DCMA and Ridiculous Lawsuits

This isn’t quite a part 2 to the blog post I wrote last week. It’s more like an addendum.

Golden Angel, who is a wonderful author, already wrote one excellent blog post about this situation. It was a good overview of the situation but didn’t go really deep. There’s a lot of reasons for this. One is the fact that the whole Omegaverse thing is incredibly complex*. It’s easy for someone to claim that all the stuff from Addison’s and Zoey’s books are common. In fact, that’s part of the claim. There are tens of thousands of stories out there on fanfic sites, so for all anyone can tell, on a superficial look, there could be. So, Golden decided to disappear so that she could delve deeper, into both the lawsuit and the claims that what happens in the books are common.

Her newest blog post is deep and long. She breaks down Addison’s books and Zoey’s books by their beats, and color codes everything in a table, so it’s easy to see what’s happening at a glance. She also looks at a selection of fanfic off AO3, chosen to be similar to the books. It’s an excellent blog post that I highly recommend. And, if I were a literature prof, I would definitely give her an A.

*As an example of how complex the whole Omegaverse thing is, last week, I read 3 Omegaverse books. One was Lillian Sand’s latest book, which was the last book in her newest series. I also read Susi Hawke and Crista Crown’s newest, as well as the newest from Aiden Bates. In order, they are an MF book in a series with heavy dubcon/capture themes, an MM shifter book, and an MM book. The last 2 both include male pregnancy, which is a common aspect in MM omegaverse, but there are a few that don’t have that aspect. Susi and Crista’s books have fated mates, which is often the case with shifter Omegaverse. Aiden’s book has an Alpha and Omega who are attracted to each other, and realize that there is something about the other. Some other books that fall into the same kind of category as Aiden’s book have Alphas and Omegas who are attracted by each other’s personal scents.

I could go on and on about the complexity of the Omegaverse and only brush on 1/100th of it.

Anyway, go read Golden’s newest post and get a much better understanding as to what’s going on.

 

Addison Cain, Plagiarism, and Law Suits

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I love Addison Cain’s books. I’ve actually reviewed or talked about all but one, I think. I count her as a friend. She was the first author I friended and talked to after I read Born to Be Broken and Reborn back to back, around 2 years ago now.

There are has been a lot of drama in Romancelandia, just like any other community. We had Faleena Hopkins last year, and now we have #CopyPasteCris. Faleena Hopkins is an indie author who tried to copyright the word cocky, which is a common word in romance book titles. She went after several authors, Tara Crescent being one of them. Tara has books that have the word cocky in the title, many of which predate Hopkin’s book. There is more to it, but that’s the basics. BTW, Hopkins doesn’t think a whole lot of romance readers, and that includes the ones who read her books. She thinks that her readers won’t understand that books with cocky in the title aren’t the same as her Cocker Brothers series and will buy the wrong book. Whatever.

Then, we have #CopyPasteCris. Christine Serruya is an “author”. It turns out that she took passages from something like 50 books from 30 authors. Yeah. And not just indie authors, she also took passages from Diana Gabaldon and Nora Roberts. Nora will hopefully stomp her into the ground, and she has the traditional publisher behind her to do it. Courtney Milan broke the scandal on her blog, because Serruya took huge chunks of one of her books and used them create her own story. She also submitted that book for consideration for romance awards. Stealing from Milan was stupid, she teaches intellectual property law and clerked for SCOTUS.

So, what do either of these things have to do with Addison Cain? Well, let me tell you. It may get long, so be prepared.

Way back in 2016, Addison published a book called Born to Be Bound. It is something new, at least on Amazon. It’s a MF Omegaverse, also called A/B/O. There are a lot of MM Omegaverse on Amazon at this point, but as far as I can tell, Addison is the very first MF. Her story had been on Literotica for some time prior. I don’t know how long, I didn’t read it on Lit. BtBB had two sequels, Born to Be Broken, and Reborn. When I first read the Alpha’s Claim series 2 years ago, I went looking for other MF Omegaverse, but I couldn’t find any. I found plenty of MM, and learned the joys of that and mpreg. It wasn’t for a while before I ran into Carolyn Faulkner, Nora Ashe, Cara Bristol, and later, Zoey Ellis. These days, there are a lot more people getting into the MF Omegaverse. Addison has 2 new series using the trope. Ivana B. Kinkee, Lillian Sable, M.D. Pentacles, Milana Jacks, and Sara Fields all have books and series in print or about to be released that are Omegaverse. Kay Elle Parker has an Omegaverse-adjacent story. MF Omegaverse is becoming more popular.

Now, there are people who are saying that Addison says she started it altogether. Nope, she’s never said it. What she has said is that as far as she knows, she’s the first one to publish MF Omegaverse on Amazon.

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Specifically on Amazon. I can guarantee that is what the questioner meant, because that was my comment.

That’s a huge difference between saying she was the first to write it and that she was the first one to write it on Amazon. In fact, she’s talked about seeing fanfic on An Archive of Our Own. This is a HUGE collection of fanfic, including a buttload of a/b/o. Like somewhere around 14K. Full disclosure, I have not read anything there, mostly because I have a shitload of books on my TBR piles, and partly because I don’t like reading things like that on my computer, because it makes it hard for me to do the things I need to do. One of these days, I’ll go over on my Kindle to read it that way. This is what Addison has said about the suggestion of her owning the Omegaverse. It’s from 2016.

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Anyway, from what I’ve seen and researched, it’s generally accepted that Omegaverse/A/B/O first showed up in Supernatural fanfic in 2010. It shows up a lot on AO3. There are some other fanfic sites, but I think that AO3 is the biggest and most comprehensive. It’s moved into all kinds of other fanfic, including into Japanese stuff. I’ve seen it said that it showed up in other fandoms, but most agree that it’s Supernatural. In the Omegaverse stories on AO3, you will find MM, MF, FF, FM, FF, and possibly some combinations thereof.

I have found some sources that say that it was before that and in different fandom, but there’s that.

Now, there are some things that are common in the Omegaverse. Knots on the Alpha, slick on the Omega, estrous/heat, bond/mate marks and links, growling and purring, scenting one another, and nesting are all pretty common in the trope. Not all of the books I’ve read have all of these factors, and some have them and have tweaked them a bit. No one owns these things, and as far as I know, no one has claimed they had the very, very, very first use of these.

Now that I’ve said all that, forget all about Omegaverse and who created it. This post is really about what happened next. And what has happened for the past year. I’ve known about bits and pieces of it for several months, but since Addison was keeping it quiet, I kept it quiet. Addison is now #GettingLoud and has written an excellent blog post about what’s been happening. Golden Angel also wrote an excellent post, where she goes through and breaks the books down, and is looking at writing another. Courtney Milan has talked about it on Twitter, but she doesn’t have all the pieces and is not quite informed of some of the other things, but generally, her posts aren’t terrible at it. One of the things that she got wrong is that she thought that the case was about Addison trying to claim she created the Omegaverse, doing just what Faleena did with the word cocky. But again, forget all about Omegaverse here. She also freely admits that she hasn’t read either book. Full disclosure, I have read all of Alpha’s Claim books by Addison Cain, and the first 3 books of Zoey Ellis’ Myth of Omega. I also ARCed the 3rd book, which was when I learned about what was happening.

So, what did come after? That’s the crux of the story. And what came after was plagiarism and harassment and one author whipping up ire against another. And nuisance lawsuits. BTW, there is a GoFundMe set up to help Addison with the lawyer fees from yet another set of ridiculous lawsuits by Zoey Ellis.

In January of 2018, Zoey Ellis wrote her first Omegaverse book, Crave to Conquer. It was an MF book, and it seems different to BTBB if you just throw a brief glance at it, but trust me, it’s not different. Once you get into it, you see that there is a lot of stuff that is the same. It starts with the cover art, which isn’t necessarily a big thing, because there are only so many stock photos and models out there. But then you have similar heroine names, and the barebones plot is very similar. (Golden Angel’s blog post breaks it down really well) When I read it, I thought, well huh, that’s very much like Addison Cain’s Born to Be Bound. I thought it was a little weird, but I also thought, you know, similar trope, similar conventions, similar kind of story, right? But, still, I thought yeah, wow, very similar. I was excited that there was another MF Omegaverse out there, so I looked forward to the next book anyway. Do you wanna know how I found about about CtC? It was through Addison, she was very excited to support another author. That’s how she is.

