Book Review: Inhale by Kendall Grey

I have several reviews I need to write up and put out and we’re starting with the fabulous book Inhale, (Book 1 of the Just Breathe trilogy) by the even more fabulous Kendall Grey. Before we dive in (har har–might be lots of these water jokes here), let’s take a look at the book synopsis:

Strangers in reality, inseparable in dreams…

After years of suffocating under her boss’s scrutiny, whale biologist Zoe Morgan finally lands a job as director of a tagging project in Hervey Bay, Australia. Success Down Under all but guarantees her the promotion of a lifetime, and Zoe won’t let anything—or anyone—stand in her way. Not the whale voices she suddenly hears in her head, not the ex who won’t take no for an answer, and especially not the gorgeous figment of her imagination who keeps saving her from the fiery hell of her dreams.

Gavin Cassidy hasn’t been called to help a human Wyldling in over a year, which is fine by him. Still blaming himself for the death of his partner, he keeps the guilt at bay by indulging in every excess his rock star persona affords. That is, until he’s summoned to protect Zoe from hungry Fyre Elementals and learns his new charge is the key to restoring order in the dying Dreaming. He never expects to fall for the feisty Dr. Morgan…nor does he realize he may have to sacrifice the woman he loves to save an entire country.

While we’re at the descriptions, let’s check out this cover. It’s gorgeous!

I’m not going to post spoilers because those make for unhappy readers. The world building is very unique and well-detailed. Much of the plot takes place in the Dreaming world and this is where Wyldlings (humans) are in danger–because their Dreams are being invaded by supremely scary Fyre Elementals and if they die in their dreams, they die for real. It’s up to Gavin to try and save as many as he can and it’s really only with Zoe’s help that he can do so. I love the story–it’s got a supernatural appeal, but isn’t the typical enemy we see. Plus I like that it deals with the water and its inhabitants (whales), but doesn’t lead into a Mer story (since that looks like it’ll be the new thing this year for plotlines).

I need to briefly focus on Gavin Cassidy (and I say briefly because I could go on for quite a while). Wowza! His personality jumps off the page!! I loved watching him evolve from a sexy rock star into a sexy Sentinel savior for our heroine, Zoe. He’s not the jerk he wants everyone to believe and I liked reading his softer side. And his harder side (*snicker*). Let’s just say it’s easy to see why the girls salivate over him. He’s gorgeous, quick witted, fierce yet sensitive, and once he begins to accept his fate, it gets even better from there to watch his side of things.

Speaking of Zoe, I also really liked her. Zoe is a strong female character, able to take on her own demons and has plenty of determination to stand up for what she believes in. She refuses to back down to other whale scientists, or Gavin trying to persuade her to save herself, or when her stupid boss won’t stop being a creepy ex-boyfriend. She has a special talent with whales, which I thought was a nice touch that added to Zoe’s character–it helped me care about the whales because she felt so passionately about them. Hell, I wanted to go pet a whale after reading the book!

Then there’s the big question: Gavin exists in real life. So does Zoe. Will they meet in person? I had to force myself not to skim pages just to get to a part where they might meet. I was dying to know if they meet in real life (and I’m not saying either way!). Their chemistry is great, although I’m curious to see if any of that changes from the Dreaming to real life if they do meet (another great reason to read the second book!).

I really only noted two downsides that threw me off and really, they aren’t a big deal. Part of Zoe’s past pops up from time to time (or rather, she notes them in her internal monologues) and sometimes it felt a little forced–to throw out little notes about her mother or panic attacks–I’m not saying they don’t belong there, but there wasn’t a lot of lead in. Perhaps this is something Grey plans to delve further into with the next 2 books, in which case, I’m cool with waiting to see where it goes. But at times it felt like it was in there just to be in there and it didn’t necessarily show me Zoe’s character either way. Because Zoe was so determined and fierce, I didn’t feel like the panic attacks should be there. I get that overcoming those things makes her who she is today, but Zoe could’ve just as easily been who she was without the anxiety. She could’ve taken those parts out and I don’t think it would’ve made me think any different of Zoe, if that makes sense. She was still a kickass character either way.

I also think there is a LOT of whale and science jargon–understandable and not really a criticism so much as an observation. Turns out, there’s a glossary in the back of my Kindle edition that explains a lot of questions I had at the beginning before I picked up what Grey was puttin’ down and that’s probably my own fault. But since I’m not really a science lover, I probably would’ve skipped it and started reading anyway. It’s obviously necessary for some of that stuff to be in there and it’s very clear Grey has done extensive research to know what she’s talking about. Total props to her. It just wasn’t something I was interested in. HOWEVER-it didn’t take away from the story and I understood why it was there. It’s just a lot of material to take in for a reader in addition to the new world she’s built, since we also have to learn about Elementals, Wyldlings, and the Dreaming world (because it took me a few pages to catch on and figure out who was who and what exactly they did, etc.).

A note that the author includes to ward off the kiddie readers: This book contains graphic language, sex, and some violence. Not suitable for readers under the age of 18. (….which makes it that much more awesome for the adults.)

And finally, one of the coolest parts of purchasing this book: The author will donate all profits from the sale of the JUST BREATHE trilogy to programs that educate people about whales and the challenges they face. Now THAT’S amazing. I can’t wait to see what Grey has in store for us! I’m really looking forward to reading Exhale, the second book in the trilogy. There are so many unanswered questions that I can’t wait to see Gavin and Zoe discover the truth and fight for their future(s).

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