Coveted (英語) マスマーケット – 2012/4/24
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“A smart, sexy, rip-roaring good time.”—New York Times bestselling author Angie Fox
“I’m obsessed with Shawntelle Madison’s fantastic urban fantasy debut, featuring hoarding werewolves, magic, and mayhem! More, please!”—Michelle Rowen, bestselling author of That Old Black Magic
SOMETIMES WHAT YOU COVET IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP.
For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home—and the two discover that the spark between them remains intense.
Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a more immediate and dangerous problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is their first target in a turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all of her strength to save her pack and, ultimately, herself.
“If you like your urban fantasy original, quirky, and offbeat, this is the series for you. Natalya is the craziest heroine since Carolyn Crane’s Justine Jones, and you will love her just as much.”—Ann Aguirre, bestselling author of Devil’s Punch
Werewolves in no shape or form should own a fast food restaurant. No pancakes, no frozen custard, and for goodness sake, my people needed to stop peddling pizza. In my opinion, any establishment where my food could potentially grow microscopic wildlife wasn’t my kind of place to eat. That pretty much left fire-grilled food on the menu, and the only good thing any werewolf grilled well these days was a well-done burger. And Archie’s sold the best double-stacked burger on this side of the Toms River. If the animal walked and men speared it, then Archie burned it the best.
“Hey, Natalya, you’re here early,” said Jake, the cashier.
I averted my eyes after I placed my order. As usual, I was the lowest-ranking werewolf in the whole joint. “We’re really busy now that the weather’s cooling off.”
Jake offered a friendly smile. “How’s Bill?”
“He’s fine. Still the grumpiest boss ever.”
I ended the conversation and hid out in my usual booth while my food cooked. As much as I loved Archie’s burgers, I preferred to keep to myself while I ate.
As I waited, travelers coming off the Garden State Parkway came by for chow. They weren’t like those tourists who walk around with fanny packs and cameras. Instead, they smelled of money—the cash they were about to spend on other people’s old junk at one of the many flea markets that lined the Parkway.
Ten minutes later, Jake’s younger sister, Misty, brought out my food on a tray. My mouth watered at the sight of the double cheeseburger and fries. But that snotty werewolf didn’t even bother to acknowledge my presence. She simply dumped the food in front of me and strolled off. A single bright-red gob of burger sauce landed on my pristine blouse.
My eyes wide, I gaped at the stain as my chest tightened with alarm. And I thought I was crazy. The way she flung food on my table each week, it was clear that she had no idea how every spill, glob, and splatter drastically increased my stress level. With a shaking hand, I frantically wiped the spot with a stain pen.
And all this after I’d spent a half hour this morning meticulously pressing my clothes. With my light chestnut-colored hair brushed to perfection and my low-heeled shoes shined, I’d felt like I could survive the day in relative peace.
Well, as peacefully as a werewolf who obsessed over everything could. I didn’t advertise my condition, but if you saw a chick scrubbing her clothes with an industrial-strength stain pen, you might assume she’s a bit of a clean freak. With an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I took clean freak to the next level. But even with my condition, I lived what could be called a normal life.
Archie’s had been my lunch spot for the past few years. And no matter how bad the service was, or the conditions, I refused to eat lunch anywhere else.
My food was cold before I had a chance to take a bite. But it didn’t matter. I savored the burger anyway—that is, until two familiar faces entered the restaurant.
Everyone in South Toms River knew Erica Holden and Becky Knoll. They didn’t work. Well, they worked at being rich, I guess. After college in New York, they came back into town to spend Erica’s rich daddy’s money.
“Jake!” Erica gushed. “You have the order ready?”
Jake’s hungry eyes took in Erica’s perfect blonde hair and cotton candy–pink sweater. The garment stretched across her boobs and hung on for dear life.
“It’s coming up right now. Took us awhile to grill that many deluxe burgers.” He leaned forward. “Are you having a few guests over?”
Becky laughed and flipped her chocolate-brown curls behind her ear. “Erica’s picking up Thorn’s favorite burgers. She’s so sweet.”
