Aria Adams-The Belle Jar

Aria Adams is a pen name for Katie Douglas. It’s the one where she writes dark stuff. And the Belle Jar is dark. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it sure as fuck isn’t any kind of fairy tale. It’s dark, horrific in places, merely scary in others, but it has glimmers of light in it. It’s a great story and I loved it.

Marea lives in Darkholm, which isn’t a very nice kind of place to live. Her mother was burned as a witch and the people of her village keep accusing her of being a witch. The only thing that has saved Marea from being burned is the fact that her mother had the foresight to have a chastity ring inserted on Marea. This ring went into her bits, making sure that she would retain her virginity. No one could figure out how to take the┬áring off, and frankly, Marea is pretty happy about that, because it proves she’s still a virgin and never had sex with a demon, meaning she couldn’t be a witch. But the fact that she’s a redhead doesn’t endear her to the people in her village.

In the dark and evil woods near their village, is a castle. Every 7 years, the denizens of the castle demand a sacrifice. This year, the village has decided that it’s going to be Marea, so they bundle her into a sack and pop up onto the doorstep of the castle. When she’s taken out of the sack, she’s confronted by monsters who pop her into a bell jar and begin doing terrible things. She manages to survive that part, but more and more horrible things happen.

I loved the story. Aria managed to put a lot of different layers in it and to leave you wondering what’s going to come next. I wasn’t sure what Marea was going to do when she got stuck with horrible choices. When your choices break down into a handful of shit or a bigger handful of shit, there’s not really any good choice for you to make. I’m pretty sure that Marea would’ve been happy if handfuls of shit had been her choice.

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I love the dichotomy of the castle boys and the mirror boys. It was really interesting to see. I’m not sure if it made it any easier for Marea or not. I mean, she had someplace to escape to, but when she came back to the castle, she had something terrible to deal with. I would think that each time she was able to go to the mirror, it would make coming back so much worse.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go read it, but make sure you have a comfy blankie with you while you do.

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Loki Renard-Pure Evil

Loki is once more taking us into the House of Vitali. The only family where the pre-requisite to join is the fact that you REALLY don’t want to join and where attempting to kill other members of the family is to be expected. The House of Vitali is so dysfunctional that it makes Norman Bates suggest that you might want to check yourself and Joan Crawford all of a sudden says that wire hangers aren’t all that bad.

In Pure Evil, Angelo is separated from his beloved boys. He has to go deal with stupid little legal challenges from the LEOs and he has to stay in the city so that he can keep going to court. Meanwhile, Mark and Bobby have to stay in a safe, hidden location. Mark because he is a disgraced FBI agent and Bobby because, well, he’s Bobby. Angelo left Mark in charge because if he left Bobby in charge, there probably wouldn’t be anything left to come back to. Bobby is smart, but he’s also impulsive and vicious. He really needs to not be unsupervised, ever. None of this would be an insurmountable problem except for the fact that one day, Angelo doesn’t contact Mark to let him know he’s done with court and he didn’t take his car home. Someone has grabbed Angelo.

Damien is a mercenary. He’s been hired to kill Angelo, but it’s obvious that he has a personal axe to grind. He keeps telling Angelo that he’s going to do terrible things to him, but Angelo, being Angelo, isn’t fazed at all.

OK, that’s all the synopsis┬áI’m going to give you because A) it’s pretty short and 2) I don’t want to take any of the journey away from you. Angelo is so devious that he makes Machiavelli look like a piker. He makes Twizzlers jealous. Have you ever seen a double threaded screw? Yeah, that’s not as twisty and devious as Angelo is. He has plans, more plans, backup plans, backup backup plans, and then some really good ideas as to where he’s going to go next. This book has twists, turns, swerves, and corkscrews. Each of those twists has all its own twists and turns. I mean, seriously, it’s like those stairs by MC Escher. I was left with more questions than I started with. I have no clue who knew what and when, other than the fact that I’m pretty sure Angelo knew everything all the time, I mean, he’s Angelo. This book is dark. Each of the Vitali books have gotten darker and darker. This isn’t the darkest thing I’ve ever read, but it was dark enough that I looked at the husband and was like shit, damn, fuck. Just damn. I am going to reread it this weekend to see if I can answer some of my questions.

