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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Just Breathe

This anthology is more than a collection of excellent stories by excellent authors, it’s also a way to support To Write Love on Her Arms. I’ve talked about them before. They are an organization that helps support people who are dealing with self-harm and suicidal ideations, among other things. This is such a great organization. Even if you only want one or two of the stories in Just Breathe, you should definitely buy it to support TWLOHA.

Before I get further into my review, I want to warn people that the stories in this book all deal with mental illnesses of some shape or form. There are things in these stories which may trigger you. Please be aware of that and read responsibly.

All of the stories are pretty short, so if you only have a moment here or there to read, you should have no problem finding one that will fit. Because they are short, you are going to basically get my reaction to each story. For most of them, if I were to put anything about them in the review, it would totally spoil the story. So, here we go.

Missy Ann-Forbidden Sorrows-Grief

Missy Ann was a new author to me, and I’ll be looking up more of her work. Grief is hard to deal with at the best of times, and is highly individual. In most cases, you and your grief can be acknowledged, but what happens when it can’t be? It’s not anything I’ve ever thought of before, and wow, Missy brought it to life so vividly.

Anna Edwards-Grounded-Anxiety

I deal with an anxiety disorder and Anna’s story rang so true for me. It was very much like what can go through my head when I feel out of control. It was a great story. And, it looks like it’s the start of a new series, when Anna gets the rights back to it. I can’t wait to see it.

Michelle Brown-Little Lies-Self-Harm

Michelle is still a pretty new writer, but damn, the girl has some serious chops. Self-harm is a very, very touchy subject and has to be handled just right. If you go too far one way, you end up sensationalizing it, if you go too far the other way, you end up making it not believable. Michelle walked that line perfectly. Not so much that it’s glorified, but just at the point where you can understand why Lindsey does what she does. Self-harm was the very reason that TWLOHA was created, so I felt like this one was so important.

K.S. Marshall-Wreckage-Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder

PMDD is PMS with roid rage. As the hormones in a woman’s body ramp up for ovulation and menstruation, they can have an effect on the woman even at the best of times. But brain and body chemistry being what it is, sometimes the best of times isn’t what happens. K.S. Marshall explored that really, really well. You are inside her heroine’s head as these changes are happening to her and she can’t figure out what’s going on. It’s kind of chilling, but in a good way.

Livia Grant-Purged-Eating Disorder

If you’ve read any of the Black Light books, you’ve probably run across Khloe and Ryder before. It’s no secret in their book that Khloe, a big time movie star, has a history with an eating disorder. What Livia’s story shows so well is that dealing with something like an eating disorder is that it isn’t as easy as one day being cured. There are always going to be things that can trigger you and it’s something you are always going to have to be diligent at fighting, and sometimes that fight is really, really hard.

Yolanda Olson-Sickness in the Sunrise-Erotomania

Erotomania generally happens to women, and it’s when they believe that someone who is of a higher status than they are is in love with them. For example, Yolanda’s story. Yolanda is one of my favorite authors when I want dark, creepy, and chilling, as well as beautiful. Her characters are always so real to me. Just like you can reach out and touch them. That’s no different when it comes to this one. You can feel what’s going on in Dice’s head and why her thoughts make perfect sense.

Natalie Bennett-Ashes to Ashes-Depression

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say with this one. It got deep inside me and moved me. I had to take a break and read something completely different after reading this one. It was so… Yeah.

Dani Rene-Tattered Pieces-Abuse

The one thing we always ask when we talk about people who are in domestic violence situations is why did they stay? Why didn’t they leave the first time, the fifth time, the twentieth time? The thing is, the question isn’t that simple, and the answer is nowhere even near that simple. I could probably write a thousand words on that alone, and it wouldn’t even come near answering anything. And I wouldn’t have gotten it anywhere near as good as what Dani said. I hope that this is the start of a series, because it looks like it could be. I want more of Toni’s story. I’m rooting for her.

Jennifer Bene-Cocoon-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Jennifer managed to write a story that is very true to her storytelling while still exploring OCD. People who have OCD have rituals that they have to follow or their world ends, and that’s not really an exaggeration. That’s the way it will feel, at the very least. Amy was an interesting character and Colton was tortured in so many ways. Such an excellent story and a viewpoint of OCD that most people won’t ever see.

