Arena Dogs #1
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Published March 27th 2015
Source: Review Copy
Born a slave, Mercury is an Arena Dog, genetically engineered to fight and die in the Arena for the entertainment of others. Trained as a gladiator from boyhood in a violent world, where men must form alliances and share what little bounty they have to survive, his only goal has been to keep his men alive. But two are dead and the rest are condemned to be hunted down and killed for sport. Worse, their demise will leave a woman Mercury has sworn to protect, alone and vulnerable. And then there is Samantha—a courageous human he has no right to claim. But she is his. He feels it deep in his soul and with an ache in his body he can’t deny.
Samantha Devlin is an indie-freight pilot who has lost everything: her ship, her crew, and her father. When an old friend hires her as an emergency replacement to pilot a cargo carrier for the Roma Company, she’s shocked to learn her cargo is three, living, breathing, and dangerously sexy Arena Dogs. When Samantha learns she’s taking the men to their deaths, she must decide is she if willing to risking everything for a man whose customs require that he share her with one of his men and demands he return to Roma to protect another woman. Mercury, their leader, and Lo, his emotionally broken arena-brother, challenge all her notions of honor, loyalty, and love. Her heart tells her Mercury is worth any cost, but her head sees nothing ahead but disaster.
~ 4.5 Stealing Mercury Stars ~
Stealing Mercury is book one in the Arena Dogs series by Charlee Allden. It’s full of action, adventure, betrayal, hope and love.
Samantha, is a hard worker who is a little down on her luck. She has had a ruff time of it and well she has some Daddy issues. I liked her, but at times I was baffled by her. She lives in space in a world that is tough. She has surveyed on her own, but there was one point in the book I was wondering how she could have survived on her own. This world is not safe especially for a women. I would think that she would know how to defend herself, but she seemed to not know basic defense techniques nor does she carry a weapon. Mercury an Arena Dog, genetically engineered to fight. He takes on way to much responsibility and blames himself for the situation he and his pack brothers are in. All he wants is to protect his brothers and Sam. I found the Arena Dogs quite interesting with their animal/human nature, loyalty and their drive to be free. We are also introduced to Lo, Carn, and a few other Arena Dogs, so I hope we get to see more of Sam, Mercury, Lo, Carn, and Hera in this series.
Stealing Mercury is Gladiator meets Sci-Fi. The start of the book felt off or a little weird, with the Gladiator Arena scene off the bat, but the more I read the more it made sense, giving the reader information on the life of an Arena Dog and how they are used and manipulated. I got so into the book that I lost track of time. CAllden does a great job showing time passing, building the relationship between the characters and developing an interesting world. As we get into the story a mystery starts to develop about “The Mothers” women who where used to breed the Arena Dogs. We also get a little M/F/M (*here is your warning*), sharing between the pack brothers, but what I liked the most about this erotic element is that they respect their women enough to let it always be the women’s choice to be with one or more of the Arena Dogs. The scenes are erotic, but very tasteful done highlighting the love and passion that exists between the couple.
Stealing Mercury was fascinating and I look forward to more from this series. I recommend this for anyone who enjoys a little M/F/M with love, passion, a dash of mystery, adventure, and hope mixed in.
*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy free of charge from Charlee Allden with the sole purpose of an honest review. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.
RomaRex Arena, Roma
Earth Alliance Beta Sector
Mercury clenched his fists. The blood on his hands had started to dry, making his skin feel tight and brittle. He stood in the center of the arena, shoulder to shoulder with Lo. He breathed through his mouth to avoid the stench of the frenzied crowds, but the taste coated his throat and turned his stomach.
The patrons wouldn’t want to see any hint of softness, so he kept his face carefully blank. He fought the urge to drop to his knees alongside his three other pack brothers where they lay, chests heaving for air, their life’s blood soaking into the dirt.
The crowds were on their feet.
In the cheap seats, boots stomped rhythmically on the metal stadium decks—an unnatural boom-boom-boom echoing to the city dome over their heads. On the other side of the dusty field the crowd had long ago abandoned their plush cushioned seats to bounce and weave for a better view. In the luxury boxes the patrons leaned forward, some pressing pale, skeletal hands against the transparent security barrier.