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Seriously, my biggest question is how much did Mark know and when did he know it? That’s all I really want to know. And of course, Loki isn’t going to tell us, which means I’m just going to have to guess.

I did like seeing a softer side of Bobby. It was really interesting to see.

That’s all I have to say on this one. Go read all of them. Seriously. Happy reading!

 

Celia Aaron-The Prophet

I’m pretty sure that Celia Aaron has redefined Southern Gothic and made it something all her own. I’m also pretty sure that she’s evil. When she writes a book, she not only wants to find out how she can do terrible things to her characters, she also wants to figure out ways in which to torture us, her readers. And she does such a damn good job at it. The Prophet is proof of this. Prophet is the 2nd of the 3 books that make up The Cloister books. They are a continuous story, broken into three parts. Talking about Prophet will spoil the first book in the series, The Maiden, there just isn’t any other way to do it. If you haven’t read Maiden, then don’t read this yet. If you don’t like cliffies, then wait. The Church comes out in June. These books are dark af and mindfucking like you wouldn’t believe. If you have a trigger, the book will seek it out and pull it.

If you have read both books, or you aren’t worried, then come jump off the cliff with me.

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Charity B-Sweetened Suffering

As a warning, this review will spoil Candy Coated Chaos. If you haven’t read CCC yet, put this down and immediately go read it. I can tell you that I highly recommend it. It’s not often that first-time authors blow me the fuck away, but Charity did with that one. Sweetened Suffering is a worthy successor to CCC. I highly recommend that anyone who loves darkness should go out and read the books. If you have read the books, then jump off the cliff with me.

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Natalie Bennett-Queen of Diamonds

I love reading Natalie Bennett. Deliciously dark, twisted, and mindfucky. Wooohoooo! I mean, can you get anything better? Well, maybe if Jason Mamoa was reading it to me while I was sitting in his lap, but until he comes to his senses and leaves Lisa, I’m going to read them to myself. And I’m perfectly happy with that. That means I can stay up to the middle of the night reading, if I so desire, and I often do.

Anyhow, Queen of Diamonds is her latest one. It’s the first book in a new series, Old Money Roulette. It looks like it’s going to be dark with no redeeming lightness, features, or anything going on. I am loving it. We have a baddie bad guy, a complicated heroine, and a twisted situation that makes me wonder exactly what’s happening and who’s going to survive the road to hell. Or, more precisely, the hell in which they already find themselves.

Elena has to come home because her aunt has been brutally killed and her twin sister, Eva, is missing. Her grandmother and uncle have convinced Elena that the best thing she could do is make sure that everyone knows that her sister is dead, so they buried an empty coffin along with her aunt. At the reception after the funeral, a beautiful man comes up to Elena and starts talking to her. It turns out he’s Mateo Remmington, scion of the biggest crime family in Vice City. This is perfect for Elena, she’s going to worm her way into his affections and trust so that she can find out what happened to Eva.

Mateo, oh man, Mateo. He’s ruthless, twisted, and pretty much evil. He wants Elena. He wants to take her, break her, and turn her into something else. He has plans on plans on plans. He’s at the reception because he owes someone a favor. We don’t know who that someone is or what the favor is. What we do know is that he’s fixated on Elena, and he’s told his brother and cousin that she’s going to be his wife. Now, he has to tell Elena.

OK, that’s the easy plot, the one that we can see. But, being a Natalie Bennett book, we all know that it’s not that easy. She likes to put layers and layers and layers and machinations (I love that word), plots, and secrets in her books. I mean, her books are the ones that you go back to read to find the hints after you know what’s going to happen, and you still can’t find them. QOD is going to be one of those books, for sure. Even a few days after reading it, I’m wondering what is going on. I don’t even have guesses as to what’s going on, really. All I know is that I can’t wait to find out because it’s going to be so good to find out. I can’t wait to find out Mateo’s plans and how Elena is going to fit into them.

