Series: Outlaws #1
Published by Signet on October 6th 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Romance
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The bestselling author of the Killer Instincts novels “knows how to write scorching sexual tension” (USA Today). Now she really sets it on fire in a new series about men and women living on the edge of violence, sex, and life and death.
After a devastating war decimated most of the world, Hudson Lane has only known the oppressive life under her own father’s tyranny. She finally escapes, branding herself an outlaw and hunted by the Enforcers. Her best chance at survival is Connor Mackenzie, an aggressively sensual fugitive who opens her eyes to the wicked possibilities of a world without rules.
As the leader of a band of outlaw fighters, Connor can’t resist the beautiful stranger who asks for his protection. Despite his reservations, he agrees to introduce her to a whole new way of life. But when Connor discovers Hudson’s connection to the enemies of liberty, he wonders how far he can trust the woman who has abandoned all inhibitions to challenge every forbidden desire.
I’m a little torn on this one. I really did like it. I liked Hudson and Connor, and most of their friends. I wanted a little more world-building, though. I want to know how the world ended up the way it is. It has to be in the near-future, I think, based on some of the technology mentioned and most of what they had, and I think it was a war, but I’d like to know a little more than that.
Hudson Lane was naive, but smart. She managed to sweet-talk her way into Connor’s group, much to Connor’s chagrin. But she knows they’re her best chance for survival, and she’s more afraid of trying to survive without them than she is of anything they’ll ask of her. Their world is a pretty rough place. I don’t think it’s quite up to Mad Max levels of shit, but it’s pretty terrible for anyone not part of the Global Council or their police squad, the Enforcers. Hudson has been isolated in one of the GC camps her entire life. Her father was actually one of the founders of the Global Council, so her life has been as easy as it could be, if a little boring. She’s a nurse, and her father makes sure she’s trained to take care of herself, so she’s not completely idle. As she gets a little older and learns a little bit more about the world, she realizes that it’s pretty terrible for everyone else, everyone else being anyone not directly on the Global Council. For example, only Council members and Enforcers are giving medical treatment or medicine. Everyone else is left to recover from their injuries or illnesses on the strength of their own immune systems, the reasoning being Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, basically. Even Hudson’s own mother is allowed to die from pneumonia since she’s only married to a GC member, but isn’t one herself. But there’s nothing Hudson can do about all of this, and she doesn’t really know anything about the world outside her camp, so she frets about it to herself.
Until her father dies, and her twin brother ends up in charge. She finds out that for reasons unknown, her father arranged for her to be married to an overbearing, misogynistic asshole named Knox, so she runs. Knox isn’t going to be embarrassed by losing his betrothed, so he send squads out to find her. Which is where she runs into Connor’s group.
Connor for his part, claims to not like picking up strays, but his entire group is made up of strays that he’s picked up. He mainly lets Hudson tag along because he thinks there’s something she’s not telling him, and he’s not wrong. He’s closed off, doing his best to shut everyone out, but his armor has been showing some cracks recently and Hudson is able to blow most of them open.
I wanted a little more from this book. More world-building, and more characterization, especially of Connor. His wife died in an attack, and he blames himself. He wasn’t there when the attack happened, he was out gathering supplies, so he’s determined to keep everyone away. There’s just not a lot to him beyond that. He was frustrated by the very optimism and sunny disposition that initially drew him to his wife, and eventually resented her for it, so now he feels guilty about that, and he feels guilty that one of the things that attracts him to Hudson is her understanding of the world and pragmatic approach to it.
Hudson went from near-virgin to menage-expert pretty quickly, but I bought the rest of her story more than Connor’s. She needed something done, she got it done, she didn’t wallow in self-pity and try to shove everyone away the way that Connor did. Maybe I connected with her more because she did a lot less navel-gazing that Connor did. Most of her internal monologue was about figuring out her next move, not feeling sorry for herself.
Or her internal monologue was about wanting Connor. Because boy, howdy, did these two burn up the sheets when they were together. Or burn up the table. Or the tree. Or the barn. Or whatever was handy. The two of them and Connor’s friend Ryland, who was more than happy to join in when he was invited. To be clear, there’s a lot of really hot menage sex in here, so be forewarned.
This was a good book, but it wasn’t a great book. But there’s very little Elle Kennedy could do to make me not move on with the series, so I will, and I really hope there’s a little more explanation of how the world got the way it is. World War? Over-population? Plague? Famine? Zombies? I’m just that kind of person – I need to know how this happened.