Review: Damnable Grace (Hades Hangmen, #5), by Tillie Cole

Damnable Grace (Hades Hangmen, #5)Damnable Grace by Tillie Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like all of the ‘Hades Hangmen’ books, ‘Damnable Grace’ is one that will rip your heart out. This series definitely tackles some offensive and upsetting content. It is not a series that will appeal to many readers because of the tough subject matter.

If you’re like me, and love dark books that push your limits and make you cringe, then ‘Damnable Grace’ is a great one. The fifth book in the series, it centers on Phebe and AK. If you’ve followed this series, you’ll remember AK as the “leader” of the psycho trio. You might also remember Phebe as the beautiful mistress of the “false” prophet who was cast aside for his new, younger mistress.

Phebe had been trained from a very young age to lure men into the cult with sex. She was trained to be a “Sacred Sister”, one of the girls sent out by the cult to recruit, or “fish”, for new male members. She was prized for her sexual allure and was considered to be the best of all the girls. She is used to men using her for their sexual pleasure and has never been valued for anything else. A devout believer, she has only recently begun to question the cult teachings.

When Phebe is sold by Rider’s brother, the “false prophet”, to a leader in the Aryan Brotherhood, Meister, she is in for more suffering than she could have imagined. Meister has been obsessed with Phebe from the first time that he saw her and his cruelty knows no bounds. At his hands, Phebe will endure unthinkable acts and will be left scarred, both physically and emotionally.

AK has not forgotten the beautiful woman that he left behind after the Hangmen raided the cult commune. When he and a few of his brothers are sent in to rescue Phebe from the Aryan Brotherhood’s compound, it was worse than anything that he could have imagined. The heinous abuse taking place at that compound were unthinkable. It was all he could do to maintain composure until he could get Phebe out of there.

In the weeks that followed, both Phebe and AK must come to terms with their pasts. Both have survived cruelty and tragedy. Each of them lives with loss and guilt. These two had a long road ahead of them, but they helped one another heal and face their pasts. Their story was tragic and messy, but beautiful.

It had been quite a while since I’d submersed myself in the world of the Hades Hangmen. So, I was worried that I wouldn’t remember all of the relevant details from the previous books. However, my concerns were completely unwarranted. Ms. Cole provided plenty of reminders throughout to keep me abreast of what was going on and what had passed.

While every Hades Hangmen book has made me cringe at times, none did so more than this one. It was absolutely brutal at times. Child abuse, rape, extreme sexual violence, murder…there was no shortage of depravity in this book.

Of all of the books in this series, I have to say that this one is my least favorite to this point. I enjoyed AK and Phebe’s story, but I wasn’t completely consumed with it like I have been with other books in this series. Even so, it was still a great book.

If you enjoy, dark and gritty stories, I highly recommend this series. Each of these characters has carved out a piece of my heart. They aren’t easy books to read, but they are well worth it.

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Review: Desperation Road, by Michael Farris Smith

Desperation RoadDesperation Road by Michael Farris Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up ‘Desperation Road’ after I kept seeing it pop up on my feed with several 5-star ratings. I didn’t read any of the reviews before I went into this book, which was probably a good thing because I was able to experience everything fresh, without any idea of what was going to transpire. It ended up being quite a big surprise for me, but not in the way that you’d probably expect.

You see, McComb, Mississippi is my hometown…and it is the setting of this story. My family has a very long history in this small southern town. In fact, my grandmother’s uncle – my great, great uncle – was McComb’s Chief of Police in the 1920’s. He is one of 3 officers that have been killed in the line of duty in the history of McComb’s police force. He was gunned down when serving a warrant for forged checks. His murderer escaped and an international manhunt ensued, with the murderer being caught in Canada and eventually hung in Magnolia.

Going into this story, I had absolutely no idea of where the story was set and it caught me off guard. While other readers were engrossed in the story, I found myself lost to a strong case of nostalgia. I haven’t been back in years, since I was a young teen, but as the author described Delaware Avenue and the angular arches of Centenary United Methodist Church, it felt like I was right back there again. I could so easily picture the surrounding towns, like Magnolia, and the businesses like the Fernwood Truck Stop that the author described. He really did a fantastic job of accurately portraying the geography and physical lay of the land.

That being said, because I spent so much time reminiscing, I did find myself missing details of the story more than a few times. I was listening to the Audible version and had to “rewind” this story several times to reorient myself. For most listeners, this probably won’t be a problem. It is always a little trickier to stay abreast of what’s going on when listening to a story that bounces between multiple characters, but this one was more difficult for me because I kept getting lost in my own memories.

The story itself was suspenseful and utterly captivating. Alongside the vivid descriptions of the town and surrounding areas, a full cast of characters makes this story stand out. Everyone in this book has a story to tell. The secrets, betrayals and motivations are many.

The two characters that are the central focus of this story are on separate paths, not intersecting until you are well into the story. As the story unfolds, past and present collide. Will they be offered the chance to redeem themselves?

Russell Gaines has just been released from prison, after serving time for killing a young man. He returns to his hometown, where the brothers of his victim have been awaiting his release – and their revenge – for the duration of his imprisonment. As with other characters, the details of his past are revealed little by little.

Maben is wandering alongside the Interstate when we first meet her. Every possession she owns is carried in the trash bag thrown over her shoulder. Along with her young daughter, Annalee, she trudges on toward the town she hasn’t been to in years. She is a much-changed version of the girl she was when she left her hometown. Addiction and loss have left their mark on her. In an act of desperation, she jeopardizes the only good thing that she has left in her life.

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic and engaging read. I will probably go back to it at some point to catch the details that I suspect that I’ve missed while I was reminiscing. Even so, it was a great story that kept me guessing right to the very end. This author sucked me right in to the plight of these characters. It is my first book by Michael Farris Smith, but will not be my last.

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Review: Never Let You Go, by Chevy Stevens

Never Let You GoNever Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book that I’ve ever read by this author, but it certainly won’t be the last. ‘Never Let You Go’ was a suspenseful and highly engaging read/listen. I listened to the Audible version and I did not want to pull myself away from this story until I had finished it. I kept telling myself, “just another few minutes and I’ll turn it off”. Once I got started on this book, I had to keep going. It was great!

The story unfolds little by little, alternating between present time and flashbacks to the past. From the start, we know that Lindsey has built herself a new life after escaping an abusive husband. Yet, her abusive past is revealed gradually through her flashbacks. Told in this manner, it is easy to see how Lindsey got sucked in by her ex-husband, Andrew. I was enthralled, watching how charming he was initially and how he gradually increased the control he had over her life until it was absolute. As the violence escalated, it was evident that Lindsey had to get out of her marriage or that she would die at Andrew’s hands.

Now, over ten years later, Lindsey has established a new life for herself and her daughter, Sophie. A young child when Lindsey took her daughter on the run, Sophie is now a teenager. She knows nothing of her father, except what her mother has told her and the few articles that she’s been able to find.

As much as she loves her mother, she can’t help but be curious about the father that she’s never known. She’s only ever known the life of a child of a single-mother, struggling to make ends meet. She envies the children of the wealthy parents whose houses her mother cleans. She can’t help but wonder what it must be like to have both parents.

Now that Andrew is due for release from prison, Sophie’s dreams of the father she hasn’t known since she was five have the chance to become a reality. As she begins to work on building a relationship with him, her mother begins to fear for their safety.

Strange things start to happen. It is clear that somebody is messing with Lindsey. She’s scared…and she should be. Somebody is out to get her and she is terrified that Andrew is out to finish what he started all of those years ago.

From start to finish, this story had my full attention. My heart was pounding and I was on the edge of my seat from the time that these strange occurrences began haunting Lindsey, until everything was out in the open. There were quite a few twists and turns along the way. I had my suspicions, but I was definitely surprised by the way things worked out. I didn’t piece things together until the author wanted me to.

Overall, this was a fantastic story. If you’re in the mood for a thriller/suspense/mystery, then this is a good one. It will definitely make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

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Review: Dominic (Benedetti Brothers, #2), by Natasha Knight

Dominic (Benedetti Brothers, #2)Dominic by Natasha Knight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a tough review for me to write. I find myself a little torn over how to rate this book. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

On the one hand, ‘Dominic’ had many elements that would usually be an instant hit with me. It featured a morally bankrupt anti-hero that does some terrible things to the heroine. I love dark reads, so the twisted storyline was right up my alley. Also, the author didn’t shy away from writing dark, controversial content, which is also a big plus for me.

However, the flip side is that I never really “connected” to Dominic or Gia. Even though this story had all the dark elements that would usually be a formula for success for me, I just didn’t feel it. I don’t know if this was a result of poor execution, or if it is just a result of reading this book immediately after reading another phenomenal dark story. I think it is the latter. While this book might have been a 4-star/”good” read for me any other time, following a 5-star/”phenomenal” dark read it ended up paling in comparison. So as you read my review, please keep that in mind.