“Nice to hear the prodigal son’s returned home.”
They were ten feet away, but even from that distance I could sense the excitement sliding down Erica’s back. The name gave me the same honeyed feeling.
My heartbeat quickened and the burger nearly caught in my throat. I flared my nostrils and focused on Erica. Through the scent of fancy perfume and chemical-strength deodorant, an underlying scent was there. Thorn was back. And Erica had likely tried to run her manicured fingernails all over him. Probably made a valiant attempt to rub herself against him too. Over the years, her stints at becoming Thorn’s groupie weren’t anything new to me.
I averted my eyes and finished my food. I had just seven minutes left in my lunch hour—and no time to waste sitting there staring at Erica.
By the time I left for work, she was long gone. As I stalked out of Archie’s, I caught the scent of Misty’s satisfaction as she cleared my table. Even though she always mistreated me and never cleaned up after her customers, I’d still left her a full tip.
I worked at the Bend of the River Flea Market, or The Bends as the locals called it, which was three blocks away from Archie’s. I didn’t mind walking over every day. The fresh air was good for my soul.
And maybe I would even see Thorn on the way to work. I had a feeling, though, that he would be back at the Granthams’ log cabin off in the woods—meeting with his father, the town’s abominable pack leader.
On the way back, a local organic farmer in overalls waved at me. “Have a good afternoon, Nat.”
“Same to you, Stanley.”
Every day after lunch he waved at me, and then, after I passed by, stared at my legs. I didn’t have any interest in sixty-year-old men—especially ones with pencil-skirt fetishes. But like the majority of humans in the world, he didn’t know that he was ogling a werewolf every day.
And perhaps he’d be even less inclined to act so friendly if he knew that werewolves weren’t the only strange thing lurking around here.
Eventually, I reached The Bends, a large, old building nestled between a parking lot and another flea market. But The Bends wasn’t just another flea market.
The Bends offered the best deals among the flea markets along the eastern seaboard. Bill was a great employer and all, but I was the brains of this operation. With a computerized inventory system and online store for our more expensive stock, we offered a level of service most flea markets—supernatural or otherwise—just couldn’t match.
Growing up as a natural-born werewolf, I’d been exposed to the supernatural world from the crib onward. It ranged from witches visiting for grade school sleepovers to band practice with the fairy folk. After selling all the strange things we had in the store, I suspected that even stranger things than crooked witch wands and haunted capes lurked around New Jersey to buy. If you checked the right places and had the enchanted eyesight to find them you had a chance. Of course, that left humans out of the mix.
I entered through the back, an outdoor area covered with a long, steel awning. During warmer weather, we sold more of our wares on the rows of tables out here. I headed inside the shop and dropped off my purse in the business office. The office was closed off from the shopping floor by a large set of wooden doors. Two minutes later, I was back in the mix—in the crowded main room, with a roomful of Saturday shoppers browsing the long aisles.
My boss approached me from the loading dock. “Hey, Nat, about time you got back. The harpy who bought that Victorian vase on Thursday is back. She said the merchandise had flaws.”
To regular folks, Bill looked like a tall, thin man with wire-framed glasses. To my eyes he resembled the cartoon character Dilbert—but to my nose he reeked of magic with a bitter tang of iron.
He was a goblin, entrenched in a glamour—an invisibility spell that hid his true appearance.
“Flaws? You’re kidding, right?”
He pushed his glasses up his nose. “She said something about scratches on the bottom.” He tilted his head to glance at the customer. “She’s upsetting the other patrons.”
Normally, I would have taken over for the other cashier so she could have lunch, but now that would have to wait. “I’ll handle it.” Like I always do.
As I walked over to the harpy, I first noticed another scent overpowering the haze of magic. The woman had doused herself in cheap vanilla perfume. Her flashy ensemble matched garish bright pink sandals with a beaded denim shirt and capri pants. Her platinum-blonde hair was stark against her penciled eyebrows. I stifled a laugh as I wondered what wildlife dwelled within her teased mane.