Ally Vance-Ignite-Pyromania

Fire can be very pretty. But, for most of us, pretty is as far as it gets. For people who are pyromaniacs, it’s like their lifeblood. Ally showed that really well. I’ll never look at wooden matches the same way again. Nor, I think, will I ever look at a bonfire the same way.

Murphy Wallace-Hostile Takeover-Split Personality

Murphy Wallace is another new to me author. And another one I’ll be tracking down more of. This was really intriguing to me. I’m not sure how to describe it or even to talk about how it made me feel. I really enjoyed it though.

Jane Anthony-The Row-Addiction

Addiction is a serious illness. Too many people want to see it as some kind of moral failure or something, but that’s not the way it works. Jane’s Trinity fights with addiction, and when you see her backstory, you see why. I thought that Jane did so well. Trinity and King made me cry.

Ashleigh Giannoccaro-Awake-Insomnia

When I was reading Ashleigh’s story, it was both kind of creepy and engrossing. I mean, yeah. I’m hoping any of her insomniacs stay right away from me, please and thank you.

Skye Callahan-Unbearable-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When you go through a traumatic incident, there are changes that are made to your brain’s chemistry and your body. Those changes can trigger PTSD. And there’s no way of telling who is going to have it and who isn’t. Two people who went through the exact same event may not both have PTSD, and if they do, they might not be triggered in the same way. Skye handled the subject really well, and explained it in ways that many people don’t necessarily hear.

Toni Lemay-Loops-Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect is something that was totally new to me. Basically, it has to do with alternate realities and the way that your brain makes memories. That’s probably a way too simplistic description, but it’s what I got from in when I looked it up. If I had more time to research it, I would probably be able to come up with something more, but I tend to fall down the rabbit hole when I start researching things. I will probably be looking into this more when I have a chance because Toni made it sound really interesting, and I want to see how it works.

I want to applaud all these authors for writing about these mental illnesses. I don’t know how many of these talented people deal with the subjects they wrote about, but they handled all of them really well. People who are mentally ill aren’t always handled well in fiction, let alone real life, and the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses makes it hard for those of us who are mentally ill to get the help that they need. We are made to feel bad because our brain don’t work the same way that other people’s brains do, and are shamed because we have to take medication to get through our days. I’m very open about the fact that I’m mentally ill and that I take medication to help me be stable. My thought is that if I’m open about it, maybe that fact can help one person get the help that they need. Also, the more we talk about it, the less the stigma is going to be there.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. You really need to get this.

And because I hate to post anything without a picture, here’s a fogbow.

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Jennifer Bene-Deviant Attraction

Jennifer Bene has a new release out. While it may look like a brand new book, and it sort of is, Deviant Attraction is actually a box set of 3 of Jennifer’s shorts, The Rite, Reunited, and The Invitation. There are also shorts or extended endings that go with each of the stories, so you are getting a whole lot packed into one book. Plus, have you looked at the awesome cover? I am loving it.

I read all 3 of these stories back when I first discovered Jennifer Bene, and I loved them all so very, very much. And I’m really happy to see them out in a new release so that they can get a little bit of love. I’m just going to write a little bit about each one, because they are shorter, and you know how I hate to spoil anything for anyone. I try really hard not to. I mean, if you want spoilers, feel free to message me anywhere, and I will give you all the spoilers you want, but I won’t on here. (Spoiler, Han shot first.) So, in the order in which the stories appear, let’s talk about Jennifer’s stories.

The Invitation

Cara’s roommate Meredith has always had pretty things sent to their house, so when Meredith asks Cara if she wants to make some big money that night, Cara says yes, and then goes to a party with her, to stand around, look pretty, and flirt. Only, Cara meets Saif and Grant and her party turns into something different. And so do invitations that she gets later.

This was a super hot story, and I loved everything that happened in it. Who doesn’t want to get an invitation to their fantasies? Sign me up, please. You don’t even have to give me $1500, not that I would complain.

