Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Review: Captured, by Erica Stevens

Captured (Captive Series #1)
Erica Stevens
Trade Paperback, 188 pages
CreateSpace, June 17, 2012
Dystopian Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

This is one of the sweetest, most romantic novels regarding vampire love that I have yet read!  My only regrets are that it wasn't longer, and that the world-building wasn't more detailed.  However, these factors are more than made up for through the author's wonderful characterizations.

In Stevens's futuristic, dystopian world, vampires rule, having emerged triumphant after a series of wars with humans.  They have created an empire, and have, for the most part, stamped out rebellion -- save for a small pocket of resistance, a group of humans who absolutely refuse to submit.  This group lives in the woods surrounding the Imperial palace, engaging in guerrilla warfare against their enemies, and undergoing a lot of hardship most of the time.

Arianna is the daughter of the leader of this human resistance, captured during a skirmish with their vampire enemies.  She and the other captives are gathered together to await their fate -- instant death, or an existence as a blood slave, subject to the bloodlust of a vampire master, whether male or female.  Arianna is hoping for death, for she has heard that the life of a blood slave is horrible.

Her worst fear is realized when she is chosen for auction, to become a blood slave.  She is bought by an especially terrible-looking male vampire, and prepares for the worst....until another, devastatingly handsome vampire, steps up, demands to have her, and gets her.  

This vampire cannot be denied, for he is Braith, one of the king's sons.  Arianna will become his blood slave instead. 

As the novel progresses, an uncertain bond slowly begins to build between Arianna and Braith.  She is very mistrustful of him at first, and keeps expecting him to drink from her whenever he wants, to torture her and make her existence a total nightmare.  She wants to escape.  She even makes a crude stake to use on him when the opportunity arises, hiding it in the folds of her clothes.

Except that Braith is not what she expected.  From the moment she enters his life, he makes sure she has every comfort.  Although she is his prisoner, to do with as he wishes, he is always solicitous.  He even teaches her to read, when he accidentally discovers that she barely knows how.  This might sound pretty cheesy to some, but it only endeared Braith to me even more, even as I saw that this was indeed a bit too predictable.   

It must be obvious by now that this is a character-driven novel, as well as one that concentrates almost exclusively on the two main ones -- Braith and Arianna ("Aria" for short).  Some readers might be put off by a novel where most of the action concentrates on only two characters.  Not me!  I was enthralled by the sweet romance...

There were secondary characters, of course, but none of them were as meticulously developed -- at least, in this first installment -- as Braith and Arianna.  There's Max, for instance, Arianna's best friend from childhood, who has also been captured, and is the blood slave of a cruel female vampire.  The author only throws out some hints about him in this novel.  It looks like we'll get to know more about him in the second one -- Renegade.  What we do find out about him in this book is that he is a loyal friend to Arianna, and very concerned about her welfare.  (This, incidentally, arouses Braith's jealousy at one point.)

Another secondary character is Caleb, one of Braith's younger brothers.  We immediately find out that he's not as kind as his older brother.  In fact, were Aria to fall into his hands, she would indeed have a nightmarish existence.

Towards the end of the novel we meet yet another of Braith's brothers -- Jericho, also known as "Jack".  From his brief introduction, one can immediately see that he, too, is as kind as Braith.

Since most of this short novel takes place within Braith's luxurious apartment within the Imperial castle, there aren't a lot of details about the world these characters live in, except for what I noted above.  As I also stated above, however, I don't mind that most of the novel concentrated on these lovers.  Besides, I'm sure that these details will be forthcoming in the second and subsequent books in the series.   

The action does pick up toward the end of the book.  It's still a page-turner, though.  As I read, I saw the relationship between Braith and Aria develop and grow into a beautiful thing.  For me, the suspense lay in the details of this relationship, as I breathlessly followed the transformation of mistrust and hatred into trust and a fierce, passionate love that was not fully consummated -- at least, not in the usual way...

