A déjà vu impression but still enjoyable (spoilers)
It is always hard to write a review when a book is not finished, but I felt like I had to. I follow the author since her Beyond the Walls Era that I greatly enjoyed, and tried to read her other books. Truth is, I never finished them. However, I had great expectations for this novel.
Read the story now
Beginnings are always good with this author. The stakes and obstacles of the love story are always well defined and clear. But this is why I discern a pattern. The original environment of the MC is always toxic, or evil, and provokes the MC into hating werewolves/mate or at least being wary of them. With time, the MC understands how wrong she was, and accept her fate with her mate. There are always tweaks to the plot but this is mainly it. Of course, I don't know what happen afterwards : this is usually where I leave the story.
The reason why I was so excited about this book, is because Valencia was born in a very toxic environment, abused and hurt by her father. Imagine how good her character could be.
Now, I expected a person who lived under a tyrant to be a little more cruel and disturbed. Anya was more realistic than Valencia (in the first chapters) with her inability to bond with her mother and her mate, with her desire to go back to her woods and sisters. I loved her loyalty to Savior (even if he deserves to burn in hell) because this was real. People who were kidnapped had Stockholm Syndrome for a long, long time. Some never recovered. Kidnapping mess one's head, especially if there is abuse. It's the only way for the brain to cope.
In this book, the denial that should come with Valencia does not even exist. I expected her to become feral when her pack was invaded, and even more when the winners kept the territory for themselves. Worse, she even let complete strangers enter in her home without a protest. Abused people are usually very territorial with strangers and this is really strange to see a girl who only knew violence all her life to just sit and listen when her punishments are displayed for all to hear. She should have entered in denial and possibly turn against the people who pitied her. The only evidence of denial is when she tries to find her father. Of course being the monster he is, he shot her. It seemed like Valencia finally understood that her father never considered her as a daughter, and her loyalty to him disappeared into dust.
Now, it is possible to react in such a way, if the abuse was not really "bad". But this where it ticks for me : Valencia is depicted as someone who really suffered and endured terrible agressivity at barely 3 years old. No one can have a normal cognitive development under such circumstances. That's why it is really hard for me to bond to her, or to care about her reactions. When this is what you knew all your life, you do not stop being "loyal" as quickly as she did. You are not reasonable, you are not able to accept people telling you your all life was crap. Being abused is not just being cold to children or people who want to befriend you. It is not just being silent, quick-witted and endurant. This is also the nightmares, the denial to accept your life was broken from the beginning, the inability to let go of the only person you craved loved from.
I apologize if this hurt the author in any way as it is not my intention. I am simply judging the plot for what it could be and what it is not. This is also just my opinion, and I am bothered by those details because of what I know on the matter. But this does not reduce the worth of the novel and I still recommend checking it out!