Showing posts with label Dark Romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dark Romance. Show all posts

Series Review // Ransom by A.T. Douglas

February 05, 2024

Hello and Happy Monday!

Sorry I disappeared for a few days and not sharing my regular posts. However, I did make an effort to appear on pages and blogs to read your posts and leave comments if I could. My anxiety got really bad and when I feel overwhelmed like that, I step away from everything I can to give myself a chance to sort of reboot. I only needed a week this time, but I'm back!

Today's flashback is the Ransom series by A.T. Douglas. I read and reviewed these books back in 2015, in my early romance reading days, and I remember enjoying it. It's dark with a captive/captor theme, so if that's not your type of read, this won't be a recommendation for you. If it is your jam, have you given these books a try?

1. Beyond Ransom

My body is broken.

My life is shattered.

Everything I've ever known is gone from me, yet I've discovered something beautiful.

I didn't expect to be taken. I never dreamed that love would find me while my life was slowly stripped away. With him something new and alive stirs within me, and I am completely changed.

Though battered and broken-down, I'm not alone. The most unlikely man protects me and gives me strength.

I will survive this for him. I will find a way to save us both.

While they hold me, he holds my heart, and I'm not willing to pay the price to get it back.

Rating -

After reading the blurb, I honestly thought this book/series would be great. Not so much. The plot was hella interesting, but there was a real disconnect between logic and reality.

What I liked:
- Mark. Yeah, he's the bad guy. But he was the most consistent person in the book. He was also the most interesting. I really wanted to get to know him, especially after he revealed his motives for kidnapping Morgan
- The concept. I always find time to read a good dark book and it doesn't get darker than a captive book (i.e. Captive in the Dark -- so good!)
- Leo. His story is going to be amazing I'm sure, considering the big reveal of Mark's behind the death of his family

What I didn't like:
- Morgan. This chick was TSTL!! Usually I chalk it up to the fact of young age (her being 18 and all), but unfortunately, in her case, I can't. She's the daughter of a famous police detective. She's shown evidence (many times) that her father taught her well (she seems to know guns inside and out). She reminds of almost every other teenager out there who wants to grow up before it's time and plays grown up. Without any real concept of what being an adult really means. So I conclude that she's an idiot. My proof? You need more??? Well, at the 86% mark, she gives a lengthy monologue of how proud of herself she is to be a valuable member of Mark's crew. How everyone respects her for the great job she's doing. Am I the only one that could see that her "job" was as a distracting bimbo? Qualifications: empty space in your head. Skills: pretty to look at, ability to fill out hooker dress, know how to twirl hair around finger, be able to hold an empty stare, etc. This girl is a freaking idiot and there is not one quality of hers that is redeeming. She is unlikable, unappealing, and absolutely nothing she did was endearing. I have no connection to her and actually felt vindicated every time Mark roughed her up. I'm just saying *shrugs*

- time passes but there really isn't anything to show for it. It's casually mentioned, almost as an afterthought
- how unrealistic this story is. Let's be honest here. If this were "life-like", Morgan would have been brutally raped and/or murdered already. She has no means of escape. None. This has been established. But then she provokes the one person who holds her life in his hands??? More proof of how TSTL she really is. Oh, and then she trusts and immediately falls in love with one of her captors. I'm not saying Leo's not a great guy, but when given the chance to save herself from Mark's clutches, she chooses to stay for Leo. I know that choice needed to be made to even have a story, but it wasn't reasonable. Who would choose uncertain death and certain pain over family and safety???

So overall, a decent story, and because I want to see more of Leo and Mark, I will be reading book 2.

2. Beyond Revenge

We made a decision.

We had a plan.

We were so close to having it all, then it was snatched away before our eyes.

Our bodies and minds are pushed to the brink of destruction. We wither away into darkness with more to lose than ever, but we are strengthened by our love and hold on to hope. It’s all we have left in the devastating chasm between us.

We keep reaching and holding on, striving to overcome the power of vengeance.

We will find a way.

Rating -

Well I'm glad that evil didn't prosper in this book. That would have been terrible. But I must say that Mark gave me a lot of interesting parts to read. Again, he was the most interesting character. Leo made a wonderful appearance as well and I'm glad the author chose to change this into a dual pov installment. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it quite as much if it weren't for Leo's perspective. Why? Because I still just couldn't find a reason to like Morgan. I was so tired of seeing her, hearing her, reading her, etc. Truth be told, she's the reason this book lost two stars.

I must admit to a bit of confusion on my part. The book ends without any update on what's going on with Morgan's father. Am I really supposed to be invested in their HFN with this unresolved? They seemed a bit too carefree in the end, she keeps saying "We're free", but her dad was locked up last I heard. And you're living in hiding. Who the freak is free???

Now, maybe I'm a bit too optimistic, but I hope the confusion is cleared up with the next installment. Although, with the blurb and reviews I've seen, it doesn't seem that promising :(

3. Beyond Resistance

My family has suffered and sacrificed for me my entire life.

It's time for me to give back to them.

Over twenty years have passed since the events that both created and almost destroyed my family. We've been in hiding, secluded from the world for all these years, but that's about to change.

It's time to emerge and bring the rest of my family back to us after being separated for so long. It’s time for me to step beyond what’s safe to find something worth living for.

Or someone.

The danger we face is worth it. We'll risk everything to be together, because it's impossible to resist the power of family and love.

Rating -

I tried. I honestly really tried. I tried to give this book a chance. A real and fair chance. I just couldn't. I'm going to be honest even further and tell you that I skimmed through this sucker like crazy. Why? Because nothing, and I mean nothing, about it grabbed my attention long enough for me to actually pay attention. I get it. Dante is a big boy now, wanting to reunite his family. Mission accomplished. But the family is still in hiding. Maybe not on the run, but they have aliases. That is NOT living free people!

Here's why I can't complete connect with this story: why, of all the crimes and criminals in the United States of America, were these people the most notorious? A lot of serial killers don't even get that much attention. So again, what about them was supposed to convince me that the entire nation was on the lookout? What about them would have the entire nation in an uproar? I'm just not buying it and therefore I couldn't even believe in the unbelievable, because it was too unbelievable.

Again, keep in mind I read this years ago and gave each book 3 stars.
After re-reading my reviews, I'm not entirely sure why, but I trust 2015 Natalie enough to go with it.

Series Review // The Beast by Jaden Wilkes

January 15, 2024

The Beast series by Jaden Wilkes

Today's flashback is The Beast series by Jaden Wilkes. I read these books many years ago and each book made the series better and better. Per the author: This is not a fairy tale, this is what happens when the music ends and life goes on after the credits roll. This is about simply existing until you find yourself and write your own happily ever after, no matter what form it takes.

1. The Beast

Dimitri Sokolov is a man scarred, physically and emotionally. From the rough streets of Moscow to the highest ranks in the Solntsevskaya Bratva, he has seen it all.

An attack four years ago left him disfigured and in seclusion, hiding from reactions to his appearance and in safety from those who failed to kill him the first time.

Comfortable in his penthouse, managing his billion dollar businesses, he's resigned himself to be alone, simply called The Beast among those who've dealt with him in the past.

Columbia Grey is a pseudo-activist trying to save her neighbourhood from a developer intent on levelling it to build apartment towers. She goes along with a plan to confront the CEO of the company on his own turf, to force him to listen to her demands...all in a pathetic attempt to impress a man she barely likes.

Little does she know, she's taken herself into the mouth of the beast, a man familiar with death and destruction, sex and seduction, a man used to getting exactly what he wants and a man with nothing left to lose.

She's a beauty, but will that be enough to tame the beast and save her life?

Rating -

This is the first book I've read from Jaden Wilkes and I thoroughly enjoyed it's dark and twisted theme. She surely drew my mind into a nightmare. This book does touch on some BDSM but more on the S & M side.

Unfortunately I suffered a disconnect from the characters. I'm not sure what I was looking for but by the end I hadn't found it. It was hard to like Columbia. I couldn't really get into her head although half the story is told from her POV. And she truly pissed me off at one point. When Dimitri was trying to get her to submit she kept begging to go home. Internally she wanted to get back to her life. What life? Wasn't she molested by her dad/step-dad for over a decade? I get she wanted to protect her sister, but when Dimitri offered to kill him, she wasn't exactly screaming "YES PLEASE!!" So yeah, she didn't exactly float my boat. I'm hoping for better from her in the next book, especially because of that epilogue.

I actually really liked Dimitri. He's the sole reason this book gets 3 stars. He was dark, twisted, disfigured, vengeful, a killer, a wee bit insane, etc. Everything I want in a dark hero. He's not a good guy and he's not sorry about it. However, I do think he's the perfect match for Columbia. What he's gone through is excruciating, from childhood to now, and I like that he's finally able to grab a slice of happy with her.

