Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper

Caged Warrior (Dragon Kings, #1)

Grade: A-
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Dragon Kings #1
Reviewed by Anne
379 pages
 
I picked this book up at the RT Convention and packed it in a bag to take along to my sister’s house.  I read the first 20 pages on the plane and I was hooked!
 
In the Dragon King world a dragon race lives among humans.  They look human in appearance, more or less, but they don’t shift forms.   They DO possess dragon powers, which vary from person to person, or rather, dragon to dragon.  Their race has problems reproducing.  Audrey was banished from the dragons and led a life with humans, until she and her human husband had a baby.  Then dragons arrived.  They killed her husband, kidnapped Audrey and her son, and delivered them to the sadistic Dr. Aster’s lab.  After a year of torture and experimentation, Audrey is separated from her son and sent to train to be a cage warrior.  (Think Gladiator type cage matches.)  She’s been promised that if she can stay alive for a year, her son will be returned to her.
In the warrior complex, Leto is assigned to train Audrey.  Leto’s success is tied to Audrey’s by Old Man Aster (who runs the Cage), and they come to realize they have to find a way to work together even though they hate each other.
 
This book really worked for me.  I know, I know, I don’t like angst, and this book is full of angst.  I also don’t like children in danger, and Audrey’s son, Jack is certainly in danger. That was all off page, though it’s Audrey’s constant focus, which made it tolerable for me.   But there’s fighting!  And there’s powers and brainwashing.  And it’s complex, but written well enough that I didn’t have problem tracking along with it.
 
Audrey is such a strong character! You get to see her gain self confidence and grow stronger. You get to see Leto come to admire her more and more as he gets to know her, though in the beginning he’s just the latest in a line of abusers.  I was ok with Leto’s asshole behavior because, from the beginning it was clear to me that it was all about the reality of training for cage fighting.  They had a short time to get her ready to fight, and Leto has a personal stake in her success.
 
The story line was really interesting with enough twists and turns to really keep me enthralled.  The best part was that they didn’t seem to come out of nowhere.  Each twist was an “ahhh!” moment for me, where suddenly things fell into place.  I thought the world was interesting and well written.  I want to know more!  The villains (Old Man Aster and his son, Dr. Aster) are a bit two dimensional.  That was fine with me.
 
Overall I give the book a 4.5 out of 5 and look forward to reading more. It was dark and gritty.  Lindsey Piper’s writing reminds me of Kresley Cole minus the screwball humor. I really enjoyed it and I’m putting it on my best of 2013 list.

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