Reviewed by Helyce
“My name is Helyce and I am a Breed series addict.”
I don’t even know where to begin with this review. Honestly, this series had kind of fallen off my radar. When I saw it on my Goodreads feed and checked, I realized it had been nearly two years since book 30 had been released. Further research showed that this book had been pushed once or twice, until its release this month. I still get a little excited when a new Breed book is released. In spite of the fact that recent installments are not on par with Leigh’s much earlier works, I can’t seem to quit this series. Like most diehard fans, we are holding out for the book that will finally give us the elusive Cassie Sinclair’s story. Sadly, though, this book is not about Cassie and after what happens at the end of this book, I fear we are still several books away from her story.
Cullen Maverick, aka, Judd (the name given to him in the labs) is a recessed bengal tiger Breed. Recessed, as in he can pretty much pass for human because the Breed genetics used to create him in the lab, for whatever reason, do not make themselves known. He doesn’t purr, or growl and he doesn’t appear to have exceptional strength, smell or night vision or any of the special characteristics that Breeds are known to have. Currently, he works for the Navajo Covert Law Enforcement Division in Window Rock, New Mexico where he’s lived since he escaped the labs around the age of 19.
Cullen (Judd) has been a part of the Breed world since book 7 or so when he and two other Breeds escaped the labs, rescued by his twin Gideon, who had previously escaped. Arriving in Window Rock, the Navajo elders performed some sort of ritual so that their real personas could be masked and Judd became Cullen Maverick. This is as good a time as any to state that this book absolutely cannot be read as a stand alone. There is a massive amount of background information around Judd (and the other two Breeds that were rescued) and what transpired so long ago, that have brought us to this place and it’s likely you would be completely confused. Heck, even though I’ve read them all, I still struggle.
So, where was I….
As commander, Cullen has a staff that he works with. Chelsea Martinez is a young woman who he has trained and worked with for a few years. He’s known her since the night he arrived in Window Rock and she made an impression on him that very night. At only 12 years old to Cullen’s 19, however, and due to his recessed genetics, he did not accurately read their connection and simply put it to the side–so much else going on at the time.
Chelsea, on the other hand, has been half in love with Cullen for years. She realized that Cullen didn’t really see her the same way, and likely never would. She enjoyed working with him, but at the same time she was getting tired of him pulling the big brother routine and protecting her, not assigning her to any of the more dangerous jobs-keeping her close, in the office, where she was safe. Coming to the realization that things were not going to change, she hands in her resignation and walks away from him. Out of the blue and beyond his control, Cullen kisses Chelsea, hard, but just as quickly as that happens he is pulling back and letting her leave.
The simple act of Chelsea walking away, begins to waken Cullen’s long sleeping tiger. Unbeknownst to him of course. Having never experienced any Breed qualities, and having been told his whole life that he is recessed, he is slow to notice changes in himself, and slower to connect them to his feelings for Chelsea. He just knows that he needs to protect her. Unfortunately, Chelsea does not want his protection. What she wants and needs is for Cullen to see her as a strong, capable woman; a woman who wants him.
I liked Cullen and Chelsea’s story. Their meeting when Chelsea was a child and Cullen’s sleeping tiger recognizing her as his mate, but realizing it had to wait is a very cool concept in this world. But their whole “mating” was disappointing because it lacked the power that the old style matings had. Now that Graeme has come out of hiding, he is sharing all that he has learned about Breed genetics and has designed a vaccine (among other things like a scent blocker) so that the effects of mating can be dulled (good for the Breeds, bad for the reader IMO). So all that super sexy build-up and need and sex and angst and need and want and sex, sex, sex-is gone, gone, gone. I miss it.
There is a side story in this book featuring the Cerves family–arms and drug runners (I think). Their daughter is kidnapped by Breeds, working for the Genetics Council (I think) and though Chelsea finds her, and returns her to her family, she dies from her injuries. Later, when this same group kidnaps Chelsea, Samara Cerves and her crew step up to help to rescue her. I honestly didn’t know why they were a part of this story at all, until the end when something is revealed, which I’m sure will be continued in a future book.
This installment, in this very long running series wasn’t awful, but still a far cry from Leigh’s early works. As the last couple books tied up some of the long running story arcs, we’ve now been in Window Rock, NM for the last few books and other than revisiting the characters from many books ago and providing them their mates, along with pushing Gideon/Graeme to the forefront with his sneaky, science ways, I’m not entirely sure where we are going. I had thought several of the important bad guys on the Genetics Council were taken out, back around the time Jonas was trying to save his daughter, yet they are still out there and they are still up to no good. AND, they still have Breeds that are loyal to them. What is their goal? Why are they still trying to kidnap female Breed mates when they know they cannot reproduce except with their mates?
And if all that weren’t enough, there is a revelation at the end that I certainly could not have predicted and has never ever been hinted at. A new avenue for a story arc I’m sure, but more likely, a reason to further delay in giving us the book we’re all waiting for.
Lastly, while I know this is an ARC, I must point out that the editing (or complete lack thereof) continues to be a problem. Though this story felt more cohesive than some recent past works, it is still wrought with errors, a lot of them. It appears that passages and/or sentences are copy/pasted and just a few words changed. Duplicate word strings appear within the same sentence. But as diehard FANS, we seem to overlook these things in order to get our Breed fix. Clearly the author knows this as she has made no attempt to improve this at all.