Then, readers started noticing that huh, this is A LOT like BtBB. Really a lot. And they brought it to Addison’s attention. She read it, and was like, huh, what do you know? It is a lot like BtBB. So, she did everything that you were supposed to do. Including going to her publisher and getting a DMCA takedown request for the book. Do you know what she didn’t do? She didn’t go to her fans and tell us all about it so that we could go to Zoey Ellis’ author page or her books and run them down. She didn’t say any word about anything. She didn’t say anything when Zoey and the woman who has been stalking Addison and who, incidentally, happens to be Zoey’s lawyer showed up at various events running her down and handing out business cards that could cause problems. Even now, after her post going wide, Addison hasn’t said anything bad at all about her. She still isn’t whipping us up. I’m writing this post all on my own.

I only learned about this last year, when Zoey’s book 3 came out. I ARCed it and put info about it coming out in an Omegaverse group that Addison admins. Addison deleted the post, and messaged me and let me know what was going on. Addison telling me that made an email that Zoey sent out about her ARC make sense. Her email basically said that on the recommendation of her lawyer and because of legal problems, she couldn’t send the book out until release day. I thought that was just a wee bit weird, but if you’ve signed up for ARCs or are a blogger, you know that we always have to agree that we won’t pirate it and understand that it’s the property of the author, etc, etc, etc, so I figured it was just that.

As a blogger, I’ve vowed to never work with Zoey Ellis, or any other pen name she has that I might become aware of. I don’t deal with plagiarizers. On top of that, I don’t deal with bullies. In my real life, or my real life that isn’t about books, I’m a content writer. Basically, I ghostwrite blog posts for people who want to improve their SEO on their site. I’ve done this for 10 years now, and I’m fairly good at it, if I do say so myself. I’ve written thousands of articles, and hundreds of thousands of words, I expect. But, give me a keyword on anything from piezoelectrics to medical marijuana, and I can give you 400 words in about 20 minutes. In 10 years, I have never plagiarized. I run my articles through plagiarism checkers. And that’s for an article that will never appear under my name and that I will get a relatively small amount of money for. I am deeply offended by plagiarists. I get that writing fiction is different from what I write. Writing fiction is just hard, I think. That’s why I stopped trying to do NaNoWriMo. Give me blogging any day. But it should never be so hard that you have to copy someone else. Be inspired by someone, sure, but come up with your own words and worlds and ideas to go with that inspiration

OK, nearly 2000 words and 2 days and a lot of skull sweat went into this. I hope it makes sense. I hope that it hopes to clear things up for people. I hope that I remembered to clear up all the errors.

As a warning, I have heard about people trying to dox Addison and Zoe. It will not happen here. If anyone tries to post a comment with real names or addresses, I will hammer you down with my mighty Hammer of Administration.

Addison Cain-A Shot in the Dark

We are back in Addison Cain’s sweet world today with A Shot in the Dark. Don’t get used to it. I’m pretty sure that we have to wait for the next planetary alignment for anything as sweet and light as this duet was. And you know what? I’m perfectly at peace with that. I’ll just read Addison’s dark and twisted stories between now and then. And be tortured by the word Soooooon.

Since this is the second book of a duet, it picks up right where the first one left off. If you haven’t read that one, well, first why not? And second, go read it and then read this one. Be aware that there will probably be spoilers for the first book in here. It’s the nature of the beast and I will try to keep them as mild as possible. Also, if you’ve looked at the series name, A Trick of the Light, and think it looks familiar, well, you’re right. Addison took the book A Trick of the Light, and expanded and broke it down into two books. I like where Addison broke the book up because it always felt like a natural break to me. Every time I read the book, I thought that it really felt like a Book 2 kind of thing, so it really works, in my theoretically humble opinion.