Reunited

Megan is back to go to her 10 year high school reunion, after trying to put her life together after a disastrous marriage. But her sister, who was pushy and knew how to push Megan’s buttons, pretty much dared her to go. Then she sees Eric, who she dated in high school. They played fun games together too. Then Colby shows up, who was a player. And they decide that they need to play games together.

I need to be honest here. I have never been to any of my high school reunions. I don’t ever see myself going to any of my high school reunions, but if I had gone to high school with Colby and Eric, I would definitely have considered going. Especially if it would have included visiting the shop room to play some grown-up games. I’m all about grown-up games.

The Rite

Heather is a member of a bitchy witchy family. She hasn’t come into her powers yet. In order to do that, she has to perform a special rite with a man. Her cousin talks her into speed dating so that she can find the perfect guy for the ritual. But first, she has to stop and visit her friend, Rick. At speed dating, she meets Neil, and things seem to be on track.

Of all the stories in this set, this is the darkest. But, for a Jennifer Bene story, it’s really not all that dark. But, it is the perfect amount of dark for this story. And I loved it. I didn’t see where things were going on this one, but I adored how it went.

If you haven’t read any Jennifer Bene yet, and if not, why haven’t you, then this is a good way for you to get started. You will get a pretty good look at what she writes and what her stories are like. There are no spoilers, but here’s a picture of a pretty flogger. Go check this one out. Happy reading!

adult-games-55cm-spanking-suede-leather-flogger

Jennifer Bene-Corrupt Desires

Jennifer Bene once wrote a book called Of Fog and Fire. Now, Of Fog and Fire was a great book, and one I really liked. But, Jennifer, being the perfectionist that she is, decided that it could be better. So she took down that book and gave it some reno work. The bones of the story are still basically the same, boy meets girl, boy fucks girl, boy saves girl, boy and girl take on the world. But, there are new details and the story has been fleshed out, and now we have Corrupt Desires.

Phee is the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, on in this case, the bottom of the hill where the fog never dissipates. Her home is always covered in fog and never sees the light. The people who live in the fog are poor, down-trodden, and oppressed. Phee spends hours on public transportation each day so that she can go work at a diner downtown. She gets to see the sun and blue skies when she goes to work, and she loves that. Phee also has a very rich interior life. Her mother told her stories and helped her create a land of make-believe and that world still lives inside Phee, even decades later. She knows it’s not real, but she loves to look at the world her way. One day, some suits walk into the diner and sit at her section. One’s a government guy, one’s muscle, and the other one has the eyes of a sea god.

Bryant is there with his uncle, who is a high muckety-muck in the government. He’s complaining about finding women who he wants to date, when Phee, who just can’t help herself, says that he might be looking in the wrong place. And thus, their entire love story is born. Bryant gets her number and calls her, asking her out on a date. She takes him up on it the next night and they have the perfect date, which ends up in some kinky sex. (Please, it’s Jennifer Bene, did you expect anything else?) Just as they are gearing up for round two, Bryant gets a phone call that he has to handle.

So, we get the desire part of the book, what’s the corrupt part? Well, some people may think that the kinky is corrupt, but not me. What is corrupt is the government. The government of Lakehurst are up to no good. They want to get rid of the people in the fog and line their pockets. They do all kinds of terrible things, and there’s a resistance that’s out to get rid of them and fix the world. That’s all going on at the same time as Phee and Bryant’s love story and the two parts are wound together into a glorious whole.

I loved this book. There are so many, many reasons for that. One is that Phee is a subby girl who knows that she’s a subby girl who likes hanky-spanky, and she’s joyously kinky. A lot of times you get the heroines who don’t know that they like being spanked or that they are submissive before they get to the hero, so they are dealing with that journey of discovery, but that’s definitely not Phee. Phee very much knows who she is and what she likes. She has no problem telling Bryant what she likes and that she wants him to give it to her. She’s just so gloriously herself. She sees herself as a queen to Bryant’s fire king, as a forest queen, as a warrior, and so many other things. But she is all those things and more, and her interior life and world doesn’t diminish from her strength and exterior life. Bryant is a good man. He really is. He tries his damnedest to do the right thing in all situations, even with the situation is pretty shitty. He wants to take care of Phee, but it’s not always as easy as he’d like for it to be. Phee is stubborn, smart, and sassy. Seriously, I love Phee, and I may want to be her when I grow up.