If you’ve read ‘Salvatore’, the first book in the ‘Benedetti Brothers’ series, you might recall that Dominic was Salvatore’s [disturbed] brother. This book takes quite some time after ‘Salvatore’ and Dominic has been out of touch with his “family”. While Salvatore has left the Mafia behind to pursue a normal family life, Dominic has only begun to work from the periphery, doing the most despicable work for crime bosses.

Dominic is definitely not a nice guy. He makes no qualms about the fact that he does horrible things. On some level, he acknowledges that what he is doing is wrong and that he is even ashamed of how far down he’s let himself fall. Regardless, he isn’t bothered enough by his conscience to stop doing what he’s doing….and what he’s doing is breaking girls and training them for lives as sex slaves.

Gia is given to Dominic to be broken and trained. She immediately piqued his interest because he was told that he could not have sex with her. She also had been branded, which was uncommon.

From the start, Dominic was very aware that Gia wasn’t like most of the other girls he was sent to train. It was clear that she wasn’t some random girl stolen from the street that wouldn’t be missed. She was taken for a specific purpose. Maybe she made a boyfriend angry. Maybe it was revenge. Dominic told himself that he didn’t care, until he began to realize that Gia might be tied to his past and the family that he had left behind.

As Gia’s identity comes to light, Dominic’s conflicting loyalties make for some surprising twists and turns. Gia’s past is more intertwined with his than she knows. From captor to savior, she can’t seem to escape him.

This story is dark and has plenty of danger. It is a Mafia love story that is full of betrayal and seedy underworld dealings. All of this would usually add up to an instant hit for me.

Unfortunately, ‘Dominic’ fell flat for me. I found myself feeling disconnected from the story and the characters. I listened to the Audible version and while the narration wasn’t necessarily bad, the story failed to hold my attention. I found myself zoning out frequently.

As I mentioned above, this could be because I was still in the midst of a bad book hangover after finishing another fabulous dark story and ‘Dominic’ just couldn’t compare. Regardless of the cause, ‘Dominic’ ended up just being an “okay” kind of story for me. I didn’t hate it or love it, because in the end I just didn’t care.

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Review: Dirty Souls (Sins Duet, #2), by Karina Halle

Dirty Souls (Sins Duet, #2)Dirty Souls by Karina Halle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Black Hearts’ left off with a rather ominous vibe that honestly, left me giddy. (I know, I know. I’m kind of messed up like that.) While Violet and Vicente were getting settled in and playing house, Javier was moving in on his son and his new lover. You just knew that whatever was going to happen wasn’t going to be good for the young lovers…and I couldn’t wait!

In case I haven’t said it enough, let me just be clear that Javier Bernal is one of my all-time favorite anti-heroes. He has owned a piece of my heart since the very beginning, despite his despicable ways. I guess that, like him, I’m still stuck in the past where Ellie and him are concerned. I always will be.

I totally understand why Ellie left him. In fact, I probably would’ve been pissed if she hadn’t. After all, I hate a doormat heroine. That being said, after some hardcore groveling I wanted Ellie and Javier to mend their relationship. I still refuse to see the writing on the wall, even as it is clear that Camden and Luisa are here to stay. A girl can dream, I guess.

Now that I’ve gotten all of that out into the open, I have to admit that I have never been more appalled by Javier’s behavior than I was in this book. He has done some pretty terrible things before, but never did he stoop to such a cruel and personal level as he did in this book. (Note: Some of the dead prostitutes from his last dark spell might disagree with me on this point.) The things that he did were beyond forgiveness and shocking, even to him.

While ‘Black Hearts’ was relatively mild and only hinted at the darkness to come, ‘Dirty Souls’ is incredibly dark and brutal. Just about every fear that I had for Violet and Vicente at the end of the first book was brought to life. On top of that, this book birthed new horrors that I hadn’t even thought of.

Given the history between Javier and Ellie, I couldn’t believe that he would go there with his daughter. It was like the last bits of humanity that remained within Javier were being snuffed out in front of my eyes. Yet, at the same time, there were glimpses of remorse that hinted at the remnants of a soul remaining within Javier. It was emotionally painful to watch as he actively worked at destroying what little love remained between him and Ellie through his intentional and callous actions.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I think anyone that is a fan of this series should read this. As I’m sure you’ve already figured out if you’ve read the first book in the series, Javier has taken Violet and Vicente. He intends to teach his son a lesson and he plans to use Violet to do that. She is also a means to get his long awaited revenge on her mother.

