2019 Round Up-Top 10 Redemption Books Pt. 2

So, we’re back to redemption books again today. I’m hoping that you liked the first part of the list, and that you’ve liked the rest of my lists. I think, after this one, that I might have just 1 or 2 lists left. We have Omegaverse books coming and a best Daddies, I think. Maybe more, if I think of any more lists to write, or if I get any suggestions of round up lists that people want. I live to please you guys. Or at least I am going to let all y’all think that.

***Disclosure: I may get a commission from Amazon on any purchases made from the links on this post.***

Kay Elle Parker-The Shadowcrown Duet

Kay is all over my round up lists this year. And there’s a good reason for that. I love the way that she writes. I’m putting her Shadowcrown duet on this list because I think that they fit really well. I can’t put one or the other of the books on this list, because the redemption arc encompasses both books. The first book in the duet is King of Shadows and the second is Queen of Shadows. These books are the story of Alliana, Kian, and Islador. Alliana’s mother was human but her father was an archangel. She was raised by Kian, the King of Shadows, and his second in charge and best friend, Islador. Kian was raising her to be his Queen. Things happen, demons show up, Lucifer gets involved, horrible, terrible things are done to Alliana, Kian and Isla both die, and Alliana becomes the queen. There are some extenuating circumstances to why Kian did what he did, but he still needs to get redemption for it, and prove himself to both Isla and Alliana. The books are dark, but fantastic.

Anna Edwards-Stolen Choices

Technically, Stolen Choices isn’t out yet. It doesn’t come out until 1/2, and I’ll have a full review on my blog about it tomorrow, but trust me when I say that this is really an excellent redemption story. It’s part of the Glacier Blood series, and it is not a standalone. You have to have read the other books in order to understand what is happening in this one, but it’s an excellent PNR.

Nikita Slater-Luna & Andres

Luna & Andres is one of the books from the Blaire’s World shared world series. These books are spun off of Anita Grey’s Blaire books. Which I’m dying for the next one. Anyway, back to L&A. Andres is a member of a Mexican cartel and Luna is his wife. They are combustive together. In this, Luna takes their kids and runs from him. Of course, she has reasons that I think are good, but still. It turns ugly. Both Luna and Andre have to go through a redemption arc in this one, for very different reasons. The majority of this book is just the two of them, which makes it very intimate and very intense.

R. Cayden-Clark’s Bully

R. Cayden writes MM romances, usually menages. Clark’s Bully is a menage. It’s part of a series of books that take place in Seattle surrounding a particular bar and comic book shop. I happen to be reading the latest one in the series right this very second. Anyway, here’s the redemption in this one. Clark and Rip went to high school together. Clark was rather obviously gay, Rip was confused. Rip’s friends bullied Clark horribly, and he stood along with them. Years later, Rip is back with his best friend/FWB, Mars. Mars meets Clark, and sparks fly, until Clark finds out he is besties with Rip. I really like Rip. He has spent a long time thinking about what he did and making changes in himself.

Jennifer Bene-Inheritance

I debated about Inheritance, because I think that if it were written by anyone other than Jennifer, I wouldn’t consider it a redemption story, but since it is her, it is. It’s the second book in the Fragile Ties series, and it’s the continuing story of David and Lianna. David kidnapped her because of her father, and did some pretty terrible things to her. Of course, she pretty much liked those terrible things, so it worked out after all. The reason I put it in this one is because David and Lianna are working hard to put together a relationship, and David is working hard to get past everything in the past. Anyway, I think that it fits well in this.

OK, that’s my Top 10 redemption books of 2019. We have reviews coming up in the next couple of days, but over the weekend, I’ll do some more round ups. Like I said, O-verse and Daddies.

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2019 Round Up: Top 10 Darkest Reads Pt. 1

So, we’re just days away from having another year under our belt. I’ve read another 800 books. I’ve written a few more blogs. Life has been in an uproar, it has been calm, it has been happy and sad. So, with a few more days left in the year, I thought that I would start my yearly round up. This blog is going to be part one of the top 10 darkest reads I read this year. They are going to be in no particular order, just however they happen to come to me.

Before I get started, I want to mention that I’m going to be giving away books and gift cards in my group, Slip in Between the Pages tomorrow and Christmas, so come check it out! And now, on to the books.

