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.

View all my reviews

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!

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

Review: Until the Sun Falls from the Sky (The Three, #1), by Kristen Ashley

Until the Sun Falls from the Sky (The Three, #1)Until the Sun Falls from the Sky by Kristen Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It has been a while since I read a vampire story, but ‘Until the Sun Falls from the Sky’ was just what I needed. This story puts a different spin on the “vampire and human fall in love” trope. This one took a little time to warm up to, but in the end it was well worth it.

In Kristen Ashley’s ‘The Three’ series, human and supernatural beings have coexisted for centuries. A war fought centuries earlier resulted in some rules to keep vampires in check and to keep both species alive. This has helped to maintain the balance of power and to keep vampires from hunting the humans to extinction.

Willing families have served as “concubines” for the vampires. When the children of the concubines come of age, they attend a gathering known as the Selection, where they are selected by a vampire to serve on a contractual basis. While serving their vampire, they are receive lavish gifts and attention. Even after their time of service is finished, the vampire continues to provide for their former concubine for the entirety of their life. The concubine provides sustenance to the vampire and companionship.

Leah Buchanan was born into a family of concubines. Her lineage included some of the most desired concubines in history. She was raised to believe that service to the vampire race is to be honored and even enjoyed, but Leah has no interest in ever fulfilling her predestined concubine role.

When Leah is finally unable to avoid attending a Selection, she goes begrudgingly. Whispers of a powerful vampire, Lucien, make her nervous. It seems that the mysterious Lucien has been waiting for Leah. She doesn’t know anything about Lucien, except she senses that he is a vampire that even other vampires fear.

As expected, Leah is selected by Lucien. Right from the start, he commandeers Leah’s life. The contract is altered and Leah is not offered the opportunity to decline to be Lucien’s concubine. It is clear that Lucien is willing to do anything to have Leah as his and is willing to break any rule to have her. She doesn’t stand a chance.

With every opportunity that she has, Leah defies Lucien. She is unaccustomed to the highhanded, domineering ways of this powerful vampire. Although he tries to be patient with Leah, his actions proved to be incredibly frustrating on more than one occasion. Lucien was definitely not an easy character to like. He had as much to learn about human ways as Leah did about the vampire world.

Eventually, Leah and Lucien manage to get on the same page. However, insecurities plague Leah and Lucien unwittingly adds to her insecurities with his reckless actions. Every time that I thought they were going to get things straightened out, something else would happen.

Meanwhile, there is war brewing in the background. It is clear that Lucien is getting ready to lead some sort of rebellion and that he is tired of abiding by the rules that were set in place following the last war. Leah’s role in this rebellion is largely unclear, but what is known is that she will be an integral player.

This is the first book in “The Three” series and I will definitely be continuing on to the next books. The following books are expected to focus on two other couples with different paranormal abilities. I am very interested to see where this will lead.

If you enjoy paranormal romances with over-the-top Alpha males, then this is a good choice. If you can’t tolerate a leading male that is a huge jerk for much of the story, acting in a callous and dominating manner, then this will not be a good choice. Personally, I have a weak spot for a$$holes, so this worked out splendidly for me. However, Lucien is a character that will make many readers cringe and want to throw their book/Kindle against a wall.

View all my reviews

Review: Mister Black (In the Shadows, #1), by P. T. Michelle

Mister Black (In the Shadows, #1)Mister Black by P.T. Michelle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short read has been hanging out on my TBR list for awhile. I picked up the Audible version because it was a relatively short audiobook. I don’t like to start long audiobooks at the end of my workweek because I generally don’t listen as much on the weekends. This book was about the right length to occupy my commute time, while still having enough time to finish it off before the weekend.

In any case, this book started off promising for me. Natalia, aka Talia, aka Red, is a young teenage girl at the onset of the story. She is walking alone in the city when she finds herself in a compromising position. Refusing to hand over her necklace, she engages in a dangerous stand-off with her homeless mugger.

Just as Talia is growing to appreciate the precarious situation she is in, a handsome young man comes to her rescue. “Mister Black” fends off her assailant and offers her a ride home. After he leaves she doesn’t see him again, but she thinks of him often.

Years later, Talia is an aspiring reporter looking to land an exclusive interview for her college paper. She knows that there is more to the mysterious death of the wealthy co-ed than the authorities are letting on. She is determined to speak to the victim’s roommate to get to the bottom of it.

Talia’s opportunity presents itself in the form of an exclusive party. Her best friend has an uncanny resemblance to another girl that has been invited. This other girl is not planning on attending, so she plans to assume her identity for the night and take Talia along with her.

Once Talia has gained access to the party, she focuses on finding the elusive roommate. However, before she does, she runs into the handsome stranger from her past. She had dreamed of the mysterious Mister Black for years, but now learns that his real name is Sebastian Quinn.

Sparks fly immediately between Talia and Quinn. Things get real smutty, real quick. Everything happened so quickly that I was kind of like, “what the hell just happened?”.

Then, Talia returns her focus to the story. Sebastian introduces her to the roommate, who happens to be his sister. She uncovers some shocking circumstances surrounding the death of the girl’s roommate. What she finds out resonates with her on a deeper level, as the details are eerily similar to secrets from her own past.

Just as the story is starting to take off, it draws to a close. Apparently, Mister Black/Sebastian is a Navy Seal. He is going to be deployed soon and Talia will have to wait to see him again. Bad timing and all that.

To get answers, I’d have to read the next book. Unfortunately, I just don’t care enough to do that. While this story was “okay”, it didn’t hold much appeal for me. It was too convenient and felt a little reminiscent of ‘Nancy Drew’ or ‘The Babysitter’s Club’ to me. Young, naive girl takes on a huge criminal organization and tackles corruption, exposing the wrong-doers, etc., etc. I just wasn’t feeling it.

View all my reviews

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!

View all my reviews

Review: Defy (Sinners of Saint, #0.5), by L. J. Shen

Defy (Sinners of Saint, #0.5)Defy by L.J. Shen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since reading ‘Vicious’, I have been looking forward to reading the story of Jaime and Melody. I love a forbidden love story and says “taboo” like a student-teacher romance. ‘Defy’ was everything that I had hoped for. I devoured this quick read and all of it’s naughty goodness!

After her dream career as a dancer comes to a tragic end, she is forced to pursue a lackluster job as a high school Literature teacher. With no real interest in teaching, she is less than enthused to face the spoiled rich kids than run the elite school where she’s been hired on a whim. It is no mystery to her that she doesn’t belong there and that the Principal intends to fire her at the first opportunity that she gets. With her job on the rocks, Melody Greene does the unthinkable – she has an affair with her high school student.

Of course, Jaime isn’t just any student. He’s the Principal’s out of control son. It seems that both teacher and son have an axe to grind with the Principal. What better way than by having an illicit affair right under her nose?

While this novella was steamy and sordid, with a dose of forbidden, it was also surprisingly sweet. L. J. Shen did a good job of showing the softer side of Jaime, while staying true to the privileged, above-the-law young man that we were introduced to as one of the four Hotholes in ‘Vicious’. There were really two sides to Jaime that were in stark contrast to one another.

Melody also proved to be a character that I really liked. She was so very human and flawed that she was easy to sympathize with. She was not blind to her faults or Jaime’s, but she loved him anyway. I loved that she chose to embrace her forbidden desires, pursuing a relationship with Jaime, knowing the controversy that would result. Similarly, I love that Jaime had the spine to stand up to his parents, even though it meant losing the wealth he’d always known.

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic novella. It was a steamy, short read and highly entertaining. If you enjoyed ‘Vicious’, or even if you didn’t, this is a great choice if you’re looking for a taboo, forbidden love story.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

Review: Blaire (Blaire, #1), by Anita Gray

BlaireBlaire by Anita Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read the blurb for ‘Blaire’, I was intrigued. I love nothing like a deliciously dark story that pushes my boundaries and makes me wriggle in nervous anticipation of what will come with the next turn of the page. Luckily for me, ‘Blaire’ did not disappoint. This book held my attention from start to finish.

Blaire was taken at a young age and subjected to horrific abuse. She was brainwashed and conditioned, both physically and mentally, to be the a slave for Maksim. Over time, she became his fiercest protector and most treasured possession. Despite her petite frame, she is more lethal than men twice her size.

When a rival crime boss, Charlie, enters the scene, it is clear that he is different. He doesn’t fear Maksim the way that others do. In fact, Maksim seems to be afraid of this newcomer. Their actions hint at a complicated history and it seems that Maksim may have betrayed Charlie in the past.

As repayment for past transgressions, Charlie asks to borrow Blaire from Maksim. He is in need of her expert hacking skills for a job that he has planned. Although, his keen interest in Blaire makes it clear that he is interested in far more than her computer skills.

To Blaire’s astonishment, Maksim agrees to Charile’s terms. Before she can voice her protest, she is drugged and taken to be Charlie’s captive. Soon, she is forced to feel things that she’s never experienced before and everything she knows is called into question.

Little by little, Blaire and Charlie’s relationship evolves into something entirely new to Blaire. Charlie treats her with kindness, which she had never experienced before. She battles between the feelings that she has and those that her conditioning tell her that she should have. She is beginning to fall for Charlie, but knows that this is the ultimate betrayal of Maksim, the man she has been groomed to protect and cherish.

Eventually, Blaire and Charlie must face the light. Blaire’s time with Charlie comes to an end. Betrayals and their consequences come to pass. Things go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye.

Reading Blaire’s story, I found myself enjoying this atypical captivity story quite a bit. Blaire wasn’t weak or even innocent, by any stretch of the imagination. She was a conditioned, hardened killer. Yet, she was vulnerable at the same time.

If dark stories with abuse do not appeal to you, then this is one that you’ll want to steer clear of. There are graphic accounts of sexual, physical and mental abuse in this book. Heed the warning in the book’s disclaimer.

If you enjoy dark stories, like I do, then ‘Blaire’ might prove to be just the book that you’re looking for. It is different from the plethora of other captivity-themed books out there. I enjoyed it quite a lot and will be reading the next book in the series when it is released.

View all my reviews

Review: Last Call (Cocktail, #4.5), by Alice Clayton

Last Call (Cocktail, #4.5)Last Call by Alice Clayton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It has been a long time since I read ‘Wallbanger’, but I was looking forward to seeing what the future held in store for Caroline and Simon. They stood out in my memory as being one of my favorite couples for their witty banter and humorous antics. Unfortunately, I think that I let too much time pass and the novelty has worn off.

Admittedly, I did skip ahead in this series. I never took the time to read the second, third or fourth books in the series, which were the spin-off stories of their friends. That proved to be somewhat important to fully enjoy this book. I thought that I could just skip the friends’ stories to get back to Simon and Caroline, I was wrong. Their friends and their relationships proved to me a significant part of this story.

Despite feeling lost for the first quarter or so of the book – totally my fault – I did enjoy this book as a whole. Once the focus shifted from the friends to Caroline and Simon, I found myself enjoying the tamer version of the couple that I remembered. The dynamics of their relationship were greatly changed, from adversarial to blissfully happy, but it was sweet.

All in all, it was a nice, sweet book. It had the feel of an extended epilogue for Simon, Caroline and their friends, providing closure and the HEAs that readers crave. There was nothing that ripped my heart out or made me feel intense emotions, but it was nice. Sometimes, you just need a nice, predictable read with a HEA. This book delivered on that account.

View all my reviews