So, Charlie has run away because Eli is an idiot. Personally, I think that she should’ve just busted him in the mouth. God knows Matthew wouldn’t’ve had a problem with it. He might’ve stood in line after her to do it. But, she ran away back to Chicago and off to the Drake Hotel and Radcliffe. But that’s not going to work for Matthew. Nope, he wants her home, because that’s where she belongs. So, off he goes to Chicago, dragging his little lambs behind him, to bring her home. When he does find her at the Drake, Tommy, one of Beau’s boys is there with her, and he punches Tommy smack in the mouth, and walks off with Charlie.

I really like Charlotte. I truly relate to her because I’ve felt like I didn’t fit in sometimes, I think we all have, and finding that one person who could accept us is just amazing. And that’s Matthew for her. Even though she’s found that place and that person, it doesn’t mean that it magically made Charlie fit in. There are a lot of people shoved into Charlotte, depending on where she is, what she’s doing, and who she’s with, and trying to figure out who the true Charlotte is and where she belongs isn’t an easy task, especially when she has people who love her pulling her in a lot of directions. It’s a good thing that Charlie is good and strong, isn’t it? Of course, that doesn’t always make it easier, but nothing has ever been easy for her. I think that’s why she’s so willing to fight when she has to. And she will fight hard for the people she loves, even if they don’t really want her to.

Matthew is a good man. He’s a silent man, he just doesn’t have a lot to say and he’s not going to run his mouth to run his mouth. If Matthew says something, you know it’s important. He is much more of an action kind of person. His love language is making sure that the people he loves are safe and taken care of. Like doing things like going out and buying tea for Charlie and making sure that her favorite tea is supplied to her, or teaching her how to cook, or any of those things. It can make it hard to read him, but I think, overall, it’s something that Charlie does really well. He’s also really, really solid. He’s a rock and he’s going to be there to support everyone he loves and to give them someplace to hang onto. I really like that about him. Everyone needs to have a rock to cling to when things are crazy.

Yes, this is a light and sweet Addison Cain, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lost any of the strong emotion that Addison writes. There is a lot of that, and it will reach out and grab you.

Addison always does really well with worldbuilding, but she’s not creating a world from scratch with this one, but she does really well at catching all the changes that were going on in the world during this time period. I love how she catches the perceived glamor of people like Al Capone while also getting the muck that was the reality.

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One of the most epic things I’ve read in a while is Charlie just walking through and killing people as needed, no matter what is going on to either side of her. Seriously, that as just BAMF AF.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. Go read this, especially if you love historical romance. Happy reading!

Addison Cain-Broken Captive

Addison has finally decided to spare us our agony and #ReleasetheMeat and give us the 3rd installment of Wren’s story with Broken Captive. And oh my sweet and unholy fuck, it sure as fuck broke me. If you haven’t read the first 2 books of this series, you should probably put this review down, go read all the books, and then come back. There will be spoilers from the other 2 books in this review, that’s the nature of a serial like this where Addison tortures us with cliffies. So, you have been warned. If you follow me past the cliff and you get spoiled for books 1 & 2, you only have yourself to blame. Last chance.

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So, at the end of the last book, Wren went a little… crazy. OK, maybe more than just a little. Maybe a lot crazy. She attacked Caspian, Kieran, and Toby with a piece of rebar that had a chunk of cement on it. She was punished, badly. She was beaten, bitten, fucked, and broken. And in that time, Caspian actually mated with her, so now she’s mated to Toby and Caspian, and she’s pretty sure that Kieran hates her for sure. Toby says he loves her, but his version of love is… odd. Caspian is just Caspian and needs to die burning in a lake of hellfire covered lava.

At the start of this one, Caspian is yelling at the doctor to heal her and to keep her from being in pain, and that he doesn’t want her to have any scarring. If you didn’t know any better, you could almost believe that he was a caring man worried about his beloved mate. Almost. For a second. And… it’s over now.

Caspian tells her that all she had to do is play house with them, be good, and act like a proper Omega until her estrous, and then he’ll let her and her boys go. She’s willing to fake it until then, and she has 10 days to make Caspian believe it because one of her boys needs to be punished, and if Caspian isn’t feeling it, then her boy will be badly hurt.

Toby, meanwhile, is doing everything he can to try and make Wren feel good. He keeps building her a nest out of all the bedding right there. He knows that Omegas need to have a nest, so he keeps trying. Caspian keeps fucking Rosie right in front of her because Wren’s healing, and heaven forbid that Caspian not get his freak on. And Kieran just lectures her the entire time about how she should behave for them.

