Sunday, June 01, 2008

Dawn's Awakening by Lora Leigh

Dawn Daniels is a Breed, a female half-human, half-cougar hybrid. Her kind was created in scientific labs as the ultimate weapons... the males, anyway. The females were created to breed, but many of the guards and scientists used them for quite a different purpose, as whores and prostitutes, no matter that most of them were mere children when they were subjected to the lust of males. But the female breeds were tougher than the scientists and guards counted on, and actually survived their rough treatment.

Dawn is one of those who survived. Now, all breeds are genetically bound to another, to be their only mate. Her mate is the completely human Seth Lawrence, who was warned off her by Dawn's protectors, and her Breed leader, Callan Lyons. They showed Seth the tapes they had discovered of Dawn, and how she was systematically raped and abused from the time she was six years old. How when she prayed to God, she was told God wasn't interested in her type. This causes Seth to be enraged, but he backs off from Dawn, not wanting her to be hurt any further.

Ten years later, Dawn finds out that Seth has been taking hormone treatments so that he no longer reacts to her presence with a mating heat. This enrages her despite not wanting to be mated to anyone, and when a mission comes up to protect Seth at his island retreat at the biannual meeting of his company, Dawn takes up the job.

Seth's company puts a lot of its profits into supporting the Breed, mainly because his father was the one who supported the experiments to create them in the first place. Even he didn't know the true horror of their creation, nor that his daughter was dating a Breed, but before he died, he made peace with the Breed. Seth continues that tradition. But ten years of living without Dawn, and wanting her passionately all the while, has finally pushed Seth over the edge, and he is considering taking a purely human wife, although he isn't really attracted to the woman and he just considers her useful.

Once Dawn arrives, her irritation with the situation gives her the courage to stand up to Seth and to Caroline, his sometime lover and near-fianceƩ. When Seth catches Caroline being mean to Dawn, he tells her off, and Dawn discovers that Caroline has stopped taking birth control and is angling to get Seth into bed now, while she is ovulating, in hopes of concieving a child and binding him to her. Dawn foils her plans when she nearly ends up in bed with Seth herself, and Seth tells Caroline to leave, which makes Caroline's father, who is on the board, oppose Seth's support of the Breed.

Then another board member is killed, and the Council, who was behind the creation of the Breed, wants to pin the blame on a member of the Breed security team who is protecting the meeting. Dawn is nearly attacked by someone who was one of the guards who raped her when she was younger, but she cannot tell who it is... he is hiding himself on the island, and she is terrified that she doesn't know who it is.

Dawn and Seth, who was wounded in an assassination attempt, become lovers when he attempts to comfort her after she wakens in a nightmare about the lab where she was raised, and become mates nearly instantly. Dawn discovers that while Seth may have left her alone out of respect for her and not wanting to hurt her any more, he has been thinking of her all this time, having soaps made for her all over the world, and buying underwear and clothing for her, which he stores on the Island.

As their relationship deepens, Dawn will still have to deal with the betrayal she feels at having the tapes of her rapes and mistreatment shown to Seth by the people she trusted, as well as the spectre from her past that threatens to drag her back to the time when she felt like she was little more than an animal, and a plot to kill the man she loves.

I've read Lora Leigh's Breed books before, and this is a wonderful addition to the series. It was easy to feel the rage that Dawn feels towards Seth, who is pulling away with her because he cannot live without her any longer. He feels that he is helping her by taking the hormone therapy that will deny the connection between them, and Dawn is forced to fight for a relationship she isn't even sure she wants, although that "not sure she wants" goes away very quickly. We also get to see how the Breed are treated by humans, as something dangerous and not quite human, and the pain and anger that engenders in Dawn.

But in the end, the way that Seth and Dawn come together despite the anger and hurt, the way they reach beyond their own hurts to be there for the other, I found to be uplifting and completely hot. The sex between them is plenty hot as well. Reading this book leaves you with a feeling of warmth and triumph, and I recommend it for that reason.

No comments: