Adrienne WilderWorth (Gray Zone, #2)Dreamspinner Press, December 2, 2011 | 204 pages
Author’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here
Give us your poor, your unwanted, your criminals... that’s the unofficial motto of Atlanta’s Gray Zone, the no man’s land between the city and the Dens of the Kin—the dragons. Between Liam, the two brothers he’s cared for most of his life, and their abusive stepfather, they account for all three categories.
Liam was fifteen when he made the arrangement: as long as he let his stepfather sell his body, his brothers would be safe. Scarred inside and out from years of horrific abuse, Liam is stunned when Jericho, a Lesser-Bred—a dragon’s mixed-blood offspring—makes a pass at him, and he is helpless to resist.
Then Liam’s stepfather welshes on their deal and sells Liam’s brother into the trade, and once again Liam resolves to do anything to save him, even get involved in a million-dollar kidnapping scheme that could get him killed. But that’s not his plan. Now that he has Jericho, Liam knows his life is worth fighting for.
Genre & Keywords:
M/M Romance, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Alternate Earth, Dragon Offspring, Abuse, Rape, Violence, Friendship
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3
Reviewed by Lis:
Worth is the second book in the Gray Zone series (click for Sharon’s review of the first book To Adam With Love here), but it’s not the only series this author has that features characters in this world. Worth is a dark, grim and gritty story and while wholly enjoyable, it’s not a story you’d read if you’re looking for a sweet romance. Nonetheless, Worth is an enthralling story.
Liam is a caring if not very jaded man. When he was 15, he made a deal with his stepfather, who was responsible for Liam and his two brothers after the death of their mother. So long as he doesn’t touch or hurt his two younger brothers, Liam allows his stepfather to sell his body. Not a real choice as his stepfather raped him shortly before the deal. At the time, Liam sees no other way in this alternate version of earth.
For years, Liam suffers the horrible abuse. Fortunately for the reader, none of the abuse scenes go into full detail on page. However, that doesn’t take away from the intense feelings and pain Liam suffers. He feels deeply that he has no other choice in protecting his brothers.
The story takes a turn when Liam comes into contact with Jericho. Jericho is a Lesser Bred; the offspring of a dragon and a human and who has mixed blood. From the moment they meet, there is a connection between the two. Even though they could not be more different, both physically and class wise as Jericho is rich and comes from an entirely different world.
At the same time Jericho’s poor excuse for a stepfather reneges on their deal and sells his brother Chris to the highest bidder. It is only then that Liam starts to fight back, but will he make the right choice?
As stated, this is one gritty, dark story. Not only because of the abuse Liam suffers, but also because of what the Lesser Bred are. As the offspring of a dragon the sex they have with others of their kind is darker and bloodier. Where shifters and vampires ‘just’ take a bite, Lesser Bred actually feed on flesh and blood during sex and during their change. That is just...iel! Fortunately for us, we don’t get the bloody, gory details spelled out.
Worth focuses mostly on Liam. He is the main focus of the story. Hence we get more insight into his mind than we do Jericho. While it doesn’t really take away from the story, it is a shame. Jericho is a pretty interesting character and I would have liked to have seen a more fleshed out character.
Liam is a very strong and deeply caring person. He will do anything to save his brothers with no regard for himself. That in itself makes him a likeable character and it’s admirable what he does. Even if I wondered a bit at the why. While I understand what he does and his initial choice, I didn’t quite understand why he suffered for so long. Why he didn’t just pack up his brothers and move. The fact that his stepfather would just have him arrested and take custody of the brothers doesn’t really fly as Liam only has to mention what his stepfather did to him. However, if he had we would have had a whole different story.
The scenes between Liam and Jericho were very hot and sweet at the same time. Despite not knowing much about Jericho, there is an undeniable flame between the two. It’s clear that Jericho cares deeply for Liam.
There is a good share of world-building in Worth. However, I did feel that the author fell a bit short when it came to the Lesser Bred culture. We saw a lot of the Lesser Breds in the first book in this series. Now the author relies heavily on the reader knowing how this world works. This is a shame.
Worth is a well written, intense story that draws you in and keeps you turning the page. I liked how the story was shaped and where it went. It was a shame that the ending felt rushed and short. After all the suffering on Liam’s part, it would have been nice to see him settle down and see how he handled his (very much) different life. When I finished this story, my initial thought was that there was going to be a sequel for this couple. However, the stories are standalones.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth a read. That is, if you are in the mood for something different and something dark (and we’re not talking chocolate here!).