My Rating: 3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend (B+)
Originally Posted: http://www.twimom227.com/2012/12/review-collected-by-shawntelle-madison.html
The novella, Collected, takes place about 7 months before Coveted, the first book in Ms. Madison’s wolf-shifter urban fantasy series. Although technically a prequel to the series, it was released after the Coveted, and I think can be enjoyed either before or after the first book. However, for me, already knowing the idiosyncrasies of our heroine made this story more enjoyable.
Once again, our story is told from the first person point of view (POV) of Natalya (Nat) Stravinsky. Nat is a rogue werewolf, kicked out of her pack and virtually alone. She is also a tad neurotic and suffers from OCD, making her an even greater outcast. She lives to feed her collection of hard-to-find or one-of-a-kind holiday decorations. Nat was looking forward to the delivery of her newest “treasure” only to discover its package has been taken from her home. She begins to track down the culprit with a single-mindedness that is fierce, although she battles her need for cleanliness and order against the "unsanitary" conditions of the woods, which makes for entertaining reading.
After successfully tracking down the thief, Nat agrees to a dangerous mission in which she works with/for not one but two different nefarious creatures. Nat recruits her younger brother Alex and his buddy Miles to help her break into a Leprechaun-run factory and fulfill her bargains to win back her prize.
I like our heroine, Nat, so much more in Collected than in Coveted. Although she's got her disorders and is far from perfect, she doesn't come across as the broken, beaten-down woman she did in Coveted. This time around she's determined and no longer wishy-washy. She goes up against a dragon creature, a water-based demon, and very dangerous leprechauns to fulfill her commitments. She follows through and stands up for herself. I found myself cheering for Nat this time around.
I also enjoyed reading more of her younger brother, Alex. We see how and why he ends up in the situation he finds himself in Coveted. The brother-sister bond is tight and special, something that wasn’t really present in the first book.
The overall plot was a fun adventure. There wasn’t anything too tricky or difficult. The action was just right for the shorter-length story. It was entertaining to learn more about some of the other supernatural creatures in Ms. Madison’s world.
All in all, Collected is an enjoyable novella. The story provided solid background information about Nat. I loved seeing Nat as a strong and almost defiant woman, since we don't see much of that version of her in Coveted. Sure, Nat is broken and has her illness, but she can fight to get pass its effects on her.