The ending of the novel obviously left an opening for the next one to follow.  I now have a burning desire to read Renegade, and immediately after it, Refugee!   In fact, when I was about 20 pages into Captured, I returned to Amazon to buy the second and third books.  That's how captivated I was by this first novel!  (No pun intended.)

Some readers might find the storyline to be too predictable, and I might be inclined to agree.  Yet, I still loved this book!  For some reason, I find this type of story obsessively compelling... that a vampire, a creature of horror and loathing, would attempt to be kind to a human being, its natural prey, is just too fascinating and romantic a concept for me to ever get tired of!  

If, like me, you love vampires that attempt to help and protect humans, even falling in love with them, you will really enjoy this tender tale with its underpinnings of emotional turmoil.  You will, in fact, begin to think of Braith and Aria as your best friends, hoping and praying for their fairytale ending!

There's a fourth novel in the works, to be released this June.  It's titled Salvation.  I think this title is highly significant.  Not that I have any clues or predictions....but I do love June weddings, so I'm sure hoping for a paranormal one this June!


Purchase Links

Erica Stevens

Author Bio
(from her blog)

 Though my name is not really Erica Stevens, it is a pen name that I chose in memory of two amazing friends lost too soon, I do however live in Mass. with my wonderful husband and our fish Sam, Woody, Hawk eye, Klinger, and Radar. I have a large and crazy family that I fit in well with. I am thankful every day for the love and laughter they have brought to my life. I have always loved to write and am an avid reader.


  1. Hi Maria just stopped by to catch up. Just noticed your note to all visitors, I had heaps of problems with spam comments early this year and end of last year and then when I subscribed to follow up comments on someone else's blog I noticed they were getting the same spam comments that I had been receiving which made me wonder was I spreading this like some kind of infection. I ended up tightening comment controls on the blog for a while and it seemed to stop after a couple of weeks but it was annoying in the extreme while it lasted.

  2. Great commentary as usual Maria.

    The thing about your description of the book is that it is a romance story set in what sounds bleaker then usual world. I know that dystopian novels are really popular these days but this does sound darker then most. That is one thing that makes it sound interesting. I look forward to hearing your comments on the sequels.

  3. Hey, Arabella!

    I would STRONGLY recommend that you enable comment moderation on your blog. You never know what stupid spammers might be out there, looking for unprotected blogs to pounce on. Then, if you're away from your blog for several hours, or a day, you won't be aware that one of these 'comments' is visible on one or more of your posts! You don't want visitors seeing that garbage on your blog. So yes, I do recommend it.

    If you "tightened up" comment controls for a while, but then relaxed them, you can bet the spam will be back! You really should have these controls in place all the time. Trust me. I, too, relaxed my vigilance, and got swamped with spam!! Then I restored the REGISTERED USER requirement. Everything was fine for a while, but then I got spam from a REGISTERED USER!! So it's back to comment moderation for me...PERMANENTLY.

    Thanks for commenting!! :)

  4. Hey, Brian!

    Oh, thank you for the compliment!!

    Yes, this novel's setting is definitely very bleak. It looks like the vampire wars have wiped out most technology. And, strangely enough, it sure looks like not even the vamps have any advanced technology. I didn't see cell phones or computers being mentioned, for instance. Very unusual, because there are VERY rich vamps in this novel! In fact, the setting seems distinctly medieval, if anything. There's a king, and an immense, beautiful castle.

    What I love about the book is the romance, of course, Braith is such a caring, kind guy, even though he's a vamp. Most of the vampires in the novel are cruel, using the humans strictly for their pleasure, discarding them when no longer needed. Not Braith! He's a lot like Edward Cullen, in The Twilight Saga...sigh...I'm a HUGE romance fan!! Well, what woman isn't? Lol.

    I'll start on the other two books just as soon as I can!

    Thanks for another great comment!! :)


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