Addison Cain-Immaculate

Immaculate first showed up as a short story in Twisted Sacrament, and damn, was that twisted, and this won’t be the only story to show up on this list from that anthology. Anyway, when Addison got the rights back, she brought it out on its own. It takes place in the Vatican during the Renaissance. Our main character is a lovely young lady named Lady Agnese who has been kept pure and virginal so that she can serve God. It’s a very disturbing story because the story could absolutely have happened.

Jennifer Bene & Shane Starett-Jasmine

Jasmine was Shane’s second book and a co-write with Jennifer, who shows up on the blog all the time. I have a feeling Shane will too, as long as he likes me. 🙂 Jasmine is a woman who has been trapped by a man who says that she’s his wife, and she will obey him. The problem is that she really isn’t. The book was twisty turny, and packed full of places where if one small thing had happened differently, the entire book would’ve been different.

Jennifer Bene-Reign of Ruin

Reign of Ruin was another book that came out of Twisted Sacrament. RoR is what happens when Handmaid’s Tale meets the Apocalypse. I am going to flat out say that it scared the shit out of me. Handmaid’s Tale is hands down one of the scariest books I’ve ever read, because I can see how it can happen. I could see RoR happening too. I really did love the book though, even being scared by it. I would really love to see more of this world.

Eva Dresden-Broken

Broken really flat out broke me. Eva wrote a very dark MF Omegaverse, and Quinn really got the shit end of the stick. I mean, the stick was dipped into the shittiest, nastiest, most disgusting shit that you have ever seen, and then it was handed to her. And that was the good days. She ends up stuck in hell, and doesn’t see any chance of her hell getting better. And she’s right. I really felt for Quinn, a lot. The second book has come out, and I’m eagerly awaiting the 3rd.

Myra Danvers-Delirium

Delirium may not be as dark as some of the others on this, but it is pretty fucked up. There is a whole lot of action in here, and a whole lot more dark humor. I figured it was going to be a space opera, which it was, but it was a space opera plus. It was a twisty ride, and Iris just made it better. She’s in that category of crazy heroine who is fucking chaos embodied. She will take a disaster and make it even worse. And laugh while she’s doing it. I like that about her.

So, there’s the first 5 of my Top Ten dark books of 2019. Check back tomorrow to see what comes next.

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Jennifer Bene-Crazy Broken Love

So, sometime in the past year, several authors got together and wrote an amazing and gut-wrenching anthology called Just Breathe. All the stories in the anthology dealt with some kind of mental illness, and more than one of me has stuck with me since I originally read it. You can’t get it now, because the rights have reverted back to the authors. However, some of the stories are now available, like this one by Jennifer, Crazy Broken Love. Jennifer took her original story and expanded it out to give us what we have now.

Here’s our story. Amy is a woman who is dealing with a very severe form of OCD. She’s been hospitalized because of it. She has a series of rituals and routines that she must follow in order to fight the Noise and to keep herself sane. For example, her alarm goes off at 6 am. She lets it go for three beeps and then turns it off. Not 2, not 4, only 3. The number 3 rules her life and keeps everything under control. As long as she can have a multiple of 3, she’s going to be OK. She doesn’t leave her house, working online, getting everything delivered, and her therapist coming to her house instead. She belongs to an online forum for others with mental illness, where she’s known as Mittwochgirl, because Wednesday is the perfect day, it divides the week in two perfectly, 3 days on either side. (I like Wednesday for that reason too.)

Then there’s Equilibre, which is French for balance. For the past few months, they have been talking through the forum and emailing each other, and they have formed a deep relationship. Equilibre is probably the most important person in Amy’s life. She’s pretty sure she’ll never meet him because if she goes outside, the Noise and the chaos will get her.

Jennifer does an amazing job of showing what it’s like to live with OCD, which is an anxiety disorder. As you read the story, you see what it’s like to live in Amy’s head and in her world. It can be a really scary place. As a person who is mentally ill, I can tell you how terrifying it is when your own brain plays tricks on you and you have to fight it like Amy did. We all have ways that we pin our mental illness into place and keep it under control. With Amy, she developed her routines and adherence to 3s. I’m not going to judge her for how she lives because she has done what she can. I relate to her so much because of my own personal perspective. I think that she is infinitely stronger than she thinks that she is.

When I read this story as the short in the anthology, it blew me away. As the expanded story, it blew me even further away.

