Kept by Zoe Winters

I’ve been going through a slight romance binge lately, what with romance being on my mind as this week is Ergofiction‘s “Love Is In the Air” issue. I’ve come to realize that a) there is little romance web fiction; b) there are thousands of romance ebooks; c) a lot of those ebooks are awfully written and formatted. So it came as a relief to download Zoe Winter’s Kept and discover that there is some good romance still out there!

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Plot summary:

Greta is a werecat whose tribe plans to sacrifice her during the next full moon. Her only hope for survival is Dayne, a sorcerer who once massacred most of the tribe. What’s that thing they say about the enemy of your enemy?

Thoughts:

This book is the first in Winters’ Blood Lust trilogy, and let me right off the bat say you have no excuse not to read it, as it’s free. But there are of course a number of other reasons why you should read it, and I hope to outline those below.

The concept is one you’ll have come across before — shapeshifters (“therians”), sorcerers, magic, rituals, and the ever-difficult politics of shapeshifter packs. But there’s something fresh about this setting: the preternatural border patrol, the non-teenage cast, and Winters’ fun insight into life as a werecat.

The story has more depth to it than a simple romance, and a world worth exploring. In this world, therian blood is a precious commodity, used to boost magical spells (an idea I also used in Above Ground!). I love that Winters went through the effort of even setting up http://theriantype.com/, which is mentioned in the novel directly.

The character were really well-written, their dialogue witty and entertaining. The male lead — a grumpy sorcerer — was perhaps less evil than he could have been, but he was nonetheless hot. And Greta, the female lead, wasn’t some air-headed damsel in distress but a strong (slightly insecure) 28-year-old. The chemistry between them was great, and the sex scenes — whilst fun — were not excessively steamy.

But what I loved the most was Winters’ take on shapeshifters. Greta’s feline characteristics were really well described, and I loved her scenes as a cat. So much so that I want to read more, and — happily! — there are two more books for me to read.

Finally, on a slightly odd note, I really liked the formatting of this ebook. It was easy on the eye, nicely laid out, and gave me the visual feel of a paper book, so kudos for that! It’s always a pleasure to find an ebook that’s been properly formatted — too often people just slap in their word docs with no consideration for line spacing or font size!

In sum, if you like romance and love the paranormal, be sure to read Kept. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to immediately start on the sequels!

Read it for free online here
This book is one of my 100+ Reading Challenge!

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About A.M. Harte

A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate.
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9 Responses to Kept by Zoe Winters

  1. vjchambers says:

    I can’t read this book, because I really don’t like Zoe Winters. She’s like the crazy self-publishing evangelist. Everywhere she goes, she makes self-publishers look like zealots, and I get sick of listening to her brag about how many people have read Kept.

    Gargh. I’m glad it’s a good book, though. I read like the first two pages and couldn’t look at objectively. It’s good to see Zoe Winters mentioned online somewhere, with someone actually talking about her WRITING, and not the fact she’s self-pubbing.

  2. zoewinters says:

    Hey thank you for the lovely review. So glad you liked the novella.

    @vjchambers I’m not “bragging” about how many people have read Kept. I don’t think the number is “that” impressive, but when people say over and over that the average self-pub book sells 150 copies or less, it’s important for people to realize that that is crap if someone writes something well and markets it.

    I get if you for some reason don’t like self-publishing and don’t want to hear about me doing it, but I’m trying to help people who WANT to self-pub see that it’s possible. I share my numbers and things (much like Joe Konrath does) to help people get a sense of things. I could just keep my mouth shut and not say anything but then nobody would know.

    But if you don’t like me, that’s fine. You don’t have to and you don’t have to read. But me being an indie author is part of my platform and it’s part of how I’ve gotten as many people as I’ve gotten to read my work and give it a chance.

    There have been many people online who have talked about the quality of my actual writing. But it would be just a little bit narcissistic for “me” to run around saying I’m a good writer. I’m talking hard sales numbers. And like I say, it’s not about bragging, it’s about informing.