This book was an action-packed, suspenseful and emotional read. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I absolutely devoured this book. That being said, even for a die-hard fan of Javier, like me, his depravity was hard to forgive. His hunger for power has changed him so much over the years, as he’s gained and lost everything that he’s ever wanted. It was brutal, it was heartbreaking….and I could not have loved it more!

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Review: Black Hearts (Sins Duet, #1), by Karina Halle

Black Hearts (Sins Duet, #1)Black Hearts by Karina Halle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since reading ‘On Every Street’, I have been a huge fan of Karina Halle’s work. Admittedly, I’m still a little bitter over the fact that Ellie and Javier didn’t end up together. Being a “glass half full” kind of lady, I see this spin-off series as Ms. Halle’s chance to give those of us on team Javi a little something. After all, if we can’t have Javier and Ellie then we can at least have Vicente and Violet. (Take that Camden!)

If you haven’t read ‘The Artists Trilogy’ followed by the ‘Dirty Angels’ series, I would do that before starting the ‘Sins Duet’. You could probably read the ‘Sins Duet’ without having done so, but then you would be missing a lot of the backstory. Without understanding the history between these characters’ families, you won’t get the full impact of everything that transpires in this series. I would definitely recommend going back and reading those series before diving into this one. Don’t worry though, they’re fabulous!

If you haven’t read those series, you may want to stop reading this review. It is highly likely that it will contain spoilers for the books in those series. Since this series is largely built upon the history laid out in those books, it would be difficult to review this book without discussing some of that background.

Taking place years after the end of ‘Dirty Promises’, Javier and Luisa’s children are grown. Many more years have passed since Ellie left Javier behind to be captured by the authorities. Not being one to forget any affront, Javier has been biding his time.

Vicente’s relationship with his father is somewhat strained. The son of a notorious drug lord, Vicente never had a childhood resembling anything that would be considered “normal”. From a very young age, he was groomed to take over his father’s cartel. While other kids were playing soccer, he was learning to be a cold-hearted killer. He has only known the father that is feared by the world and seems to have no emotions or weaknesses.

When Vicente stumbles upon a file on Ellie Watt/McQueen, his curiosity gets the best of him. He is determined to find this woman that managed to capture his fathers’ heart, only to leave him the broken shell of a man that he knows now. With this seed planted in his mind, he sets out to San Francisco to find Ellie and make his father proud.

On the one hand, Vicente really detests his father. Yet, he yearns for his approval and affection. He has arrived at a stage in his life where he wants to challenge and usurp his father. Where Javier is considered, Vicente has a lot of mixed feelings.

Arriving in San Francisco, Vicente locates Ellie and her family. Immediately, he is drawn in by Ellie and Camden’s daughter, Violet. He sets out to use her as a means to gain access to her family. Only, he ends up falling in love with the innocent, kind and beautiful young lady. She is the polar opposite of everything he has ever known. She is refreshing in a life of violence.

While Vicente is busy falling in love with Violet, Javier is working on his own plan for revenge. He sees Violet as a way to mold his son into the hardened man that he’ll need to be to run the cartel. At the same time, Violet is an effective means to his long-awaited revenge on Ellie. Vicente never really had the freedom that he thought he had been granted, if only briefly.

This was a steamy and completely addicting story. I started this book and before I realized it, I was at the end. I was consumed by this story. Luckily, I waited until the second book was released so that I could start it immediately.

If you’re a fan of ‘The Artists Trilogy’ and/or the ‘Dirty Angels’ series, I highly recommend this spin-off series. I love the characters, new and old, that have been introduced. If you haven’t started this yet, I recommend going back to the beginning and taking it all in. This book, as well as each of it’s predecessors, is fantastic! I highly recommend it! I cannot get enough of this story!

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Review: The Castle (Endgame, #3), by Skye Warren

The Castle (Endgame, #3)The Castle by Skye Warren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you follow my reviews, it is no mystery that Skye Warren’s ‘Endgame’ series has become my latest addiction. There was something about Gabriel and Avery’s story that drew me in, right from the start. What can I say…I love an uber-Alpha a$$hole! Gabriel Miller did not disappoint in that regard.

After the way ‘The Pawn’ ended, is it any wonder I was hooked? It blew me away! For me, this series is about as addictive as crack cocaine. I can’t wait to get my next fix and when I get my next “hit” I devour it in record time.