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Colton is a really fascinating character. He changed so many things, all for one purpose.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Jennifer Bene & Shane Starrett-Jasmine

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

No really, this fucking book. Jennifer and Shane did something special with Jasmine, and I don’t think I will recover. Shane can insist that this is a good, clean, Christian love story all he wants to, and I won’t call him a liar, but I will say that I think that those words don’t necessarily mean what he thinks they mean. This is dark, intense, even darker than that, definitely more intense than you might think, and oh holy fuck, what the fuck did I just read?

This is Shane’s second book, and I honestly wouldn’t know if I didn’t already know. He and Jennifer wrote a tight book that drowned me in its darkness and damn near killed me in its intensity.

So, here’s our story. Her was abducted by Him. Him calls Her his wife, named Jasmine. He has to teach her how to be a good and godly wife, which means when she tries to escape, he drags her into the barn, and punishes her. By shoving a stick where sticks don’t go and belting the living fuck out her. But then, he tells her that he loves her, and that all is now forgiven between them and between her and God. Her is always telling Him that she isn’t Jasmine, but no matter what he is positive that she is. She is sure that Jasmine is already dead and that she’s going to be next, and after all the time that she’s been trapped by Him, she’s just ready for it to happen. If she can’t escape one way, she’ll do it another.

There is so much darkness in here that I can’t even describe all of it. I can’t even put this in as a capture fantasy, because, well, it just ain’t. Like I said earlier, dark and intense, and I’m still trying to figure out what the fuck I read, because damn. I don’t want to describe it any more than that, because I don’t want to spoil any of it for anyone who reads this. In fact, I’ve already gone back and rewritten paragraphs to make sure that I’m not spoiling anything. And I may take out another one. I haven’t decided yet.

I like the female main character. I think that she is stronger than she really has any right to be. She has dealt with all kinds of things that would break most people. I love that the first time we see her, she’s trying really hard to escape. I love that we get the dual POVs, so we get a good look into the minds of both Her and Him. And I really love that’s how the chapters are headed, so that we know whose POV we’re looking at. It really helps to add to the whole tone of the book.

I really dislike Him. I mean, truly dislike him. But, that being said, I’m not sure how much he is in his right mind. Or even his left mind. Not that it excuses anything that he does, and I’m really not trying to do that, but his plane of reality and our plane of reality don’t touch at any significant point. They aren’t even in nearby dimensions of reality.

If you like dark, and I mean really dark, then this is definitely something that you should take a look at. I would love to see Shane and Jennifer team up again, because what they have written is excellent.

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I have to say, as much as I dislike Him, he’s not the one I hate the most in this book. There is another character who I really hate so very much more. Soooo, very much more.

OK, that’s all for today. Go check it out. Happy reading?

Cari Silverwood & Jennifer Bene-Mesmer

Cari and Jennifer are two of my favorite writers ever, and they have teamed up to write a very dark, downright dirty, and devilishly disturbing book called Mesmer. This book takes place in Cari’s mesmer-verse, but it can totally be read as a standalone, if you aren’t familiar with the universe.

So, here’s the story. Mesmers are men who have an extra power. They can collect women. In other words, with certain women, they can completely take control of the woman. They can make her feel lust and pleasure, or they can, you know, not. But, if that was all the mesmers wanted, it wouldn’t be so bad. What they really like to do is depraved shit, and shit that will hurt women. They like pain. They like to cause it. It’s like it feeds them.

Tomik is a mesmer. He has a life he likes. He collects women, he does terrible things to them, he disposes of them. He has a brotherhood that he hangs out with, and they all do all kinds of fucked up things.

Then, there’s Hannah. Hannah and Tomik were friends and very close as teenagers. But then, Tomik just left, and Hannah doesn’t know why. But she does know that she missed him, and when she had trouble, she did the only thing she could think of. She called Tomik for help. The problem is, she doesn’t know what Tomik is.

Tomik is really layered. I can’t tell you if I like him, hate him, hate to like him, like to hate him, want him to die by fire, or want to fuck him. Or, you know, all of the above. He starts out really kind of flat, but with Cari and Jennifer, you can bet he doesn’t stay that way. It really is fascinating to watch him and watch the changes in him and how he reacts to the world and to Hannah.

Hannah is harder for me to get a grip on. I think, though, that’s because of Tomik. I think I see bits of her popping through, but I’m never sure. It’s really interesting to watch and to find out. I know that I will be thinking about her for a while and trying to figure out who is the real Hannah and who isn’t.

