Jennifer Bene and Thalia

Jennifer Bene likes to play in the deep, dark end of the pool, and I love to go swimming with her. Many of her stories have heavy themes like non-consent, D/s, and BDSM. Some of them are incredibly intense. They don’t all have happy endings. I’m looking right at you, Monster. Spoiler, there’s going to be more about that story in Thursday’s post. It makes my Top Ten, in fact, it’s in the top three.

I love her stories and have read almost everything she’s written. I’m working my way through the last three or four. I’m lucky enough to be on her ARC team, which means that I get to read her books early. On top of that, Jennifer is an all-around nifty person.

Today we’re talking about her Thalia series, Security Binds Her, Striking a Balance, Salvaged By Love, and Tying the Knot. There is also a companion novella, Christmas at Purgatory. They are all available on Kindle Unlimited so you can read them all for free. SBH is currently free to purchase, until 7/15.

Security Binds Her can be triggering to people because it is heavily non-consensual. Terrible, terrible things happen to Thalia. She is stolen by a security guard named Marcus so that he can train her to be submissive and sold as a sex slave. The man who stole her said that he recognized that she was a natural submissive, so he had to take her. The things that he does to her are terrible. What his partner does is even worse. Let’s just say that I will never think of electricity in quite the same way. Sadistic psychopaths are always fun. That’s only partly sarcasm.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Thalia. She is able to get away from her “Master”, Marcus. She is purchased and rescued by James, who is truly a good man, and helps her to heal and realize who she is. One thing that I really like about James is that he admits that he makes mistakes and he does what he can to fix them. He’s also willing to be held accountable by outside forces for some of the mistakes he made.

James gets help from his friend Kalen, his wife Maggie, and his sister Ailsa, when they visit Purgatory. Purgatory isn’t a bad place, it’s a BDSM training school. Thalia makes friends with other submissives, which really helps her to find a healthy place and her own voice.

Marcus turns obsessive and thinks that he and Thalia should be together forever, which leads to some nice conflict in Salvaged when he manages to grab her again. Thalia uses the feistiness that got her through SBH and uses it again here.

The stories are really good. There are good examples of bad Dominants, worse Dominants, and really good Dominants. There are also examples of good submissives and bad submissives. There is also a lot of discussion about submission. These books show a lot of examples of healthy D/s relationships, which seem to be missing in a lot of pop culture.

I really like Jennifer’s descriptions of women who are realizing that they like submission and punishment or that they are masochists. They don’t just magically realize oh, hey, this is what I am, awesome! There is some internal struggle to accept who they are and that they aren’t “wrong” for liking what they like or being who they are. Thalia really struggles here, mostly because she has to figure out how to go from a horrific 24/7 non-consensual experience to a healthy relationship with a balance of submissive and non-submissive behavior, especially since her first submissive experience was with Marcus, who was a sadist, and not in a fun way.

Anyway, this is a really good series to read, especially if you like dark erotica, a large helping of romance, and kink since there is a lot of it.The last book just came out on Monday, so this is a good time to read them.

 

Royally Mine

We interrupt your normal blog schedule to give you an important announcement.

Some of my favorite authors and their friends have gotten together to write a lovely anthology full of 22 different stories called Royally Mine. It’s full of hot, royal bad boys and the ladies they woo.

It’s available for preorder for $0.99 on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. It’s coming out in August, which means I have to wait for it. I’m being patient, really, I am. I can too be patient.

If it sounds like I’m excited about this book and I’m plugging the hell out of it, you would be totally right. So many of my favorite authors have written stories for it, and I am dying to read them. Knowing what authors are in it, there is going to be some kink, so if kink bothers you, this may not be your cocktail.

Alpha’s Claim Part 2

My last post was all about the Omegaverse, which is where the Alpha’s Claim series takes place. Today is all about the books. There will likely be some spoilers. Before I get into it, I just want to warn everyone that I deeply love these books, am heavily invested in them, and have had lots of discussions about them in Addison’s FB group. I’m always happy to discuss them more.

