Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Review of BLOOD DEBT by Nancy Straight

Publication Date: 15th July 2012
Source: ARC won from author for naming the book

"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."

*I hereby award this book 5 wings!*

I have been a fan of Nancy Straight's since I read Meeting Destiny, the first book in her series before this. I knew that as soon as this was published, I would have to own a copy. What I didn't know at the time of Nancy writing it was that she'd have a competition to name the book once it was finished.
Nancy told me about the competition and I can honestly say, I am useless at thinking of things like book titles, it's just not something I am good at.
But when I read the synopsis for the book, there was something that stuck in my head and refused to move aside for anything else. That thing? Blood Debt. I'm not particularly clever for naming it that. Read the synopsis and tell me it isn't the first thing that jumps out at you?! But, the competition went on and I couldn't come up with any others. The more and more I thought about it, the more I realised I wanted Blood Debt to be chosen.
Goodness knows how Nancy chose the winning title from all the great ones that people suggested. But when she told me I'd won, I was over the moon! So I won an early copy of the book for being the winner. Then I went on to win another copy in a blog competition she was having. So I am giving that copy away. [Be sure to check back next week for the giveaway].

BLOOD DEBT  is the first book I have known and read about Centaurs. I'm not saying it's the only one on the market, but it's the first one I've come across. That's one of the reasons why I was so eager to read it. It was something fresh and new.
Having previously loved Nancy Straight's 'Destiny Trilogy', I knew it was going to be something amazing, little did I know quite how much.
Nancy's previous trilogy was known for giving me a book-hangover. There was something about it that meant I couldn't start my next book right away. So, I guess I should have expected something similar this time, but Nancy had promised me, no book-hangover and no cliff-hanger ending. 
Having finished the book last night (or technically this morning as it kept me up til 1:28am), I had to wonder whether Nancy was either A) telling me a bit of a fib, B) hadn't read the book she had written, or C) just didn't know the power she wields over her readers. Though I came to the conclusion it was C) she doesn't know the power she wields over us readers.
Maybe you aren't as much of a sensitive ninny as me and you won't cry like a baby or get as sucked into the book as I did. But be warned, if you are sensitive, this book is likely to make you cry like a girl (yes, I know I am a girl but still). It played havoc with my emotions and my hormones. I got to a point where I had to put it down and walk away. But I'll tell you more about that as my review goes on.

On to my actual review.

BLOOD DEBT is the story of 22 year old Camille Benning. She's just lost her mother, Angela, after her being ill for a while. Just because it wasn't any surprise when she died, didn't mean it hurt any less.
For the last 22 years, it's always been just Camille and Angela. Her father wasn't in the picture and nor had Angela ever wanted him to be. When Camille would ask about him, Angela would always reply "Your father was a wonderful man. We had a few magical days together, he left me with the most amazing gift to remember him by."
But just ten short minutes before she died, Angela told Camille that he lives in Charleston and his name is William Strayer.

After losing her mother, Camille wasn't sure whether she could contact her father. It was a few weeks later that she gathered the courage to sit and call him. 

It was Gretchen, William's wife, who answered the phone. Camille asked for William Strayer, so Gretchen fetched him to the phone. When Camille asked if he'd known Angela Benning, he told her he didn't, so she wasn't sure she had the right man after all.
But further on in the conversation, Camille told him that she was his daughter and William asked her to travel to Charleston to meet him. It came as a shock that after only a brief conversation, he would want her to get on a plane to go to see him.

Her best friend Daniel wasn't sure she should go. He was only concerned about his best friend's safety. But Camille said that it was her father she was going to see and was sure she'd be fine.

Once in Charleston, she claimed her luggage and saw a young man with her name on a board in front of him. He introduced himself as Brent, her brother. Not only did she have a father and a step-mother, she now had a brother. But the surprises didn't stop there. There was also Bart, Ben, Bruce and Beau, also her brothers!

Once Camille meets William, he insists on her calling him Will. He seems to be a very rich man from what she can gather. He and Gretchen have a beautiful house, with many bedrooms for the boys. They bought the boys all matching BMW's worth a pretty penny each. Everything seems a little too good to be true. 
Camille meets Gretchen and can't believe that, of all of them, she is okay with her being in her home. But she couldn't be more wrong. Gretchen couldn't be more welcoming and if anyone, she is the one who tries to convince Camille to stay on with them for more than the mere few days she had come for.

Upon agreeing to stay for longer, Gretchen, Will and the boys are all overjoyed. After all, Camille is family.

What happens from here on in is where it all gets a bit strange for her. 

I won't take you through a play by play of events, it's a journey that you as the reader need to undertake in it's entirety when you pick up the book. I'll give you a few bits, but I don't want you to end up shouting at me for spoilers. This is a book I could talk about for EVER, and I really need someone who's read it so I can talk about what happened and why I have the book-hangover that I do.

