I had been waiting to read this ever since I read the review that posted up on GR back in March. Thus, my expectation might be a tad high. Although this new PNR series is not mind blowing, I do feel invested with both the character, Audrey aka Nynn and Leto, the Caged Warrior. Overall, this is a strong and engaging first in the series book.
The book except had provided a good background for us to get started with the story. There isn't much time wasted on Audrey's past ordeal about her losing her husband and that her son, Jack got kidnap by the psychopathic, Dr. Aster. The Dragon Kings are depicted as something different from humans. They each came from different clan that inherit different gifts and ability. Despite their obvious superior capabilities, they are being controlled and enslaved by the human, Aster. The situation is something that came right off Gladiator, where the warriors fight among themselves to amuse the rich humans for their entertainment.
Audrey found herself landed at the Underground where she had to fight in the Caged to earn the right to have her son back. Leto, the Caged Warrior champion for decades, had been assigned to train her and helped her to discover and harness her gift. Their first encounter isn't pleasant with Leto appears a tad cruel. However, due to the dual POVs that we have here, once I knew about Leto's motivation I immediately developed a soft spot for him. You see, each warrior who wins will receive a reward. For Leto, his two sisters are the only thing important in his life. Everything that he does, is for his family. How can I not fall for that?
Their animosity towards each other didn't last and before long they find themselves having to rely on each other to achieve a common goal. They both need to win this together for they have to fight alongside as a partner. Audrey wants to save her son. Leto wants better life for his sisters. But deep down, Audrey hates the Aster. She sees them as the villain that enslaved the Dragon Kings, killed her husband and kidnap her son. To Leto, he live as a warrior and his life depended on Aster. Without the Caged and rewards that he need, what's he suppose to do then?
Their romance isn't the instant attraction that often found in PNR. But they do came to trust and accept each other quite swiftly. There is presence of lust filled thoughts, but it isn't overdone. The romance pacing flow naturally. When Leto was fighting and in his element, he appear savage, and when he is in front of his fellow warrior, he is so proud and cocky. But when he is alone with Audrey or Nynn, which he sometimes called her by her Dragon Kings name, he is caring and thoughtful. Audrey showed him that there is more to life than just fighting in the Caged. He then starts to question his faith and what he believes in.
"What would you be without this?"
"I'd be a better man."
The fellow warriors that we were introduced are Silence, the girl who doesn't talk and Hark, her lover who talked too much. I find them to be such a cute couple and later found out that they were featured in the prequel novella Silence Warrior. I will definitely check it out. They played quite a prominent role during the climax while fighting alongside with Leto and Audrey. The book ended without a cliffhanger and Leto and Audrey story is wrapped up nicely. But we know that the Dragon Kings story arc is yet to be resolved. Looking forward to Blood Warrior, which will be out on August.