The cover of CAGED WARRIOR sold me on Lindsey Piper's debut paranormal romance even before I turned it over to read the back cover blurb.
My first thought was "Spartacus in modern times!" - hoo-rah!
And, in some ways, that turned out to be the case. CAGED WARRIOR is the start of a new, sexy, gritty paranormal romance series that doesn't pull any punches (no pun intended).
Leto is a cage warrior, tasked to win glory and fame for his Master. He's tasked to train Audrey, a cast out member of a Dragon Clan (she was exiled for marrying a human).
Initially, he's sees her as a means to an end (he's fighting to save his Clan) - winning three matches together earns him the reward he's fought for all of his life - so he's determined to get her to use and master her powers, which she denies having, and he'll do anything to ensure their success.
"I can't help how I was raised."CAGED WARRIOR (Bk #1 The Dragon Kings)
"Bullshit, as you say." Leto leaned against the mesh steel. "You were cast out, I assume. I can't imagine he was worth it."
She stood. Slowly at first. Knees unsteady. She lifted her chin. That killer instinct had returned. Leto breathed in and relished the sight.
"He was worth everything I endured, everything I ever will. And you've never felt its like."
Anger lifted in Leto's chest. Almost pain. Almost shame. Because she was right.
Blink. Kick to the lower back. Scream.
This time she didn't fall. She whirled on the balls of her feet. The blaze of her silvery eyes caught with his. An uncanny glow stopped him cold.
Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation–which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.
Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning.
Read another excerpt here.