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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Jennifer Bene-Breaking Beth

If you have read Jennifer’s Thalia series, then you’ve heard Beth mentioned. She was one of the women that the Evil Anthony and Marcus kidnapped before they got Thalia for her ordeal. There isn’t a whole lot of mention of her, outside of Marcus yelling at Anthony for ruining Beth. But until Jennifer’s story in When the Dark Wins, we didn’t know what happened to Beth. You can’t get WtDW anymore, but you can get Breaking Beth, which will let you get started with Beth’s journey. I personally can’t wait to get the full story, because I fell in love with Beth.

So, in the Thalia books, we saw a lot of Marcus, and only a little Anthony. Beth gets a lot more up close and personal with Anthony. I don’t like either Marcus or Anthony, which is fine, because they don’t like each other either. They are really different characters. Marcus, I think, really thinks that he’s a good guy. OK, not necessarily a good guy, but not the bad guy, even though he is kidnapping and selling women. Here’s why I think that. Marcu wants to train the women through pleasure to be the perfect slave. I mean, he’ll punish them as necessary, but he isn’t going to go out of his way to hurt the women. Frankly, in my opinion, he just wants to get his dick wet, and “training” the women is a good way to do that. He wants to beat Anthony, and he’s pretty sure that the whole pleasure thing will do it.

Anthony, on the other hand, is a stone-cold sadistic psychopath. Don’t get me wrong, sadists can be a lot of fun, in the right situation. But, this isn’t the right situation, nor is it the right mix. I’m pretty sure that there is nothing at all redeemable about Anthony. Even if you shredded him down into his component pieces parts and tried to make him into a new person you still couldn’t make a redeemable person. Just dump some bleach into that gene pool and be done with it.

Beth. Oh Beth. Poor Beth. She’s about to go through hell, I’m pretty sure. I mean, just being with Anthony is the foyer of Hell, and if that is just the start of Hell, you have to wonder what she’s really about to go through, right? I like Beth. She is fierce, spirited, and full of fire. I think that will help eventually. I can’t wait to read her journey, because if I know anything, I do know that it will be fabulous, and I do know that Jennifer will put her through hell, but in the end, Beth will be able to come through it. She might not be the same person, but she will be Beth, Victorious.

You’ve probably noticed that I don’t have a synopsis of the book on this. That’s because it’s a short enough read that it would be really hard to talk about the story without spoiling anything, and I try really hard not to ever do that.

So, if you like dark, noncon-y goodness, and you loved Thalia, you should definitely go read Beth’s story. Happy reading!

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Jennifer Bene-Inheritance

After a long wait, we finally have the next book in Jennifer’s Fragile Ties book, Inheritance. The first book in the series is Destruction. (my review here) And Jennifer, since I know that you are going to be reading this, I’m not complaining about the wait. It was worth every single second because OMG, it was good. As I was reading this dark romance, I was thinking that we need to have a new category of dark romance. It needs to be Jennifer Bene dark. I’m not trying to slight any other dark romance authors, since we all know that’s totally my jam, but Jennifer has her own particular je ne sais quoi. I really can’t describe it, but there is something that is very uniquely hers and it’s one of those things that lets you know it her book even if you didn’t see her name on the book.

Before we even get started talking about the book, there’s one little bit of business we have to take care of. We have to congratulate Miss Jennifer because she is now a full-time author! So everyone say congrats!

Anyway, on to David and Lianna. They are now several months out from the end of Destruction and the nightmare that came out of that. Lianna is now under investigation from the FBI, all her assets are frozen, and she’s about to have to move out of her beloved apartment, which was the one thing she did on her own, that her father didn’t touch. It has a view that she loves. The new place she has to move doesn’t have a view, is smaller, but she can afford it. That doesn’t mean that she’s all that fucking happy about it. She feels like she’s falling apart and she doesn’t know who she is anymore. She’s flailing. But she has David there, who will help her.

Meanwhile, David is doing everything he can to keep her safe, including talking with some bad people to track her father’s family, the Faures. Because her father was who he was, Lianna hasn’t had anything to do with her father’s family, and David wants to keep it that way, because they are some very, very bad people. Like international criminals kind of bad people. David’s dad brought him up to hate the Faures, and so he’s going to hate them. And he makes Lianna promise to stay away from them. But, you know that this is a Jennifer Bene book, so what do you figure the odds of the Faures staying out of this book are?

The sex in this one is seriously dark, hot, twisted, and oh my very fucking god good. Of course, if you read Destruction, you know what David and Lianna are like. If you haven’t read it, then you need to read it, because then you will understand what the word zipper means. But here’s the thing when it comes to David and Lianna and their sex life, it works for them. You might not like to be chased and then have your ass whipped with a belt, or be the one doing the action, but it works for them, and the scene is really hot. But what makes the whole thing hotter and the whole connection between David and Lianna so visceral is that there is so much passion in between the two of them. Jennifer is really good at writing those connections and relationships and giving you something that you can really feel. She’s also really good at ripping you apart and putting you back together again, which is what she does here. I had a hard time catching my breath sometimes, because this was so intense. But it wasn’t the same level intense all the way through. It was nicely balanced so there are those places where you can catch your breath.

Anyway, there’s another book to read in this series, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

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I just got to wonder what Jean-Luc’s overall plan is. There is something behind everything that he’s done in this book. And damn, does it appear that he did a lot. I think appears to have done is all we have at this point.

OK, that’s all for this one. I can’t recommend Jennifer’s books enough, ever. Her books have done all kinds of things to me over the years. So, go check this one and all of them out. Happy reading!

And because I know Jennifer read all the way down here, I love you!