Review: With Everything I Am (The Three, #2), by Kristen Ashley

With Everything I Am (The Three, #2)With Everything I Am by Kristen Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in Kristen Ashley’s ‘The Three’ series, ‘With Everything I Am’ tells the story of Callum and Sonia. Callum, the King of Werewolves, meets his mate when she is a young girl. Although their initial interaction was brief, Callum was never far from Sonia’s mind.

Since she was a young girl, Sonia has dreamed about the wolf she “adopted” as a young girl. After the death of her parents, she is taken in by a family friend. Eventually her family’s cabin and “her wolf” remain only in her dreams.

When Sonia is attacked, Callum is forced to claim his mate earlier than he had intended. The threat to her safety has made it imperative that Callum step in. He no longer has time for the prolonged “human” courtship that he had planned for Sonia.

Unaware of the existence of supernatural beings, Sonia dismisses everything Callum does as the actions of a madman. Clearly, he is unhinged and completely delusional. Initially thinking that she’s been kidnapped for ransom, she soon decides that Callum is the leader of some fanatical cult instead. This made for some pretty comical situations as Callum tries to win Sonia over.

As Sonia comes to terms with the existence of werewolves and other supernatural beings, she slowly comes to question her own special abilities. Sonia has always had extremely heightened senses, but never knew the cause. Furthermore, she suffers from a debilitating illness that she must take daily injections to manage or risk suffering tremendously.

This book was definitely a slow-burn, as is typical of a Kristen Ashley book. At times, I found myself wondering if the storyline would ever progress. Similar to the first book, Callum was not upfront with Sonia about the prophecy and what she meant to him.

Eventually, everything between Callum and Sonia works itself out. Now two of the three prophesied couples have connected. Things are heating up and it is clear that war is on the horizon.

After finishing ‘With Everything I Am’, I was anxious to meet the third couple and see what Ms. Ashley has in store for these supernatural warriors. I am sure that the third book will prove to be much more action-oriented and dangerous. I cannot wait for Lucien’s father to get what he has coming.

Overall, this was a great story. It was a little slow at times, but the characters and storyline were well-developed and engaging. I enjoyed Sonia’s quirky personality and sense of humor quite a bit. I will definitely be continuing this series.

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Review: Disfigured Love, by Georgia Le Carre

Disfigured LoveDisfigured Love by Georgia Le Carre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I love a great, dark story, ‘Disfigured Love’ ended up being a disappointment for me. It definitely had plenty of “dark” content, but it failed to trigger much of an emotional response. I never felt a strong connection to the main characters and the heroine’s reactions seemed forced.

Lena Seagull grows up in an extremely abusive household in Russia. Her father is a real bastard and her mother is the embodiment of Battered Wife Syndrome. For years he abuses everyone in the household, until he decides to begin selling off his children one by one. Meanwhile, the mother is paralyzed with fear and does absolutely nothing to prevent this.

When Lena’s father sells her to the human traffickers, she is sold in an online auction. Guy Hawke is the wealthy man that purchases Lena. Although he struggles internally with the idea of buying a girl, his conscience is not powerful enough to make him do the right thing. He knows that what he’s doing is horrible, but he doesn’t care. He wants Lena and he will force her to submit to him.

Guy wastes no time in abusing his new toy. He viciously and repeatedly rapes her. Lena, surprisingly, seems to take it all in stride. Honestly, it was so unbelievable that it was laughable.

All the while, he wears a mask, or blindfolds her, when they are together so that she cannot see his disfigured face. Of course, Guy has a tragic past that has left him emotionally scarred and is supposed to somehow excuse his behavior. Again, it was just too convenient and felt contrived. I didn’t buy it.

Following the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’ storyline, the two end up falling in love. No big shocker there! When Lena discovers his big secret, this results in a big misunderstanding. Guy “sets her free”, but really he just tosses her out like a piece of trash.

In the end, they find their way back to each other. The misunderstanding is cleared up. They go on to live out the HEA. Cue the eye roll.

Overall, I give it 2 1/2 stars. It wasn’t the worst I’ve read, but it left a LOT to be desired. Mostly, it was just underwhelming. As a huge fan of darker reads, I actually liked the fact that the author wasn’t afraid to write about controversial topics, like abuse, in graphic detail. However, the appeal in a dark read is in the emotional response that it elicits. This book failed to do that.

