“You say I’ll never own you. If I win—you willingly give me that right. You sign not only the debt agreement, but another—one that makes me your master until your last breath is taken. You do that, and I’ll give you this.”
Nila Weaver’s family is indebted. Stolen, taken, and bound not by monsters but by an agreement written over six hundred years ago, she has no way out.
She belongs to Jethro as much as she denies it.
Jethro Hawk’s patience is running out. His inheritance gift tests, challenges, and surprises him—and not in good ways. He hasn’t leashed her but he thinks he might’ve found a way to bind her forever.
Debts are mounting. Payment waiting (Goodreads)
After finishing this book, I have come to a clear understanding on how to think of this series. Rather than like Winters previous series, Monster’s in The Dark where each book has a clearly defined beginning, middle and end to each instalment, this series is clearly a serial, where there is no ending for it. I admit it has taken me a little while to get my head round this, and once I did, I could see better what Winters is trying to achieve.
However, even though I now get the structure and pacing of this book, for me this series has yet to hit the heights of Monster’s in The Dark. First Debt is a vast improvement on the previous book, Debt Inheritance; it is still missing that certain something that had me so invested in the Q and Tess’s journey in the former series.
The overall plot moves along slightly and some of the questions I had from the previous book, were answered by the last page, but the mystery surrounding Jethro is still evident. Winters has just given me, the reader enough breadcrumbs to get a better understanding of the stoic anti-hero in this book, there is still much to find out. He is truly an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, encased in granite and it turns out that rather than wanting to walk along with Nila, the female lead in this book, I want to see Jethro’s journey. This surprised me greatly, for I had expected to want to watch Nila gain her freedom and yet even now I can’t seem to warm or empathise with her.
For me, Nila really serves no purpose except to help peel back the layers of Jethro and to help in his journey. This is partly due, in my opinion, to the fact that she seems to go from protected, virginal in-experienced girl, to a seductress rather quickly. Yes, there are times when this shell she has constructed slips and we see vulnerability, but for me she is almost resigned to her fate. Even when she tries to convince herself on a course of action to escape her captors, it comes off hollow.
Her naivety is shown time and time again, especially when she is trying to figure out who the mysterious Kite007 that she has been contacting is. She jumps to an assumption, even though there is nothing concrete to really back up her suspicions.
As I stated earlier, the saving grace for me has to be Jethro. Yes, he is no Q, but he has grown on my slightly. It is clear from what we are shown that Jethro has had a pretty horrible upbringing. The only people who seem to have made his life bearable are his younger brother Kestral and his mysterious sister. Couple with the fact that he keeps talking about how he has to leave and rebuild his ice walls. It’s clear that whatever he has been subjected to when he was younger, it has left a lasting effect on him. Nila entering his life has left him exposed and he is finding it difficult to put those defences in place. It appears that not only Nila’s safety is at stake, but also his own for it is apparent that there is a code that has to be adhered to if he is to inherit the club on his thirtieth birthday
As for the other members in the club, there has not been enough exposure to them in order to gain any real opinions. The main members that we do see are Jethro’s father, Cut, who for me to have any opinion other than the fact he appears to be the stereotypical domineering father.
Then there is Kestrel, Jethro’s brother and Nila’s confidant. He seems a pretty ok guy from what I have read. We are told rather than shown that Kestrel has a darker side, especially by Jethro. I get there is a rivalry but there is nothing that doesn’t seem to go beyond the normal sibling set-up. Maybe this will become more clearer later, but right now he seems OK.
While the first book finished off on a gripping cliff-hanger, the ending to First Debt was rather anti-climactic. I had guessed the twist pretty early on and so it didn’t surprise me as much as I think it was meant to. There was no “Oh my god! I need to read the next book now!” like I had with the first book. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I still want to see how this revelation will all play out.
One final note on this book and that is Pepper Winters knows how to write a smoking hot sex scene. They are written almost as a battle of wills, with neither character the true victor. You are sucked into them and are swept up in the raw sexuality of them. They are neither tender nor romantic, but at the same time they have a certain something that makes them so easy to read… except one part. I have to admit that during one there vigorous battle of wills, Jethro managed to give Nila an orgasm induced vertigo incident. This pulled me out of the scene and I couldn’t help but applaud Jethro’s sexual prowess if he can make a girl faint. Yes, Nila does suffer from a bad case of stress induced Vertigo, but I still couldn’t help but laugh
Overall, I liked this book and I am now invested in Jethro’s journey. This is the hook for me because I want to see how this will all play out. Since it is a romance, I think it will ultimately end with Nila and Jethro together, but from past experience with Winters work, I don’t think it will be the stereotypical happy ever after. If Nila had a bit more depth this book would defiantly have been a good read rather than an OK read.
I have this feeling that this series is going to be a slow burner and that with each instalment it will get better. I think once it is finished, I will go back and read it as one complete story and it may become clearer on what Winters is trying to achieve
PEPPER WINTERS LINKS
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
1 Debt Inheritance
2 First Debt