Basics first as usual. Blood Debt is a NA something romance. Basically it's about centaurs that are actually humans with abilities so I'm not sure if that puts this in fantasy, paranormal, or mythological. I'd say it's best described as a wish-fulfillment book(for some people).
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'll start with saying I hated this book. I was not feeling well at the beginning of the year and flew through seven books in five days. I'm happy to report that I enjoyed most of them, with a couple okays in the mix.
This one though, I must've read a different book from everyone else(no I didn't) because almost all the reviews on this are . . . glowing. So hopefully I'll save some hapless reader who may have tastes that are like mine from falling for the same beautiful, positive-reviewed trap that is Blood Debt.
The first paragraph of the blurb is what you learn within like the first two chapters. We start the story with Cami's mother dead and her making a call to the father she's never met. The call goes really well and he wants to see her. In fact, he pays to have her flown to the other side of the country the next day so they can meet.
Cami gets to South Carolina and is greeted by a gooooogeous and well-mannered young man around her age. Surprise! She has a half-brother! He's been sent to pick her up and he leads her out to a ridiculously expensive vehicle.
Waiting in the front seats are two more ridiculously handsome and polite young men a few years older than her. Surprise! She has two more brothers. They're quick to inform her that there's two more brothers(also hot gentleman, who'd have thunk) waiting to meet her later.
Now, these five men pretty much all look alike, sound alike, act alike, and for some possessed reason the author decided to name them in a way that I knew would cause problems.
Okay, so there isn't a brother named Bacon but for the life of me I can't remember their names. I just know they were all about the same length and started with B. SERIOUSLY!!!?? I quickly gave up trying to remember who was who and just rolled them all into one who'll now be referred to as Uni-Brother.
Cami then meets her dad who (shocker) is good looking and totally excited to meet her and oh, did I mention, he's filthy rich and lives in a house that I'm sure most of us would weep to know the price of. He also bought all five kids matching expensive vehicles and buys her one as well after 2 days.
She then meets her dad's wife who(was married to him when the one-night stand with her mom happened) is beautiful, warm, welcoming, and just so happy to have Cami in her home.
I mean, this is like the PERFECT family. I kid you not. Everyone is rich, has a good job, a nice house, they're healthy, and friendly and there isn't even a hint of them not accepting Cami as a permanent part of their lives.
It is so hard to get involved with a book when everything is so cotton candy sweet and perfect that it gives you a toothache. At this point, Cami's doing a little "something must be wrong" thinking and I'm right there with her. I mean, obviously something has to be wrong.
She's told she's a Centaur(who are not half-horse/half-human but humans with gifts) and it takes all of like two paragraphs for her to be like "Oh yeah, I believe this."
OH COME ON! Her mother never showed any special gifts, she never showed any special gifts, these people haven't either. And she's totally going to buy it?
She's already well on her way to believing when the mother starts conversing with her dead mom because apparently spirits don't move on right away. That's the clincher for Cami. No more doubt.
Cami now finds out that male centaurs so outnumber the females that they're desperate to make a marriage. I mean, Cami is a fully-grown Centauride(female centaur) and she is the hottest thing on the market.
Cue hot, polite, dashing, well-groomed, rich man parade.
"Hello, I'm a tall, fit, perfectly tanned young doctor who owns an island with a mansion on it and 20 servants."
Uh-huh. These men pretty much are submitting their "husband resumes" by telling her all of their achievements. They're all good-looking and well-off. Top that off with further discussion looking like this, "So what do you like to do HAWT man?" "Whatever you like to do Cami. Anything you think would be worth my time to do, I will do wholeheartedly." "What do you do in your spare time hot man?" "I help out at the soup kitchen and feed starving children in third world countries, and if I have free time I read to kittens in the shelter."
So I can't remember the actual word for word dialogue, but I kid you not she did ask what they liked to do and the answer was whatever she liked, and when pressed she was given a list of saintly deeds.
Shoot me now!
She then attends Uni-Brother's wedding and trips on the stairs. But no fear! Another chivalrous hot man is there to catch her.