My irate customer wasn’t an ordinary woman. Under the guise of a heavily makeup-covered dame she lived day to day as a ghastly birdlike creature with sharp claws. She hid from human eyes using her magic. This whole encounter didn’t surprise me, though. Along with the unfortunate circumstance of having a human head on a bird’s body, the poor thing’s name derived from the Greek word for “snatching stuff.”
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“I bought this original 1889 Moser glass vase on Thursday.” She pushed the fragile vase into my hands. “I unwrapped it this morning to find my purchase scratched on the bottom. I paid a lot of money for that damn thing.”
“Scratched? That’s impossible. I wrapped this particular package before you picked it up.”
“Well, you don’t know how to handle expensive antiques, then.” She shifted and put her hands on her hips. I could almost imagine black feathers rustling.
With a huff, she searched for Bill. “I asked to talk to the manager.”
I leaned forward. “I’m more than qualified. First of all, you bought an 1885 vase. I had our specialist catalogue it. And second, I don’t mishandle the merchandise.” I checked, and sure enough the bottom was marred with scratches.
“Well, your staff is incompetent.”
“Incompetent? I handled and prepared your purchase—” I was just about to really begin my rant when the door swung open and Thorn Grantham entered the store. For half a second, I paused. The mere thought of him being in the store knocked me off-kilter.
At over six feet tall, he towered over the rest of our customers. His messy wheat-colored hair appeared windblown. The man was as attractive as I remembered him. He didn’t look in my direction, but before he turned his back to me, I caught the glint of his amber-colored irises. How many times had those eyes hypnotized me? My belly quivered slightly. From the back of the room at one of the computers, I continued to explain to the harpy how the staff, or should I say, how I meticulously catalogued everything on the computer.
Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta)
The author did a great job of putting me in Nat's head. I got it. I understood why she was the way she was, and why she wasn't a kick butt take names kind of gal. And I lIKED it, how weird is that? I'm rooting for her growth. I dont necessarily want her to become Kate Daniels, but I do want her to feel more empowered and in control.
The love triangle was ok, but I'm clearly going to be in the Nick camp. Thorn had his shot, and has done nothing to indicate he deserves another. She needs to move on. Hopefully in the next book she'll figure that out.
The writing was not weak, by any means. Good plot, a little of Harry Dresden meets Stephanie Plum. However, definitely more skill needs to be developed to be able to mature and sustain this series. That said I will add the next to my wish list so I'll know when it's available. It's been a long time since I've done that. I'm looking forward to seeing if this author can hit a home run. I think she can!
Nat is a werewolf with OCD and a broken heart. Five years ago, her lover Thorn left without a world. Although she has always had hoarding issues, she managed them successfully until his rejection. Now five years later, she is an outcast from the pack (including most of her family), lonely and buying Christmas decorations by the truck load. Her life is plodding along when suddenly, Thorn reappears, she starts going to therapy again and a rival wolfpack starts targeting her.
I liked Nat in the beginning. The author did a great job at making me understand her compulsion and why things were so difficult for her. I understood why she doubted herself, her lack of confidence and shame at her illness. I even understood why she held on to the memory of Thorn. But after a while, I just couldn't take it anymore. She turned from vulnerable, lonely young woman into a doormat. I cannot abide a heroine that routinely lets people (including children) walk all over her. I kept waiting for her to tell people off. Since she was an outcast anyway, why not go for broke and speak your mind?
Thorn was also problematic for me. He was not the dreamboat that she had built up in her mind. All I saw was a selfish guy who wanted Nat, but didn't want her enough to claim her, consequences be damned. I also could not stand his swishy washy, "I want you, but I can't have you, but I want to kiss you and keep you dangling on a string" attitude. This was not angst filled tale of star crossed lovers. It was a tale of a girl who was just too good for the selfish clod that she thought she was in love with.
