Hot dark romance, new adult (college and a little older) with flashbacks to teenage years
Three years ago, Erika “Rika”, did something bad and sent Michael’s three best friends to jail. Now they are out, and the four men want payback. Rika has left the safety of her relationship with Michael’s younger brother and their small town and transferred to a new college in the city where Michael lives. This puts her exactly where the four men want her, in their grasp.
We don’t find out what happened until well into the book. I enjoyed the way it was given to us in flashback chapters along the way. In the beginning, I was chaffing at not knowing. What can I say? I’m a wait and binge watch girl. But at the end, I can say the book was much better for not front-loading this information at the start.
Penelope Douglas is an excellent writer, keeping me up way too late because I can’t stop reading and must find out what happened. The story and pacing kept me gripped the entire way through. There was much drama and some welcome humor to relieve the tension.
The characters are complex, believable, and I liked them even when they didn’t like themselves. They are all flawed, but this is what makes them great. I loved how strong Rika is. I was thrilled that she saved herself several times, not needing a man to do it for her, or at least she did a lot of damage before help arrived.
The sex scenes were hot and very well written. Their little kinks made things more interesting. There was nothing repetitive or boring here.
I do have a couple of complaints. 1. The guys are all promiscuous. They don’t make women pay or feel shameful, so at least they aren’t manwhores. Thankfully, we don’t have to read any sex scenes with other women. 2. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say a major apology is missing. Someone should have had to grovel and didn’t do so at all.
I must caution some readers. This is a dark romance. It does not contain actual rape, but rape is threatened several times by different characters. There is sexual molestation and harassment, including unwanted touching and kissing, again by different characters. Anyone with these types of triggers should stay away.
This is a sexually graphic novel. It contains many sex scenes. There is one menage scene. It felt right for the story, not gratuitous, dirty, or shameful. I actually thought it was the hottest sex scene in the book.
I give this five stars because I would read it again. I’m definitely reading the rest of the series.
Now for the grammar:
1st person past tense with chapters from both Ericka and Michael.
“Grinded” and “thrusted” are not a words. The past tense of grind is ground. It’s thrust in the present and past.
12 other errors: spelling, quotation marks, and italics problems. Two minor problems with continuity.
Rika speaking to her mom:
“We could re-watch Thor again. I know you like his hammer.”
“I’ll see what Noah’s up to tonight, but if I need bail money or I come home pregnant, you only have yourself to blame.”
Rika was a lot like I was a few years ago. Confused, caged, and corruptible. The most valuable lesson anyone learns in life should be learned as early as possible. That you don’t have to live in the reality someone else had invented. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Ever.
Redefine normal. None of us know the full measure of our power until we start pushing our boundaries and pressing our luck, and the more we do, the less we care what others think. The freedom feels too good.
There was no one to help me. There was no one to help me but me. You’re not a victim, his words came back, and I’m not your savior. I turned around, looking back at the house and seeing the lights inside slowly come on. They were in there. And once… I was one of them. Once, I ran with them, kept up with them, and stood next to them. I wasn’t their victim, and I had their attention. I’d learned how to fight. This was on me, and while I wouldn’t make it easy for them, I wouldn’t run. I would never run. I was built for this.
“…I respectfully request that, when you come home, you do me before your homework…”