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OMG, I was so angry at Alex. I mean, what a scumbag. Some people, I swear. They just can’t be happy for others.

And Bryant’s uncle? I wish that Phee had been able to empty at least one more gun into him. Maybe run him over with a steamroller. Rip off his dick and fuck him with it. Am I bloodthirsty?

I love the description of the park at the end. It’s so beautiful. It was the perfect way to end the book.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. If you love Jennifer Bene, and you really should, you really need to pick this one up and check it out. Happy reading!

When the Dark Wins

I’ve been writing this blog and bringing you books for close to a year now. Some of you have been following me for that long, some of you are new. But, if you look at my posts, you will see that there is one pretty overwhelming theme. I love the dark. I play in it, I revel in it, I go out and search it out. The darker the better. Things that might disturb other people? I was thrilled to read them. So, I figured that I was going to be fine with this one. After all, I’ve read all of these authors before. They’ve written some dark stuff that I love. Addison Cain’s Alice in Wonderland story, anatomy by Yolanda Olson, Imperfect Monster and Destruction by Jennifer Bene. Well, you get the idea, right? Well, those stories are actually pretty light compared to what we’ve been given here. Except for maybe anatomy. That one’s pretty fucked up.

I walked into When the Dark Wins thinking I was ready. I was wrong. The whole point behind this book is that 8 authors are giving us stories where there is no happy ending, no light, just evil and darkness and more evil and more darkness. There are mindfucks galore. Hell, even the mindfucks get mindfucked. It’s awesome.

So, I’m giving absolutely no spoilers at all. I’m just going to give you my impressions of the stories.

Addison Cain-Catacombs

This story is the single most disturbing thing I have ever read in my entire life. Straight out, no lie, the most disturbing thing ever. The last story I said that about was Addison’s Alice story, so well done Addison, topping yourself. I can’t wait to see what you do next. When I finished Catacombs, I looked over at my husband and said holy fuck. When he asked what I was holy fucking about, I told him there was no way to explain it. I could’ve tried, but he wouldn’t’ve gotten it. Totally fucked up Totally awesome. I had to pet my cat and play a game for a while after reading this.

Zoe Blake-My Name Is Jane

I literally put the whole book down and walked away from it for a night after I finished this. This story plays into a personal nightmare of mine. OK, I don’t mean this exact scenario, but how Jane feels plays into that nightmare. I’ve literally woken up in cold sweats because of it. So, yeah. It wasn’t the most disturbing story in the book, but it was the one that chilled me the most.

Eris Adderly-A Sinner in Virtue

Having read the story, I love the title. I think it’s completely awesome. It’s the start of a new series, and I’m so eager to get to the series. It’s not as dark as some of the other stories are, but it’s still dark. Hypocrisy at its absolute finest. Can’t wait.

Dani Rene-Severed

I may have mentioned that I have the mad Dani Rene love before. This story did nothing to change it. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. It was a very, very wrong scenario. I can’t even say that it was in a very, very right way, because there is no right way here. I mean, yeah.

Jennifer Bene-Breaking Beth

Can I just say fucking finally? Thank you, Jennifer! I’ve been waiting to find out what happened to Beth ever since I read the first Thalia story. She keeps getting brought up in the book, so I needed to know Beth’s story. It isn’t pretty, not at all. And I’m even gladder that those guys got what was coming to them. I think Beth is awesome, strong and stubborn. Maybe a little too much so for her own good. I mean, the title is Breaking Beth.

Cari Silverwood-Used

I think that Cari’s Mesmer books were the first of hers I read. They definitely made me fall in love with her and her words. Used takes place in that world. The characters aren’t main characters in the books, but I’m fine with that because it doesn’t mess with continuity or anything. I think that Isak is creepier than the other mesmers though, and that’s saying something. I need to spend this weekend rereading the books I think. I did wonder how far ahead he planned when it came to certain things. And the ending was…

Michelle Brown-The Hunted

When it comes to authors in this book, Michelle is a baby. However, that doesn’t mean that baby can’t write. Her story is… Yeah. It’s the shortest story in the book, but it’s definitely one that stayed with me for awhile, especially the end. The end was a mindfuck moment. It just fucked me up.