The one good thing that comes out of Caspian fucking Rosie right in front of Wren is that she informs him that Wren needs to have a clean nest, not one covered in blood and stiff with other body fluids. So, Wren gets her new nest.

At the end of the last book, I pretty much hated all the guys equally, and wanted them all to die horribly. At the end of this one, I hate Caspian more, I hate Toby a little less, and I’m kind of up in the air about Kieran. There are some things that happen that show more of Kieran than we’ve seen before, but still, he’s Kieran, and he’s still kind of an asshole. I’m not sure where I stand on Rosie. I want to like her, but I don’t know if I do. I don’t know that I hate her though. I’m just torn on her. I do want to smack the everloving shit out of Alec. He just is clueless. Of course, I think part of that is being a teenage boy and suffering from testosterone poisoning, but he’s still fucking clueless, and Wren sacrificed a lot for him and he just threw it back in her face.

And now, I’m going to have to leave us with these words, Book 4 is coming. If you ask Addison, she will probably just say sometime soon. And then do the whole evil villain laugh, while sipping on our tears, because that’s what she does.

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Kieran and Wren have a moment, and to me, it’s really important. I think it is to both Kieran and Wren too. I think that they are actually the only two people who see each other right now. Sure, Caspian and Toby are her mates, but I don’t think that they see the actual Wren. They see in her what they want to see, what she is showing them to make them happy so they don’t hurt her or her boys and so that they let her go, not that that’s ever going to happen. They have expectations of what they’ll see, so that’s what they see. But with Kieran? Hmmm… I’m looking forward to see how that affects things.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out, if you like dark, reverse harem, and Omegaverse. Seriously. Happy reading!

Addison Cain-A Taste of Shine

I have a secret to tell you. Do you want to hear my secret? Here it is. Addison Cain has a book that isn’t dark. I know, it’s shocking, especially if you have followed my blog and seen me review all her new books. But it’s really, really true. And more than that, she’s just renamed and re-released her book. It used to be called A Trick of Light, and now it’s been split up into the Trick of Light Duet, and the first book is called A Taste of Shine.

Addison pulled the story to do some polishing and added in some things here and there, but, as of yet, the story isn’t significantly changed. There are a few little details here and there, but nothing big, and there are places where the writing is tighter. And, of course, breaking it up into a duet. Having read the original book several times, I think that where Addison broke the story up is the perfect place for it. That point really does trigger a change in the story, so, like I said, perfect.

The story takes place in the hills and hollers of West Virginia toward the end of Prohibition. And like the name suggests, moonshine has a lot to do with this book. Moonshine has always been really important to the culture in that area, but it got even bigger during the Prohibition because everyone still wanted their booze. As a little bit of trivia, stock car racing and later NASCAR came out of the prohibition too, because the ‘shiners would want to get their booze to their customers as quick as possible and stay away from the cops and revenuers, so they would get their best drivers and tweak their cars as much as possible. Once Prohibition ended, those drivers had to do something, so stock car racing was born. Now you know a new thing.

So, we open to Charlie, a bounty hunter, pushing a dead car up and down the hills and hollers. Charlie can’t just abandon the car, because that would mean dumping the bounty in the trunk as well, and that just can’t be done, for so many reasons, including an intensely personal one. Luckily, some men drive by and one of them tells his cousin, Eli, to get out and help push the car, and they all end up at the Devil’s Hollow Roadhouse, owned by Matthew Emerson, local ‘shiner, and run with his brother Nathaniel and cousin Eli. Charlie offers to make a deal with Matthew, for use of a car and driver so that the bounty can be delivered, but no go. At least, no go until Charlie shot and killed men who were attacking the roadhouse and then fixed up Nathaniel’s arm when he had been shot. Matthew then offers Eli’s service to Charlie so that the bounty can be delivered to Sing Sing.

