Rating: 3.5
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Length: Novel

Evan’s life during the day is mundane, being a lowly waiter carries little excitement. There is that customer who comes every week but Evan has never worked up the courage to speak to him. Oh, but his dream life. There the man of his dreams, that sexy nameless customer, makes hot, sexy wild love to him all night long, bringing out his inner hedonist until the early morning hours when Evan awakes exhausted and alone. Between his dreams and seeing weird creatures in his nightmares, Evan is afraid he is losing his mind.

Gar is an alien warrior brought to Earth to hunt down and kill a predator species who escaped from their world. As a warrior he is expected to fulfill his mission and return to his planet and mate with a warrior his equal to further their species. So why are all his thoughts consumed by the small Human who waits tables at the restaurant he visits? So while Gar stays back from the man physically, during the night he visits the Human in his dreams, taking him sexually and making the Human his own. Each time Gar vows it will be the last time and every night he goes to Evan unable to stay away.

When the creatures attack Evan, Gar saves him. Faced with the one man who fills his dreams and thoughts, Evan is not about to let him go. But after sharing a kiss, Gar decides that the only way to save Evan and remove himself from temptation is to leave the planet. This is not something that Evan can bear to think about, let alone happen. What’s a young Human to do?

Ensnared is the first book I have read by Dawn H. Hawkes and I came away with some very mixed feelings. On the one hand, her characters were wonderful. I loved the downtrodden Evan, who still managed to show some sparks of fire despite his shyness and sad neglectful upbringing. Gar was lovely as the tough warrior who was able to see beyond Evan’s meek exterior to the real person inside. I like them as a couple as well as individuals. And that saved the book. Otherwise there are so many holes in the plot, that its resemblance to swiss cheese is easily noted.

My first quibble starts with Evan’s background, which is presented with its own mystery. His parents just walked away and left him in foster care but left him their home? Also, Evan has been seeing strange creatures all his life, which in turn had him seeing therapists because some people thought he was crazy. I expected Hawkes to work that into the plot, perhaps Evan is not what he seems sort of thing. Nope, nada. Little things here and there kept popping up that I thought Hawkes would pull them all together and make Evan’s past a neat twist to the story. But it never happened, they all add up to one red herring.

The next stumbling stone in this story is literally a stone, the Ra stone. A rare gift, Gar uses it to visit Evan in his dreams. One of its properties is that it can act as a two-way method of communication, the person it is used upon can then take the stone and enter the dreams of stone’s owner. Neat idea that never came to fruition.

Next quibble concerns the attacks on Evan by the K’reet who have a nasty habit of eating people. Apparently Evan is especially tasty but there is no explanation for the frequent attacks until the end. And that revelation doesn’t make much sense nor it is fully explained. Then there is Shia, the head warrior. She is hell on wheels, all the warriors fear her and apparently she won’t accept that Gar wants Evan as his mate. All this buildup only to see it fizzle out at the end. And that is the primary problem here. We get set up after set up and our expectations are engaged and then nothing really happens. It is like expecting to see a humongus tiger to leap out at you and getting a tiny kitten instead. So the frustrations kept building as the story runs its course like a limping greyhound we keep routing for but know won’t win the race.

And finally, my most important quibble. Gar’s home planet. I really am at a loss to explain what happened here. Lack of imagination? Ran out of steam? I don’t think it is laziness because the author clearly has talent and some great ideas sprinkled throughout the story. But basically Gar’s home plant is almost exactly like Earth, right down to the restaurants. Yes, they seemed to have an Oracle of sorts, the warriors dressed like leather daddies at ComicCon, complete with swords, but I was expecting a 7-11 on the corner packed with huge muscly weapon laden types. And the K’reet came from there? Nothing made any sense. Much less the ending. I did check out the author’s bio and book facts to see if this was just the first in a series but it seems to be a standalone novel. So while I liked Evan and Gar I don’t think I will be visiting with them again. What a shame.

Cover: Reese Dante. The Ra stone is front and center here, along with a very nice design with great fonts. Great job.