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I am wondering about Elena’s friends and how involved they are in what’s going on. It seems like it would be a huge thing if she were trusting them in and they were up to no good. I’m also wondering what her grandmother and uncle are up to. I don’t trust them as far as I can throw them.

I would like to find out more about Elena’s dad. We know that he was part of this world, but he sent the girls away to live with auntie, but we don’t know why. I wonder if he’s the person Mateo owes a favor too? Wouldn’t that be an interesting thing?

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. I will say that if you don’t like to wait for the whole story of things to come out, you may want to wait for the rest of the books. You may end up with more answers than questions while you are reading this, and some people find that frustrating. I’m obviously not one of them, probably I’m a masochist or something. Anyhow, go check it out.

Fawn Bailey-Blood Red Rose

Fawn Bailey may sound like a new author to me, but you would be wrong. She’s actually a pen name for Isabella Starling. Isa, who already writes some stuff that leans towards the dark, decided that she needed a nom de plume for the really dark stuff. And so, we get Blood Red Rose. Now, BRR says that it’s the first book in the series. And it is, technically. But, there is a prequel called Blush Pink Rose. It’s free on Zon, so you have no reason to not grab it and read it. You’ll get a little bit more backstory about Harlow and Thorn. It’s not a prereq to read it before you get to BRR, but you’ll appreciate having spent the time reading it.

So, on to BRR.

Harlow is an 18-year-old young woman who has spent years training in ballet. She just had a very successful night as the Sugar Plum Fairy and is busy hanging out with the rest of the company and thinking about all the offers that will be coming her way. It’s her biggest goal in life to be a principal with a Russian ballet company, so when she hears that they wanted to talk to her, she gets mad at Madame, who didn’t let them talk to her.

Along with all the many bouquets of flowers she gets, she gets one single rose. When Harlow goes to leave, she can’t leave that one behind, so she picks it up to take it with her and gets stabbed on a thorn.

Thorn has been waiting and watching Harlow. He knows that she’s his, he just has to wait for the perfect time, and that time is now. He could send his men to get her, but this is one job that he wants to do on his own. He really doesn’t want to let anyone else touch her, even though he’s going to have to at some point. He’s pleased to see that she brought the flower that he sent her with her. He drugs her and takes her to The Mansion so that she can be trained the way that he wants.

OK, here we go. You know the routine by now. If you don’t like to not have a nice neat ending until you get to the next book, this may be a series you want to wait to read. I didn’t see it as a cliffhanger, but not everything is wrapped up super neat in a bow either. That doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t always need to have an HEA or even an HFN. The story does lean towards the dark, we get noncon and capture and sexual training, so yeah, definitely in the darker side of things. I really enjoyed it and I’m looking to see how the next books are going to come out. There are plots and subplots and machinations. It’s going to be interesting.

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I think I only trust Thorn and Harlow in this book. Maybe. I know what their motivations are. I know what Ellis’s was, but there are other players who are moving around. I won’t say one of them is a queen, but there are at least 2 pawns on the board. One pawn’s motivation is kind of clear, but I can’t wait to see if what they want comes through clearer.

I think we’re in for quite the ride with the rest of the series. I enjoyed it a lot and knowing Isa’s books, I’m guessing that we are going to get deep into people’s minds.

OK, that’s all for this one. Happy reading!

Natalie Bennett-Deviants

So, a few weeks back I reviewed Savages by Natalie Bennett. OMG, a serious mindfuck of a crazy book. Loved it. Left us on a cliffhanger. Today, we have book two in the Badlands series, Deviants. And yeah, it works really well as the sequel to Savages. If you haven’t read book 1, immediately stop reading this blog, go read these books and then come back. I’m going to put a jump here so that if you haven’t read the first book, I’m not spoiling it for you. Trust me, if you like dark books, this one will make you happy, go read it.

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