ARC-Review: CAPTIVATED by Lauren Dane

Vincenz Fardelle, exiled son of the Supreme Leader of the Imperialist Universe, has spent much of the last ten years working to stop the threat his father poses. But he’s not alone in his quest. Julian Marsters has lost his best friend and countless others in the war and has made vengeance his only goal. In each other, Julian and Vincenz find not only like minds, but kindred spirits.

However unexpected their relationship, everything changes for Vincenz and Julian when Hannah Black comes into their lives. Having been captured and held in near total isolation by imperialist troops, their immediate response is to protect her.

Emotionally shattered but resilient, Hannah rebuilds herself. Because of the warm safety she finds in the arms of Julian—and Vincenz she becomes someone harder, stronger and bent on preventing the Imperialists from harming anyone else.

For the two men, wrestling with their passionate feelings for Hannah is only the beginning. War is about to send all three into harm’s way and an equally dangerous secret could tear them apart.

Author: Lauren Dane
Series: Federation Chronicles, book 5, Phantom Corps, book 3
Genre: Futuristic Romance, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Berkley Heat
Year of release: 2012. May 1
Format: Trade Size Paperback
Source: Won a digital ARC of the book in a Twitter-giveaway held by author

First line:
She rocked because it brushed her hair over her skin.

Memorable Scenes:
– the conversation between Vincenz and Julian about Julian’s virtue > funny and the scene that followed was sizzling hot!
– The first threesome love scene > this scene pushed me over the edge of spontaneously bursting into flames. Where’s that fire extinguisher when you need it?
– the scene with the gloves > when you read the book you know exactly what scene I mean and you know why I put it with the memorable scenes
– the love scene between Vincenz and Hannah after the mission on Silesia > pivotal scene for both their characters and sizzling hot too!
– the sex scene when they’re at the compound on Asphodel > I thought the previous sex scenes were hot? Well, this one put even those to shame!
– Andrei giving Julian and Vin advice how to make up with Hannah > I love Andrei and Lauren Dane gives excellent grovel!

Hannah Black is a doctor and scientist. Taken by the Imperialists as a prisoner and tortured to the brink of insanity she is saved by Vincenz Fardelle on a Phantom Corps mission. Hannah is broken by the torment she suffered but a she’s survivor. She is strong. Though she may be or seem fragile at first, as the story progressed her strength replaced her fragility and revealed a caring and nurturing woman with amazing resilience. Vincenz and Julian and their love slowly but surely heal her back to the woman she is supposed to be.

Vincenz is the exiled son of the imperialist leader. He has struggled his way into the Federation Phantom Corps, overcoming mistrust and proving he is not an Imperialist spy. Within the corps he is Vincent Cuomo. Vincenz is fierce caring, charming, intense and protective. His heritage makes it hard for him to find his place in life and among his loved ones, except with Julian and Hannah. They are the two anchors that keep him stable.

Julian Marsters has known loss from a very young age and the latest loss, his best friend was killed in the line of duty, has left him hurt and made him surround himself with harshness. He is calm and confident but also tough, hard and broody. Underneath this all he hides a vulnerable and wounded man that can only find solace in being loved by Vincenz and Hannah.

Vincenz and Julian form the perfect tag team for Hannah. They are both pillars of comfort to her. Always patient, they let her set the pace and give her time and space to heal. But they also know when it’s okay to push her to the next step in the process. One in his own gruff, straightforward way. The other in his disarming, caring way. In turn, Hannah is the element they never knew was missing from their pairing. Her insight, intuition and humor is exactly what they need to make their relationship come completely full circle.

The first sex scene is a m/m scene and I’ve said it before: Lauren Dane is one of the few authors who can make that work for me in a m/m/f book, who can make a m/m/f ménage work for me, period. The way she eased Hannah into the relationship that was already established between Vincenz and Julian was brilliantly done. At first I worried how the trauma she suffered would impede the physical part of the relationship but I needn’t have worried.

The erotic part of this book was once again amazing, as with all the previous books in this series. Lauren Dane knows erotic romance and delivers on it every single time. The groveling followed by make up sex scene was a gem of excellence. I was crying on one page and gasping with arousal on the next. The book starts of fast-paced and intense but a little over the halfway point the intensity lessened a bit and the pace turned slower on one page and it felt rushed on the next. However, the last few chapters were back to the intensity of the beginning so this was a minor issue.

The Federation versus Imperialists war plot is excellently continued in CAPTIVATED. I love the world Lauren Dane has built over the course of this series. It’s interesting and keeps evolving throughout the series, surprising me at times with unexpected twists and directions. I enjoyed the plot as much as I did the romance and sex scenes. It absolutely stands its ground against the scorching heat of the romance. I also love how the overall story arc remains threaded throughout all the books and yet each book has its own isolated plot that adds a new dimension to the ongoing one.

CAPTIVATED took me through a whole gamut of emotions. My heart broke for all three main characters, each for a different reason. But my heart was also warmed by the beautiful romance and the intense feelings between the main characters. There were many lump-in-throat moments, the sex scenes made me blush, and let me tell you it takes a lot to make me blush when it comes to sex scenes and the plot made me angry and vindictive (towards the bad guys of course). It’s no secret Lauren Dane’s writing appeals to me greatly and CAPTIVATED is no exception. Once I started reading the fast pace, interesting characters, intensely emotional romance, nail-biting plot and scorching sex kept me in their thrall.

With CAPTIVATED I was just as engaged in the plot as I was connected with the characters and aroused by the eroticism. It’s another awesome installment of this series and while reading this book it suddenly dawned on me that, as with all series, this series will end some day and I realized I don’t want that to happen. I want it to go on forever, giving me exactly what I want in futuristic erotic romance novels!

Favorite Quotes:

There was something so scorching hot about the way Vincenz had sex. So unabashed. In a man who was normally buttoned up tight and ultra calm, that wildness and burning intensity when it came to f*cking felled Julian.

She didn’t want to fall apart and yet, it was happening. Pieces of her fell through her fingers like sand.

“You can let go, baby.” Vincenz kissed her temple. “Let yourself fall apart a little while if that’s what you need. I’m here to hold all the pieces until you’re ready.”

Need was a drumbeat in his head, a throbbing bass in his gut, throttling through his veins like wildfire. She tasted like spice and sweetness. Like something dark and forbidden and altogether precious and he needed her like he needed to breathe. -Julian

And by the time he figured out that because his defenses had been down with her, she’d gotten under his skin and into his heart, it was too late to do anything but admit his need for her. She lodged herself into all his jagged, empty spots as he gave herself to him and things had just clicked into place. -Julian

“I’ve been greedy for you. But instead of burning the place downstill of the night when you were ours again.”

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