Now, you think you know insta-love? Well, you don't until you've read this book. He catches her people. That's all he does!!! And they're now soul-mates.
To be fair, we just see Cami being gobsmacked at first, but later when Drake relives the scene, we see it. He had no interest in her, then he touched her and fully admits to being head-over-heels for her.
Here's where it gets tricky . . . he's engaged!!! To her best friend! Wait, Kristen, wait . . .she just moved here, how does she have a best friend? Oh, didn't I tell you? She met Bianca(Drake's fiancee) at this wedding and Bianca says, "So I have this friend that has visions and she said we're destined to be BFF's."
Cami goes, "That's so cool! No having to shop around for a friend. I have one already set for me!"
Uh-huh. I can't make this stuff up people.
Centaur rules say that once engaged, the male centaur can have almost no contact with other unmarried female centaurs. We're talking no eyes meeting, no contact, no conversation. And no unsupervised time.
Cami's dad explains this to her, yet she turns around and kisses Drake(on the cheek) after he rescues her(a second time). Like . . . she was just told about this! Drake's the last of his bloodline, he needs this marriage, and any rule-breaking means his fiancee will break up with him and almost no centaur ever receives a second offer because the centaurides see them as "someone else's unwanted leftovers."
And she does that! And that's after he risked himself to save her when she publicly insulted someone without knowing all the facts.
Now let's go back to the perfect life(did we leave it?). Cami's constantly taken on outings with her brothers and she spends time with her dad's wife(Gretchen) who is a SAHM that cooks the most amazing meals and is trying to teach Cami how to use her centaur gifts.
In fact, the only "bump" in Cami's perfect world is that she's expected to marry a Centaur before the age of 30. She does a good number where she's proclaiming she'll marry who she wants and when. She'll marry a human if she wants, because love is love.
Finally! Something that's not having my eyes roll.
Except she's smacked over Drake! A centaur! How convenient that she can spout her bit about "I won't buy into this whole pure-blood thing and I'm all about love" when her looooove is a pure-blood centaur. So no conflict there.
And then she goes out on a yacht trip with Bianca, Drake, and Uni-brother. Bianca drags Uni-brother inside to play an playstation game or something, leaving Drake and Cami alone on deck. Let's be clear, this is the day after the wedding where their only contact was the two brief times Drake saved her and they didn't say more than a few words to each other.
She touches Drake's head to read his mind(because we're still not doing the whole respecting culture thing) and he sends her a bunch of graphic *cough* scenes of the two of them getting down and dirty. Next thing you know, they're kissing.
I'd be like, "EWWW, I don't even know you!!!" *flee scene* Not Cami, she's like "make out time!"
Someone pass me the head desk gif!!
Guilt sets in and Cami hides from Bianca for days, refusing to answer her calls. She calls her only connection back in California for advice. Which, takes me to another point. So she has this guy friend that we're told in no uncertain terms has never been and will never be a love interest. For some reason it was necessary to put him in the book(we'll call him the Nameless one, since I can't remember his name), but his role is down to a few brief phone calls and texts.
Basically Cami texts/calls him if she's going to do something at first in case this perfect world is not what it seems(it is). And then this once for advice. I mean, he literally is the most useless character and the role he played was unnecessary.
But we get to spend about a chapter in his pov as he freaks out over not being able to get ahold of her and flies to SC to make sure she's okay. (more on this later)
Finally Cami decides to talk to Bianca and we find out(while in Bianca's pov) that her premonition friend also knew that Cami and Drake will have insta-love if they touch and informed Bianca. Bianca took Drake to the wedding with the hope of setting him and Cami up. That's why she left them on the deck of the yacht.
So no conflict there because Bianca's aware and totally cool with this. She informs them of her knowledge and her genius plan so that no one ends up unattached or in trouble, etc. etc. Cami gets Drake, which frees Bianca to get her one true love who just so happens to be the guy that Cami is supposed to marry unless someone else marries him first.
All is well in Cami's world!