Yolanda Olson-What Lies Beneath

Mind.fuck. Yeah, I know I’ve said that about most of these stories, but really, this one was the biggest mindfuck of them all, from start to finish. Really. Just WTF from the first word to the last word. I love Yolanda Olson and her work. I do think that her process goes along the lines of asking herself what would fuck her readers up the most. Good job, Yolanda. You succeeded.

OK, that’s my review of When the Dark Wins. No spoilers. If you think you are ready to let the darkness embrace you, then go check it out. Eight stories which will make you glad that you don’t live in these authors’ minds? I’m so down for that.

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Black Light Roulette Redux

The party in this book is the kind of Valentine’s Day party I’d like to attend. Participating would be even better. But since I don’t have $2.5K/month and Black Light doesn’t exist in my world, I’ll just have to make do with the sexy books that come out of the club.

Livia Grant originally gave us Jax, Chase, and Emma who started and own Black Light. It’s the most exclusive, most private, and hottest sex club in Washington, D.C. People come from all over to come play in the dungeon. Last year, for Valentine’s Day, Black Light put on a Roulette event which matched random Doms and subs and random kinks. It went so well last year, that they decided to put on another event this year.

This year, they decided to open it up to more participants and open it up to M/m, F/f, and F/m couples, so everyone can play. We don’t see any of their stories, which I would’ve liked to, especially the F/m couple and Sybian orgasm torture. That would’ve been a fun show to watch.

Black Light: Roulette Redux is made up of 9 kinky authors who have gotten together to write 9 hot, sexy stories that are brought to you by the letters BDSM, the number 69, and the color pink.

We get to see a little bit of everything from our players and get to enjoy all the dark and delicious things that happen. The book starts and ends with Jax, Chase, and Emma, written by Livia Grant and Jennifer Bene. That ties each of the stories together and makes it a cohesive whole, and turns 9 stories that all take place in one 3 hour time slot into one book. One of the things that I like about these stories is that the introduction gets all the couples set up and certain events happen, and in the stories, you still see those certain events happening, but you get them from the POV of the featured couple. It really emphasizes that all these stories are happening simultaneously.

Jennifer Bene and Livia Grant-Introduction and Conclusion

We get a nice set of bookends with the intro and conclusion. The intro sets us up for the upcoming event and the conclusion wraps everything up quite nicely. Make sure that you read everything before you read the end because you there are spoilery spoilers in it and you don’t want that. Trust me on this.

Jennifer Bene-Unrestrained 5*

You know how I feel about Jennifer Bene and her stories, right? Well, I got to read this one in beta and told her how much I loved it. It was hot then, and it’s even hotter now.

Bianca is really excited about this year’s Roulette event. She wasn’t around for the previous event but has heard that it was fantastic. She’s looking for the right Dom, one who can give her what she needed, and one who can control her. Meanwhile, Silas is looking for the perfect and elusive sub. He likes to deal out pain and he wants someone who can handle the pain that he wants to give them. He’s not expecting anyone who can stand up to what he likes to do, but he’ll be happy if he can get a good scene. When they get together, will they realize what they have together?

This is a filthy story that will leave you aching on Bianca’s behalf. It was very hot and very sexy. I’d love to see more of Bianca and Silas, because I think they have so much more to show us.

Livia Grant-Brat 4.5*

Gabriella is used to getting her own way. She’s a socialite who is always in the public view and has gotten into trouble more than once. When she needs more money than she gets from her allowance, she just goes to see her “uncle”, who is the trustee of her trust fund and wheedles more money out of him. The only problem is that he’s now retired and left it to his son, Connor. Connor has resented Gabriella for years. His father was always running out to clean up Ella’s messes, and he’s not about to fall for her tricks. While she’s waiting to prove to Connor that she’s an adult, she sees an invite to a party that she decides she’s going to take and go to.

Livia is so devious with this story. I love the scenes she gives Connor and Ella, and how well they fit into the existing dynamic that the two of them already have. I thought that it worked really, really well.