Camille found out that she was the daughter of a full blood Centaur and Centauride. Her family warned her that she may be the blood debt that is required to pay in her mother's stead. The way that relationships happen in their world is unusual to say the least. You'll find out more about it when you read it, but basically the female (Centauride) chooses her mate (Centaur) and they are then mated for life. Camille's mother was in such a relationship but before they could get married, Angela ran away and had Camille. Since then, they were protected by magic so that they couldn't be found.This meant Angela owed a blood debt, but since she has passed away, it falls to Camille to pay.

This was a lot for Camille to take in. She thought there was something odd going on when everything felt too good to be true, but she couldn't have guessed that this was the secret they were keeping.

There's also the fact that a Centaur never cheats. Once they have been chosen, they are mated for life and so never have relations with anyone else. But Drake is mated to Bianca, yet he and Camille have feelings for each other. What will become of their forbidden love?

Then there's the Grandmother-from-hell, Zandra. She wants Camille to live with her and do things her way. She doesn't care for what Camille wants, all she cares about is marrying her off to Gage Richardson. It doesn't matter whether that's what Camille and Gage want or not. Things will be done Zandra's way.

Will Camille ever escape the confines of her Grandmother's home? Will she ever be free to do what she wants? Will her forbidden love with Drake ever be allowed? These are all questions you must hunt the answers to. 

Like I said earlier, I have been a fan of Nancy Straight for a while now and I know I will love every book she ever writes. But when she promised me the "no book-hangover" I took her at her word. How mistaken was I?! 
I love the way Nancy writes. She cares about where her characters end up, but she also cares about what the reader wants to happen. When I first picked the book up, I knew it was going to be a story of forbidden love. what I didn't bank on was the kidnapping and the events surrounding Camille. Nor did I count on how much they would hurt me, heart, mind and soul.

This story is tantamount to being at the pinnacle of a roller coaster, blindfolded. You know you are at the highest point, so all you can do is drop, but you don't realise how far you have to fall. It was a roller coaster of emotions, from happiness to sadness, from elation to guilt. 
I was 35 pages from the end and had to put the book down. For one, I couldn't see through the ocean of tears. For another, I didn't want to know how the book ended. It was a soul-destroying event that made me contemplate quitting it right there and then and going to bed. I'll share my Goodreads status with you...

"I am in so much pain I have had to close the book - I can't tell you why I hurt but oh my god, Nancy - you promised me and now I am in bits. You tore my heart out, jumped up and down on it for an eternity - then you squeezed it, battered bruised defeated and useless back in my chest."

Quite how it had gone from my earlier joy and loving this book, I can't tell you. But I truly thought I would have to give up. Eventually, I steeled myself for the last 35 pages, resigned to the fact that my heart was broken and that Nancy had told me a bit of a... let's say untruth.
I am so glad that I took 20 minutes or so to compose myself and finish the book. This was my final Goodreads status...

"Yet another of Ms Straight's books I finished in a day. Turns out, I had to pick it back up and finish it because it tugged at my broken heart. Glad I did, because some kind of magic made my heart beat again. Thank you Ms Straight for what qualifies as another book hangover."

So as you can see, I went through a whole range of emotions, but the final one was happiness.

I hope after reading this, you want to know what all the fuss was about and want to pick up a copy for yourself. I promise that even though you'll go through a myriad of emotions, you'll come through it on the other side just like I did. 
If you've read my review and it's put you off reading the book because you'll be heartbroken, I swear to you that you'll get better if you pursue it to the end. I know I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel but now I am through it on the other side and can see why Nancy did what she did and I am truly grateful to her for drawing me in and making me love these characters and their story.

As it is, I cannot wait for the next book in the Touched series. I know there's going to be ups and downs. But if anything, this book taught me to take the rough with the smooth and that though there will be highs and lows, there will be a light at the end of every tunnel. There is a reason for everything Nancy writes. 

I love how the characters grow and develop and I can't wait to see where she takes them in future. Camille and Drake really deserve a happy ending after all they have been through so far, so I can only imagine by the end of the series, they will have earned that happily ever after for sure.
If there's one thing I always love about Nancy's books, it's that the characters are real. They aren't flimsy cardboard characters that are going through the motions. They are 100% real and they have to work hard for their happy endings, it's not just handed on a silver platter.

I get the feeling I am probably babbling now. So I will leave you with one more thought. If you love stories about forbidden love, then this book is for you. You will kick yourself for not reading it! Don't miss out!

Thank you Nancy for sending me this ARC. Thank you for Camille and Drake, but also for all the other people in the book, except for Zandra. Okay so I guess I know why she had to exist but between her and Kyle Richardson, I'd had my fill and wanted to reach in and rip their throats out.

Thank you readers who have come by today. Sorry if I have left you with a headache! ;) Hope you'll come back soon!
And if you do want to purchase Blood Debt for yourself, I've made it simple for you!



  1. I definitely want to know what the 'fuss' was about - what a powerful range of emotions you just went through! And I think you nailed what makes something like this work, and saves it from melodrama: real, believable characters. Thanks for the awesome review :)

    1. Ah Philip, thanks for coming by & reading my review. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind comments. I thought I had royally screwed this review up - so it's good to see someone take the time to comment - and to say it was awesome, makes my day!!

      K <3


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