Thursday, 6 November 2014

Review: First Debt by Pepper Winters

First Debt (Indebted #2)
Author: Pepper Winters
Release Date: 14 November 2014

“You say I’ll never own you. If I win—you willingly give me that right. You sign not only the debt agreement, but another—one that makes me your master until your last breath is taken. You do that, and I’ll give you this.”

Nila Weaver’s family is indebted. Stolen, taken, and bound not by monsters but by an agreement written over six hundred years ago, she has no way out.

She belongs to Jethro as much as she denies it.

Jethro Hawk’s patience is running out. His inheritance gift tests, challenges, and surprises him—and not in good ways. He hasn’t leashed her but he thinks he might’ve found a way to bind her forever.

Debts are mounting. Payment waiting.

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I'm not sure where or how to begin. This book pretty much blew my mind. After the first in the series, Debt Inheritance, there was definitely some work needed to make Jethro even a bit redeemable. I went in thinking that I didn't even need to like him properly, just see some hope. Well, I got a hell of a lot more than I hoped for because Jethro pretty much stole my heart. A very, very impressive feat considering his behaviour sometimes!

Let's talk about Nila. Nila is pretty awesome and I don't know where she finds the strength. I'll happily admit that I'd be curled in the foetal position if I ever found myself in circumstances like these. Nila is actually flourishing in some ways in the Hawk household. She's lost her timidity and is a strong woman who's determined to survive and destroy the Hawk legacy that sentences Weaver women to suffer. Of course she still gets confused, terrified and lost, but she always picks herself up and forges ahead. She's willing to take whichever path she has to to free herself, even if that means trying to penetrate the cold exterior of her captor.

Jethro, urngh. I quite honestly couldn't see a way forward with him, but of course Pepper finds it. My heart broke and bled for him sometimes. You get insights into the kind of man he could have been if he wasn't born into this messed up family, but he's been pretty much brainwashed. I don't want to give an awful lot away so I'll tread lightly now. He still does some pretty awful things but you can understand his motives more clearly and even empathise with him. Not something I imagined I would say after the last book! I quite easily came to love him through this, it was a bit scary how quickly he can change your mind but it's a testament to Pepper's writing and characterisation.

Jethro and Nila are constantly vying for power over one another and it's always a guess as to who the winner will be. Their connection certainly intensifies and becomes even more personal, no matter how much they fight it. Family, debts and past loyalties don't stand a chance in the face of the burning need they feel for each other. And it's freaking awesome!

This story never lets you catch your breath and I absolutely loved it. There were plenty of times where it stole my breath away and I couldn't quite comprehend what was happening. It alternately made my heart sing and bleed. There is also more revealed about the history between the Weaver and Hawk families and why/ how Nila is expected to pay these debts. And the way this book ends- mon dieu! There's a final revelation at the end which rather blindsided me and I can't even imagine where this will take the story next. There are some questions answered but still a mountain more I need to know more about.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Pepper Winters has an absolute gift for taking the most messed up, wicked characters and humanising them. The words weave their sinful and dark spell and I most definitely fell under it. Another stand out book, and I'm beyond excited for what comes next!

*I received a review copy for my honest opinion. Thank you!

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