My Review: I have read just about every book by Nashoda Rose so I was pleasantly surprised when I got offered a chance to read and review her newest novel TAKE. The reason for my surprise? Because TAKE is a paranormal romance and Rose--up to this point--has written only contemporary erotic romance. Paranormal romance used to be one of my top go-to genres. However, it didn't take me long to get tired of stories that lacked any kind of originality. Don't get me wrong, sometimes reading a book with a similar formula can be great when you just want to shut your brain off and enjoy a few hours of mindless entertainment. But when stories from completely different authors start blurring together, that's when you know a break is in order. And this is why I typically buy only from my constants in the paranormal romance genre, like J.R. Ward and Lara Adrian.
However, Nashoda Rose hasn't failed me yet and I'm not going to lie, there is really nothing in the synopsis that gives away this story is a paranormal romance. So I was curious-- what were the paranormal elements that made up this story?
What we have are Scars, immortal warriors that live in the human world but have heightened senses. For example, our hero, Jasper, is known as a Sounder, the ability to hear noises, voices, etc. from miles away. There are also Trackers, Healers, Tasters, Visionaries and the rare Reflectors. Each of these warriors has a tattoo, or what they call an "Ink" that can be called to life.
I absolutely loved the concept of the Scar warriors, especially their "Ink" that they can summon off of their bodies to manifest into...creatures? Monsters? We only get two examples of "Inks" in the book. Jasper's "Ink" is named Groar, a boar-like monster with silver skin covered in tattoos. Totally bad ass. While immortal warriors with heightened senses and tattoos that come to life are not completely original ideas, Nashoda Rose took the concept and made it her own.
Jasper was the ultimate bad boy alpha male. But he is more then just a Scar Sounder. He is a highly respected hired assassin who crosses paths with our heroine Max in the beginning of the story and then meets up with her again 6 months later when her life is threatened. Jasper is crass, a major smart ass, and hides his emotions behind a thick wall to protect himself from growing attachments to anyone because of a tragedy that happened years ago. This is also why he doesn't belong to a Talde, or a group/band of Scar warriors. A complete loner and he likes it that way, well, until Max starts messing with his head and emotions.
Max was an intriguing character and perhaps is one of the only heroines that I can remember in a romance where I walked away liking her more than the hero! Not that I had any issues towards Jasper-- that man was HOT with a capital H and his tragic past was heartbreaking. But Max's back story is horrific and it takes an extremely strong person to endure what she has. Max is a Scar Healer, only she has a unique ability that no other healer can do-- and that is the ability to heal a Scar's "Ink" once it has been destroyed. Max has endured years of imprisonment, torture, rape by the twistedly evil Drake. Once a Scar Tracker, he is even more powerful now that he is a vampire. At first, Drake enslaves Max and keeps her close so that she can constantly heal is failing lungs which started to occur once his "Ink" had died. At this point, he does not know Max's other ability-- and she will take it to her grave before she lets him find out. After years of imprisonment, she is rescued by Xamien, the leader of his own Talde of Scar warriors. He gives her safety, a place to call home. And while she is forever grateful and has a soft spot for this fierce warrior, she can't completely trust him and remains tight lipped about her time with Drake.
And then Jasper enters her life and all the walls she spent years erecting to keep herself safe start to crumble. He constantly baits her, saying outrageously sexual things that stirs a fire in her blood that she thought long dead. Her body riddled with scars from her time with Drake, Max wants to hide them, but Jasper isn't having any of it. He finds her beautiful, scars and all (even though the thought of someone putting them on her makes him want to hunt down the evil bastard responsible). Jasper and Max have off the charts chemistry and couldn't be more perfectly matched. When Jasper's true motives for taking her on as a "job" are revealed towards the end of the book, I felt a twinge in my heart for both characters-- how would Max ever be able to trust Jasper again and get over feeling betrayed? It took almost losing her for Jasper to realize how important she has become in his world-- how will he ever gain her trust? Well, you'll just have to read to find out!
It is really no surprise how much I also enjoyed the introduction to the secondary characters, especially Jasper's brother Holden (a Scar Tracker) and their friend Guise (a Visionary, ability to see very far). If you've read any of Nashoda Rose's previous novels, then you already know she has an amazing ability to create some of the hottest male secondary characters that will leave you panting for more. I know that TAKE was a bit of an experimental book in that reader reaction will play a huge role on whether Nashoda decides to expand on this series. And I am praying to the gods that she does because Holden, Guise, even Xamien need their own books. It totally has to happen!
So what held me back from giving TAKE a perfect 5 star rating? While I absolutely loved the concept of the Scars, the story lacked world building and mythology. At the very beginning of the book, the author gives us a glossary of terms which I found interesting. I thought wow, okay, Nashoda is trying to prepare us for this unique new world. Well...many of the terms in the glossary weren't even mentioned in the story. For a first novel in a series, there definitely lacks a bit of foundation. We really have no mythology, meaning we don't know where or how Scars came into existence. Oh, and how/where do vampires fit into all of this? I also feel like there was a ton of repetition throughout the story, a lot of Jasper and Max repeating themselves, their thoughts over and over which could have been extra pages spent giving us background.
Despite this, TAKE is a refreshing paranormal romance that will make a great new addition in the overly saturated genre. If you like dirty talking alpha males and strong heroines that aren't easily intimidated, then this is a must read.
How long since you fucked a guy?”
“What?” Her arms moved as if she was about to cross them over her breasts and then decided against it and put them back at her sides. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Because when I fuck you, it will be hard. I need to know if you can take it.” I’d expected her to grab her shirt and put it back on. That was what I had intended. To scare her. Instead, she stared at me as she undid her bra and let it fall to the floor.
I was a guy. A guy that didn’t give a shit if a woman hated me in the morning, but they never did. I may be a selfish bastard but I never left a woman unsatisfied. And it was more a self-serving reason as I could always get seconds when I wanted. But this was different. Everything about it was different. Max was different.
And that should’ve scared me enough to walk away.
But Max … staring at her milky white naked skin … her handful of breasts with nipples erect and waiting for my mouth to be sucking on them. I should’ve walked back into the bathroom, shut the door and jerked myself off in the shower.
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