|By Zoe Winters|
For a vampire, Anthony isn’t a picky eater, but he’s drawn to Charlee’s blood more than any other. Like a fine wine saved for a special occasion, he’s denied himself this pleasure. But one night, high from the potent magical blood of another, he claims his prize and loses control. Ashamed of almost killing the one woman who means anything to him, he wipes her memory of the event. When Charlee awakens with complete amnesia, Anthony is the only one who can clean up the mess he’s made.
The story of Cary Town's preternatural beings continues in Zoe Winter's exciting second novella Claimed. We briefly meet the nearly 500-year old vampire Anthony and his human obsession Charlee in the first book Kept. (See my review of Kept HERE.) Anthony has longed to taste Charlee's blood but has managed to keep his lust under control, that is until the night he drinks the drug-tainted blood of a powerful shifter. No longer able to control his hunger, he attacks Charlee and feasts on her blood almost killing her. Ashamed of what he has done and not wanting Charlee to think of him as a monster, he attempts to wipe her memory of the assault but mistakenly gives her complete amnesia. The timing of Anthony's indiscretion could not be worse, as he is competing in the tournament that will decide the next vampire king within days. His main rival for the crown Linus, a cruel vampire who wants to return the coven to the ways of the dark ages, would love nothing more than to take Charlee and use her in her most vulnerable state to hurt Anthony. He decides the only way to protect Charlee is to claim her as his own, but at what cost? Will his coven accept a human mate? And will Charlee accept him if she ever remembers the truth?
I loved this story! I really enjoyed the first book Kept, but I liked this one even more. For a short book, there was a lot going on, but the story never felt rushed. The premise was original - a vampire has to fix his mistake of wiping a human's mind clean, a human he happens to care for a great deal, which conflicts with his vampire nature. The characters were well-developed. I was particularly impressed with Charlee's character. I think it would be difficult to write an engaging character with complete amnesia, especially one we didn't know much about to begin with, but the author seems to have done so effortlessly. Anthony was the perfect sexy tortured hero (tall, blond - I'm thinking Alexander Skarsgard, of course), and I loved the glimpse of his inner demon we're given as he looks into the mirror. The two had great chemistry complete with deep, comflicting emotions and sexual tension. The snarky banter between them added nice humor to the story. I was intrigued by the secondary character Jane, a goth-girl vampire groupie, though underneath there is much more. I'm happy to say her story is told in the next book Mated. What I love about this series as a whole is the solid world building and variety of preternatural beings living in that world. There are sorcerers, shifters, vampires, guardians, wizards and, of course, humans. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next. I would definitely recommend this series to fans of paranormal romance.