Series: Touched #1
Author: Nancy Straight
Publication date: July 15th, 2012
Published by: CreateSpace
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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Synopsis: Her whole life, it had just been the two of them. Before her mother’s last breath, she gave Camille the information she had craved her entire life: the identity of her father. Daring to contact him, Camille was welcomed by an entire family she never knew existed. But nothing comes without a price, as she discovers when her family claims a legendary heritage tracing back to a centaur touched by Zeus.
As she learns the secrets of her Centaur bloodline, she is drawn into a forbidden love with Drake. Her life may be the blood debt required to pay for her mother’s transgressions. The same person who once held her mother captive, and forced her into decades of hiding, now controls Camille. Her only chance is to seek a piece of her mother’s past that will win her freedom and the life she desperately wants.
Review: "Blood Debt" by Nancy Straight doesn't beat around the bush. The reader is immediately thrown into the story along with Camille, a twenty-two year old girl who has just lost her mother. With her dying breath, Camille's mother does the unthinkable and gives Camille a name that she has always wanted to hear: the name of her father. After contacting him, Camille is shocked to find that he is overjoyed to hear of her existence and before she is able to catch her breath, she finds herself on a plane bound for his home, where she will soon discover that she has five brothers and a stepmother that she never knew existed. And they hold a secret that will rock her world.
Immediately, the reader is given the sense that something isn't quite right with Camille's new found family. Smiles are a bit too bright and welcomes are too easily extended. Throughout the book, I expected some conflict to arise between Camille and her stepmother or her half brothers and as I began to realize that it wouldn't, I became slightly disappointed. The Strayer family's reaction to Camille was very unrealistic and leaves the reader feeling slightly put off. However, read on! Despite their unrealistic reactions to her arrival, Camille's family is incredibly easy to love. Her brothers are charming and attentive to her needs without coming off as overbearing and Gretchen, her stepmother, is one of the most forgiving and loving women that I've seen in a young adult novel. Camille's father is shrouded in mystery and his connection to Camille's mother is never fully explained in the first installment, though it is hinted that the answer will be given in the second.
As I read, I found myself wanting to know more about Camille and the people surrounding her. In fact, the lack of solid character development is the only thing that stopped me from giving this book four stars instead of three and a half. By the end of the book, I was still unsure of who Camille and Drake truly were. Drake seems to be introduced just for the sake of being a love interest and no real personality is established. However, this could be due solely to the fact that his appearances in the story are limited to stolen moments with Camille and his personality hasn't had an opportunity to shine as it may in the second book. Despite the lack of development, both characters manage to be likable and don't come off as being whiny, cliched, or overly optimistic or pessimistic as so many characters in the young adult world do. Camille is a mature, level headed adult who refuses to allow a tradition that she is unfamiliar with to dictate the course of her life. Drake is torn by his desire for Camille and his obligation towards Bianca in a very realistic way. He struggles with the ramifications of their actions and when Bianca's intentions come to light, his relief is palpable.
Now. With these complaints, some may be wondering about my rating because they aren't small complaints. However, "Blood Debt" is truly one of the most unique stories that I have had the pleasure of reading in a very long time. For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with Greek mythology and to see a book featuring centaurs of all things was quite a breath of fresh air. There are a couple editorial mistakes throughout the book, but they are all easily skimmed over if one isn't looking for them and do not detract from the story in the slightest. I'm also in the process of contacting the author with the page numbers and whatnot on which I noticed typos, so I'm going to assume that they will be fixed in future editions. I'm very much so looking forward to the next installment and can't wait to see what the author has in store for Camille and Drake!
Final word: Despite a few minor flaws that can be nearly 100% attributed to building a basis for the second book, this book is enchanting. I constantly found myself wanting to know more about the history of centaurs and how they function as a society. I am very much so looking forward to the second book in this series and would love to see more from this author.