Fast forward a few months and it’s time for a barn dance, and of course, the Emersons are going to be there because it’s a great place to sell and Matthew has plans. While he’s standing in his shadowy corner, selling off his shine, he sees the golden girl walk in. She’s all bright and shiny and definitely doesn’t fit into their little hamlet. But, she’s all smiles and cheerfulness and joy as she gets all kinds of men lining up to ask her to dance, except for the town drunk who eventually shows up with a black eye. Matthew stares and glares at her the entire time.

The next day, the golden girl shows up at the roadhouse and tells Matthew that she would like his permission to stay. Of course, he has no clue on god’s green earth as to who she is. Nathaniel knows who she is, he caught on to her secret way back when she helped him dig a bullet out of his shoulder. Matthew seems shocked when he finds out that golden girl Charlotte Elliot is the same person as Charlie the bounty hunter.

And thus, all kinds of actions are put into motion.

I love this story for so many reasons, but you get to see Addison’s skill in building characters really well. I mean, her secondary characters are as distinct as her main characters. Sure, you don’t get as much backstory, but you know what Eli and Nathaniel are like, and you get their voices very strongly. The story is also set in a very real era and place, and you get the strong flavor of 1920s rural West Virginia. I know I’ve talked about Addison’s world building before, and this is all just part of it.

Talking about the characters, I have to tell you how much I love Nathaniel. Yeah, he’s a perpetual drunk, and is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, but he accepted Charlie from the very first. Mostly, he doesn’t do things that embarrass her, and he tries to make her feel comfortable. Nathaniel smacks Matthew and Eli around a couple of times, to get their heads out of their asses. He’s also very loyal and can keep a secret like no one’s business. He’s great comic relief and just fun. Eli, he’s like an adolescent puppy, not quite full grown, but not a baby anymore, just all elbows and knees and eagerness. Because he’s an idiot sometimes, he makes some stupid mistakes, and he does hurt people, because he’s an idiot.

Matthew. I love Matthew, but he’s really hard to get a read on. He’s very taciturn and doesn’t talk about emotions, let alone actually talk a lot. His love language is definitely action. You can see how feels about Charlotte by what he does for her, you know, other than kissing her a whole lot. He is very solid and sturdy. He’s a rock and a shelter. That’s just who he is. He’s also a planner. He has big plans for what comes after Prohibition ends.

Charlie/Charlotte is fascinating. She’s tough and fragile, crude and innocent, and pretty much a BAMF. She’s a sharpshooter, and goes out hunting on her own. She can tell the crudest, rudest, dirtiest jokes, but can actually be very polite in the right company. Her history really sets her up to be a very unique person. I would love to think that Charlie and I would totally have been friends.

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I love the scene where some guys walk into the roadhouse wanting to start trouble and Charlie just casually knocks a couple of the guys on the head and then goes back to sitting in her rocking chair and lets the Emerson boys get back to their fight.

I love her relationship with Ruth, and how they are good for each other and help each other learn things they always wanted. And good for Ruth smacking Eli around as needed.

I can’t wait for the next part of this book. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Anthology-Twisted Sacrament

These stories are dark, dark, dark, dark, and even darker than that. There are no happy anythings here, there’s no light. There’s nothing that will bring you any kind of hope. I’d say abandon all hope, but even just abandoning it isn’t enough. You have to completely scour any kind of hope from your soul. You have to erase the word hope from your memory. Then you might, just possibly might, be ready to read Twisted Sacrament. Consider yourself warned.

The anthology consists of 7 authors who write dark anyway, but then they got let off the leash. Not only that, they were given the brief of writing the most sacrilegious and blasphemous story possible. And let me tell you, SJ Cole, Zoe Blake, Addison Cain, Jennifer Bene, Celia Aaron, Ashleigh Giannoccaro, and Alta Hensley fucking delivered. These 7 stories are depraved, twisted, desolate, full of mindfucks, horrifying, and darker than fuck. They are disturbing. And yet. And yet, I couldn’t stop reading them. I couldn’t get enough of them. I loved everyone one of them, even the ones that left me shaking at the end. (I’m looking right at you, Jennifer.)

They are all short stories, none of them much longer than 30 minutes to read. I wouldn’t recommend reading them at night before bed though. You might not sleep well. But because they are short, you’re only going to get my reactions, as is my usual practice in this situation. I got ARCs for 4 of them, but like I said, they are short, so I had no problems reading the rest of them.

