Release Reviews: Claimed: Elle Kennedy

Claimed (Outlaws #1)
Elle Kennedy
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Expected October 6, 2016

The bestselling author of the Killer Instincts novels “knows how to write scorching sexual tension” (USA Today). Now she really sets it on fire in a new series about men and women living on the edge of violence, sex, and life and death.

After a devastating war decimated most of the world, Hudson Lane has only known the oppressive life under her own father’s tyranny. She finally escapes, branding herself an outlaw and hunted by the Enforcers. Her best chance at survival is Connor Mackenzie, an aggressively sensual fugitive who opens her eyes to the wicked possibilities of a world without rules.

As the leader of a band of outlaw fighters, Connor can’t resist the beautiful stranger who asks for his protection. Despite his reservations, he agrees to introduce her to a whole new way of life. But when Connor discovers Hudson’s connection to the enemies of liberty, he wonders how far he can trust the woman who has abandoned all inhibitions to challenge every forbidden desire. 

Fear. Danger. Survival. Vengeance. Lust. Passion.

A world outside the fringes of the "civilized" society. A world of outlaws, danger, and freedom. They live in the moment since they don't know if they'll live to see another day. They take what they want and need to survive and to satisfy all of their physical needs.

Connor Mackenzie is the reluctant leader of a small band of trusted outlaws: Rylan, Pike, Xander, and Kade. They protect each other, take what they want, and survive on the edge using their wits, brawn, and resources they gather. Connor is tough, resentful, angry, commanding and likes control. He also has revenge of his enemies constantly on his mind. 

When they meet Hudson Lane, a sassy woman determined to join their group, Connor is both attracted and suspicious. She is a bit of an enigma because she is determined, bold, and skilled, but also naive and sheltered. She will do anything to stay under their protection because her secrets and demons could get them all killed.

Connor and Hudson have a push and pull and fight for control and submission. He brings out her wild spirit who knows what she needs and wants it often. She tortures him and makes him react too much for his own liking. Together they are needy, hot, raw, and insatiable.  She is easily intrigued by the wilder kinky aspects of their free lifestyle.

They both have walls up and secrets they try to protect, while wanting to knock the other's down. Connor struggles with internal battles and a need for revenge making him appear broody, closed off, uncaring, and angry. But underneath he has his own damage and insecurities that he is afraid to let show. She's not afraid to call him out and poke at his hidden layers. And he likes to push her boundaries and stretch her comfort zone. They become addicted to their passion, but their trust and communication need work. She longs to feel safe and build a home. While he resents being responsible for everyone's welfare. Their secrets and pasts will eventually catch up to them. Who will be caught in the cross fire?

I enjoyed the side characters of Rylan, Xander, Pike, Lennox, Jamie, and Tamara. There are obviously more stories to tell and tension in their outlaw community. They all seem to have some secrets, unique personalities,  underlying connections and attachments, and a need to keep themselves and each other safe. I am really interested in Rylan. I totally adored his outgoing personality and he's definitely involved with some of the stories brewing.

This is an erotic, dystopian romance with a side of danger and debauchery. The free love and dystopian idea reminded me of another very popular erotic dystopian series and there were some similarities. These people are all about exploring pleasure and aren't opposed to sharing with those they trust. They are intense, dirty talking, adventurous, and don't demand privacy. They live in a world without rules in direct conflict to the city who governs citizens with an iron fist. But they do have their own sort of honor codes they adhere to within their groups.

I liked it more after the setting and world were more established so that I became more engaged in the story versus the setting. I liked the the characters and their bonds despite it being a more savage society. And it was interesting to see the differences between the two remaining societal factions.  I got a little distracted at times by the sex and menages, and would have liked to see a bit more plot and action. Some of the action seemed a bit anticlimactic. It was not too angsty or suspenseful. This first installment seemed to be more concerned with introducing us to this damaged world, the dichotomy of the classes, the characters and their issues. It should be easier to jump in to the next book since that will already be established.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Hudson is running from the city, from the Enforcers. She knows they are after her, and as a result, her best chance for survival is to find a group to help protect her. She only knows the sheltered life of a city-dweller, though she does also have nursing skills.

Connor leads a small band of outlaws. It was not his choice to lead but the men follow him anyways and look to him for guidance. The self sufficient camp set up means they can feed themselves, though they often raid government storage facilities for supplies they cannot make themselves. He is also searching for revenge, and that need for redemption drives many of his decisions.

Connor’s past haunts him, but Hudson’s omissions put them all in danger.

I loved watching Connor’s walls come down, and Hudson put down roots with the rag tag bunch of men.

There were some surprising twists later in the story that should make for interesting storylines in continuing books. The story that will link each couple in this series has been started, but parts of this book makes it hard to tell really where future plot arcs might lead.

As much as I liked certain aspects of this story though, there were others that I couldn’t look past. Claimed reads very similar to another dystopian series I started and haven’t finished. The early parallels were enough that I couldn’t get those similarities out of my head and struggled sometimes to keep the stories separate. I also had a hard time with how quickly Hudson went from blushing at even a hint of sex to being constantly horny and interested in public exhibition.

The dystopian world this group lives could have used more development. While most of the action does take place outside the rigid rules of the government, there are enough references to practices and culture within the city that I was left with more questions than answers about the new world.
I was really excited to read this book, but felt like maybe I had expectations that weren’t what this book was really about. Once I moved beyond the sections that particularly reminded me of the other book, and got into aspects that made it more unique I was able to enjoy the read and get into the characters. I hope that future books in the series continue to develop the dystopian world, give closer looks at the great side characters, and give more insight into the split between the government and the outlaws. 
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sadly, I am disappointed in my latest read. I am a HUGE fan of Elle's and my anticipation for Claimed was wicked high! As you can see, I gave this book 3 stars. It deserved at least that since some of the scenes were definitely captivating and intriguing. There were parts of this book that caught my attention in more ways than one. With that said, this review for the most part will not be the most positive review I have written for Elle Kennedy. 

To put it plainly, Claimed more than resembled one of my all time favorite series. I actually had this book as a read for much later in October but after a couple of friends mentioned to me that Claimed felt very similar to Beyond Shame, I had to stop what I was doing and move it up my TBR pile STAT. I started taking some notes while reading through the book, in order to compare. Now don't get me wrong, I totally get that books will have similarities; however, this one had way too many for my liking, and I had only gotten half way through my reread of Beyond when I decided to stop note taking….

These two stories paralleled each other so closely sometimes that the lines would blur for me and I had to double check which book I was reading. As a HUGE Kit Rocha fan, this really got under my skin. I love Elle Kennedy, but I also love reading books that are a bit more original in thought. I don't want to be reading my favorite authors' creativity in another author's book. I want the current author to provide me with her creativity, delivering a whole new book for me to love and brag about. I think I will give book two a shot to see if the series starts to find its own way, from its own voice, or if the author continues to give us a watered down version of the Beyond series.

Would I recommend to others? Maybe, depending on the reader. For those who have never read Beyond Shame, I am betting you will love Connor, Hudson, and the gang. For those who thought Beyond may have been too hardcore for them in the erotica departments, I think you may like Claimed better; it's more soft core when it comes down to the kink aspects. And for those who happen to be, like myself, hardcore Kit Rocha fans, I think you may find Claimed to be a tempered version of Beyond Shame. 

Thank you, PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, for the complimentary copy of Claimed.

Elle Kennedy
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A USA Today bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle writes romantic suspense and erotic contemporary romance for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!


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