Amanda Marion is a gentle teacher who loves kids, and also the daughter of the President of the United States. With important Breed laws about to be passed through Congress, Amanda's life may be in danger from extremist groups who want to see the Breeds annihilated. Breed security expert, Dash Sinclair believes that the blood supremacists may attempt to kidnap her in order to force the president's hand to veto the legislation, so he calls in Coyote Breed, Kiowa, to keep an eye on her.
Kiowa isn't thrilled about "babysitting" the president's daughter, but she certainly is pretty to look at. When what they feared happens, Kiowa works quickly to rescue the young woman, but when she tries to scream, thinking he's one of the bad guys, he can't resist quieting her with a kiss. Next thing he knows, she's so aroused as to actually be in pain, and he isn't much better off. After Kiowa and Amanda are extracted from their hideout and taken to the Breed compound, the couple learn that they are now mates and it was the transfer of Kiowa's mating hormone during the kiss that threw them both into a frenzy of desire. Kiowa has never known true love for any woman, nor the love of family and a real home. A part of him would like nothing more than to settle down with Amanda and create the life he always longed for as a child. Amanda may allow him to satisfy her body to ease the pain of the mating heat, but deep down he knows that she didn't choose this course for her life and believes that she thinks of him as no better than an animal. Will Amanda be able to accept Kiowa for what he is and heal his deep emotional wounds or are they doomed to be separated by the very thing that brought them together in the first place?
Soul Deep may not be a general fan favorite in The Breeds series, but it certainly ended up being one of my favorite books so far. In a series that has generally been riddled with plot holes, this character driven story was a welcome change of pace. The editing was also better than in previous books, primarily consisting of just typos with only one continuity error that I found, which made for a much more pleasant reading experience. There may not have been as much action or overall advancement of The Breeds story arc, but I really enjoyed getting to know Kiowa and Amanda.
Kiowa was a very tortured and lonely hero, perhaps even more so than any of the other Breed males to date. The felines at least had each other, and Dash, although something of a loner too, had found a place for himself in the military and had some friends. Kiowa is also a Coyote, the most reviled Breed species, because they were bred to be the jailors and tormentors of the other Breeds. He didn't grow up in the labs which in some ways was a blessing, but he was still treated with contempt by a grandfather who hated him and basically left him to fend for himself in an isolated mountain cabin. Kiowa has never known the love of family or any human being for that matter, but he grew up longing to experience those things. Constant disappointment trained him to bury those dreams deep inside, right alongside the pain of rejection, so he can seem a little cold and emotionless at times. However, I always saw through the stoic facade to the hurt little boy inside, and viewed him as more of the quiet, brooding type. Kiowa is definitely an alpha (does Lora Leigh ever write anything else?;-)), but a bit less intense than most of her other heroes I've read so far. Even in his more dominating moments, he seemed to have a tender, gentle side that I loved, and he was even willing to let Amanda go when he thought that was what she wanted. I even liked that Amanda didn't think of Kiowa as particularly handsome, much less gorgeous. Average looking romance heroes are hard to find. While I realize this might be off-putting to some readers, I found it to be a refreshing change. Overall, Kiowa was a surprisingly well-developed character to be found in a Lora Leigh novel, especially one this short.
Amanda is the president's daughter and a teacher who of course, loves kids. She is a kind, considerate woman who gets swept up and unexpectedly thrown into a situation that is totally foreign to her. Although she knows about the Breeds, she certainly didn't think she'd ever be mated to one, much less have to suffer through an excruciating mating heat. Even though Amanda is a virgin, she's always known through reading and personal experimentation that she has some "kinks," but in spite of Kiowa being the embodiment of all her sexual fantasies, she is understandably upset about having her plans for the future disrupted. Everything happens so quickly that Amanda also has a lot of doubts about whether her feelings for Kiowa are real or just fueled by lust. I liked that she too was not as intense as Lora Leigh's typical heroines, but she did still have her moments. If I had one quibble with Amanda, it would be her lack of intuitiveness about Kiowa's feelings. For someone who was so nurturing toward others, I thought she could have tried a little harder to get Kiowa to open up to her about the past and what was bothering him. Instead she kind of went off half-cocked, first trying to run away from him in what I would call a TSTL moment and then just simply made threats, which I think only served to make him feel more unworthy. In spite of that, she was a pretty good heroine who did eventually come around, and she was brave to go through the terrible pain of the tests for the betterment of all Breeds. I just wish she had been a little more understanding.
As a couple, I thought that Kiowa and Amanda worked well together. Usually not being a fan of instant meeting and mating, I was rather surprised to feel some pretty deep emotions emanating from the pages of this novel very early on. One thing that might have helped those feeling along was less bickering between the hero and heroine (another Lora Leigh trademark, and something that in the large doses she tends to be fond of, isn't romantic to me at all). Although Kiowa and Amanda did argue, their first disagreements made perfect sense and didn't just feel like alpha posturing as it has in the other books of the series. I'll admit that it did begin to wear a little thin by the end and could have easily been solved with better communication, but overall it wasn't nearly as bothersome as it could have been. Their connection was also helped by some blistering hot love scenes (Lora Leigh's best trademark, IMHO;-)) which probably occupy at least half of the pages in the story. I was a little bothered by the beginning of their first encounter, because it initially felt a little like forced seduction. However, once I quickly realized that it was the biological mating frenzy taking over and neither one of them had much of a choice in the matter, I was totally on board. The only other thing that was a teensy bit troubling were some ropes and a knife. I like a little BDSM action in my erotic romances from time to time, but I couldn't stop thinking about rope burns, and the knife was just a little too scary, so not quite my cup of tea. Otherwise, the love scenes were totally scrumptious and for someone who was supposed to be cold and uncaring, I thought Kiowa was a very gentle, skillful, and considerate lover who set the pages on fire.
A large part of Soul Deep takes place inside the Breed compound, so there are Breed sightings galore and we get a few status updates on couples from previous books. Of course, Callan and Merinus (Tempting the Beast) are there, along with Taber (The Man Within), Kane (Kiss of Heat), Dawn (Dawn's Awakening), and Tanner (Tanner's Scheme). Mercury (Mercury's War) and Cabal (Bengal's Heart) are also mentioned but have no lines. Dash (Elizabeth's Wolf) is the one who recruited Kiowa to protect Amanda, so he plays a significant role, and his mate, Elizabeth, and daughter, Cassie have bit parts too. Also putting in another appearance is Dash's mysterious friend, Simon and one of his "girls," Stephanie.
Soul Deep is book #5 in The Breeds series. Other than my few minor quibbles, I really enjoyed this story, and am pleased to say that it has earned a spot on my keeper shelf. After a less than satisfying experience with the last book, Soul Deep has helped to put the series back on track for me, and I now look forward, once again, to continuing with it soon.
Note: This book contains explicit language and sexual situations including some BDSM elements (bondage, spanking, biting) and anal sex which some readers may find offensive.
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