12 August 2015

[Review] The Breed: Casstiel's Vow, by Alice K. Wayne

Description


After the brutal kidnapping of her brother, Tessa Roberts, a human born with the ability to read other human minds, plunges herself into the dark and mysterious world of the Breed, hell bent on finding him. What she encounters however, is far more than she bargained for. Vampires and werewolves are one race known as the Breed, and are locked in a centuries old war against vicious human Hunters. With the help of Casstiel, the fierce leader of the Breed's defense team who carries a fiery passion for her, can she find her brother before the war erupts on their doorstep? Or will lies and betrayals end the new life she's forged for herself, along with the lives of everyone she loves?

My Review

 

We want to read books that have an interesting story with engaging characters and hot sex. The Breed: Casstiel's Vow, by Alice K. Wayne, has all three. There's an all-important fourth element as well when you're dealing with the paranormal, too: world-building.

It's not easy to put your own twist on the classic vampire tale, but Alice has created something with depth and its own internally consistent rules around which she can build a series of engaging and steamy tales. In her world, there are humans and there are the Breed. The Breed consists of both vampires and werewolves. Alice treats it more like genetics than dark magic. It is a more than merely passable backdrop to the relationships and the sex, it is the basis for the entire story.

 Into this well-crafted lore and setting she drops characters that have a good twist on the expected tropes. Tessa is the shy loner who dresses like a frump but is secretly beautiful. Sounds standard, right? But she actually has a really damn good reason: she can read minds. Being with people and trying to have a social life is a fucking nightmare of betrayal and sadness for her. To always know when people are lying to you or are thinking depraved thoughts about you would make anyone want to not be around people.

The main characters all have interesting backstories that get revealed as the story progresses. At first I had a lot of questions about things but was rewarded with interesting answers later on that totally fit the world Alice created and which further helped defined the characters.

The sex does not define this story. The story could just have easily been written to be less steamy and it still would've been great. However, the sex scenes are pretty damn hot. I only wish the language were less cliched (every fiber of her being, a thousand volts of electricity, rushed through her like a freight train, etc.).

Despite that, the scenes are still good because the characterization is so good. Tessa is just absolutely fucking adorably hot in her inexperience and desire. Casstiel's self-control in the face of his ravenous lust is palpable. The characters are all very different from each other and it shows in how they love and fuck, too. When Nora gets frisky in one scene (I can't say more without spoiling it) she's nothing like Tessa.

Nothing drags in this story, it moves right along. The sex is hot. The writing is tight and efficient. The combat scenes are passable. Elite soldiers would be using something much better than M-16s, but otherwise the gear and tactics were accurate and not distracting.

Other than cliched language, the other noticeable fault in this book is the grammar errors. Notably there was incorrect use of apostrophes and lack of hyphenation where it should be. For example, it's not open mouthed, it's open-mouthed. A couple times there were tense or pronoun mix-ups that made for a confusing sentence there and there. This is not a deal-breaker for me.

There are still some questions I want answers on in future books. Like how do Tessa's and Remy's "gifts" fit in with everything else. It would seem inevitable that Tessa becomes a vampire, too, so I'm looking forward to that.

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