Book Review: Savage (Daughters of the Jaguar #1)

13648992Title: Savage (Daughters of the Jaguar #1)
Author: Willow Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 14th 2012
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The year is 1983. Christian is 22 years old when he leaves his home in Denmark to spend a year in Florida with a very wealthy family and go to med-school. A joyful night out with friends is shattered by an encounter with a savage predator that changes his life forever. Soon he faces challenges he had never expected. A supernatural gift he has no idea how to embrace. A haunting family in the house next door. A spirit-filled girl who seems to carry all the answers. An ancient secret hidden in the swamps of Florida. One life never the same. One love that becomes an obsession. Two destinies that will be forever entangled.
Savage is a paranormal romance with some language, violence, and sexual situations recommended for ages sixteen and up.

After reading Savage, I needed to take some time to set my thoughts straight. This isn’t an easy book. It shows the reader a rich, compelling world with intriguing, relatable characters. It shows heartbreak and courage, pain and despair, and it takes the readers on a rollercoaster of a ride from start to finish. But it’s not something you can let go of easily – I certainly couldn’t. It took me a while to make up my mind about this book, and to decide on whether I should give it a four or five star rating.

Christian, the protagonist of the story, seemingly has it all. Blessed with photographic memory, he has little or no trouble studying. He picks up one girl after the other, but can’t form any emotional connection to them. This is due to him losing his mother, and he’s scared of losing the people he loves. Christian is an intriguing character because he doesn’t always do what the reader expects him to do. What I did find a bit offsetting, was that the story was told to us from the point of view of an older Christian. This immediately takes some of the tension away – well, he’s still alive, so nothing that bad will happen to him throughout the story. After going through a near-death experience, Christian has trouble dealing with what happened. He’s never been one to believe in the supernatural, but when confronted with something science has trouble grasping, he has no choice but to hit the books and figure out what happened to him.

Christian is intrigued up to the point of obsession with the family next door. Although they’re more than a little eccentric, he quickly grows close to one of them, Aiyana. She is mysterious and open at the same time. The book is entirely told from Christian’s POV, but at times I wished we saw more of Aiyana’s POV as well. I wanted to get to know her better, but had a feeling the author kept much about her in the dark on purpose. Maybe for a later book? I wouldn’t know, but I do know that she’s an interesting person, and not at all like other heroines in paranormal romance books. I had the feeling she was a multi-dimensional character with her own goals and motivations, although I couldn’t always understand them.

The story itself is unlike anything I expected as well. At times, I had the feeling the story was too ecclectic, running from one genre to the author. When I picked up the book, knowing it was paranormal romance, I didn’t expect to read about a guy with incredible academic achievements struggling with life in a foreign country. I thought I’d stumbled into a contemporary book instead, but nothing was less true. It’s hard to match this book into one genre. At its core, it’s paranormal romance, but the book touches upon so many subjects that it’s actually a whole lot more. The lore behind what was happening to Christian was original, well-researched and well-explained. The relationship between him and Aiyana was heartbreaking and fascinating.

You will not find the typical paranormal romance plot and/or prototypes in Savage. No damsel in distress, no charming bad boy with supernatural powers. Instead, you will find an intriguing world filled with interesting characters and a story that is both moving and fast, from start to end. As a sidenote though, this is not YA. The book isn’t suitable for anyone below sixteen years of age, mainly because of some adult relationships mentioned in the book. Older teens can read it just fine though. Recommend to everyone who’s old enough, and who enjoys paranormal romance and wants to see something different.

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