The third book in ‘The Endgame’ series, ‘The Castle’ picks up where ‘The Knight’ left off. Gabriel and Avery are back on again. For once, they seem to be on the same page and their relationship seems more solid than ever. This was a nice development, as there seemed to be such a huge disconnect in previous books. Now, they seem to be united against a common enemy – Jonathan Scott.

Damon Scott’s maniacal father has it out for Avery. To protect her, Gabriel has pretty much imprisoned her on his estate for her own protection. In the meantime, the madman grows increasingly dangerous. No matter how hard Gabriel works to find him, he always seems to be one step ahead. This made for some very suspenseful, nail-biting scenarios.

I have to say that I couldn’t really understand the motivation for Jonathan Scott’s actions. Sure, he supposedly loved Avery’s mother. However, that doesn’t really explain his cruel actions or his determination to harm Avery…or her mother for that matter. Perhaps I should just accept the fact that he was a deeply disturbed individual and that there was no justification for his actions. Yet, I can’t deny that I craved more of an explanation.

Maybe we’ll get the story of Avery’s mother, Jonathan Scott and Avery’s father in the future. That’s one story that I’d love to read. It is bound to be a angsty and captivating story. I love a great villain and I can’t help but wonder what made Jonathan Scott into the deranged man that grew up to terrorize his former lover and her daughter.

While there was plenty of action in this book, I feel content with the way things ended. Their road was a difficult one, riddled with danger and deceit. Nothing worth having ever comes easy though.

This book also introduced Penny, a young lady traumatized by Jonathan Scott. Despite She clearly holds a special appeal to Damon, but we’ll have to wait to see exactly how deep their connection runs. Although she was mostly in the background this time around, I have no doubt that Penny will be central to Damon’s story.

Each book in this series has proven to be suspenseful and utterly addicting. I have enjoyed each one immensely and I look forward to seeing where the next book, ‘The King’ will take us. While ‘The Castle’ brings Gabriel and Avery’s story to a close, there are many more intriguing characters whose stories are yet to be told. ‘The King’ is supposed to focus on Damon Scott and I could not be more excited! I’ve pre-ordered my copy and will be anxiously awaiting it’s arrival in June.

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Review: The Man I Love (The Fish Tales, #1), by Suanne Laqueur

The Man I Love (The Fish Tales, #1)The Man I Love by Suanne Laqueur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading ‘An Exhaltation of Larks’, I knew that I wanted to read every book written by Ms. Suanne Laqueur. Her writing is exquisite. The stories and characters that she brings to life are raw and emotional, heartbreaking and inspiring. I’ve definitely gone a little “fangirl” where she is concerned!

‘The Man I Love’ tells the story of a close-knit group of friends at Lancaster University. In many ways it is a coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a terrible tragedy. They were young and carefree until the unthinkable happens. Then, this group of friends struggles to survive in the aftermath of a terrible attack.

Each of them copes with the trauma in a different way. As young, college students, they don’t appreciate the need to seek out professional help. All of them develop some destructive behaviors. In the months and years that follow they fall into a downward spiral, nearly destroying themselves and their relationships with those that they love.

No relationship undergoes more strain that that of Erik “Fish” Fiskare and Daisy Bianco. Erik was a theatre tech when he met Daisy, a lead ballerina at the school. The two were head over heels in love. They had the kind of relationship that others envied…until that day. Nothing was the same after that day.

Aside from Erik and Daisy, there is a robust cast of characters that make this story memorable. Will Kaeger, Erik’s best friend/roommate and Daisy’s dance partner, also plays a pivotal role. He is left to live with guilt and questions whether or not his actions were to blame for the events of that tragic day. It was his brief love affair with another student, James, that seems to have been the motivator for James’ horrific actions on that day.

Spanning over a decade, the long-term effects of a single traumatic event are played out through these character for readers. This story was absolutely beautiful, but also tragic and highly emotional. These characters both broke my heart and inspired me.

The first book in a series, ‘The Man I Love’ proves to be an addicting read. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series immediately. I highly recommend this book. I am utterly captivated by this story and these flawed, very human characters.

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Review: The Club (Colombian Cartel, #1), by Suzanne Steele

The Club (Colombian Cartel # 1)The Club by Suzanne Steele
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m having a hard time deciding how to rate/review this one. On the one hand, I liked that the author didn’t shy away from dark content. On the other, the author didn’t necessarily weave said content into the story in a logical manner.

