Format: Mass Paperback
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
The first installment in this fierce and sensual new paranormal romance series features demonic gladiators, ruthless mafia villains, and a proud race on the brink of extinction.Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation—which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning.
To abbreviate, Dragon Kings by Lindsey Piper (a pseudonym!) to me is like Gladiator meets Fight Club. It's very Roman as its gritty, base, violent and sexy. Lindsey Piper created a dangerous world where trust is a commodity, slavery is accepted and fighting is entertainment. And I'm not talking about bitch or even fist fights. I'm referring to blood, gore, amputation, decapitation and body parts flying everywhere. I personally love how graphic some of the scenes are, the greased up angry warriors and all the strong forceful emotions that the characters felt leapt off the pages.
Silent Warrior is the prequel of the series and if you want a sampler of LPiper's universe writing, I suggest you read it. It gave us a good firm feel of the world she created and the underlying plot threaded through the series. To give you an idea, these Dragon Warrior aren't really dragons, they are an ancient almost alien-like race that have assimilated with us humans since the beginning of time. They're so superior in looks and capabilities early civilization worshiped them like gods, implying that the various pantheons we have are based on their race. They have gifts and these traits are associated to which Clan they belong to.
As far as the world-building is concerned, it's distinct on its own. LPiper gave us crucial details for us to easily imagine this world her Dragon Warriors live in. What I grappled with is how did this mighty race fell so far from grace? They were very revered and worshiped by us measly humans once, what happened that they are now reduced to nothing but entertaining lab rats? I might have missed something because I really didn't quite understand how these former gods are now forced to stay on the down low, live underground, are hunted, captured and forced into slavery to be poked, prodded and pitted against each other? And it made CAGED WARRIOR felt lacking because of this missing piece in the world-building aspect.
CAGED WARRIOR gave us a detailed description of what it means to be a Dragon Warrior in this day and age. How being one is more of a curse than a gift if one has the misfortune of being captured by the vicious cartel. Nynn of Clan Tigony, tried to be human and worked towards having that quiet picket fence life living as, Audrey MacLaren, after being banished by her people. She wasn't able to hide that long because someone discovered her true identity and kidnapped her and her son for experimental purposes. She was forced to fight like an animal for her and her son's freedom in the cages alongside Leto of Clan Garnis. These two didn't go along well at first but they were forced to do so for their own individual agendas and mutual survival.
I wouldn't really consider CAGED WARRIOR or the series as a whole as paranormal romance because the romance part isn't flowery. LPiper's version of "romance" is outright basic in the sense that sex is presented as a physiological need and a form of release. Love and all the glitter associated with it is more of an afterthought so don't expect to find courtship and the usual tension one finds in PNR. The chemistry and arousal is heavily scented with desperation and the need to survive and there's nothing pretty about Dragon Kings except for these warriors' perfectly honed bodies. The characters in general, heroes and villains alike, are feral, dangerous, unapologetic and crass. They exemplify the word SURVIVE and we all know there's nothing pretty about being a solider in battle.
I don't know who Lindsey Piper is (pseudonym) exactly aside from her c*ck-tease bio of being a historical romance writer. But I'm guessing that this contemporary series of hers is nothing like her swoony damsels and dashing heroes. There's nothing shiny about LPiper's characters as they are forced into submission and are forced to embrace their animal side just to survive. I loved how that highlighted their strongwill, tenacity and resilience. It's not insta-love for me nor was it insta-lust, LPiper won't dazzle you with promises of forever and HEA. She will, however, make you root for her Kings, captivate you with her barbaric world.