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Review: POSSESSION, by Jaimie Roberts

POSSESSIONPOSSESSION by Jaimie Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***I was provided a complimentary ARC of this book, by the author, in exchange for honest feedback.***

Wow! Jaimie Roberts never ceases to blow me away with the completely f*cked-up stories that come out of her twisted mind. If you’ve followed my reviews for long, you know that dark, disturbing stories are my favorite kind. I just love a story that pushes my boundaries and makes me tremble with equal parts fear and anticipation. This is exactly that kind of story.

Now, if you’re not a fan of truly dark content then this book will have absolutely no appeal for you. Ms. Roberts is not an author that is afraid to write truly dark stories. This is not a quasi-dark story that toes the line. Nope! She steps right over the line and boldly keeps on going. So read the disclaimer and take it seriously. There is violence, rape, abuse, etc., and not in that fluffy “almost dark” way that fills the pages of many romance books. (No judgment. Just be forewarned.)

So, if knowing that, you choose to read this book then buckle up. Ms. Roberts holds nothing back. This book is graphic. It’s disturbing. It’s offensive. It will make you squirm in your seat and make you cringe. I loved every damn minute!

‘POSSESSION’ centers on Evelyn, who is a very young girl when she first meets the much older Drake Salvatore. She is certainly not a priority for her despicable parents, who frequently entertain shady characters of all sorts in their home. In fact, this is how Evelyn first comes to meet Drake.

While her parents are inattentive and downright negligent on their best days, Drake is anything but. After meeting Evelyn, he goes out of his way to spend time with her. He takes her for ice cream, buys her presents and becomes a father-figure of sorts. She comes to rely heavily upon him for companionship and protection. Only, his feelings toward Evelyn are a far cry from fatherly.

When Evelyn’s parents try to sell her to another, Drake comes to the “rescue”. At the age of 14, Evelyn is sold to Drake. However, she is to remain at home with her parents until she is 18 and Drake claims her.

To say the least, this whole scenario was very creepy. On the one hand, Drake assumes this protective, caring persona. He spoils Evelyn and seems to adore her.

On the other hand, there is nothing reassuring about a man that purchases a 14 year-old girl. He may be holding off until she is of legal age, but it is evident that his intentions are not innocent. This was made very clear in the opening pages of the book, before going back in time to tell their story from the start.

It was very hard to reconcile the two “Drakes” that were presented. We have the sweet guy that is almost swoon-worthy. This Drake is in stark contrast to the abusive, “rapey” monster that wants only to break Evelyn. My head was spinning.

From start to finish, I could not pull myself away from this book. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cover my eyes or dive right in. Days later, I’m still conflicted and trying to make sense of how I feel about this story, which really says something.

That being said, I do have a couple of criticisms. (Shocking, I know.) First, there were quite a few editing oversights. However, since I was provided an ARC, it is highly likely that many of those errors were corrected in the final version. So, that might be a non-issue.

The only other gripe that I have is that Evelyn’s reactions to some of Drake’s actions were not especially believable. I would have expected, and craved, much more emotion. Where was the anger, betrayal and pain? The things that he did were horrendous and she seemed to take it with a grain of salt. I know that her life was pretty bad, but still. I think I was more upset by his actions than Evelyn was.

Overall, this was still a fantastic dark read. I applaud Ms. Roberts for not being afraid to really embrace the dark aspects of this story. Doing so always causes a lot of controversy and upset. In my opinion, pushing readers limits is what makes a truly wonderful story. I love it when a story makes me uncomfortable and gets my heart racing. ‘POSSESSION’ certainly does that.

No rainbows and unicorns here. Expect to have your mind blown! This isn’t a story for everyone, but fans of dark romance/erotica won’t want to miss it!

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Review: Blackbird (Redemption, #1), by Molly McAdams

Blackbird (Redemption Book 1)Blackbird by Molly McAdams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Blackbird’ is the first book in Molly McAdams ‘Redemption’ series and is a lot darker than her previous works. I have enjoyed just about every book that I’ve read by Ms. McAdams and as a lover of dark romance, I was very excited to hear that she was trying her hand at writing “darker” romance. While not as dark as I was hoping for, ‘Blackbird’ proves to be a captivating read.

