2019 Round Up-Top 10 Darkest Reads, Pt. 2

Hopefully, you’ve read the first part of this particular list, if not, go check it out here. Like any of my Top 10 lists, the books are in no particular order, because I find it really hard to put things in order like that.

Kay Elle Parker-Monsters and Guardians

Monsters and Guardians actually got banned from Amazon because of how dark and noncon-y it is. This is probably one of the most noncon-y books I’ve ever read, and considering how much I enjoy reading noncon, dark, and disturbing, that’s saying something. M&G covers a whole lot of tropes/genres. It’s RH, shifter, and omegaverse-light. And Raine, the heroine, for all the fucking hell she goes through in this one, is pretty damn kickass. One of my favorite moments is when she hits one of the guys, then apologizes to him. And as a result of talking about it here, I’m currently rereading it. The next book is what I will be rereading when I’m done with M&G.

Scarlett Snow & Loxley Savage-Saphyre

Saphyre is literally the only book I’m aware of that was banned by Amazon under 2, count them 2, different names. When it got banned under Saphyre, Scarlett and Loxley put it out under Ember, with a little editing, which then got banned too. So the ladies went out and found a new place to sell it, and that’s when I was able to get a hold of it. This is dark, post-apocalyptic, disturbing, absolutely brutal in places, and dystopian. It was also fantastic. Saphyre, our heroine, is rather tricksy, and I lived for it.

Felicity Brandon-Daddy’s Little Captive

Daddy’s little Captive is the first book in Felicity’s newest trilogy. It involves Sophie, who has had a hard time with her husband, because he’s vanilla and she’s rocky road. So, she went online and was talking to people in a kink forum, which led her to meeting Jared. I had a hard time with this one, mostly because I hated Jared, a lot. It is dark and a lot of terrible things happen in the book. The second book came out a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m waiting for book 3, because Felicity is mean and left us hanging.

Brittany Cournoyer-Sinister Shadows

Sinister Shadows is the only MM book on this list. I think that I’m going to have a Top 10 MM books coming up. This one is dark, mostly because it’s a mindfuck. Duncan wakes him, doesn’t remember what’s going on, nor does he remember the man who says that he’s Duncan history. We spend the whole book trying to figure out what’s going on and who everyone actually is. I wouldn’t call it a romance so much as I would call it suspense or a mystery.

Ivy Chapman-Torn Apart

Torn Apart is a very, very dark Omegaverse story. It is seriously dystopian. It is one of those dystopian stories that make you worry about reading dystopian stories ever again. This story is about twins Seraphine (F) and Arden (M), who are both omegas in a time when there aren’t a whole lot of free omegas floating around. We get the stories of both twins, and they aren’t pretty, not at all. This one left me breathless.

OK, that’s my Top 10 darkest reads of 2019. Most of them appeared on my blog during the year, so if you want more of what I thought of them, you should be able to find the posts pretty easily.

I hope everyone had a good holiday!

 

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?

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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Continue reading “Celia Aaron-The Prophet”

K. Webster-El Malo

No one is surprised when I have another K Webster book on here anymore, are they? If you are, you must not have been following me long. I’ve reviewed several of her last releases, and blog gods willing, I’ll review many, many more. This one is a doozy though. When I finished, I just looked at my husband and was like damn, that was good. It was just so satisfying.

Before I get started on reviewing El Malo, I just have to mention the cover. The woman on the cover is super hot, and it’s a great cover. OK, on to the book.

Rosa was born in Texas and adored by her mother. She talked her mother into taking her to her favorite restaurant in Cuidad Juarez, where some bad guys raided at the exact wrong time. Rosa’s mom covered her and ended up bleeding to death on the floor of the kitchen of that restaurant. Rosa was filled with righteous anger and was determined to bring down all mafia and gangsters in Mexico. For the past 4 years, she’s been working undercover for the CIA, working as a maid in Javier Estrada’s house.

Javier is the head of El Malo, a cartel that is running their section of Mexico. Javier is determined to ruin Acapulco, where he lives, so that he can send all the business to his father in Puerto Vallarta. His dad owns a huge chunk of the hotels in that area, so they are going to make serious bank on the deal. Javier is really good at it. He and his boys own the town, and work their way through everything and everyone. Rosa is there to get all the information she can, and then once a week, she goes to her handler and gives him her information.

