Each PNR/SF romance novella in the Kept anthology has a capture fantasy theme, and they’re all worth a read. Still, just as with any collection, some were more enjoyable for me than others.
For me, the first entry was the best one of all. Crimson Warriors by Holly Roberts is nominally about a devastating war between humans and werewolves where the humans are trying to recruit vampires on their side. The bulk of the story, however, covers the time spent between the vampire Talon and Command Sergeant Kelly Myers when the US Army offers her up as tribute. The result is one of the most compelling examples of crazy over-the-top insta-lust I’ve read in a very long time. If you love reading about mind-blowing BDSM-flavored sex between an irresistible vampire hero and an indomitable military heroine who gives as good as she gets, then Crimson Warriors is your story. 5 stars
After the slam dunk of the first story, Angela Castle’s Soul Bonds was almost too much of a change of pace for me, but it was still a lively read. Full-figured Ashlyn Sawyer is in Las Vegas for her stepsister’s wedding and hating every minute of it. Ashlyn’s dad has all the money and Ashlyn’s stepmother will do anything to get every penny of it. But no one counted on an handsome alien prince to arrive just in time to sweep Ashlyn off her feet and away from everyone who meant to harm her. A whole of implausible events have to happen before K’marr and Ashlyn’s happy ending, but it’s all in good fun and made me laugh more than once. 4 stars
Precious Sacrifice is the first entry in Cari Silverwood’s new Preyfinders series and it does a great job of setting up the premise of an alien planetary alliance who sends warriors to less advanced civilizations to see if their people are able to travel among the stars with them. That this is done by capturing beautiful women and using specialized drugs to transform them into sexual pets is almost beside the point, as we discover that an ancient enemy of the alliance has reappeared on Earth and the woman targeted by Preyfinder Jadd is somehow a key to their enemy’s interest in conquering this planet. It was a lot of information for me to absorb, but the relationship between Jadd and Brittany made it all work, even if I didn’t quite understand everything related to the war itself. 4 stars
Sorcha Black’s Succumb might be the most interesting story in this collection, even if it wasn’t my favorite. Moth is a succubus, which means she’s only supposed to prey on men. But the human female Shiloh is irresistible, and Moth will not be denied. Shiloh is a virgin because the idea of sex with a man frightens her, even if men themselves do not. But when the Demon Council objects to their unconventional relationship, it takes an even more unusual solution to let them be together permanently. The best part of this story for me were the scenes in the demon world, where we got to see how their society was set up for both incubi and succubi, and the rules for behavior between them and the human world. I especially enjoyed the scenes with Fox, Moth’s incubus friend, and would love to read a story featuring him and his slave harem. 4 stars
For me, the weakest entry in Kept was C.L. Scholey’s Universe Hunters. Cali is half naked in the forest, using a tree to scratch the poison ivy rash on her bottom before her two male friends notice, when she’s suddenly beamed up onto an alien ship by men who look exactly like her friends. A lot of things happen in this relatively short story, and unfortunately I had a lot of difficulty keeping track of who was who and where they were in the universe. But the sex scenes were good, although I’m still not sure how one of the aliens ended up pregnant. 3 stars
After my relative disappointment with the previous story, I wasn’t sure what to think of Leia Shaw’s My Scottish Keeper, but once I figured out what was going on, I was all in, especially when the story moved to Scotland and we got to see our title character in his natural element. Maggie’s life isn’t especially grand, so being captured by a bossy Scotsman who works for aliens just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. My only objection to this story was how it resolved its final obstacle to their HEA, as it seemed to end all too quickly, even though we’d already been given all the clues to its resolution ahead of time. But that didn’t taint my love of Baen and Maggie - it just made me wish I could read more of them together. 4 stars
Overall, Kept was an entertaining read, and all of the stories were memorable. I’d recommend it to anyone who prefers their PNR/SF romance with a capture fantasy twist.
From the darkest parts of the underworld, to aliens hunting on Earth, to planets far away, each of these capture-themed novellas by six bestselling authors takes you on a wild ride that will heat up your fantasies and keep you up all night long…reading.
From Holly Roberts - Sergeant Kelly Myers fights a war that humans are losing but there may be a way out. Can she sacrifice her blood and body to a vampire to save her country or is Talon worse than the evil trying to kill them all?
From Angela Castle - For alien King K’marr, time is running short, he captures and claims the human Ashlyn Sawyer as his. Yet, Ash objects over his methods of persuasion. Can K’marr convince Ash they are Soul Bonds or will she let him succumb to the abyss of madness?
From Cari Silverwood’s new Preyfinder series - A Preyfinder is trained to withstand hardship and pain, but Jadd would rather kneel before a firestorm than leave his captive, Brittany, to be stalked and killed. The choice between love and loyalty to his soldier brothers may tear him in two.
From Sorcha Black - Lying tangled in her sheets each night, dreaming of sex, virginal Shiloh never meant to tempt the spying succubus. Even so, the accident of their mutual infatuation wouldn’t save Shiloh or Moth from the Council’s wrath.
From C.L. Scholey - Lost in a forest, poison ivy for an unwanted companion. Two hot aliens take the form of friends spirit her away aboard their alien vessel. Can life get any stranger for Cali? It can. Add some mind blowing sex and hang on!
From Leia Shaw - After accidentally turning off a device that could destroy earth, Maggie finds herself abducted by Baen, a man with an accent as sexy as his rugged looks. As he drags her to Scotland to fix it, chemistry between the two explodes, but is it enough for a happily ever after?