The story centers on Briar Chapman, a young lady that comes from a wealthy family. She is finishing up college and is engaged to Kyle Armstrong, the son of the Georgia governor. Much to her family’s disappointment, she chooses to make her own way, waiting tables while going to school.

One day she picks up a shift for a coworker and her life is forever changed. Just outside of the restaurant, she is kidnapped. The next thing she knows, she’s been sold at auction to a wealthy man.

Briar finds herself in a helpless situation. She is at the mercy of a man that says he owns her. He has no intention of ever letting her go and he refuses to entertain her pleas.

In time, Briar finds herself growing attached to her captor. Before long, she is questioning her own sanity and whether or not she really wants to return to her real life. Eventually, she has to face the fact that she has fallen in love with the man that she should hate.

While this story has many things in common with other captivity-themed romances, it also stands out from the rest in many ways. For starters, the man that purchased Briar, Lucas Holt, is not what he seems. The “world” that Lucas is a part of is also unlike any other that I’ve read about. The setting and circumstances were really quite unique. These differences were enough to make ‘Blackbird’ stand out from the rest.

There were quite a few twists and turns along the way. If you enjoy a bit of danger and action, this book delivers it in spades. In fact, ‘Blackbird’ was every bit as much of an organized crime romance as it was a captivity-themed romance.

My only gripe is that it wasn’t dark enough for my tastes. There were quite a few scenes that were heading into some very dark territory, but then something would happen right at the last moment and Briar would be saved. Lucas couldn’t ever really commit to do what he set out to do because he couldn’t stand the thought of hurting his blackbird.

While I can appreciate the sentiment, it was kind of a letdown for me. I love disturbing, dark stories and the strong emotional response that they elicit. This book was like a big tease in that sense.

I’m of the mindset that if you want to go dark, then go dark. Don’t skirt the edges of the forbidden territory while being too afraid to take that leap. This seems to be pretty common among authors that want to write “dark” content. I’m not sure if it is because they are afraid of the backlash that will come with delving into truly dark content, or what. However, for a fan of darker reads, this can be very frustrating.

Otherwise, this was a fantastic story. I would’ve liked it to be darker, but it was certainly much darker than anything that I’ve read by this author before. Even though it wasn’t as depraved as I would have liked, it was still a highly enjoyable read for me.

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Review: Paint It All Red (Mindf*ck, #5), by S. T. Abby

Paint It All Red (Mindf*ck, #5)Paint It All Red by S.T. Abby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have loved every minute of this series. From start to finish, this series kept me on the edge of my seat. If you like suspenseful, dark stories, then this is one that you don’t want to miss!

Finally, I got all of the answers that I had been waiting for. I thought I had things figured out. Man, was I ever wrong! This was one ending that I didn’t see coming. When the identity of the original Delaney Grove rapist/killer was revealed, I was shocked.

Of course, there is plenty of road to travel before everything is revealed. Logan has finally learned Lana’s secrets…or at least he thinks he has. This makes for an interesting turn of events. There are some surprising alliances formed and Logan is forced to reevaluate his morality and values.

The final stages of Lana’s revenge plan are put into place. Although I found some of this particular aspect to be a bit over-the-top and unbelievable, I still found the story to be highly enjoyable. She definitely left her mark on Delaney Grove.

I only wish that some of the really bad guys, like the Sheriff, had been tortured a bit more. I’m twisted like that. After all that build-up, I felt like some of the worst offenders got off a little easier in the end. It was like Lana was growing tired of her own need for revenge.

I don’t want to say too much and give anything away. I will just say that this series has completely blown me away. It is a must-read if you like dark, suspenseful reads with a touch of romance. It is terrific!

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Review: All the Lies (Mindf*ck, #4), by S. T. Abby

All the Lies (Mindf*ck, #4)All the Lies by S.T. Abby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! If I thought that things couldn’t get more intense, I was sadly mistaken. This series is really aptly named. My mind is completely f*cked!

Four of five books in, Lana’s plans for revenge really start taking off at rapid speed. Logan’s investigation in to the Scarlet Slayer has led him to Lana’s hometown of Delaney Grove. On the surface it is all “Pleasantville”, but there is an underlying eeriness that hints at the corruption that inundates this community.