Addison Cain-She Came Before God

There is a period of Catholic and Italian history where the high ranking clergy weren’t as… celibate as they should’ve been. During that time, Rodrigo Borgia became Pope. There are all kinds of rumors about orgies in the Papal palace while he was there, and it is historical fact that he had children, born when he was a cardinal. You know, when he wasn’t supposed to be dicking around. Lucrezia Borgia, who you may have heard about as a poisoner, was one of his children. So, what does this have to do with Addison’s story? Well, her story involves a pope and some fucking.

Addison’s story really just was straight up horrifying. Our poor little heroine learns that she’s part of a horrible family tradition, and everything that she thought was true isn’t. This story stuck with me. I mean, I dreamt about it. Even days later, I’m still trying to get a total handle on certain things. I really wanted to scream at the end of it, and maybe sit and cry in despair.

Zoe Blake-Lilith’s Revenge

Lilith comes out of Jewish mythology. She’s generally considered to be Adam’s first wife, but when she wouldn’t behave the way that they wanted, she was kicked out of Eden and Eve came in in her place. Lilith then went on to become the mother of demons. In her demon partying and fucking days, she fucked everyone she wanted to, including some angels.

In Zoe’s story, she is back in her demon party girl aspect, tempting a priest. Now, here’s the thing. She and her priest get it on in all kinds of ways and do all kinds of depraved things, but… The question is, is what they are doing real, or is the priestly part real, or is anything real? Zoe has written an incredibly mindfuck and my mind is still fucked from it. I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t and what was going on in the story. I have theories as to what’s going on, but they vary from minute to minute.

I recommend following Zoe’s instructions when it comes to her story.

Alta Hensley-Last Rites

I personally think that the end of the world is going to be some kind of plague. In this jet-setting world, it’s going to be too easy for something to be across the world before anyone gets diagnosed with it in the first place. Why do I mention this? Because Alta destroys the world with The Itch, an illness that makes people want to scratch their skin off, makes their blood foam, and makes them pretty fucking crazy. There are rumors of a safe place for women to go (and only women), where they won’t be exposed to The Itch.

This is so disturbing. It’s short, it’s brutal, and it’s dark as fuck. I kind of wanted to take a very, very hot shower after reading this one. And maybe scrub for about 30 hours.

Jennifer Bene-Baptism in Eden

If you look at my GR/Zon review, it says “Oh my fucking god. That is all.” Yeah, that’s about all I could say about this one on there. Jennifer writes dark at the best of times, but let her off the leash, she’s simply dazzling. And dazzle she does.

You may think of Eden as paradise, but Jennifer’s Eden is as far away from paradise as you can possibly get. It’s so dark and so twisted. I know I’m saying that a lot, but there aren’t words in the English language to describe it. But the fact remains that this story is Stygian. It’s also a very Jennifer Bene story. If I were given all the stories in this book and asked to pick out which one Jennifer had written, this would be the one that I choose. When I was done reading it, I was literally sitting on the couch and shaking. I had to go read something else to calm down. I may be traumatized.

Celia Aaron-Communion

I know that I’ve raved about Celia on here before. She totally deserves every good thing I have ever said about her.

I loved this story. It wasn’t quite as dark as some of the others, but it’s by no means light. I love the byplay between Cate and Ted. It is very interesting to see how Ted talks to her and what goes on. I feel like this is very topical too. I have to wonder how much Celia was influenced by what’s going on in the world right now, because it really feels like there was some serious influencing going on. Frankly, I think it makes it better.

Ashleigh Giannoccaro-Say Yes

I’ve only read one other Ashleigh Giannoccaro book, but I own a couple of more. My TBR is totes ridic and one day I’ll get to them.

Ashleigh takes us for a tour through a cult. A very, very creepy cult. A very creepy cult that says men have to have 2 wives or they can’t get into Heaven. OK, I grew up Mormon, and there has always been the whole polygamy thing surrounding the church, and then the FLDS church around, which are a polygamous cult, so this one felt really close to home, if you know what I mean. I don’t know how much Ashleigh took from there, how much came from other cults, and how much came straight out of her head, but it was a fascinating read. It also looks like it’s setting up for a new series, so I’ll be all over that one.