It’s going to be a pretty brief overview because if I go too much in-depth, I’ll give everything away. I just want to give you enough that you dash over to Amazon so that you go read them.

Addison Cain does amazing world building, it makes it easy to get into her worlds. Humanity has taken to living in various domes. The dome that we’re concerned about here is Tholos Dome, located in Antarctica. Not only has Tholos had to survive terrible wars and plagues, but the criminals that were sentenced to the tunnels under the Dome, called the Undercroft, have managed to break out and overthrow the city, so Tholos is in massive confusion.

In the destroyed Tholos Dome, Shepard, the Alpha-iest Alpha ever, led the criminals and executed the leaders of the city because of their corruption. He holds court in the Citadel every day. Claire, an Omega who is trying to disguise herself walks into the Citadel to confront him. She is trying to care for an enclave of Omegas who are in hiding so that they aren’t taken or forced into prostitution or a pair-bond. After her estrous is triggered by standing in a group of Alphas and faulty medication, a riot breaks out among all the Alphas and more aggressive Betas to see who can get to her first. Shepard wins, rushes her to his room, mates her, and forces a pair-bond with her.

Claire hates it, which I don’t blame her for it. She has spent her entire life trying to fight her biology, including staying celibate and locked in a room when she goes into heat. She fights off her initial estrous as much as possible in Shepard’s room so she can get her message to him. This says a lot about Claire. She is stubborn, devoted, and loyal. She wants to make sure that her people are safe, and that drives her a lot through the first two books.

We don’t have the same look in Shepard’s head that we do Claire’s, but it’s pretty obvious that he is pleased that he has a mate. He does love her, which is hard for Claire to understand. He does what he can to make sure that she is safe, which includes leaving her in a cinder block room, behind a locked door, and with a guard. That’s hard for Claire to adjust to. She often asks to see the sky or for a window, and at one point, Shepard points to his bookcase and tells her that there are a whole bunch of windows for her to use. When she does get to see the sky, she runs away.

That’s where we meet Corday. Corday is a young Beta who had been a LEO and is now in the resistance. Personally, I really don’t like Corday. In the later books, he really fucks things up and makes the situation worse. He doesn’t help out a whole lot here. He thinks he’s striking up a meaningful and potentially romantic relationship with Claire, while she sees him as a friend. He thinks he has some rights to Claire and that really colors all his actions. His actions cause a lot of problems.

Claire and Shepard are reunited and she gets pregnant. Her feelings towards Shepard start to change. Now, you know just as things are getting to be not so bad, something awful has to happen. And it does. That particular something awful’s name is Svana. She and Shepard have a lot of history. She’s a key to his plans. She is also a nasty, nasty, nasty bitch. Svana is also known as Leslie Cantor, niece to Senator Cantor, who was a leader of the city and in the resistance. Her actions cause Claire to run away again.

Svana puts her own plans into play, and she takes advantage of Corday. Remember how I don’t like him? This is part of it. She’s an Alpha and he’s a Beta, but I think that he should have at least started to see how he was being manipulated by him. He just never does. Not until Dane, another leader of the resistance, points some of it out to him.

Claire and Shepard are reunited, again. She struggles at this point. I mean, really struggles. She’s been separated from her Alpha, physically injured, assaulted, and isolated. None of that would be good for anyone, let alone a pregnant Omega. The amount of stress that she goes through is very hard on her. There are a lot of reasons for the stress. Part of it is that she and Shepard come from very different places and they each have a hard time seeing the other’s viewpoints. There is also a really good discussion of nature v. nuture that could happen here. Personally, I think it’s both. Their upbringing and their dynamics make it hard for each other to really understand the other.

