Claimed (2016) by Laurann Dohner and Kele Moon
Nightwind series, book 1
Cannonball Read 15, review 1
WARNING: Contains one character accidentally “mating” (bonding someone to him for life) another character without their consent.Also contains kidnapping, threat of sexual assault, talk of eating humans in a non-sexytimes way, biting and consumption of blood in a sexytimes way, and Miscellaneous Shifter RidiculousnessTM.
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS! (But not until the “Other Observations” section.)
First things first
I might have lied when I said they wouldn’t all be long.
Second things second
The quick and dirty review (January 2023 re-listen)
I first listened to Laurann Dohner and Kele Moon’s Claimed in 2021 and have re-listened more than once since then. Given the warnings above, I worry a little about the fact that I enjoy this book so much, but…it’s more wholesome than it sounds? In essence, smart and plucky heroine Brandi and cinnamon-roll hero Jason meet cute when Jason—who is, at the time, a large, black wolf—saves Brandi from being hunted and killed by other men who are, at the time, wolf-shaped. Hot shifter sex ensues after Jason accidentally “puts her into heat”
and Jason and Brandi fall in love in a matter of days—a good thing, since Jason has also accidentally bonded them for life in the throes of passion…
OK, maybe “wholesome” isn’t the right word. It is, however, surprisingly sweet, and nowhere near as dark as it sounds. Then again, I’ve been listening to Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, so my dark/not dark radar might be a little off…
*glances at Lothaire*
a little off broken beyond repair.
Look, I don’t know. Having decided to read about person-shaped wolves and the objects of their lust-fueled obssession—
SORRY, THEIR MATES!! I meant to say their mates! My bad.
I figure I have to be willing to roll with some ridiculous when I read books about folks who are sometimes non-human animals. If shifter ridiculousness and insta-love are a type of ridiculous you’re willing to roll with, this one might work for you.
What I said then (August 2021)
From the notes I took for the review I never posted: There were a lot of ways for this book to go wrong. Surprisingly enough, the authors mainly circumvent them. Let’s agree, right off the bat, that the whole “Oopsies! I bound us together for life accidentally and without asking you first 😬” thing is not a good look, though it seems to be common enough in wolf shifter books. The authors somehow manage to make the mating accidental enough, and the guilty party earnest and sweet (mostly) enough, that I find myself more willing to allow it than I otherwise might be.
Beyond that, the plot is pretty thin but not particularly holey, I like both members of the couple, the sex is sexy, and Jason is wolfy but never rapey. The wolfpack’s interpersonal dynamics are fun, and the authors do a good job of laying breadcrumbs for a couple of other pack members’ books. Having already listened to Desmon’s book (Shattered), I very much look forward to Jazz’s (though given what I’m guessing the basic plot will be, I’m also dreading it). I haven’t found any solo work by Kele Moon yet, but I did check out Laurann Dohner’s Mating Heat series. So far, I like these joint efforts better.
The narrator is solid, with only a little bit of occasional weirdness in her cadence and phrasing. Brandi and Jason’s voices are good, but Jazz’s and Desmon’s didn’t quite work for me.
A second opinion
I think my thoughts from my first read mostly stand. I should probably be concerned at how easily I’m willing to get over the whole “oops, we’re mated for life now” thing, but if I were holding romance plots up to real-world standards, I wouldn’t be reading romance in the first place, and I *certainly* wouldn’t be up to my eyeballs in wolf shifters. But I actually think it’s more than that in this case. On rereading, I think I like Claimed more than I expected to because it’s better crafted than I initially gave it credit for, especially in the earlier chapters.
The opening scene is well done. We know the book’s heroine is definitely not about to get killed, but it’s effectively tense despite the lack of that particular kind of suspense. Perhaps more importantly, it gives us a chance to see Brandi being both under threat AND smart and resourceful with excellent self-preservation instincts. When she wakes after having been knocked unconscious while fleeing her kidnappers, Brandi definitely notices Jason’s chest and dimple and “warm, brown eyes.” But she also kicks him square in said chest as hard as she can and attempts to make a run for it the first chance she gets, which is exactly what she should do at that point in the story. Brandi refuses to play helpless damsel-in-distress, which I love. And unlike Mika (see: Mate Set), Brandi is the opposite of too stupid to live. (She actually references the phrase concerning another character. Right before she swings a poker at his head.)
The characterization of Jason in the early chapters is also important. Through his actual actions and his inner monologue, we see that Jason is neither an asshole nor a rapey creeper. We’re in Jason’s head when he carries Brandi to safety, which allows us to see that his thoughts are explicitly occupied—at least in part—with making sure to respect basic privacy, propriety, and personal space boundaries. In addition to not being an asshole (sigh, such a low bar), he’s kind of a sweet, feral doofus, which I guess goes a long way toward making me willing to go along for the ride when Brandi doesn’t just run screaming from his cabin.
Story: 3.5 stars
Narrator: 3.5 stars
1. I often find myself asking the heroine of a romance novel questions like “what has this dude actually done to give you any reason to think that he is noble, trustworthy, etc.?”—whatever the positive trait is. In Claimed, there’s a moment early in their acquaintance (warning: understatement) at which Jason “knows” that Brandi is gentle, loving, and giving. But at this point in the story, he should really only know 1) that she’s horny af and 2) that she will at least try to defend herself when threatened.
2. In an early scene, Brandi is on the phone with a friend of hers, and Jason responds to something the friend says, which he shouldn’t be able to hear. Brandi thinks to herself then that she’s beginning to suspect that Jason doesn’t spend a lot of time with humans. But…What about when she wakes in his home, which is a cabin in the middle of the woods? With no visible neighbors? No? Or, how about, I don’t know, when she learns that he LITERALLY LICKED ONE OF HER WOUNDS? No? Just me? Ok, then.
3. The first time Brandi sees Desmon (one of Jason’s alpha), she notes that while the other wolves she’s met have been very “salt of the earth,” this one looks like a high-powered, Wall Street bad boy type. On first listen, I thought to myself, “Self? Are you eventually going to end up reading whatever book does actually feature a high-powered, suit-wearing city dude who is also, as it happens, a wolf?” And myself answered back, “Yeah, probably.” But at least so far, not even the promise of delightfully cuckoo-bananas shifter drama can induce me to read billionaire books or anything where the guy on the cover puts me in mind of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.