Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Claimed (Bride of the Kindred 1) by Evangeline Anderson

Olivia Waterhouse has just graduated from nursing school and has her whole life ahead of her-until she gets drafted. Problem is, she isn't being forced into the Army, she's been chosen as a Kindred bride.

The Kindred are huge alien warriors-a race of genetic traders whose population is ninety-five percent male. After saving Earth from the threat of invasion they demand a reward-the right to find brides among the population. The chances of being chosen are about the same as those of winning the lottery-guess it's just Liv's lucky day.

Baird is a Beast Kindred who recently escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the malevolent Scourge. Through the torment and pain only one thing kept him sane-the thought of finding and claiming his bride-Olivia. His need to possess her is a burning intensity that threatens to consume them both.

Angry at having her future and her family taken away from her, Liv vows to fight back the only way she can-by resisting. She has one month on the Kindred Mothership with Baird-their claiming period. If she can keep from having bonding sex with him during that time, she can go home and get on with her life on Earth.

But Baird isn't going to make it easy for her. Every week he is allowed to touch Liv more and more intimately and according to the contract she signed, she has to let him. She's determined to resist him but his touch sets her on fire. And just as she thinks she knows what she wants, a twist of fate and an attack by the faceless Scourge AllFather changes everything...

Reviewer: avidscribe
Evangeline Anderson starts her BRIDES OF THE KINDRED series with Claimed, the story of Beast Kindred, Baird, and his unwilling human bride, Olivia. This is erotic sci-fi at some of its best. He’s totally alpha and she's everything in the world to him.

The story opens with Olivia having breakfast with her sister Sophia (who is the heroine in the second KINDRED book) and their best friend Kat (book 3 is her story). It’s a tense time for Earth. The evil Scourge have tried to take over the planet and been thwarted by the peace keeping Kindred warriors and are locked in battle in our Sun’s pull. Were it not for the Kindred, all mankind would have succumbed. The Kindred ask only one thing in return—the right to take Earth brides for themselves in a kind of draft they’ve created with the cooperation of Earth’s government.

Because of a mutation in their genes, the Kindred race is 95% male. The draft is necessary to ensure the continuation of their species and a patriotic duty for all women between the age of 19 and 35. There is a 1 in 10,000 chance of ever getting called to do your duty and the three women live their days pretending the Kindred don’t exist because it’s unusual to actually know a person who’s been drafted with the great odds.

A knock at the door changes all that.

Olivia is taken and claimed via ceremony in the blink of an eye, doomed to be separated forevermore from her ‘womb-mate’ twin Sophia. Both women despair because they’ve never been separated for more than a day in their whole lives. Liv is swept away to the Kindred’s mothership and all communication back to Earth is cut off. She must endure a 30 day period of habitat with Baird, by order of the trade agreement. The first week she must at least sleep with him. The second bathe. The third involves tasting. The fourth ... She can hardly believe this. Beast Kindred are known as Ragers, tall and dominant with berserker-like rages when protecting their women, filled with animalistic lust with a sexual stamina unequaled by anyone.

And she’s complaining? LOL

From that standpoint, it’s formulaic. “Oh no! No! You hot, handsome, tall, impossibly hung man you! Don’t you dare touch me!” while she pants every moment he’s near her.

He will do anything and everything short of force to convince her to be his bride in all ways and the book is largely the push-pull of the sexual chemistry between these two. He has a period of 30 days to try to seduce her before she can walk away from the contract with no reprecussions. 30 days of deepening physical contact.

We learn Baird has recently escaped imprisonment from the Scourge mothership, where men his equal have been killed or mentally destroyed doing so. Dreams of Olivia kept him sane, kept him going, kept him believing she was his one true soulmate. He is desperate to make her see that she needs him as much as he needs her but Olivia is bound and determined to return to Earth and her sister. Their parents are dead, they’ve only got each other and the thought of life apart from her anathema. She will resist him even if it kills her.

Of course, within five minutes of entering his apartment, he's got his mouth on hers and she is swooning against him. His scent drives her to distraction as she writhes wantonly in his arms and all thought has fled her head. It is Baird who pulls away, telling her she's not ready for him. And so the game begins.

Beyond the formula, it’s sheer fun. Evangeline has gone to great efforts to enrich the story with some wild imaginings. If you have never made a pizza but you know your bride enjoys them, what kind of Earth toppings might you throw onto the crust? Fruit cocktail pizza with lima beans and chunks of salmon, anyone? If you've never tasted cheese or milk, how would you react hearing it comes from a squeeze bag that hangs between the legs of some farm animal? "Cow squeezings" becomes a running joke between the two as Baird comes to enjoy gooey cheese on top of a pizza Olivia makes with the leavings.

Olivia initially has trouble maneuvering around Baird's apartment when he steps out to collect himself and she stumbles in the dark onto a mat that grabs her, drinks a white liquid thinking it's milk which turns out to be 90 proof, runs into a living teddy bear with three rows of razor sharp teeth and gets trapped on Baird's massage table she unwittingly sets on eroticize. There are lots of these hilarious moments throughout the series and for these alone I'd recommend the books. It's both their takes on the strangeness of their worlds that makes this engaging and an entertaining read while you recognize viscerally it will be the attraction between them that will overlook all differences and have them come together.

The eroticism is hot, explicit and immersive. I respect this writer's work enormously. She has fine comedic chops and writes an engaging story I couldn't put down. This is the shortest book of the series so far and sets the exposition needed to explain the scifi drama that continues with each additional story.

The only reason I don't give this 5 stars is the push/pull becomes so overdone it's hackneyed. Olivia is at once looking for distance as she is rubbing herself all over him and Baird is groveling for her love. I like my alphas more confident and sure of themselves. There were moments I wanted to slap her down and talk sense into her squirrel brain. In that regard, all three novels in the series so far use the same dynamics of the woman feigning disinterest (even while enjoying the eye candy and attention of their pursuer) and the man jumping hoops to get a favorable nod from the woman (literally) of their dreams. In each book, the woman doesn't come to admit like-feelings for her man (plural in book 3) until one or both is near death and the excuses she's thrown up as barriers to intimacy are shown to be flimsy and irrelevant.

If you have never read anything from this writer, this is a nice starting point to her strong library of stories. I'd give this 4 1/2 stars.

See the original review on goodreads


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