SJ Cole-I’m Better Than You

SJ Cole is Stevie J. Cole writing under a new name. And OMG, her heroine is totally cuckoo for coco puffs. I mean, the cheese not only done slipped her cracker, it left the room, the house, the zip code, the state, and the country. Then it changed its name, cut its hair, and got plastic surgery. The cheese wants to have absolutely nothing to do with Violet anymore, and I don’t blame it. I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with her either. I can totally get why she’s upset, but damn, girl takes it to another level. She’s creepy as fuck. She’s crazy as fuck. SJ says there’s more to the story, and I’m going to have to read it. Can’t fucking wait. I like creepy and crazy.

OK, there are my reactions to each of these 7 stories. I loved this book. But, trust me, don’t look for light. Don’t look for happy. Don’t look for hope. Don’t look for this book to last long. I recommend you go buy it soon if anything I talked about sounded good, because anthologies don’t tend to last very long and then the rights revert back to the authors.

No spoilers, but a picture I thought was great for this.

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Addison Cain-Silent Captive

Well fuck me sideways, our Soul-Devouring Dark Empress has done it again. I mean, oh holy fuck. Not that there is one damn thing holy about Silent Captive, holey maybe, but not holy. And sideways may actually be the only way that Wren doesn’t get fucked, but I make no guarantees.

Silent Captive is not a standalone. If you haven’t read Branded Captive, stop right now, go read it and Silent Captive and then come back. Don’t worry, I’ll still be here. There will probably be spoilers for Branded in here, just because that’s the nature of the beast. I work really hard at keeping them out of the blogs, you know I do, at least until after the picture, but with serials like this, it’s really hard to avoid.

Take a deep breath, we’re going in, and watch your step, it’s muddy as fuck out there.

So, we open to Wren being paraded from her sparse but spotless little apartment to the pipeworks. Caspian doesn’t want to have to wade through the mud to fuck her, so he’s taking her back to his base. All she’s allowed to take back is the stuff that Caspian, Kieran, and Toby brought to her house for her to nest in. She’s not allowed any of her own belongings. And, since none of the Alphas sign, she’s also mostly unable to communicate. If they give her pen and paper, she can write them notes, but other than that…

Caspian, Kieran, and Toby aren’t nice guys. Not nice guys at all. They think they are ddoing her a favor by putting her in “the big room”, which is where they keep the Omega of the moment until she falls from favor. Then, the Omega ends up in the pens where they are meat for anyone.

Not only are these guys not nice, they are fucking brutal. I mean, Caspian wears a coat made out of people, FFS. But Wren is going to do what she agreed to do, for her boys. She will do anything to keep them safe, even sell herself to the 3 worst Alphas around. She’s under no illusions that any of what’s going to happen is going to be good or nice. I feel so sorry for Wren. She’s doing what a mother is supposed to do, but even so, it’s pretty horrible to have to do it. They’ve already done terrible things to her, they will probably do even more now that they have her under their noses all the time.

I’m not joking about being soul destroying. A lot of what Addison writes will rip into your soul, but this one, OMFG, whatever little soul I had left is now totally destroyed. I think she eats the souls for breakfast and chases them with the tears of her readers. It was also so good. I couldn’t put the book down, and I may need to reread it, right now. How soon is too soon to reread? I dunno. But, it may be the only way I can survive until the next one.

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OK, now we know why Caspian doesn’t want Troy to go at Wren immediately. That’s just… I want to say fucking horrifying, but I’m not sure that horrifying is the right word for it. Is there something beyond horrifying? Who would want to do that to themselves? I don’t even have the right equipment, and what Toby did to himself hurt me. As for Wren, I can’t imagine it from her side. I don’t want to imagine it from her side.

I can’t wait to see how the two biggest bits of action are going to affect the rest of the series. There’s going to be a lot to unpack there, and I’m pretty sure that Addison isn’t going to be able to fucking redeem these guys. None of them are a Shepherd.

That’s all I have to say about this one. Really, if you like noncon, Omegaverse, dark af, twisted, and soul destroying, and lots of fucking you need to go get this one. Happy reading?