5 stars – ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Oh Measha Stone, you have written one heck of an anti-hero in our deliciously conflicted Erik. He is the epitome of a good man doing bad things for (in his mind at least) good reasons. And whilst Melinda might not necessarily like being owned property, he does plan on offering her choices, allowing her to make the best of a bad deal. Melinda is one fiery, fury-filled female and she isn’t afraid to tell Erik no. In fact the red-haired beauty can’t seem to help but challenge him at every turn.
As with the rest of the Ever After series, this is very loosely based on a fairy-tale. The colour of Melinda’s hair is a big clue to which one, add in Erik’s wolf medallion and her Grams to the mix and you have most of the cast of Little Red Riding Hood. Though in this one the wolf wants to eat Red in an entirely different way!
I’m also going to throw in a trigger warning that this book contains spanking, BDSM type play and a CONSENSUAL power exchange, though some may view it as more dubious consent in nature. If this type of content bothers you please don’t read it and then leave a low review – not when you knew in advance.
I adored Erik, loved him, and he is now my favourite of the Ever After Doms. This author doesn’t do vanilla heroes, and whilst I wouldn’t classify this as a BDSM romance it does have themes of Domination and submission, along with some kinky play. Alpha to the point of aggression, though only ever in protection of Melinda.
Despite how their relationship began, the fact that Erik is very much in control and how he refers to her as ‘mine‘ – (*shiver*, I can hear him saying that even now!) – , she never felt like a mere possession. Rather Melinda was a rare and precious creature that would be protected and cherished until his last breathe.
Similarly Melinda is equally likeable, a woman tossed into an impossible situation, clinging to what little control and pride she has left. This girl has been handed a pretty rough hand by life so refuses to get scared, instead she gets angry. I loved her feisty personality, her stick-out-your-chin and fake-it-til-you-make-it attitude. Some might feel she is a little bratty, me I saw a woman standing her ground and refusing to give up.
I spent the first half of the book wanting to shake Erik, he seemed to think he was doing Melinda some huge favour and she should be grateful to him. At the end of the day, as a couple of different characters pointed out, he didn’t have to collect the three debts. Not when those ‘debts’ were repaid in the form of three blameless young women.
Melinda is the last to be collected, and once Erik has sold her, or found another way to pay off the debt against her name, he and his brothers will get their inheritance. No-one seems to care that the debt isn’t truly Melinda’s, but until those accounts are settled Erik is bound by the terms of his evil uncle’s last will and testament.
This callous disregard for right and wrong, that he tries to make better by ‘giving them a choice’, made him the sort of anti-hero that you love to hate, hate to love and are desperate to see brought to his knees by the heroine. I’m not sure when I went from disliking Erik to loving him, or how it happened either. But it did.
What truly made this into a 5 star read was that it wasn’t just the anti-hero claiming the heroine. Instead we are treated to a fantastic suspense, with lots of mystery, intrigue, shocks and despair. There is so much I’d love to tell you about this part of the story, but then I’d be spoiling things for you. However let me just say that I spend a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon reading this book (even though I had an arc book I should have been finishing).
Collect the girl. Speak some vows. Inherit the fortune. Nowhere in the requirements did it say anything about falling in love.
Melinda thinks she’s just coming to grandma’s for dinner, but she’s wrong. She’s wrong about a lot of things. None of which is my business.
The only business I have is to settle the open accounts on my uncle’s books, so I can collect my inheritance and move on with my life. Collecting Melinda in order to cross off her grandfather’s debt wasn’t hard, but she’s not exactly marching gracefully up to the auction block for me.
I’m not the monster here.
I’m not the one who sold her to my uncle, I’m just the collector. My hands are as bound as hers thanks to the whims of our families. But with her red hair, and fiery spirit, Melinda’s giving me more trouble than I anticipated.
Good thing, I don’t run from trouble.