REVIEW by @GinnyLurcock: Caged by Amber Lynn Natusch (@amberlnatusch)

“I stood in the middle of the room, unmoving – I barely breathed. My life had just become surreal, impossible, and one enormous lie. I needed to go, to run somewhere, anywhere to beat back the reality that was rapidly closing in around me. The image of him was burned into my retina, flashing over and over again like a warning. He was trapped somewhere between human and decidedly not, and I realized that was my new reality.
I was too.”
After the death of her parents, Ruby awakens from a lifetime of shadows and finds herself alone, thrust into a world of lies, deceit, betrayal and the supernatural.
As her quest for truth continues to come up short, she realizes that maybe some questions really are best left unanswered.
When her true identity is finally unveiled, she is forced to choose between two of the mysterious men who continually seem to crop up in her life.
She chooses poorly.
Now abandoned, Ruby must learn to call on the darkness within to survive, or spend a hellish eternity imprisoned because of it.


A few rather important notes to my beloved readers:
•       If someone gives you the heebees, go with that feeling
•       Never make a decision based on your hormones.  They are devious little bastards and will lie to you to get their way as surely as a 16 year old girl with a rich daddy.
•       When you have two choices, and they’re both pointing the finger at each other, perhaps a long spa holiday away from both is in order.
Now that we have that out of the way… The book is divided into three segments, or at least I feel as if it is, and I will address it as such.  My notes were written that way anyways.
Part the first:
I did it again.  Knowing one character was going to be “the wrong choice” I tried to distance myself from the characters.  It wasn’t hard with one, since he reminded me of a fellow I used to know who coincidentally used to frequent Portsmouth.  Or perhaps not coincidentally, I’m not sure…  The other gent, well I got wrapped up in him hard and fast.  He is one smooth mother SHUT YOUR MOUTH.  I was nearly certain he was the wrong choice, as I constantly kept feeling drawn to him.
Well until what I consider to be the real turning point of the first half of the book.  An innocent sounding house warming party.  I knew I was right to avoid those suckers like the plague.  I still didn’t like the first guy, but now I no longer trusted the other.  They both set off my “bullshit” meter and they were one dixpix away from me saying “see, all men are scum”.
Oh… and the hottie savior?  When she runs into him again they never address the fact that it’s a man she doesn’t really know but has seen her naked.  I keep expecting that fact to come up in her inner dialogue or one of them to work it into a conversation.  I know my paranoia would constantly be shouting “HE’S SEEN YOUR TATAS AND WHO-HA!”
I wish the author devoted more of the beginning to the whole “I black out” thing.  I feel like that was sprung on me and I didn’t remember much of it because when it happened I was trying to get a read on one of the two questionable boys.
A lot of time in this section was instead devoted to fashion.  I don’t understand fashion, never have, so there were parts where I went “yeah, yeah… nice clothes, move on” in a slightly bitter tone since the previously blind main character had better fashion sense than I do.
Once she makes her choice (which you know is wrong thanks to the blurb and your gut) you find yourself going “oh no, no no no no no” and closing your eyes while resting your head in your hands.  I still say no from time to time because of her dumbass choice.  You don’t know what’s going to happen, but you know it’s not going to be good.
Part the second:
When you peak through the fingers you have covering your eyes and read on, the book kicks you right in the stomach.  I’m telling you this so you know to flex those muscles.  You’ll thank me.  I briefly considered, while my stomach was rolling and bile was creeping up the back of my throat, setting this book down for good and instead using my reading time to track down the woman who suggested it and glare at her.  Possibly the author too.  I could’ve done it, they’re both from NH.  It’s not that big of a state.  But I persisted.  When you meet the slightly off Cooper, you’re back on solid ground.
Now, this is how I know I’m a sociopath just waiting to snap.  Something happens, something brutal, and I’m sure a rational person should feel horrified by.  I simply said “oh hell yes, this shit just got real.”  Ruby only gets more badass from here, and there’s a vengasm (vengeance orgasm, it’s a real word, that I just made up), but she doesn’t actually get any smarter.  I again find myself smacking my forehead, with the benefit of being able to see the big picture, yelling “CAN’T YOU SEE!”  Then feeling like a jerk because she used to be blind.
Part the third:
Which, of course, was stupid and presumptuous of me because I didn’t see.  I blame Ruby for this.  My perception was tainted by her lack of social graces and misconceptions.   
Well done Ms. Natusch, well done indeed.  I did not see that coming, and I am not often taken by surprise in books  anymore. 
I’ve got to admit, I was at 80% of this book and trying to think of a clever way of telling Jena (my unofficial boss at Pure Textuality) that while I enjoyed the books she loved, I didn’t agree, and was considering if my old failsafe of “I think I left my oven on” worked over e-mail.  Then, much like in “The Last Werewolf” you get to that point where you go “HOLY CRAP BALLS THIS IS WHAT ALL THAT FUSS WAS ABOUT.”
The book was a solid 3 stars before, inventive with a good plot and interesting (if not a little maddening) characters.  That last 20ish%, well there should be more stars for it. 
Seriously.  You should read it.
Then we’ll talk about it.
No, it’s ok, I’ll wait here while you do.
OH! and it had an awesome quote!  “I’d heard the girls in the hall talk about how gorgeous he was, that he’d had an incredible body and that they wanted to do some very interesting, not to mention anatomically questionable, things to him.”  I cannot tell you how many times there were *ahem* “romantic” scenes in books that had me going “you’d need to have no bones in order to pull that off, and another set of hands or 5, with spotters, harness, and a safety net.”

Click here to get your copy of Caged from!

Click here to get your copy of Haunted (Caged book #2) from!

Click here to see Jena’s review of Caged!


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