Svana, with Corday’s help, causes lots of terrible things, and Claire suffers. Dear heavens, how that poor woman suffers. At the end of the books, Corday really gets on my nerves. He can’t leave poor Claire alone. He’s delusional and a twat.

There isn’t a traditional happily ever after here. It’s a dark romance. Dark romance doesn’t always have the happy couple riding off into the sunset. But, it works for the books, and it made me think for days. I also cried for hours after reading this. For most of the last half of the last book, which I haven’t really talked about at all, I cried. Addison has said that she cried writing it. It is hard to read. It’s intense. I read Born to Be Broken and Reborn back to back. My husband still calls them the series that devastated me.

I’ve glossed over most of the series because to go too far into it will mean that I give things away. Addison has put in so many subplots that all turn around and tie into each other and meet the main plot. You look at things that happened in the first book and at the end of the last book, you finally understand why they happened. It’s amazing, and that level of complexity leads to a great series and one that stays with you. I love these books and re-read them, a lot. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Alpha’s Control series which takes place in the same world and lets us see favorite characters. There is a sneak peak of it at the back of Sovereign, which is the second book of Addison’s great Irdesi Empire series.

I hope that I have whetted your appetite and that you find these books as compelling as I do. If you want to talk to me about them, I’m always up for that. Leave a comment and I promise I’ll answer. If I have convinced you to give them a try, remember that until 7/11, Born to Be Bound is absolutely free on Amazon. That’s a great deal. If you want recommendations on what Addison Cain books to read, the answer is all of them.

Blog posts for the rest of this week will be about Jennifer Bene, another favorite dark author, and her Thalia series, on Tuesday. On Thursday, you are going to get my personal Top Ten list of the darkest, most fucked up things I’ve ever read. Spoiler, Addison Cain and Jennifer Bene both show up on that list.

Alpha’s Claim Part 1

The Alpha’s Claim series by Addison Cain is an Omegaverse dystopian trilogy. Cain writes dark romance, with heavy themes, including non-consent and power exchange.

Now, while you may be familiar with dystopian fiction, most people don’t know what the Omegaverse is. I didn’t when I started reading the first book, Born to Be Bound. The Omegaverse is an alternate universe in which humans are broken down into three dynamics, Alpha, Beta, and Omega. The Alpha is the most dominant dynamic, generally warriors, leaders, captains of industry, and so on. Betas are the most common dynamic and would be your average human being. Omegas are the rarest dynamic and are generally very submissive. The Alphas have a knot at the base of their penis that locks into the Omega during sex, which keeps the penis in place. Omegas will go into heat, at which point they need to have sex, and it may last for a few days. Alphas have the same thing, only called rut. An Alpha’s rut can be triggered by an Omega’s heat. Alphas form pair-bonds with their Omegas. The pair-bond forms an unbreakable link between the two of them. That link can be used to feel the emotions of the other.

Most Omegaverse stories are male/male stories and either feature male Omegas who can get pregnant or female breeders who are only there for breeding purposes with the primary relationship being between two men. Addison’s books are one of the two series I have found on Amazon that have a male/female primary relationship. In her series, Alphas and Betas can be both male and female. There are also male Omegas, but they are especially rare, and we don’t see any in this series, although they are mentioned.

A male and female Alpha don’t tend to have relationships with each other because they are both too dominant. There also wouldn’t be a pregnancy between the two without serious medical intervention. The best way for a female Alpha to get pregnant is with a male Omega.

An Omega female can hide her dynamic and try to pass as a Beta. The heroine of the Alpha’s Claim series, Claire, does that. It takes a lot of work to do. She has to take heat suppressants to keep from going into estrous, as well as using special soaps and shampoos so her scent doesn’t betray her, and removing her body hair.

Coming tomorrow, my take on the actual books. Meanwhile, if you go over to Amazon 7/7-11, you can get Born to Be Bound for free. It’s a great story and series that I’ve reread a zillion times. The book was my jumping off point for Addison Cain and into the darker side of romance.