Renee Rose-Forced 5*

Mariana has decided that she’s going to go visit her little sister in D.C. for V-Day. When her little sister tells her that they won’t be able to sit around and watch romcoms because she’s going to a sex club and is hoping for a good spanking. Mariana isn’t about to let her little sister go to a sex club without her, so she signs up for Redux too. Victor is standing outside waiting to go into the club when he sees a very confident woman saunter up to the entrance. He talks to her for a minute and is fascinated by her. When he rolls her name in the event, he’s quite delighted. Mari doesn’t know what she’s in for when she leaves the stage with Victor.

I loved reading Renee’s story and the three-hour tour that Mari takes in the world of BDSM. Victor was really careful with her and really did pay attention to what she needed and had no problem doing what was necessary.

Sue Lyndon-Doctored 4.25*

Natalie discovered 5 years ago what it feels like when all your secrets are poured out to the public. When kinky pix of her show up and ruin her chances of a beauty queen title and possibly mess up her father’s political career, she decides that she’s going to hide. The only thing that made any of that bearable was Hunter Knox. He was running against her father and he was nice to her and told her that he wouldn’t use her against her father. She’s had a crush on him ever since. When she shows up at Black Light for Roulette Redux and finds out that he’s there and rolls her name, she can’t quite believe it.

I’m sure that you can guess what kind of kink they get on at least one roll. If you’ve never thought about medical play, Sue may change your mind with this. And the pump that gets pulled out? Yes, please. I need one.

Maren Smith-Shameless 5*

In the real world, there are a lot of “doms” who take advantage of subs who just want to find their place in the world. In Maren Smith’s world, there’s one too. Hadlee had the bad luck to run across one and spent months in a very bad, very abusive D/s relationship with him. When things went sideways, she called Gareth, a DM at Black Light. He came and got her and has watched out for her since. She decides to go to the Roulette event to try to get back the joy of submission. When Noah rolls her name, he decides to ask Gareth to help him with the scenes.

There is a lot in this story. There are several layers going on, which is really impressive on Maren’s part since it can be hard to pack all that stuff into a short story. She’s a tease though, and when you read it, you’ll see why she’s a tease.

Alta Hensley-Edge 4*

Once upon a time, Melinda spent a lot of time at Black Light. She ran a successful business, and was pretty happy. Then she ran away from it all and got married. Now, less than a year later, she’s divorced and decided she’s going to go back to Black Light. Dean was her Dom and when he sees that she’s playing, he arranges it so that they are partnered up. He wants answers and he’s determined to get them.

OMG, while the sex is hot here, the real part of the story is the exploration of submission and trust. That part is breathtaking and makes the entire story. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the sex, but I loved the rest of it.

Measha Stone-Confessions 4*

Dani’s beloved brother was killed in action. His friend Grayson promised to watch out for Dani. The problem is that Dani doesn’t always want Gray to watch out for her or tell her what to do, especially when he tells her to stop going to sex clubs. So, she decides to sign up for Black Light’s V-Day event. She knows that’s where Gray plays, so surely he can’t disapprove of it. Except he does when it comes to her. Gray wants Dani to go home, but she refuses. When he draws her name. he’s prepared to make sure she listens to him.

I got a real zap out of this story. Measha is very creative when it comes to her Doms and their devious plans for their subs. She’s written some of my favorite D/s stories, and she brought that to Dani and Gray.

Maggie Ryan-Surrender 4.5*

Marty is a returning player. We met her last year and we discovered that she likes to top from the bottom. She hasn’t gotten over that habit. She knows how she wants a scene to go and heaven help the Dom who doesn’t listen to her. Owen, Black Light’s rope master, has been telling her that that’s not how you treat a Dom. This night is the night when he decides that enough is enough and decides to put his money where his mouth is.

I love the scenes they do, and I love that we get to see a master shibarist at work. Too bad we don’t have pictures of his work, because that would be totally awesome. Marty takes some hard lessons, but Owen makes it worth it for her.

