of similarities, but, make no mistake, this is not Twilight.  The main character has graduated high school, she is born with a supernatural ability, and there are the cats.  Yes, the cats.  I grew up with dogs but became a cat person as an adult.  So, I just love that instead of werewolves, we have cats.  I laughed when James suggested she could have her cat come and stay if she was uncomfortable.  Somehow the same kind of joke did not seem as funny in New Moon (if you read that series).  I mean, there’s a reason dogs are called lapdogs and not cats, right?

Some readers do not read the descriptions in books at all.  I do.  I like to try to picture tales unfolding in my mind as I read.  Perhaps this is why I am such a slow reader.  I was rewarded in this book:  James’ d├ęcor in his family room is my family room.  Like, to a tee.  The only difference is I have photos and personal knick-knacks.  Weird, right?  How could I not get a kick out of that?

If there is one negative thing I have to say, it would be not about what is written, but what is not written.  We see things from Claire’s point of view.  I felt her emotions and reasoning were well developed.  Yet, there were parts that felt, not disjointed, but left out and missing.  There  was, for example, the build-up of being an empath, the struggle of  being in the same room as other people and the difficulty of simply  touching another person.  And then, Claire has her first kiss.  Ever.  The kiss was barely mentioned in one sentence.  I had to read that part a couple of times to be sure it really happened.  I understand wanting to keep the book PG13 (something I did appreciate), but I really felt that kiss was missing.  Another, we see her meeting a friend and then the next time the character is mentioned, they are the best of friends.  I wondered when they started hanging out, what they did together, and the meshing of the personalities.  They happened, just in the background.  I chalk it up to creative license on behalf of the author.  These sorts of things really, truly did not bother me as a reader.  I guess I was just thirsty for more is all.  Sigh.

This book had action, romance, mystery, and most of it occurring in a room that looks like my own family room . 

.The bad guys are licking their wounds leaving Claire and James to enjoy what promises to be a merry Christmas. Only a traitor among them sends Stephen and Claire into enemy hands.

Past lovers, obligations and rivalries compete, all the while the bond between Claire and James grows and Claire is pulled further toward the vampire side. James is growing dependent upon her to feed his humanity until the boundary that separates them is no longer clear. 

A potential husband and a job working for the Court threaten to take Claire's newfound control over her life from her and stick her firmly under someone else's thumb. She must try to keep her wits about herself enough to figure out what she wants before the ability to decide is gone forever, and try not to get any of her loved ones killed in the process.

The physical and emotional bond between Claire and James is moving at a rapid pace, as is the life changing realizations that Claire is finding in her new life. As Claire learns the truth about the everyday people coexisting in the world she has known all her life, the dangers are also making themselves known. With life altering decisions to be made, Claire finds herself challenging the commitment to her new life and questioning the responsibility her talents have placed in her lap. I love the way the Author portrayed the strong will of Claire in this book. Claire is prepared to speak her mind, in spite of the repercussions she knows will follow. Her readiness to sell her soul to aide in the survival of the ones she loves makes her a character so undoubtedly courageous. HK Savage really touches on the emotions new couples feel as they embark on the beginning stages of a relationship. That up and down rollercoaster ride that new lovers take as they learn about the person lying next to them in bed. Questioning the future and what it holds. I think it's a situation we can all relate to, human or vampire. In the end, Bonded took off from page one. It was packed full of exciting moments and action, constantly speeding ahead. It held the perfect amount of quiet moments where the reader had the opportunity to study the character and ultimately feel the love and sacrifice they endure. And the best part, it's not over yet. Secrets is next on my list and I can't wait.

Paris, everyone is together and forgets for one night about the looming threat of war between the races for a wedding. But no sooner are their vows exchanged than the newlyweds are called upon to serve the Court. 

Stateside, an old photograph turns up with a member of the vampire's Court and several other men linked to an organization called Nightshade Holdings, LLC. More digging reveals how deep Nightshade's influence extends and just how deeply the Court itself is involved in the plot to start an interspecies war.

Love is found, old friends die and a greater enemy than any thought possible is revealed. It will take everything for the clan and the vampires to stop the war before it is too late.
As Claire and James launch their relationship into a new chapter, with their family and friends blessing, duty interrupts the lengthy celebration. Claire remains relentless in proving her value to her new family, to the Court and to her husband. But her luck can't last forever, and soon her destiny is in the hands of those she loves. So fearless, Claire finds herself face to face with danger again and again, each finding a way to make her stronger. With her family growing suspicious and the discovery of deception by their allies, Secrets certainly lives up to its title. 

HK Savage continues to use some very creative ways to bring magic and the paranormal to this great story. The bond between Claire and James matures into a powerful tool that strengthens their love and presents them invaluable to their kind. Claire's persistence makes me want to scream "What are you thinking?", but then I find myself cheering her on and admiring her tenacity wishing I had an ounce of her bravery. I also really loved how the Author threw in real-life bits of playfulness of a happy couple. The wife playing matchmaker and the husband giving her 'the look'. I think many readers, young and old, can relate. 

Secrets concluded the trilogy on just the right note. You found rewarding amount of closure on many of the loved characters in the book, with only a few left to the imagination. It didn't end with a 'happily ever after' facade, when you know the next few hundred years are bound to bring along some drama.

HK lives in the frozen hinterlands of the far North.  The long, cold months provide ample opportunity to hunker down with her computer and create adventures far more enticing than scraping ice and getting frostbite.  

Between books HK reads voraciously.  Anything with a good plot and compelling characters are her broad parameters.  One is as likely to catch her with a copy of Don Quixote as with the latest Kristen Ashley.

When not writing or wowing the corporate world by day, HK practices martial arts, plays with her dogs and matches wits with her teen.  Next winter she intends to brush up on her Spanish and escape the cold for somewhere more tropical.

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