Voices swelled in a mix of cheers and boos as the Game Master stepped onto the platform that jutted out six meters above the arena floor. The crowds would try to influence his decision.
Life or death for the losers.
Mercury ignored the chants and watched as the crimson robed man extended an arm, fingers clenched tight, thumb pointed to the side. The outcome had been promised—make a good show and his pack brothers would live.
Three on two, brother against brother.
They’d made a good show.
Maybe too good.
He wanted the verdict declared, the match finished, so the three in the dirt could be tended before they bled out. Bled out from injuries he and Lo had inflicted.
The Game Master’s thumb dipped suddenly down.
Mercury’s lungs seized. Shock tightened around his chest like a ruthless leather cinch. Animal rage pulsed dizzyingly through his oxygen-deprived brain. Beside him Lo howled.
Mercury glanced down to Carn, lying at his feet. His pack brother. His friend. Eyes glassy, Carn met his gaze with acceptance. Carn knew Mercury’s pain. Knew he’d look after Carn’s mate. Knew he had no choice.
Air rushed back into his lungs. His chest expanded. His muscles twitched and jumped. Had the owners forgotten the power of the bodies their genetic engineering had created?
The crowds had picked up the verdict. They chanted it like a heartbeat. “Death. Death. Death.”
Yes. He would give them death.
He flicked a glance to Lo, coated in the blood of their brothers. Lo’s eyes glowed with rage. His body quivered with aggression.
Mercury sucked in air then loosed three short barks. He flicked his gaze to the patrons’ box, then to a point below the Game Master’s platform, and back to Lo. His pack brother nodded, leapt over their fallen, then sprinted to the point Mercury had indicated.
Adrenaline flooded through Mercury’s bloodstream. His animal nature strained against the reigns of his control. The muscles of his thighs burned as he surged over Carn’s prone body and pumped arms and legs to build momentum. In his peripheral vision he saw the guards run forward and aim weapons, but he trusted his speed.
His muscles were on fire as he planted one foot in Lo’s cupped hands. He sprang into the air, muscles working with the momentum of Lo’s throw, and flew. His body stretched and twisted. Pain snapped from knee to groin as something tore. His fingers closed around the Game Master’s ankle and he ripped the man off his perch, tossing him to the arena floor as he flung his own body onto the platform. The Master’s scream choked off suddenly, but Mercury focused on his target.
The patrons’ box and the Owner inside.
The Game Master was his puppet. The startled face behind the polycarbonate wall was to blame for this latest betrayal. Mercury raced up the platform then launched into the air, arms and legs extending to clear the impossible distance.
His body slammed hard into the transparent barrier. A wave of black flashed through his vision, but he managed to tighten his grip around the corner and dig the toes of his flex-boots into the ledge. He struck the glassy surface with all of his strength. Beneath his fist, it splintered but didn’t shatter. He pulled back for another blow.
The surface gave under the force of his fist. A man stepped into the path of his reach, putting himself in front of the Owner. Mercury twisted his fist in the man’s garment and jerked him through the shattered barrier and out of his way. He reached—
Tentacles of pain crackled along his spine—the familiar agony of a shock whip. He fell back, muscles no longer in his control. His back smacked against the platform. Lightning zinged along his nerves again. His body bowed tight.
The lightning faded, slowly, leaving him unable to move.
The blue of the city dome overhead mocked him. You surrendered to rage. You’ve only made things worse for your brothers. You’ve condemned them with your arrogance.
The mocking voice was right. Their blood was already on his hands.
Charlee is a long time fan of love, adventure, and happily-ever-after. She grew up in Florida where a huge fallen oak tree in the swampy woods near her home served as her very own Star Ship Enterprise. Luckily the alligators were almost never a problem on her spaceship as the flight-deck was several feet above the muddy ground. She did lose a few tennis shoes on away missions, though.
Today, Charlee writes super sexy, intensely emotional, romantic adventure that takes readers to exciting new worlds, populated by tortured alpha heroes and heroines tough enough to tame them.