    Also, there have been many guest blogging situations where I’ve been specifically asked to talk about my numbers. And there are other people running around talking about my numbers where I can’t exactly say “hey, stop talking about my numbers”. Especially when I freely share.

    The Association of Independent Authors in their newsletter listed me as “Bestselling author, Zoe Winters” and I do NOT see myself that way. Right now I’m a decent-sized fish in a very small pond. I’m not a big shot, and I’ve never seen myself as such.

    If that’s your perception of how I see myself, I can’t change that. But I’m trying to help people who want to self-publish, and I can’t be bothered by those who think I’m some irredeemable braggart because I don’t keep my publishing activities shrouded in secrecy.

  3. Merrilee says:

    I have to agree with VJ, that you read so much about the author, not the book, that you tend to get put off. On the other hand, I can also see that it is the only way for the author to sell books – to put themselves “out there”.

    It works if the author is personable, but not so much when the author is clearly nuts, as a large number of SP authors are (present company excluded ;) ). But the work still has to stand on its own merits. However it can’t do that if it doesn’t get exposure.

    Conundrum, conundrum.

  4. zoewinters says:

    Merrilee,

    If it helps the issue, most of my “rah rah indie” stuff happens in publishing-specific forums. Unless I’m guest blogging and the person has asked me specifically to talk about my numbers or “being indie,” I keep the focus on my books for readers.

    The audience for the places where I make posts like what was mentioned are either my personal blog or industry blogs and such. If a reader goes to a blog like that, they know up front they are going to be hearing about behind-the-scenes industry stuff and sales numbers and industry politics, etc.

    And if someone comes to my author blog I can only assume they want to know “more about the author.”

  5. I was catty, and I apologize.

    I have no problem with self-publishing. I am a self-publisher myself.

    It’s really not right to post in public for everyone to see that I “don’t like” someone, based on what I have seen from certain discussions on various blogs and discussion forums. I do not personally know Zoe, and, as I mentioned, was unable to fully read her work. (This may also be because paranormal romance is not much my thing–I’m overloaded on shifters and vamps and such. It is however, many other people’s “thing” and therefore still has merit, as the blog post above indicates.) I feel a good bit of chagrin about this. Were our situations reversed, I would probably feel hurt. Again, I’m sorry.

    My approach to marketing my own work has been to focus on the story and not on the “method,” i.e. not make a big deal about my self-pubbing status. However, in a year, I’ve sold less than a hundred books and probably only had 1500 readers all told. So my approach is clearly not working as well as Zoe’s. :)

    • zoewinters says:

      Thank you so much, Valerie. It means a lot to me that you said this!

      I think if you put your work on the Kindle you’d do a lot better. If I wasn’t on the Kindle I wouldn’t have sold as many as I’ve sold. But yeah, being “loud” has worked mostly to my advantage, but there is always someone it bugs. I try to stay on the right side of the “annoyance” line, but I can’t be all things to all people.

      The reason I’m so loud about being indie is partly because people have responded positively to my work, and I want others to see that all self-published work isn’t “crap”. I feel the more good self-publishing authors who speak out, the more the stigma starts to shrink.

  6. Jan Oda says:

    I come from a total different angle. I’ve been reading a lot of Zoe’s posts here and there, because I’m interested in her method, what works for her and what not.
    And most of it is interesting, so I always think, I need to read Kept.
    But I’m not a paranormal romance fan. (And Anna will chuckle now, because I’ve actually read quite a few, and even liked the ones I read). It takes a lot to get me started on one. And I don’t know why that is. I think the overload of them might have to do with it.

    But then one of my RSS feed blogs has a guest post by Zoe, and I think “Damn I need to read it” again. Currently I have downloaded the free version, but I still haven’t read it. But I will, someday. If Zoe writes something very interesting somewhere :p

    • zoewinters says:

      LMFAO, Jan! See? I’m wearing you down, baby! Some day…

      Just think about the obstacles my male readers have to go through… “But, I’m a guy! I can’t read romance!” :P

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