When Logan invites Lana along, he has no idea that he is playing right into her plans. In fact, he still has no idea of the darkness that lives within the woman that he loves. He remains the primary source of goodness in her life and the only thing keeping her from being completely consumed by the darkness.

Although he played a vital background role in earlier books, this installment has Jake really stepping into the spotlight. He is vital to Lana’s success and that is never more evident than in this book. I quickly grew to appreciate Jake and everything that he does for Lana. It was great to see that she has someone other than Logan that cares about her, especially because it is still yet to be determined how he will react to her secret life.

Things get very violent and interesting really quick in this book. As Logan gets closer to unveiling the truth, Lana continues to check off the remaining names on her list. Meanwhile, the horrifying details of the transgressions against Lana and her family continue to come to light.

If I ever had any doubt that the men on Lana’s list had it coming, I certainly don’t any longer. What they did was unspeakable. If anything, Lana is too kind to them in the end. They deserve everything she dished out and more. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a serial killer so strongly as I have Lana.

Like the other books in the series, this one ends with a huge cliffhanger. With only one more serial to go, things finally come to a head. I immediately started the fifth, and final, book in the series. I absolutely could not put these books down until I had finished the entire series. It is totally addicting!

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Review: Scarlet Angel (Mindf*ck, #3), by S. T. Abby

Scarlet Angel (Mindf*ck, #3)Scarlet Angel by S.T. Abby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the second book’s shocking ending, I could not wait a minute before starting ‘Scarlet Angel’. Never a dull moment, this book picks up where the second one left off. The Boogeyman has come for Lana and the story begins with a fierce fight between the two serial killers.

Unbeknownst to Lana, she isn’t alone with the Boogeyman. Someone else has fallen prey to the would-be rapist and is present to witness the showdown. Lana’s lethal abilities are no longer a secret known only by her and Jake. The only question is whether or not this witness will spill her secret to Logan.

As the story progresses, Lana’s humanity takes center stage. It is in a direct contradiction to her cold, serial-killer persona. Yet, she doesn’t kill indiscriminately. She doesn’t murder innocents or prey on those that are good.

Instead, her protective instincts come alive. She loves Logan and cannot stand the thought of any harm coming his way. She is willing to endanger herself, facing off with another serial killer, in order to keep him safe. He is the goodness in her life that balances out her darker urges. If she were to lose him, it would be the end of her sanity.

Overall, this was another fantastic serial. This series is one of the best dark, psychological suspense stories that I’ve ever read. I cannot get enough of this story! I’m team Lana all the way!

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Review: Alternate: A Gypsy Brothers Novella (Gypsy Brothers, # 7.5), by Lili St. Germain

Alternate: A Gypsy Brothers NovellaAlternate: A Gypsy Brothers Novella by Lili St. Germain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s no mystery that I love dark, twisted stories. So, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I absolutely love the ‘Gypsy Brothers’ series. It is a raw, gritty and disturbing story of revenge and I devoured each one of the books in this series.

Somehow, I managed to miss the fact that this novella had been released until I saw a couple of reviews start popping up on friends’ pages. That is precisely why I love Goodreads so much. I hate to think that I would’ve missed this otherwise. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Although this is just a novella, I found it to bring a lot to the series. Providing three snippets of scenes from the POVs of Jase, Dornan and Elliot respectively, I gained a much better understanding of what was going on inside each of their heads. Some things were surprising, like Jase’s darker urges, and some things not so much, like Elliot’s love for Juliette.

Dornan continues to be one of the most intriguing villains that I’ve ever encountered. He is wicked through and through. Yet, there is a tiny part of him buried deep down that is remorseful and regretful. In his own sick way he still cared for Juliette, even as he was determined to destroy her. I still struggle to reconcile the man he could have been with the man that he became.

This novella also sheds more light on the time that Jase spent as his father’s captive for the years following Juliette’s brutal rape. He was an entirely different person than the Jase that we met in the other books. His despair led him to some very dark places. He’s never even told Juliette about his time pushing the depths of his own depravity.

As for Elliot, you just can’t help but love him. He was just what Juliette needed at the lowest point in her life. Without him, she wouldn’t have stood a chance at survival. He sacrificed so much to save her. Unfortunately for him, she just couldn’t ever love him the way he wanted her to. His story is one of sacrifice and heartache, but integral to the series.