Javier has only noticed Rosa in the context of her job as the head maid of his house. She’s very good at her job. He knows better than to fuck the staff, but when she comes home one Saturday injured because she was attacked on her way home, all of a sudden, he really sees her. Not just that, he knows that she’s his.

Now, while I was reading this, there was one sentence that popped up that really stuck with me. El es el malo. He is the bad guy. El es El Malo. He is El Malo, as in a member of the organization. There’s just something really powerful about that sentence, either way that it’s written. It just struck me hard and made me think. I mean, we’re supposed to know that Javier is bad, after all, he is a Narco. He tortures and kills people. He’s not necessarily a nice guy. But, is he really the bad guy? After reading the book, I’m pretty sure that I know the answer. Rosa has to keep reminding herself of that, because frankly, Javier makes it really hard to remember sometimes. Other times, it’s not so hard.

Javier is an anti-hero. He’s smooth, handsome, well-spoken, and charming. He’s forceful, passionate, and magnetic. Rosa is a very strong woman. I mean, you would have to be to be in deep cover for 4 years. Four years of having to be someone you aren’t all day every day? That has to be exhausting, and yet she manages to do it. She’s brave, resourceful, and caring. Together, the two of them are explosive. Their love story is so all-consuming, it jumps off the page. I was sucked into it and just couldn’t out of it. But there isn’t just the love story, there’s also a lot of suspense going on too. Really, this was just such a helluva ride. I mean, I just couldn’t put it down when I was reading it. My family had to just deal with it, and my cats got shoved out of the way when they tried blocking my Kindle. Poor Chainsaw and Jaguar. They pouted. I almost felt bad about that, but nahhhh. Javier and Rosa helped me over that. Calling it a roller coaster would be putting mildly.

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I never trusted Michael. He was scummy to begin with and just yuck. I mean, the way that he treated Rosa was just shitty and then got worse. Poor Rosa. I felt so sad for her because he was the only person who knew the “real” Rosa. Too bad he was so nasty.

I like Marco Antonio. He doesn’t really trust Rosa in the beginning, but I have a feeling that he only trusts Javier. But, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t take care of Rosa. He knows that she is important to Javier and that he trusts her. They both know that she’s lying about something that she’s keeping secret, but Javier knows that he will get it out of her.

Angel, what a fuck he was. But everyone handled that well. I loved it. Of course, I was really scared when it was happening, but I should’ve trusted Javier more. It was great though.

I loved Javier’s dad. He was super sweet, if you can call an old gangster sweet. But the bits with him and Tania and Emiliano are just awesome.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one today. It’s on KU and I can’t recommend this one enough. Go forth and read. Happy reading!

TL Smith-Sinister Love

Well, here we are, another day, another book. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my reading life and getting to read all kinds of fantastic books? I get to find a bunch of new authors and find books that I might not otherwise have seen. Today’s book is the sequel to Distorted Love, Sinister Love by TL Smith. And this one is as good as the first one, and kept my mind going crazy trying to figure out what was going on. So yay, that is great.

Warning, there will be spoilers for Distorted Love, so if you have read it first, go read it before reading this review. I can’t not spoil parts of DL, just because of the way it left off. You guys know that I try really hard not do that, but sometimes it’s pretty unavoidable. So, you’ve been warned.

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Continue reading “TL Smith-Sinister Love”

Hannah Davenport-The Secrets We Keep

Hannah Davenport has been up here before with her scifi romance. I enjoy reading her fated mates Azzarian series. This one isn’t a scifi romance but is more in the contemporary/thriller/suspense romance category. But that’s just fine. I like those categories too, so that was all good. So, let’s talk about The Secrets We Keep.

Ariel is a young woman in hiding. Three years ago she ran away from her step-father. He had kept her locked away and hidden in the house after her mother disappeared. She was pretty sure that he had killed her mother. He was abusive and terrible to her, and she knew that if she didn’t get away from him soon, that she would have a much harder time getting away from him. Before she escaped, she went to his hidey-hole and stole all the drug money that he was supposed to hand over. She knew that she would need it to get away and to hide. Three years on, she’s hiding in NYC and still waiting for her life to get started. Her life consists of working, coming home, and chatting online to Altruist.

Luca owns a hugely popular nightclub. When Ariel’s friends and co-workers bring her into his club for her birthday, he’s immediately drawn to her. He almost feels like there is an electric current between the two of them. He has to know more about her. What he finds out is that she isn’t who she says she is.

