Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ARC Review and Giveaway: Addicted by Elle Kennedy

Series:     Outlaws #2
Pub. Date:June 28, 2016
Length:368 pages

Elle Kennedy's post-apocalyptic series continues to steam up our e-readers with this second installment featuring a friends-to-lovers trope with hero, Lennox and his best friend and gal pal, Jamie. 

While it's not absolutely necessary for you to read the first book of the series, Claimed, before this one... I encourage you to do so. In fact... I'm doing a giveaway for two copies of the first book below - so don't forget to enter the rafflecopter! Reading the first book gives you a brief introduction to the various characters and futuristic, communistic society and post-apocalyptic landscape. In my last review, I introduced the wordly thusly:   
After the last American war or uprising, a ruling council emerged from the survivors and instituted an extreme form of communism. Citizens were required to live in highly regulated cities where only council members and enforcers were allowed medical care. The philosophy of natural selection ruled when it came to injury and illness. Those that refused to live under that rule roamed outside the cities as outlaws and bandits. Bandits were baddies, robbing and killing people. Enforcers were also baddies, killing outlaws or forcing them back into the city. So our characters, the outlaws, are kinda the freedom fighters of this bleak future.
As I said above, the paired couple for this installment is Lennox and Jamie. In the first book, Lennox and Jamie ran a sort of brothel or party house where Outlaws congregated for gratuitous sex, alcohol and camaraderie. However, at the outset of this story, Jamie and Lennox have moved to Connor's compound following a raid on their former house by Enforcers.  

Lennox has secretly been in love with Jamie since they were teenagers, but he has striven hard to hold those feelings at bay for fear of losing their friendship. Through his inner monologue, we are seeing a lot of Lennox' jealousy and conflict with his feelings/desires for his best friend. Lennox is a good hero, and I liked getting inside his head. The turmoil that happened on the page helped to create an emotional connection to Lennox, and his personality drew me in even more. Lennox was flirty and caring, and just seemed like an all around good guy.

Jamie doesn't seem to have the same conflict as Lennox... she falls in love fast and often. At the moment, Jamie is love with playboy Rylan, who is down with getting naked and sweaty, but draws the line at any kind of commitment. While Jamie's pining for Rylan is obvious for everyone else to see, Rylan seems pretty oblivious... or at least ignores it. When a drunken night sees Jamie and Lennox in a semi-sexual encounter (with Bennett thrown in the mix), Jamie starts to look at her best bud differently and things jump off from there fairly quickly. As much as I liked Lennox, I didn't care for Jamie quite as much. She seemed a bit flighty with her love life... and I found her to be unreasonable at times. 

The relationship between these two was hot and cold for a time. They made some assinine assumptions that drove me batty, but I can't deny that this book was just as steamy as Claimed. Elle Kennedy certainly does not shy away from the smut in her stories, to the point that they are a bit sex over substance. While the sexytimes were hot and plentiful, I would have liked a bit more action, character development and discussion of the post-apocalyptic society and landscape.  They seem to drink a lot and go through a lot of condoms... but how do they keep getting access?  There has been no production/manufacturing mentioned so I think the only access they have to these items is through raids. It seems like their supply should be at risk if this has been the status quo for decades. So my brain started ruminating on these things and taking my attention away from the smutty story.

One other thing that stood out to me in this story is that our heroine strikes the hero because he won't tell her something that she wants to know. I found this to be a major turnoff for me with Jamie's character. I am not a fan of the "hitting heroines" (outside of a sparring or legit fight scenario), and this has been a hot topic of conversation lately so my attention is drawn more to this situation when it happens. I believe the heroine in the first book did something similar... and it diminishes my respect for their characters. It's not okay for men to slap/hit/abuse women, and the same should be true in reverse.

The bulk of this story takes place at Foxworth, the compound run by femme fatale, Reese. She is intriguingly hardass, and it seems like she has an interesting backstory, particularly with regard to her deceased lover and how he got that way. It looks like the next book will focus on her and I am excited to see if she is paired with Rylan, Sloan or someone totally unexpected.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkley Publishing in exchange for an honest review.