Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Coveted Series #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (304 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
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 Nat and Thorn discover that old flames still remain intense.
Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a much hairier problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is the first target in the 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 her strength to save her pack, and ultimately, herself.
Although we don’t know much about how “pack” hierarchy works, it is evident from the very start that Nat falls at the very bottom of the pecking order. We learn that in the five years since her love (and son of the pack alpha leader) Thorn has left, Nat has fallen prey to her obsessive compulsive disorder, been kicked out of the pack, and is making ends meet in a curio shop. She left her life in New York City after she couldn’t function any long to move back home, and she is now alone, abandoned even by her family.
Disrupting the meager life she’s carved out for herself, Thorn returns to South Toms River preparing to take over as the son of the alpha – a job he put off when he left five years ago. A rival pack is working to take over the South Toms Pack, and it looks like Nat is on their list to kill. It is evident that Thorn is still attracted to (and probably cares for) Nat, but he has been promised to another in hopes to make the pack stronger.
I’m going to say right up front that I am very conflicted about Coveted. At times I absolutely enjoyed the story, Nat, and several of the side characters. However, at other times I was annoyed by the direction of the plot, the actions of some of the characters, and well, I did not care for Thorn at all. About halfway through the book I wrote a note to myself: This book is like a train wreck. Nothing is going right, but I can’t take my eyes off. I keep waiting for things to turn around for Nat. And although the storyline did pick up, I still feel like it was too little, too late.
The beginning of Coveted sets up to be a book that relies on socioeconomic class differences to build a story, with our heroine the outcast and picked on by those richer and more powerful. Then we find out that her returned ex, the love of her life, is being forced to marry the “rich bitch princess.” The book had the feel of a YA teen angsty story. Luckily, this “feel” wore off over time as the story matured, but I was still not happy with how poorly the rich and beautiful treated our heroine.
Nat… What do I say about dear Nat? At times I adored her. I actually LOVE that she is a flawed heroine. Her OCD nature is fun, and also gives a framework for emotional drama while providing room for her to grow and mature. However, while I enjoy when a heroine who isn’t perfect or strong, Nat had very little self-respect. She lets everyone treat her like crap, to include her family. It’s hard to cheer for a character that doesn’t cheer for herself.
And then there is Nat’s relationship with Thorn. In the prologue we are lead to believe that the pair had a very deep connection. And now he’s back and apparently still attracted to Nat. I wanted to know why. Just as Thorn wanted to discover why the enemy desperately wanted to kill Nat, I wanted to find out why she was worth the effort. I don’t mean to be cold-hearted, but Nat hardly ever gave me something to fight for. I felt that if she was unwilling to fight for herself, why should I care about her? I constantly wondered if her lack of self-defense had to do with her OCD illness or if it’s a physical manifestation of the pack hierarchy, but it wasn’t evident.
As I stated before, I am not a fan of Thorn. First, he left Nat to move across country, and he never once checked in as her life fell apart. Then he pops back into town, and he still apparently crazy for her. He continually ran to her side each time she was attacked by the Long Island Pack, practically swooning over her as he cuddled her and made sure she was safe. Yet if she returned any of his affection, Thorn would coldly remind her that he is engaged to another. Ass. I just couldn’t stand him by the end of the book, and if there is to be any sort of future connection, I will need a lot more convincing in the next book.
There were several side characters that I enjoyed. First, Nat ended up with a roommate very unexpectedly. Aggie understands Nat’s disorder and respects her need for organization. However, she also helped nudge Nat and kept her from becoming a complete hermit. Aggie wormed her way into Nat’s life, and I am grateful.
In hopes to get her life back, Nat began group therapy. There she is welcomed among an array of semi-crazy characters, who all end up like family. This group’s actions throughout the story, and especially at the end of the book, helped Nat become a more likable character and created a richer, more fulfilling plot. I was just unhappy that the group therapy storyline took a long hiatus in the middle of the book.
Nat’s family was hit and miss. Because Nat was tossed out of the pack, they also have abandoned her. Aggie forces the family back together, and in the end I admired them. There was an extremely touching scene involving Nat’s family as they banded together without judgement after disaster strikes Nat. The one character I adored from the beginning was Nat’s grandmother, whom I believe holds close to her vest, valuable information about Nat.
The final scenes of the book were actually pretty good. Nat began to fight for herself, and there were glimpses of a character I could grow to love. I definitely want to read the next book, Kept, to see if she gets stronger, and I want to learn what her secrets are.
Overall Coveted was a decent book. There were some good to great exchanges and scenes, yet at other times I felt something was missing. In particular, there were a couple situations where something fairly big would happen, I’d wonder what happened, only to never have it brought up again. There were some minor plotlines that felt like fluff – only there to add drama. The book is definitely urban fantasy, but it’s pretty light for UF, I dubbed it “UF chick lit.”
In general, Nat’s character is agreeable, and although I was not happy with how she was treated or how she treated herself through most of the book, she had redeeming qualities. I was glad to see Nat moving forward towards the end of the book. I liked Aggie, the support group and her grandma, but didn’t care for most of her family. I also didn’t like Thorn or his father, and I wondered how such a jerk could be alpha! I felt the majority of the fight scenes were too short and anti-climatic. Despite all of that, the story was easy to read, and had a quick pace. Even with its flaws, I couldn’t put down Coveted and am looking forward to reading the next installment.
Liked it, but I had some issues – recommend (B)