by Nathalie Gray, futuristic (2008)
Ellora's Cave, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-4199-1468-3
I cannot review Carnal without giving away a crucial development that took place in the previous books in Nathalie Gray's Lycan Warriors series, Feral and Primal, so you want to stop reading here if you haven't read those books but have full intentions to. If you are new to the series, however, do read my review of the first book, Feral, to catch up on the details behind the setting and all.
Our heroine Dragana Djelic is the sniper in Dex Solomon's team of lycan mercenaries but she was supposed to be dead by the end of Primal after she sacrificed herself so that her friends can make their getaway from the Antioch Space Station. I know I'm not the only one unhappy with that development, but at that time I thought that it would be unlikely that Dragana would stay dead since Ms Gray had taken the trouble to set up a storyline for her in the previous two books, beginning in Feral when she lost her twin brother Ivan, whose death she still feels responsible for. Well, I'm right, hurray, because Dragana is back and Carnal is her story.
Cristoval Vanatos is the leader of the lycan resistance force hoping to topple the tyrannical regime of the Iron Conclave over Earth in the 26th century. From where we last left off, he is thought to be dead by Dex and his friends when in truth he is now a prisoner held in the torture/experiment chambers of the Iron Conclave somewhere in the United Koreas. Imagine his shock when he is thrown into a chamber and ordered to mate with a lycan female in the name of, er, science and this woman turns out to be Dragana. Dragana knows that she had died and somehow her captors had brought her back to life. Our two "Eh, but aren't you supposed to be dead?" lycans will now have to work together to get out of their captivity.
The Dragana here is not the tough-talking woman in the previous stories though - she's shaken by her brush with death so her emotions have gone haywire. A big part of her wants to die for good because of the peace she found during her last death and the fact that she was reunited with her twin brother. Still, she also knows that she has to get at least Cristoval to safety before she can sort out her own thoughts because of Cristoval's role as the leader of the resistance. As for Cristoval, he is a more straightforward character in that he's a good guy who realizes that Dragana is the one for him. Of course, with them having to get out alive from their prison, it's not as if they have many opportunities to psychoanalyze each other.
While not as action-packed as the previous stories and therefore lacking some of the pizazz and va-va-voom factor that make those books so enjoyable, Carnal nonetheless manages to pack a decent punch when it comes to a fun and fast-paced action futuristic romance. While I'd suggest anyone new to the series to pick up any of the other previous two books because this one isn't the most exciting one of the bunch, this is nonetheless a pretty nifty addition to the fun action-packed series. Just give Dragana her cool back soon and let her kick some serious butt with style!
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