Malice and Obscene are both rereleases of previous books. The original books were both duets, and are now consolidated. It’s been a while since I read the original books, so there may be some additional material, but I’m not sure. Malice (which was almost released as Macabre) was the Mercy books, and Obscene was the Obscene duet. Anyway, Natalie finally got Amazon to agree to release the books out of review and now we can read them.
Malice is the story of Julian and Morganna. Julian’s family is really rich, and basically owns the town. They also own the Chateau Dahlia. That’s not really talked about in town, and those who do know what happens at the Dahlia don’t talk about it. They enjoy what happens, and more importantly, they value their lives. Julian’s family would do terrible, terrible things to anyone who had loose lips. And they would probably take them to the Dahlia to do it. Anyway, Julian is about to take over the Dahlia, but he needs an heir. He’s become fixated on Morganna.
Morganna is a broken young woman who happens to live in town. She used to be better before her sister disappeared, but since then, she’s been very, very broken. And then Julian walks into her life, and starts to court her. Well, courting is just such an interesting word. Then she wakes up in Julian’s bed and finds out they are about to get married.
Neither Julian or Morganna are in the realm of sane. They aren’t even next door neighbors to sanity. I don’t think they are even in the same zip code. But even as they are removed from sanity, their respective crazinesses are far removed from each other too. I almost want to say that they have a folie a deux going on, but I don’t think that’s quite right.
Julian has a missing piece inside. I don’t know if it’s a soul, a heart, or what, but there’s definitely something not there. I think Morganna had that piece at some point, but it got pounded out of her. Like with other Dahlia books I’ve reviewed here, I have to wonder, at least when it comes to Julian, is how much comes down to nature vs. nurture. I find that whole argument to be really interesting, and it’s a hard one to come up with truly objective evidence on, because, well, it’s extremely unethical and seriously illegal to do that kind of research. But I have to wonder if Julian would be the kind of person he is if he was raised in any other way.
Malice is one of those books that as I’m reading and enjoying it, I’m slightly worried about what it says about me. There are places where it’s pretty uncomfortable, definitely disturbing, and dark AF. But, I still enjoyed the story.
Obscene is the story of Mason and Katie.
Mason is another member of the family that owns and runs the Dahlia. He’s now of age to find a wife, and he’s set on Katie. He’s been set on Katie for many years, and has been watching her. I mean, seriously, like cameras in her bedroom kind of watching her. Katie has been totally oblivious to his observation, and goes about her life, working as a waitress at a diner, trying to stay away from her overbearing mother, and trying to just get through her life. Then she wakes up in Julian’s bed. Seems like a pattern, doesn’t it?
Mason is closer to sane than Julian is. And honestly, I can’t tell you the reason why. He too grew up around the Chateau Dahlia. And he also does terrible things. And I do mean terrible. But he just seems much more in touch with that part of his psyche that could be considered sane, at least in my opinion.
Katie is fractured, but I don’t think she’s a broken as Morganna started out. Or maybe she’s more and she manages to handle what’s happening better and is able to be put back together in a new way better. Plus, Mason does things a lot differently than Julian does, which would explain why there are differences between Morganna and Katie.
I would put Obscene in the dark romance category because there is love in there. I wouldn’t put Malice in there, because I think of it more as a psychological kind of thing more than a romance kind of thing. This is just how I would classify it in my head, and isn’t binding on anyone else or how they might classify or think about the books. I think it’s up to you to decide how you feel about them after you read them.
Do be aware that these books are dark and fucked up. There are some serious mindfucks going on in here, because, well, Natalie Bennett. There are mentions of suicide attempts and cutting, so if that is something that would trigger you, be aware of it. Please read responsibly.
There is no spoiler section on this one, and I have tried really, really hard to not spoil anything here. That’s all I have to say about these books. If you like the dark, check them out. I don’t know whether to wish you happy reading or not. Here, have a picture of a pretty flower.