I'm off to read book 2 and hopefully find what was missing in this one.

2. Perfectly Normal

Take a girl like Columbia, put her in a vastly different life with a man unlike anyone she's ever known. Throw in Dimitri's nightmares, the Concierge's disdain for Dimitri's new house guest and a few hundred people looking high and low for the both of them...and it makes for a very interesting read.

Picking up at the end of the last chapter, this novel covers the time until the two leave Hong Kong, before the epilogue of the first bestselling novel in this series, The Beast.

Two twisted and imperfect beings must adjust to their new lives together while avoiding detection from authorities and an international crime ring.

Rating -

I just love when the heroine of the story gets a backbone. In this installment, Columbia is determined to learn what it takes to be a part of Dimitri's life, including how to kill.

This book had all the excitement and action I was missing in the first one. I really liked it. I got a little bothered by how lovey dovey Dimi and Col were, but it was still sweet lol. Dimitri is still my favourite character, however, Columbia has definitely come into her own and has endeared herself to me. I'm not quite as annoyed by her as I was in the previous book. Nico's new role, or rather no longer hidden role, was intriguing, however, I'm not a fan of threesomes. I am a firm believer in one man for one woman and vice versa. It may be old fashioned but I am crazy possessive and have no intention of sharing or being shared. Maybe it's part of my older sibling syndrome. Who knows. But that was the only big issue I had with this book. It was hot as f*ck but not my cup of tea. It didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book, so that's a plus. And I'm still interested in finding out more about the mysterious Nico.

I'm really curious about who this Ioana character is and how she ties in with Columbia and Dimitri. I'm sure it's going to be one fun adventure in book 3.

3. Little Dove

How can you ever hope to find normal when your life is anything but?

Determined to make amends for his past, and show Columbia he truly is a changed man, Dimitri sets out to right wrongs and decimate those who bring nothing but sorrow to the world.

Something goes wrong and Columbia is taken, spirited away into the underground world of sex trafficking and international crime syndicates.

Dimitri must fight his way across the Europe to find her and bring her home. He would rather see the world burn than live without her in it.

He will tear the world apart looking for his little dove.

This is a tragic story exploring the consequences of daring to love in the midst of chaos and terror.

Rating -

HOLY FREAKING SH*T!! This was the BEST book out of the entire series!!

This book had everything I was looking for from the previous books. EVERYTHING!!

Torture. Killing. Fighting. Dubious consent (although there was absolutely no doubt that most people would not be consenting to the madness!). Love. Devotion. Loyalty. More killing. More torture. Mercenaries. New alliances. Rocket launchers. New friendships. Just wonderful wonderful wonderful things.

I actually loved Columbia (finally!) in this book. She was freaking amazing. Girl could hold her own in a male dominated ?industry? Not sure what you would call it, but she did her thang. She still got a little too stuck in her head, but overall her character was stellar!

Dimitri. Dimi. Frig I loved this dude. All things Dimi were amazing as usual. His madness. His torture schemes. His freaking love, loyalty and devotion were off the freaking charts. This man could do absolutely no wrong in my eyes. I want a Dimitri in my life too dammit!

Honestly, I could list point for point why this book was incredible but I'm not going to ruin the plot for anyone. And I'm not going to take away from Jaden Wilkes' profits. She did an awesome job with writing this story and you need to do yourself a favour and freaking read it!

Review // Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver

December 19, 2023

Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver

Find it here: Goodreads * Amazon

Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver

Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver

Rating -
The Ruinous Love Trilogy #1
Genre/Trope - Dark Romance / friends to lovers / killers
Release - October 23, 2023
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - explicit scenes
Source - ebook from NetGalley
Length - 355 pages

When a chance encounter sparks an unlikely bond between rival murderers Sloane and Rowan, they find something elusive—the friendship of two like-minded, pitch-black souls who just happen to enjoy killing other serial killers.

From small-town West Virginia to upscale California, and from downtown Boston to rural Texas, the two hunters collide in an annual game of blood and suffering, one that pits them against the most dangerous monsters in the country.

But as their friendship develops into something more, the restless ghosts left in their wake are only a few steps behind, ready to claim more than just their newfound love.

Can Rowan and Sloane dig themselves out of a game of graves?
Or have they finally met their match?

Sloane is the only person in the world who can look at my monster and find a friend.

Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver
Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver
Butcher & Blackbird by Brynne Weaver

Sweet baby geezus! Who knew a killing game among serial killers could be so hilarious, endearing, sexy, and ewww?

When you're a serial killer who kills serial killers, it's hard to develop a good romance with someone. What happens when you meet someone who is just. like. you? Who sees you? Who truly understands you?

You get the fun adventures of Butcher and Blackbird. Rowan was an absolute sweetheart and Sloane was a total darling. Togther, they were magnificent!!

I'm not going to rehash the story. I am going to tell you that if you don't mind a bit of gore, accidental cannibalism, and a connection that grows throughout years of pushing and pulling, with Rowan walking a delicate balance not to scare Sloane away, you're going to LOVE this story as much as I did. Five stars doesn't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this read.

Brynne is a fan of velociraptors, the Alien movies (well, most of them), red wine, and wild adventures.

She can relate nearly anything you say to a line from the movie Hot Fuzz. She has been trying unsuccessfully for years to convince her husband that they should acquire a pet mink to add to their menagerie of animals (what could possibly go wrong with that plan?!).

Brynne has been everything from an archaeologist to a waitress, a deep-sea core analyst to an advertising account executive. For the last several years, she has been working in the field of neuroscience clinical research. Brynne has been writing since childhood and has published a non-fiction book under her real name, but she won’t tell you what it is unless you provide a live, fully trained velociraptor.

When not busy at her day job or writing, Brynne can be found working with her husband and their son on their family farm in Nova Scotia, Canada, or enjoying her other passions which include riding horses, reading, and spending time with family and friends around a raclette and a bottle of wine.

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Review // Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton

December 08, 2023

Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton

I don’t care if I need to set this world on fire until there’s no one left but you and me. The world will burn around us, and I’ll gladly live in chaos with you as long as the only person that is a danger to you is me.

Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton

Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton

Rating -
Book Two of the Cat and Mouse duet
Genre/Trope - Dark Romance / stalker / vigilante
Release - January 28, 2022
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - explicit scenes
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Length - 531 pages

The Diamond

Death walks alongside me,
But the reaper is no match for me.
I'm trapped in a world full of monsters dressed as men, and those who aren't as they seem.
They won't keep me forever.
I no longer recognize the person I've become,
And I'm fighting to find my way back to the beast who hunts me in the night.
They call me a diamond,
But they've only created an angel of death.

The Hunter

I was born a predator,
With ruthlessness ingrained in my bones.
When what's mine is stolen from me in the night,
Like a diamond hidden within a fortress,
I find that I can no longer contain the beast.
Blood will paint the ground as I tear apart this world to find her.
And bring her back to where she belongs.
No one will escape my wrath,
Especially not those who have betrayed me.

Don't forget to check out the first book of the duet:

I really had to suspend my belief for this one. Some things just didn't make sense in a realistic sense, but I'll tell you this: I was entertained!!

Adeline was kidnapped and being trained to be sold. I really enjoyed this part of the story. She went through so much pain and torture and it all fundamentally changed her. I kept thinking "Will she see Zade in a different light?" She gave Zade such a hard time for everything he did to eradicate the world from abusive scum, but at the same time she celebrated the fact that he would be killing everyone who hurt her while they were apart. Girl was too funny, for sure.

I know there are people who find the topics discussed in this duet as terribly dark and horrific. If that's what you think, you should definitely not read Deliverance for Amelia by Bonny Capps or The Life of Anna series by Marissa Honeycutt—those are truly dark and horrific. This duet was pretty mild in comparison, but it did gut me in places. I cringed, gasped and my eyes did bug out for some scenes. However, I also enjoyed myself a ton.

My biggest issue with this story was Adeline. While I lived in delusional-ville for the majority of this story, I couldn't let the delusion take me too far. Was I supposed to believe that Adeline became fully capable after a couple of months of training? Seriously? And every time she mentioned "we" did this in order to fool or trap the bad guys, I laughed. I know she was using the "we" figuratively, but there was no "we". She wasn't hacking anything. She wasn't building bombs or placing them to detonate. She wasn't tracking or really doing a damn thing.

H. D. Carlton is an International and USA Today Bestselling author. She lives in Ohio with her partner, two dogs, and cat. When she's not bathing in the tears of her readers, she's watching paranormal shows and wishing she was a mermaid. Her favorite characters are of the morally gray variety and believes that everyone should check their sanity at the door before diving into her stories.

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