on July 14, 2015
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Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Series: Caged #1
Source: ARC via author
This is not made for TV. This is the raw, brutal underground of no-holds-barred combat. Inside the cage there is nothing but me and the pain I inflict on those who dare enter. In the cage, I never have to worry about anyone but myself. Yet, when she began standing outside of the cage, everything changed. I was no longer fighting for the money or the glory – I was fighting for her.
“Are you just stupid?” I probably would have gone on, but she wrapped her arms around herself and glared up at me.
“Stop yelling at me!” she screamed. She turned away, but I saw her reach up with the back of her hand to swoop underneath her eyes.
I turned slightly away from her and practically bit down on my tongue to keep myself from saying anything else. I brought my fisted hands up against my stomach and tried to pull the tension inside of myself, work through it, and calm down. I could hear her crying combined with choked breaths and sniffles.
“Fuck,” I mumbled under my breath. I was starting to come off the fighting high I had been on—the tears might have helped with that—and my stomach felt tight.
After three long, deep breaths, I looked back to the girl on the ground and saw her frantically rubbing at her eyes and cheeks. She didn’t look at me as she reached out and pulled her mostly empty bag close to her. She looked inside and then looked around her at all her things on the ground.
“Sorry,” I mumbled. I wasn’t all that great at apologies, and I figured now wasn’t going to be much different. I’d obviously upset her with all my shitty comments, though. “I didn’t mean to…I just…”
I stopped talking. I didn’t know what to say, and I felt bad about yelling at her. She looked at me all red-eyed with tears staining her cheeks.
“Just don’t do that shit anymore.” I let out a big sigh.
She nodded once and then reached out to grab something off the ground near her and shoved it back into the bag. From the amount of stuff scattered all over the street, my estimate on the size of the so-called purse wasn’t too far off. There was an umbrella, a little flashlight, a bunch of tubes and bottles, and at least a half dozen pens. As I looked around some more, I saw a small notebook, a paperback book, keys, a bottle of hand lotion that was nowhere near travel sized, a stack of tissues wrapped up in a Ziploc bag, two sets of earbuds, and a checkbook. There was also a whole pile of ponytail holders, bobby pins, and those little hair-holder-things that looked like teeth.
There was shit from her bag from one side of the fucking street to the other.
She started crawling around, gathering it all up, and cramming it back inside, which gave me a fabulous view of her ass in the short-shorts style waitress uniform the place up the street usually demanded. I could kind of see how she might have thought she could use the bag as a weapon—there had been more stuff in there than really should have been able to fit. I looked around on the ground to see if there was an actual kitchen sink, or at least part of one, but I didn’t see anything metal. There was something that looked like a small rock, though.
“How do you even carry that thing around?” I asked.
“That…that purse-bag-thingy there,” I said, pointing and shaking my finger at it. I wouldn’t have admitted it, but the whole idea of the thing scared me, and I wasn’t sure why. I felt like if I got too close to it I might get sucked in, never to be seen again. “It’s insane.”
Her eyes became little slits as she looked up to me.
“There is nothing wrong with my purse!” she growled.
“It’s huge,” I said.
“It has everything I need in it.”
“It has everything you and ten of your friends could need for a week,” I replied with a laugh. “I know there are people who carry Chihuahuas in their purse, but you could fit a Dane in there.”
I was fortunate enough to read all three books consecutively so this is a spoiler-free, comprehensive review of the entire Caged trilogy.
Caged is not your average fighter series. First of all, it is written entirely from the hero’s POV. That isn’t new for a Shay Savage novel, however it is rare for the contemporary/New Adult genre. It is also a living, breathing, slow-burn romance. I like the grit of this trilogy. It is also unbelievably emotional and even really stinkin’ funny and sweet at times.
Caged is a journey for these characters, Liam and Tria. Both are struggling to get by and living in the rough part of town. Liam cage fights in a dive bar for basically peanuts, and Tria is a college student and waitress at a local sports bar. I could really relate to them and the fact they were piss poor. Though they were broke, they found happiness in the simplest of things, like enjoying a home cooked meal or a Thanksgiving picnic instead of a fancy meal in an expensive restaurant. They live in crappy apartments and don’t have a nickel between them, but they have each other, and that is what really matters. I adored seeing Liam and Tria’s relationship blossom from a true bond of friendship into something more and deep.
Even though Caged is a slow-build, slow-burn romance, the author still provided plenty of plot twists and turns that kept me completely engrossed in the story. Tria has a very unusual background, and when they visit her hometown in Northern Maine some really unexpected events happened that left me stunned at the end of book #1 Takedown Teague. There is this really awesome secondary character named Krazy Katie. She really is crazy and hardly says a word, but I think she may be one of my favorite secondary characters Shay has ever written. Krazy Katie provided much needed comic relief and occasionally insight to the story when shit got real.
I venerate the author’s descriptive writing in Caged and how much she fleshed the characters. I felt like I got to know Liam and Tria inside and out. This trilogy truly is some of Shay Savage’s best work. Transcendence is my absolute favorite by her, and Caged comes really close to that rank.