I picked up this book at the library randomly because I’d heard so much about Kennedy on DBSA and I’d never ventured into the dystopian romance world. It wasn’t until I was a few pages in and looked at the cover blurbs that I realized Elle Kennedy’s flavor is way spicier that I’d usually read. You guys, I clutched my pearls a couple of times when reading this. There is some unexpected menage action between a lot of characters. Like I feel like literally nothing can shock me anymore. All that to say that despite some early reservations I really liked this book.
In the world of Claimed a devastating war turned the United States into a wasteland. The new government that came to power moved everyone into tightly controlled cities and anyone who chose to remain in the wasteland are considered outlaws.
Connor (it is suddenly occuring to me there aren’t a whole lot of last names in this book) has become the impromptu leader of a group of 4 male outlaws who have been camping out at an abandoned camp grounds .When his group stops in a bar (which in the morgue of a hospital because: dystopian!) the place is attacked by violent looters and they meet Hudson who says she is a nurse who ran away from the city to get out of an arranged marriage. Hudson convinces the outlaws to take her in and finds her way into Connor’s bed…and maybe his heart.
But what Hudson isn’t tell him is she isn’t just any girl on the run–she’s the twin sister of the leader of the military…who by the by Connor has been trying to find and kill for killing his family.
Like I said I really enjoyed this book. My favorite genre of romance is contemporary romance, but sometimes I get bored with the quasi cult of domesticity as the HEA thing. 9 times out of 10 the characters get married and have a kid. In a book like this where having kids is illegal and marriage isn’t a thing it’s not clear what the end of the relationship will look like.
I will admit the world building is a little rickety in some places, but it didn’t bother me. One of my favorite pop culture writers is Linda Holmes and she talks about how in superhero movies she just wants them to say here is the box. Everyone wants the box. Go. I’m kind of like that with dystopians. I just need to know three things; this is where the disadvantaged people live, this is where the advantaged people are and this is the leader of the corrupt military/government. Go.
This book also has a lot of feminism just kind of baked into it. At one point the outlaws take Hudson with them to whorehouse and Kennedy does a good job of showing how in this world, sex is as a commodity without necessarily turning women in to objects.
“You talk about the free land, but you still call this place a whorehouse. Is that how you view women ? As whores?
A slow grin lifted his mouth, as if he were genuinely amused by her accusation. “Were all whores here, sweetheart. Every single one of us.”
I can’t wait to read the second book in the series. All the secrets, reveals and tension is done perfectly and I need more romances like this.