Jane Henry-Taken 4.5*

Della is a type A person. She’s very controlled, very regimented, and makes sure that everything is done just so. She’s also a sex columnist and has decided to try the Black Light Roulette Redux event this year. When she gets there, she sees a person she never expected. Brayden, one of the Doms, looks over the subs and recognizes Della. She’s his ex-wife. He doesn’t know whether to hope he gets her or to hope that someone else gets her. There is a lot of history between the two of them and a lot that has to be worked through.

I have a deep and abiding love of second chance stories since I was divorced and then years later remarried my ex. It’s possible to be the right person at the wrong time. This is a great second chance story, and the epilogue really made it.

These are great stories, and a good way to get ready for Valentine’s Day, no matter how you are spending it or who you are spending it with. You’re going to be able to read it any time though, and I’m planning on reading it back to back with the first anthology, and really hope that there is another one next year.

roulette-roulette-wheel-ball-turn

Jennifer Bene-Imperfect Monster

This book. I have been waiting for this book from the very second I finished reading Monster in Hero Undercover. Monster has shown up on various of my lists, including my Top Ten darkest and fucked up reads list. Dark, yes, fucked up, yes, hot, very yes. And Imperfect Monster has lived up to the promise of Monster.

Now, I know that pretty much any time I pick up a Jennifer Bene book I’m going to get dark, and I count on that. I’ve found all those dark places in my soul that enjoy these books, and I love finding an author that lets me play in them, so finding Jennifer was like finding home. Her books feed my dark and twisted soul. So I knew that the second this book hit my Kindle, I was going to have to sit down and have a meal.

Nicky is bound and determined to take care of her baby brother. He got beat and is in the hospital, in rough shape. All he could do was tell him who did it and how much he owed. All she could do was think of ways that she could get him out of trouble. To that end, she scraped up $20K so that she could go and buy him out of trouble. So she marches up to house of Paulo Garcia, major drug dealer, with her courage screwed to the sticking place, and hollers that she is there to pay him off and get her bother out of hock. The only problem is? She’s $5K short.

Andre is the monster that Paulo keeps in his back pocket. When Paulo needs something done, and done in a nasty way, he sends in Andre. That’s not all Andre is though. He’s also an undercover agent, there to take Paulo down. He’s been under for years now, and nothing is left of him inside, or so he thinks. When he sees Nicky, some kind of glimmer pokes through all that empty numbness, and he wants to try to save her. Of course, he wants to save her for himself, because he wants her and he wants to hear her scream his name and cry, but he also has that faint glint of something that affects his behavior. He goes to Paulo and pays the extra money, thereby buying Nicky and keeping safe from everybody except for Andre, and well, Paulo if he asks. Everyone belongs to Paulo.

Alright, we’re going to make our split here. This book is dark, very dark. It’s full of noncon/dubcon goodness. It has a stubborn woman and a tortured anti-hero. I mean, that’s pretty much a recipe for a great book right there. And it baked just right, it’s a great book. It was worth all the wait I had to put in all the way from last summer to today. I got sucked into the book and twisted around and around. It’s also incredibly hot. Did I mention it was hot? Andre has done something for me from the very first time I met him, and that something has just gotten stronger with being able to read more about him. I don’t think he’s ever going to be one of those characters I’m going to forget or ignore, and I will probably hold up other dark anti-heroes to him for comparison. If you don’t like dark, avoid this one. You aren’t going to like it. If dubcon or noncon bothers you, avoid this one. If those things bother you, I can suggest a lot of other things for you to read.

for imperfect monster

OK, I know that I’ve said that the first gun scene was hot, and it was, but I found the second one to be less so. I think it was just the situation around it. It must have been hard for Nicky to survive that and everything that followed.

I never thought that Andre was as dark as he thought he was. I can see why he would think that he was that dark and all that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s light either. I just don’t think he was a pitch black as he thought he was. Maybe a very, very, very dark gray. He had good intentions for going in and doing what he was doing, but you know what they say about good intentions and what road they pave. And all his good intentions definitely paved his road to hell. He walked through his own doing what he had to. I kind of want to beat on his handler for everything he put Andre through.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one today. It’s dark. It’s lovely, and I loved every fucking word of it. Go check it out for yourself and tell me what you think. Meanwhile, happy reading!