OK, it’s time for you to choose your path. We know some of Ariel’s secrets right up front because we are told them. We don’t know if there are more secrets hiding or if we know everything about her. Luca knows that there is something about her, but he isn’t totally sure what. The story is divided up into 3 POVs. I understand why Hannah did it that way, and I’m good with that. It was really necessary to get the fullness of the story. I like Ariel and I like Luca. I don’t like the other person. I felt like they thought that they were entitled to something with Ariel that they didn’t earn or deserve and that they kept trying to make decisions for her that weren’t theirs to make. I enjoyed the book overall, especially when that particular character wasn’t on screen.

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Once you’ve read the book, you are going to know who the third POV is. I just didn’t like him at all. I mean, yeah, it was good that he was already in NYC when Ariel was taken, but he just didn’t really deserve her in any way. He never saw who she was and he was a lying liar who lied. And when he wasn’t outright lying, he was lying by omission. He knew that Ariel was worried about Luca and figured that Luca had moved on, but he also knew that Luca was calling his partner every week to find out what he could about Ariel. See why I don’t like him? He’s all nasty and slimy.

I’m quite happy that the book ended the way that it did. The ending was quite satisfying to me and made me perfectly happy. Ariel deserves to get out and live her life and to try to find some happiness.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. Go check it out, and go check out the rest of Hannah’s catalog. She writes some lovely romances with a good story wound around and through.

Celia Aaron-The Elder

Celia Aaron writes stories that take place down in the deep South, Louisiana and Mississippi. I really enjoy her stories. You should go check out Blackwood. I cannot recommend that one enough. You get some dark and sexy along with mystery and intrigue. That’s a recipe I can get behind. But this review is about The Elder, the first book of the Mississippi Kings series. I’m sticking this in the romance section because it has a romance that runs through it, but it’s not the primary focus of the book, which is why it’s also under the mystery category. I would call it a murder mystery suspenseful thriller with some romance, instead of a romance with some murder mystery going on.

Anyway, let’s get on with the story, shall we? Benton King, the elder of the 3 King children, works in the law firm of King and Morris with his father. One morning, he goes to work and opens his father’s office door to find him sitting at his desk with a hole in his head. In their quiet, very small town of Azalea, Mississippi, the murder rate is something like 1/year. In fact, their police force was tiny, and only had 2 detectives on the entire force, Arabella Matthews and her partner, Logan. When Benton calls in the police, she gets the call, since she is the senior detective. The chief has been staying at the hospital with his daughter who is in a coma.

Benton, along with his brother Porter, who is the county sheriff and totally unsuited and underqualified for his job, is waiting for the police, and are both angry about the chief not showing up and sending in the “B team”.

Arabella knows damn good and well that she’s not part of any B team. She’s good at her job, determined, dogged, and stubborn. She wants to make sure that her town is safe, and she will do everything she can to do that. Arabella walks into the murder scene and takes control. She just lets the crap that Benton is spewing just pass her by. She gets that he’s sad and angry, but she’s there to solve a murder and she’s not going to let him derail her, no matter what. When he refuses to hand over information about what his dad was working on, she says OK, that’s fine, we’ll go see the judge in this kind of hearing and this, that, and the other, and I’ll get to look at them. Celia’s background as a recovering lawyer does show up in this.

When a second murder turns up, connected to the King murder, the stress that Arabella feels just gets worse. At least Benton has decided to stop giving her a hard time, and now he’s decided that he’s going to help her, and gets his brother to deputize him as part of the country department. This is when the romance really gets started too.

The story is really well written. The legal stuff is all well done, since see above recovering lawyer. I’ve never lived in a town as small as Azalea, but I’ve lived in small towns, and she sure got the politics and culture of a small town right. I do like Benton, although I want to pull his head out of his ass sometimes because he gets a little too me man, you woman, me protect at times, but I get why he did that.

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Vivi definitely steals the show whenever she’s on stage. She’s a force to be reckoned with when she’s 4. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with her when she’s 16. She’s going to give everyone a run for their money and then some.

I totally didn’t see the end coming. That was a total shock, I mean jaw hitting the floor shock. But, going back and looking, I can see some small hints of it, but not a lot, which is how I like my mysteries. I don’t like figuring them out before the author gets to the denouement. I like finding out as the characters do, in an organic way. Celia did really well with this.

If you like a healthy dose of mystery and suspense with some romance, then this is definitely a book you should check out. Happy reading!