Series: Dragon Kings #1
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Published by Pocket Books on June 25, 2013
Reviewed by: Kate
Graphic sex scenes, attempted rape
The first installment in this fierce and sensual new paranormal romance series features demonic gladiators, ruthless mafia villains, and a proud race on the brink of extinction.
Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation—which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.
Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning.
CAGED WARRIOR, the first full novel in the Dragon Kings series, is a very rough and raw romance, not meant for those that want clean lines and saccharine sweet happily ever afters. Full of passion and action, CAGED WARRIOR is one of those books that once you start, you can’t put it down- as evidenced by the fact that I stayed up until 1:00 am one morning reading it. While not perfect, the hot main characters and quickly flowing plot more than make up for the few holes in the world building.
There’s a lot of gray area in CAGED WARRIOR. The way Leto treats Audrey in the beginning isn’t great, but when compared to how she is treated by her captors and other men around, it is practically romantic. If you’re looking for roses and candles though, this isn’t it. Leto is a product of his environment, having grown up around cage fighting, and violence doesn’t phase him. To succeed, he has to be the alpha, top of the heap, and he can’t show any weakness. Luckily, Audrey isn’t a total pushover- she’s feisty with a stubborn streak a mile wide and once she comes into her powers, more than enough of a match for Leto.
There were a few plot points that didn’t make complete sense to me. The logic behind the cage warriors wasn’t completely explained and I found it kind of weak. My biggest question was if the Dragon Kings were all so powerful, why were they letting the humans collar them and force them to fight? It seemed to have to do with procreation, and the human mafia family held the secrets to the Dragon Kings having children, however, Audrey had a child, and she was a Dragon King. I was a little confused- even if Audrey’s son was not normal, how did the Dragon Kings get to the point where they couldn’t have children, anyway? Also, while it wasn't that bothersome to me, CAGED WARRIOR was a violent book, not just during the cage matches, but also outside of them. If lots of violence turns you off, I would suggest passing on this book.
As I’ve discussed my love of dominant men before, it should be no surprise CAGED WARRIOR totally worked for me in a romance sense. While I could have done with a little less violence and a little more clarification of the world, I was still captivated by Audrey and Leto, and I can’t wait for the next book in the Dragon Kings series, BLOOD WARRIOR, coming out in July.
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