This was another terrific addition to the ‘Gypsy Brothers’ series. This is hands-down, one of my favorite dark series and I’m so glad that Lili St. Germain gave fans another little taste. It does need to be read after other books in the series so that you’ll have an understanding of the characters and events. This one is not intended to be a standalone. If you’re a fan of the series, you can get a free copy of this ebook on the author’s website if you sign up for her mail group.

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Review: Throne of Truth (Truth and Lies Duet, #2), by Pepper Winters

Throne of Truth (Truth and Lies Duet, #2)Throne of Truth by Pepper Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you enjoyed ‘Crown of Lies’, then you don’t want to miss the conclusion to Penn and Elle’s story. Finally, all of the lingering questions I had have been answered. With plenty of twists and turns along the way, the facts and the past are unveiled. Some things were predictable, others not so much.

Picking up where ‘Crown of Lies’ left off, ‘Throne of Truth’ thrusts readers right back into the dangerous situation that Elle has found herself in. If I thought that I hated Greg before, I had no idea of how much I would come to despise him. Totally unhinged, with a penchant for the sadistic, he proves to be far worse than I had imagined.

With Elle missing and at the mercy of her abductor, Penn is determined to rescue her. Whether or not Elle wants anything to do with him once he finds her, is something he’s willing to let her decide once she’s heard him out. He’s come too far to let her slip away without hearing his truth.

Elle ends up spending more time than I had anticipated as Greg’s captive. Accordingly, this book had a “darker” feel to it than the first book did. He was one crazy guy and he had no qualms about mistreating Elle.

Eventually, Penn does come to Elle’s rescue. No big surprise there! However, the two still have their own problems to work out.

Despite the big heroic rescue, Elle still isn’t willing to trust Penn. Given the situation, the bickering seemed a little petty and unrealistic to me. I mean, come on! You’ve just been rescued from your kidnapper/would-be rapist and you’re going to refuse to talk to your savior? I call BS.

Once the two finally get things squared away again, it doesn’t take much time before they run into another problem. Elle’s company comes under fire for her association with Penn. After all that work to get her back, Penn begins to question whether or not he is good enough for Elle.

They’re off. They’re on. They’re off. They’re on again. There is certainly plenty of angst and conflict in this second book. I am a lover of angst, but it was getting to feel a bit too contrived for me.

That being said, I did enjoy this book quite a bit overall. I had plenty of gripes – like the friendship with Gio- but I have to admit that I couldn’t put it down or pull myself away from all of the drama. Sure, I rolled my eyes…but I couldn’t get enough.

I haven’t found a Pepper Winters book yet that I haven’t enjoyed. This one proved to be no different. I have enjoyed every minute of Elle and Penn’s story, albeit unbelievable at times. I also loved having a story that came full circle in only two books, versus a series that goes on and on without an end in sight. This wasn’t my favorite of Ms. Winters’ series, but I thought it was great all the same!

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Review: There’s Something About Blaire (Blaire, #1.5), by Anita Gray

There's Something About Blaire (Blaire #1.5)There’s Something About Blaire by Anita Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After finishing ‘Blaire’, I was left wanting. Blaire and Charlie had fought so hard to get to where they were, but I felt like I didn’t get enough of their HEA to feel content. Although I’ll still have to wait a while for the sequel to be released, I did stumble across ‘There’s Something About Blaire’, which proved to be a tasty little “extra”.

‘There’s Something About Blaire’ is a retelling of the first chapter of ‘Blaire’, from Charlie’s POV. This super-short “extra” provides insight into Charlie’s thoughts and feelings as he plots his revenge against Maksim. It was kind of surprising to be in his head as he was first introduced to Blaire, honestly.

Although this was an incredibly quick read, it did shine a great deal of light on Charlie’s motivations. Even knowing what his original intentions were, having completed ‘Blaire’, I was a little taken aback by how cold and calculating Charlie came across. After all, he portrayed the polar opposite of that man in ‘Blaire’.

If you’ve read ‘Blaire’ and are dying for a little bit more to hold you over until the sequel is released, then ‘There’s Something About Blaire’ is a nice “extra”. Don’t expect a full story or book though, this is just a retelling of a single chapter. It is great bonus material, but not a story in and of itself.

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