03 January 2015

Unchained by Caris Roane


Stalked by a vampire. Stolen in the night. Seduced by a lover. Anthropology student Shayna Prentiss wakes up to find herself trapped in a world she never knew existed—with a man she cannot escape…nor resist.


Drawn to her beauty. Driven by lust. Doomed by his destiny. The vampire Marius knows he must bond with this captivating mortal with hidden powers…or both their races will be destroyed forever.


Bound by a blood chain that seals their fates together, Marius and Shayna must stand and fight the ultimate enemy—a madman hell-bent on destruction who will test every ounce of their strength, their power, and their passion. When the final weapon is unleashed, will their love remain unbroken? Or will darkness shatter their chains…for eternity?
Paranormal romance comes down to about three things for me: world building, character building and hot, steamy, otherworldly sex.  Check, check, check!
Shayna is a grad student.  A very normal grad student just working on her degree and planning her future when she has a “vision” of a man telling her that he needs her help to save the world.  She dismisses the vision as a drink-induced hallucination when she is attacked and saved by the very man she had been hallucinating about.  Marius is a vampire trying to do the right thing. His father is a powerful and evil and basically is trying to take over the vampire world in order to rule the human one as well.  Marius and two of his brothers have chosen to fight against their father for the greater good, and Shayna is a key to all of it.
What impressed me the most about this book was the world building.  Simply excellent.  I mean, I believed without much effort that vampires really do exist among humans.  It was intricate and deep and explained everything, which made it real in the context of the book and a pleasure to immerse myself in for a few hours. 
I really liked the characters too.  Marius has just enough angst to make him interesting and mysteriously sexy, and Shayna is a nerd which I absolutely loved.  I obviously like to feel a connection with the female characters in a story and I loved Shayna’s mind and how it worked.  She was skeptical when she needed to be, which made her more realistic, but she didn’t fight Marius every step of the way, which women tend to do in these types of book and that drives me batty. 
Now, I know what you’re thinking…what about the aforementioned otherworldly and steamy sex?  Oh, I’m getting there.  It’s fabulous.  This is a super-hot book, and the buildup and tension between Shayna and Marius is awesome!  The romance was a bit fast paced but I still found it believable and fun to read about.
Overall, I enjoyed this book.  It was fast-paced and interesting with a great balance of plot and heat.  I don’t think you can go wrong here.  4 stars.
Having read the Savage Chains serial novel, I was really excited about reading this book. While I liked Unchained, I did not enjoy it as much as I did Savage Chains. Despite liking the characters, I failed to connect with Shayna and Marius and I think this more than anything is what relegated Unchained to be a good read instead of a great read.

I both enjoyed and detested Shayna’s scientific mind. The upside was that it enabled her to accept Marius’s presence and several events throughout the book logically rather than freaking out over the seriously scary stuff she was confronted with. The downside was that her ability to approach a situation scientifically made her hesitate in certain situations that I felt she should have agreed to assist with immediately. While I liked Marius a great deal, I found his overriding guilt to be a tad too much of a martyr complex for me, especially as it had gone on for 400 years. I appreciate that it spurred him on in the battle against their father, but for an individual as emotional as Marius seemed to be I didn’t find his allowing 400 years to pass without bringing the incidents up to be believable. Thank goodness for nosey women! Even though I may have not fully connected with Marius and Shayna, that doesn’t mean they didn’t connect with one another – which resulted in some pretty steamy sex scenes.

Although I have not read Born in Chains or Chains of Darkness, I was able to read this book as a standalone. There may have been some overlap as conversations in Unchained indicate that Marius’s brothers Adrien and Lucian each battled their father Daniel much as Marius did, but there were no statements that left me confused as if I had missed a crucial detail for the storyline. Unchained was an action-packed book and while I did find it to be lagging in places – again, likely due to my inability to connect to Shayna and Marius – it was an enjoyable read and I do intend to go back and read the other two books in Ms. Roane’s Men in Chains series.
I gave this book 3 stars because it seemed free of mistakes. That’s basically all the good I can say about it. I found Unchained boring, her vampires annoying, and that the human wins all trite and kind of unforgiveable.
Anyone who writes a paranormal book knows they need to create their paranormal entities to be true to the universe they are creating. Instead, I found Caris Roane’s vampires to be too magical to be vampires. If she wanted a magical creature, she should have chosen another being besides a vamp.  Seriously – these vamps levitate, fly (no, they aren’t bats), and travel long distances in short amounts of time. As if that wasn’t bad enough? A the end of the book, the two protagonists have sex – boring sex – and he splits himself into two people and they have a ménage with her in the middle. Did I mention it was a very boring ménage? It almost felt like if a circumstance came up that needed to be navigated, the author decided to create a new thing the vamp could do.
Now, if the vamp-weirdness wasn‘t enough to turn me off, and the book itself ultra-boring, the heroine irritated me. Okay, so she’s an anthropologist. So that suddenly makes her okay with the whole vamp thing, and makes her question everything with interest which is annoying. Can I say annoying some more? Because this book was really annoying. But at the end, who kills the bad guy? She does. Yep, that’s right. I don’t care that Marius shared his power with her (I’m not going into that piece of magic), there was no way a human should have been able to win. None. It was trite. Why can’t the bad vamps win from time to time? Especially against puny humans? It only makes sense.
And the worst part? When Marius asks her to stay in his world, she says no. And, that alone isn’t bad – hey, she should have some time to think about it after having been kidnapped, etc. But her reasoning made me gag. Basically? It went to the tune of, “I’m an anthropologist and it’s a calling. I can’t leave it.” Say what?
This was a part of a series and this book can be read as a standalone, but for me, after reading this, I won’t be reading any of the others. 


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