Antonio Ramirez is a crime boss of sorts. He owns strip club(s) and rules them with an iron fist. Although the full extent of his criminal dealings isn’t really revealed, it is clear that he is a guy that is feared and respected. His brother is Ricardo Ramirez, an even scarier guy.

Roxanne is a cage fighter. Along with her best friend, she has profited from throwing matches. When they get caught trying to scam Ricardo, he takes the women as payment. Roxanne is shipped off to marry Antonio, a gift from his brother. Meanwhile, her best friend is forced to marry Ricardo.

Of course, Roxanne is a virgin and is extremely surprised to be attracted to Antonio. That explains the pleasure and orgasms that she has while enduring the gentlest rape in history. Did I mention that she’s a closet masochist that ends up enjoying his sadistic tastes? (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes.)

One night is all it takes and he’s in love. She holds out a little longer, but can’t fight the attraction that she feels for Antonio while trying to maintain her righteous hate for her new husband. Eventually, she admits what was apparent from the start and quits trying to escape Antonio…or his spankings.

More often than not, this story left me feeling confused and wondering if I’d missed a few pages somewhere to explain exactly how the story arrived at a certain point. The characters’ emotional responses seemed contrived, rushed and, at times, ridiculous given the situation. It was hard to connect with the story when you can’t believe the responses of the characters to the given situations.

For example, with little more than a flip of the page, the hero goes from loathing the heroine that has been forced upon him by his brother to being completely obsessed and in love with her. Hmm… A few more conversations between the two might’ve helped to sell that a little better. It just didn’t work for me.

The short length of this story is a large part of the problem. There was way to much going on to cover in a short novella. If this novella had been fleshed out and made into a full-length novel, it would have been much better and wouldn’t have felt so forced.

Captivity, forced marriages, dubious consent and other dark themes are amongst my favorites…but they take time to craft into a story that is believable. It takes a lot of build-up to illustrate the gradual evolution of those relationships in order to sell it to the reader. That didn’t happen with this story. Instead, it felt forced and a bit “smutty”, lacking the emotional depth and connection that a story like this usually evokes.

Overall, I give this one 2 1/2 stars. It had potential, but was poorly executed. Instead of being a dark captivity story that tugs at your heart and makes you squirm in your seat, this story will make your eyes roll and might even make you laugh.

I’m slightly curious about the best friend and brother’s story, but probably won’t go there because I’m worried it’ll end up being just like this one. Maybe I’ll try another one of this author’s works sometime in the future. For now, this author’s style just doesn’t seem to match up with my tastes.

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Review: Dishonorable, by Natasha Knight

DishonorableDishonorable by Natasha Knight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the blurb for ‘Dishonorable’, I was sure that this would be a dark, twisted and disturbing story. In other words, I thought that this would be just what I needed to satiate my thirst for depravity. Unfortunately, this book didn’t deliver on that front for me. It was the type of story that plays with the idea of darkness, without really ever crossing the line into truly “dark” territory. Don’t get me wrong, it was great. It just wasn’t what I thought I was going to get.

The heroine, Sofia Guardia, is essentially forced into marriage with Raphael Amado. Her grandfather wronged him in some terrible way and Raphael has demanded Sofia as repayment. Sounds twisted, right? Well…kind of.

While Raphael’s intentions were certainly bad, he wasn’t the monster that I had imagined – hoped for – in my depraved mind. You see, he was pretty much after her inheritance and not necessarily her. For many readers, I’m sure this will be a positive turn of events. However, it was pretty disappointing.

Of course, in time, Sofia and Raphael’s relationship grows more intimate. From the start, the chemistry between the two is pretty intense. Their initial interactions are heated, to say the least. However, they soon reach a middle ground. Eventually, flirtation becomes more.

Although I didn’t find the dark read that I was craving, I couldn’t deny the appeal of this story. Raphael was such a damaged hero and he grew on me. While Sofia might have been young, I found her to be admirable and mature for her age. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the idea of this couple.

The supporting characters were well-crafted and interesting. They breathed life into the story, while not stealing the spotlight. Raphael’s brother, proved to be especially endearing to me.

This book had a little of everything. It had romance, without being syrupy. It had plenty of danger and an aura of darkness, even if it never really turned “dark”. There was a feeling of impending doom that seemed to lurk in the background for most of the book, serving to keep readers on edge.

Overall, this was a great story. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the dark romance that I had anticipated, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I love an a$$hole that ends up being redeemable. The worse they are, the more I love them. Raphael certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard.

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