Reunited at last, Ruby and Scarlet have tried to mend their fractured relationship. But Scarlet’s unwillingness to share what she did during her three week expedition has Ruby frustrated and Sean seething. When Ruby starts to remember events she never witnessed, it becomes clear that Scarlet’s days of secrecy were far more nefarious than she let on.
As though that weren’t enough, an enigmatic note and key entangle Ruby in an off-the-book murder investigation. Detective Alan Beauchamp will stop at nothing to uncover the truth surrounding the death of his mentor. But when he and Ruby attempt to retrieve the evidence necessary to solve the case, they soon find themselves in the killer’s sights.
With unknown assailants after her and Scarlet’s dark deeds surfacing, can Ruby survive long enough to find a way out of death’s path, or will events already set in motion lead to her ultimate demise?
I’m going to play Captain Obvious for a few and let you know a little something about Amber Lynn Natusch and the Caged series as a whole. I have spent five and a half books prior to Strayed following this pattern:
One step forward (a morsel of information)
Two steps back (questions I am left with)
Two steps forward (a few more morsels of information)
Twelve steps back (more questions I’m left with) with a big side of WTF?!?
And so on and so forth…
In case you’re wondering, that looks like this:
Probably more than any other series, the Caged series is INFAMOUS for leaving you with more questions than answers.
For all you hardcore fans out there (admittedly, I am part of said crowd), STRAYED finally answers some of the questions that have been piling up mercilessly since the first book in the series. We have waited more than a year for this sixth installment, and, I assure you, all of the long sought after answers you get sprinkled throughout STRAYED’s 482 pages make every second worth it. This book is a lot longer than the previous books in the series, but I can say with all confidence that it needed to be. It’s just what the story needed. There’s a lot to this book, but, trust that it was all necessary. No fluff, people!
So, let’s talk technical stuff. As I mentioned, I’ve been following this series since day one. I have had the pleasure of being friends with the author since reading Caged back when it was first released. I have watched her grow as a writer, and I have to say, STRAYED is by far the best book in the series. This book shows her really stretching her legs as a writer. There’s an ease in her storytelling now that shows she’s really settled into a comfortable groove with her writing. She’s always been a good writer, but this book really shines in comparison to the rest of the series. And this is coming from the chick who has militantly stood by Scarred as the best book in the series. The flow of the story in STRAYED just feels very organic from cover to cover, and it’s just got something the previous books were…..lacking? I don’t feel like lacking is the right word, because they weren’t lacking exactly. Natusch just seems to have really come into it and she has arrived, my friends.
Now the story.
Be prepared. You’re going to need a few things while reading STRAYED. First, tissues. Lots and lots of tissues. And just when you think it’s safe to put them away, your face will start leaking various fluids again, so, keep them handy. Next, you’re probably going to need a Glock. Well, you wont need one, but there are parts of this book that will piss you off so bad that you’ll WANT one. I am one of those people who gets personally offended on behalf of the characters I love, and this is one of those books which is just chock full of those moments. Ruby finds out some shit in this book that is just……..ugh…… A few of the revelations we get in STRAYED aren’t exactly ringing endorsements for a few of the folks who surround our girl, so, yeah, a Glock.
Remember that time when Scarlet went, like, WAY the fuck off the rails for a little bit and locked Ruby up inside her own head??? Well, you find out in this book exactly what she was up to during that time, and prepare yourselves, fellow readers. That shit ain’t good. That little nugget of info is going to sting for a good, long time, I think. It’s one of many all-out nut shots in this book. That being said, there are a few moments in this book that reminded me why Scar is and always has been my favorite character in this series, like this one:
Totally bad ass, right?!?!?
I could go on an on about the various bits of OMG and WTF moments in STRAYED, but I don’t want to risk giving anything away. Let’s just say this. All the questions you have…
Where did Scar go during that time and what did she do?
Who the fuck is Gavin?
Why is Gavin such an annoying prick?
What is Sean hiding?
Can Ruby really trust anyone around her?
Does Ronnie have a hot poker up her ass?
Who killed Ruby’s parents?
Etc., etc., etc..
MOST of these get answered in STRAYED. I’m not going to mislead you, though. There are a few questions which arise from this book. Frankly, it wouldn’t be an ALN joint without more questions, but you’ll walk away from this book reeling from all the shit you find out, I promise you that. I’m not going to say you walk away feeling BETTER about shit, because I certainly didn’t, but, you will definitely feel a little bit more in the know. Okay, a lot more in the know.
As always, for fans of really good urban fantasy with a light dose of paranormal romance, you’d love STRAYED. However, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE SERIES. The Caged series is not a collection of tied-together stand alones. This is a series which requires you to follow from book one. Do it. You know you wanna…..
by Amber Lynn Natusch
December 16, 2014
PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES
MID-SERIES SHORT STORIES & NOVELLAS