Nick, her friend from group therapy was much better fit to me. But, they didn't focus on him enough. I also liked Nat's other friends, but the primary focus was Nat's OCD and her interaction with the pack. Both topics were definite downers. I didn't understand why she was so interested in re-joining the pack. After all the pack had done to her, why would one even want to be a part of that? I also didn't buy the reason why the rival wolfpack was after her. It seemed to be completely out of character for Nat.
There were very few light moments in this tale. Some included her brother Alex, and friend Aggie. I also liked the references to soap operas dubbed in Russian. There were moments where Nat pulled herself together and faced her demons. But those highpoints aside, I just couldn't plug into these characters. I just kept waiting for something good to happen and it never did.
Natalya is a werewolf with OCD, plus she collects Christmas, Hanuka, and Kwanza ornaments. She see the things in her collection as her children, to be protected. This is understandable since Thorn broke her heart and her dreams five years before,and she had never even dated anyone else. In addition she has been thrown out of the pack and for the most part shunned by her family. The ornaments are her friends, family, and the only children she can envision herself having.
This is Book 1 of a new series and not everything has been spelled out. Using my own imagination and the eloquent words Ms. Madison used to show Natalya's heartbreak I am willing to give Thorn a chance to redeem himself over the next few books, but he had better have a good reason for breaking Nat's heart, staying away for five years, and letting his father try to force him into a political marriage with a high ranking member of the pack. I say "try" because in my reading I thought he said that was what his father was trying to arrange, but that he hadn't committed himself to it, yet. If he has committed himself to the other woman then he should be horse whipped for what he is doing to an emotionally wounded woman.
However, in Coveted Natalya meets a white wizard named Nick. I love, love, love Nick. I'm not sure two collectors joining together is a healthy thing, but at least in Book 1 Nick is much better to and for Nat.
Although Natalya is emotionally damaged and suffers with diagnosed mental illnesses, she may be weak, but she is not a quitter. Natalya Stravinsky is a survivor. She is not a weak person like a certain young female character that allows a vampire to control her. She has great determination and considerable character growth from the beginning of the book until the last page. Do not be fooled by her downcast eyes like the werewolves in the book are.
I cannot wait until November to read Kept. If Ms. Madison would like to send me an ARC I would be the happiest of readers, otherwise I have to wait until the end of November to read it!!!
If you are looking for a book where the heroine is more like a "real" person rather then a "Warrior Princess" I highly recommend Coveted.
Natalya is your everyday typical werewolf. Well, if you count "collecting" holiday decorations of all kinds is considered a rogue by her local pack. She goes to a magical therapy group determined to turn her life around.
With the Long Island Werewolf pack coming to take over their territory they seem to center on Natalya, though she isn't part of the pack. Enter, Thorn, her ex, the soon to be Alpha after his father, and prodigal son return to help protect the territory. Encounters with Thorn are ups and downs. There is also a wizard vying for her attention.
Will Natalya survive the new packs focus on her? Better yet which yummy man do you think she should end up with. It's just the beginning for Natalya........
How Distracted Did I Get?
I did love this book. However to be honest I had issues reading parts of the story due to the pack being mean to Natalya. I'd put the book down and go back a bit later. I had issues in middle school where all my friends turned on me and the whole 7th grade year I was shunned. A little reminiscent.
Coveted was well written and funny. Natalya is very believable in the heroine roll. I couldn't comprehend how it feels to be OCD to the max. With amazing supporting characters throughout this is definitely a must read.
Debut author Shawntelle Madison is truly gifted. Her dynamite debut kept me enthralled until I turned the final page. I could not put this book down. A riveting, fast-paced, action packed story with a heroine readers will adore. Ms. Madison's characters are so full-bodied they leap off the page with their hilarious antics. But this story would not be what it is without the heroine. Natalya is such a compelling, dynamic character who touches your heart on so many levels. Ms. Madison finishes her tale with a gut-wrenching ending that left me breathless. This is one of 2012's must have books to add to your keeper shelf. I can't wait to read the next installment in Ms. Madison's series and see what else this powerhouse author has in store for her readers.