I think that Cari and Jennifer egged each other on, and I’m not going to complain if they did, because that means that we ended up as the winners, because I’m telling you, this book is just totally awesome. It’s one of those that I’m mad that I’ve already read it because I’ll never be able to read it for the first time again, and I really want to.

And I don’t know who came up with the rocking horse, I just know that I will never look at them the same again.

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Greta is really interesting. I really want to know more about her. Hopefully we can find out more about her at some point.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

 

Jennifer Bene-Burned

In the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson, hold onto your butts. Jennifer is back and she has brought us Burned. And damn. Just… damn.

So, a couple of years ago, Yolanda Olson who is a mistress of dark, horror, and the epic mindfuck, wrote a novella called Inferno. She added onto her world with Sparks and Cinere. The first is a prequel, the latter a sequel. But, Yolanda wasn’t happy with just those books in her very disturbing world. She decided to add on to it. She invited several authors to join her oh so very happy little world. And Jennifer was just one of those authors, and so we have Burned.

This is the story of Bryden, his wife Marian, and his children, Wesley and Ella. Bryden loves his family. He loves them a lot. A whole lot. All he wants is for his family to know how much he loves them all, and that he loves them all equally. He does what he can to make sure that they know that he loves them all equally. And if he has to do difficult things to and for his family, he’ll do that, because that’s what a good daddy does.

That’s all the synopsis you are going to get from me. This story isn’t happy. It isn’t light. And you really will get burned by it. This book is one of those books that you start reading and you don’t wonder what goes on in the author’s head that she creates something like this. You wonder what’s wrong with you for reading this. And not just for reading it, but for liking it. Burned is disturbing and uncomfortable in places. Did that stop me from reading it? Hello, have you met me? I read it faster at that point.

We get the story from Bryden, Wesley, and Ella’s POVs. All we know of Marian is what we see of her from those three, and since it happens that way, it really seems to marginalize her in the story. I thought it was a really interesting way to write the story. It’s also a very intimate and up close story because there is such a limited cast of characters. You are up close and personal with all of the happenings in the story, which makes everything hard to hide from.

In case you can’t tell, I really liked this book. It is not a romance though. I think that I might put it into horror, but more like psychological horror, but that might not be the right classification for it either. I think it just needs a fucked up, twisted, mindfuck category. It would fit really well right there.

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Jennifer Bene-Reign of Ruin

Once upon a time, Jennifer Bene wrote a demented little story called Baptism in Eden, for an anthology called Twisted Sacraments. That lovely little anthology was full of all kinds of seriously fucked up stories. And now you can’t get it anymore, which is sad if you don’t have it, but fear not lovely and loyal readers, the rights have reverted back to the authors and now the stories are being put back out for you to read. Some of them, like Reign of Ruin, have new stuff added to them, so you know that you have to go read them now, right?

There is not a lot of happy in this story, unless you’re a man, then you get to have some happy. There’s a fuckload of dark, pain, and misery. And just to top it off, there’s some more pain, dark, and misery. This is dystopian, post-apocalyptic, and out Handmaid’s Tale the Handmaid’s Tale. And Jennifer took demented and turned it into fucking twisted. And damn, if I wasn’t glued to every word of the book.

It is the story of Danielle and what happened after the world lit on fire and went to hell in a handbasket. There is a prequel to the story in the back of the book, so you can read that first, if you want, just to get a little more information about the world and Danielle, and what happened, or read it after. I just recommend that you read it at some point.

Six years ago, the world caught fire and the religious extremists caught religion. And as happens, women got blamed. Now, Danielle, along with who knows how many other women, serve in Eden. And serving in Eden isn’t nice. You aren’t someone who cherished, you are just meat. When you get too injured, you get baptized, which heals you, so you never get to escape into death, you just keep wishing that you would die.

The first time I read this story, it sent chills up and down my spine. Then I read the prequel, and that fucking terrified me, because so much of it could happen right here and now. Then reading the full RoR? Fuck me. I had to go find a light MM story full of laughs just to get to another level in my head, because yeah, it got to me that bad. I’ve often said that The Handmaid’s Tale is hands down my scariest book ever, because it could happen, well, this one pretty much beats it.

I hope that Jennifer writes more stories in this world, because I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

There are no spoilers, and if you don’t like horror, this is one you should probably stay away from. Other than that, go check it out, and happy reading!

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