Wait, but this book is about a blood debt! Yep, and now we'll get to that. When Cami's mom ran away and left her fiancee, because of how serious that matter is(possible bloodline dying out since no one wants the reject) there is this thing called a blood debt. You think ooh scary, but not really. No one collects on females because there's so few of them. Cami's life isn't in danger, and we know that pretty early on.
Cami meets the man her mother ran from and he did actually get a second chance and now has a son. He says in repayment of the debt, if this son isn't married by 29, Cami has to marry him, and she can't marry until he has. This of course is the man that Bianca loves and since we learn that quick, there's no tension about whether or not this'll be an issue.
At this point the most interesting thing is that Cami's mom is desperate to tell her something and refuses to tell any of the people that can actually communicate with her.
I spent the whole book waiting for Cami to learn her spirit-communication gift and get this super-important, highly-classified message from her mom. The VERY end she finally can speak to her for a few moments and mom tells her something completely random and dull instead of the important message. Then she fades out before she can say the important thing. SERIOUSLY?
Besides all of the above, I found it really annoying that any parts of the story that could've been interesting were immediately dealt with(problems or roadblocks being swept aside with ease) or were just never resolved.
Cami only ever reads Drake's mind and it's always love scenes of what he'd like to do with her(romantic or sensual). She only communicates with her mom at the end and it's not to receive the anticipated conversation.
The character she misjudges she never apologizes to or even thinks in her head that wow, I misjudged that person.
The antagonist is given one pov scene near the beginning where she's hunting Cami, but then we're told that Cami's father has spoken to this person(grandmother) and all is well, so you forget about it.
Which makes Cami's kidnapping extremely bizarre. All the grandmother does is trap her on her estate, say you have to marry the person she already agreed to marry if he didn't marry anyone else, and teach her some boring history.
If Gage's(her forced fiancee) dad had wanted the marriage for sure and immediately, he couldn't made that the condition of the blood debt and not tell her she can wait until she's 29. The history had very little import. The only interesting bit of this whole section of the plot is that her grandmother is whacked and that Cami's mom ran from crazy lady not her fiancee.
She even finds her mom's old journal but that's another letdown because we get like two small entries and the rest is glossed over.
And Gage is allowed to bring Bianca and Drake to stay on the estate, which makes the kidnapped thing a lot less tension-filled. Grandma finds out there's some sort of fancy love-square going on and walks out to the garden with her hands covered in blood to say "I killed them." Gage runs in and screams and cries, and comes out covered in blood. Clearly they're dead. (Gage is one of the good guys, so he has no reason to lie.)
Yet like one chapter later, we find out they're just being held prisoner somewhere. Wha-how-I. DOES ANYONE ELSE SEE THE ISSUE? And it's never explained!
Meanwhile, Nameless got thrown off Cami's family's property and goes down to the grandma's estate because he senses something is wrong. He gets turned away at the gate and taken back to the airport. He then returns home. Like, what was even the point of him doing all of that? So much space taken up to show a failed trip!
And the only thing we learn is that he's half-centaur which there was absolutely no indicator of that at any point in time.
That hits on most of my major issues with the novel. (Had a few there, did you Kristen?)
Honestly, the amount of problems with the plot and characters makes me feel like this is such a hit is because it's for readers who want to imagine themselves striking it rich in this way. You get the perfect everything and all issues are easily made moot. Apparently "HAWT" men is a huge part of why other reviewers loved this book.
So yeah, if that's your thing then you'd probably love this book. And who knows, maybe that's what the author was going for. Clearly there are lots of people who read and loved this book. I did enjoy the character of Bianca, but other than that, this was a definite fail for me.
I like things to be more realistic and for there to be a good story arc. I found the romance to be ridiculous with the immediacy, and then the back and forth on Cami's part. And so on and so forth.
You know how women are like, "This is terrible, don't eat it." And men are more likely to go, "Oh dude, that was nasty. You have to try it." This is one of those cases where I almost want to say, "this is so bad, you have to read it to believe it." Not that I want anyone else to suffer, but seeing is sometimes believing.
In conclusion, I gave Blood Debt 1 star.