I’m joining in with Bookish Friday this week, a meme created and hosted by LauReads and Niffler Reads. This weeks prompt, spookily enough, is First Lines, which is what I’ve been sharing for the last few Fridays! I’m going to feature 6 first lines this week, which may seem a strange number choice but they are all from an amazing anthology that released yesterday. It’s dark, it’s twisted and it is definitely unpredictable. I’m talking about The Institute by Dani Rene, Anna Edwards, Murphy Wallace, India R Adams, Jennifer Bene and Sian B Claven.
1 Echo by Dani Rene
It was ten years ago when my life took a turn for the worst. It was also in those dark times that I realized I wasn’t going to be the same after what had happened. Instead of running from the darkness, I embraced it.
2. Marbh by Anna Edwards
“Marbh, we have a few new people today. Why don’t you tell them a bit about yourself?” I don’t acknowledge the doctor talking to me. Why should I – he’s keeping me prisoner here. This is his fault. The mid-forties man with graying temples stares at me, urging me to respond. I’m not going to give him the satisifaction.
3 Hostile Illusions by India R Adams
Cruelty and all its power Why am I the game of each hour? Every pain, every slice… It was not only me in this deadly vise
As I lie here, life draining from my body, there is a clarity present that is bringing me cherished peace. I smile in relief, knowing that there is truly an Evermore…
4 Mr Cat is Not Real by Jennifer Bene
The walls are breathing again, but at least they’re not whispering this time. Yet. Dr. Nickelsen says it’s not real, that I just have to focus on something that still feels normal and push the bad thoughts away, but it’s not easy when I can hear every inahle and exhale like the volume’s been cranked up to 11.
5 Release Me by Murphy Wallace
Shit! Fuck! One moment I was getting fucked senseless by the guy that I met at the bar tonight. The next, I am on top of his lifeless body, loosening my grip on the rope around his neck. There is a broken bong laying in pieces by his head, and he is bleeding. Not again.
6 Sanitorium by Sian B Claven
The world is so bright after you’ve been enveloped in the darkness of sleep for so many hours. Molly had never been a morning person; the light streaming through the windows was not magical and awakening to her. Being pulled form the deep slumber that her medication granted her was anything but pleasant and yet, the sun streamed through the window, tugging at her eyelids to flicker open and squint at the bright world around. Bright, but bland.
Having read all the stories in the anthology, there is definitely something in here for every one who enjoys an erotic twisted story.
1. Echo by Dani Rene I really enjoyed the idea of two completely different personalities in one body and whilst this is they type of anthology where I’m not expecting any sort of traditional HEA, the ending seemed a little bit pointless. It’s hard to explain without spoiling the story but I couldn’t understand what had led Dr Ansel to suddenly change his mind/behaviour. Where did that sudden volt face come from? I liked the story but it was just a little too disjointed/underdeveloped for me to totally love it.
2. Marbh by Anna Edwards I really liked this, particularly in it having an antiheroine as the main focus. Again this is vague because it’s a fairly short story and – spoilers! – but I loved the reveal and thought the ending was not only brave but actually perfect. The story totally drew me in, had me fascinated and Marbh is an amazing character.
3. Hostile Illusion by India R Adams
A wonderfully tragic, dark, depraved, inspiring, heartwarming, heartbreaking story. Words, words have left me. This story alone makes the book worth buying. I really can’t say too much but it’s got such a wonderfully dark but happy ending. Beautiful, tragic, amazing.
4. Mr Cat Is Not Real by Cassandra Faye (Jennifer Bene) Oh my word, Nina made me cry! Her desperation to be good, to go outside, to have a friend, for Tom to like her, maybe to get well enough to go home. I’m not quite sure how I feel about Dr Nickelsen and Tom. Are they truly trying to help or just taking advantage. This is such a dark, very dub-con story. In fact given Nina’s mental state it’s non-con, even if she does agree and enjoy it. JB dragged me through a whole range of emotions with this short story, and left me sort of heart hurt and sort of hopeful. I need to give Nina a hug.
5. Release Me by Murphy Wallace As I was reading this I wondered how the author was going to wrap things up, because it read and progressed like a full length book. Then I got to the part that said ‘end of part one’ and realised that this probably will eventually become a full length story. However don’t be put off because the story of Dr Richard and B contained in this book is a twisted, difficult, thought provoking, well paced and very erotic read. It totally captivated me and I definitely will read the rest of the story when it’s released. I would describe it as ending at a natural break point rather than a cliff-hanger ending.
6. Sanitorim by Sian B. Claven This is a totally new-to-me author and I have to say I was very impressed with the story of Mollie, Lizzie and James. I sort of guessed a few of the twists because of the foreshadowing but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment in anyway. Especially since there were plenty of other twists and surprises along the way. I’m still wondering about Riley and Jana, that’s possibly the only plot hole but nothing too big and irrelevant anyway given the ending. Which I LOVED!
Blurb: The Institute Serenity is an illusion
Dear Reader, I trust this letter finds you well. It is with the utmost concern that we invite you to join us at the infamous Serenity Institute. You’ll be able to observe the goings on of the asylum, meet the patients and the doctors. We do however ask that you please be quiet. Do not interact with the patients, and respect the special treatments our doctors administer. This is where nightmares come alive. A home for the shattered psyche of its patients. Hope is lost when they cross the threshold. The deranged. The demented. The unstable. Six stories, six authors, non-stop madness.
Kind regards, The Authors Dani René, Anna Edwards, Murphy Wallace, India R. Adams, Cassandra Faye, Sian Claven
Blurb: USA Today bestselling author, Dani René, and International bestselling author, Anna Edwards, writing together for the first time, bring you a raw and emotional duet full of deceit and lies and a fight for revenge.
By the time she was sixteen, Samara had everything stolen from her. Even her chance at love was cruelly ripped apart when she’s abandoned by the man she loved, Archer King. After years of training with Hunter, a man who’s given her hope, she’s been able to claw her way out of the darkness. With him by her side, Samara is ready to exact a bitter and cruel revenge on those who wronged her.
What she doesn’t count on though is seeing her first love again. But he’s no longer the boy she remembers, instead he’s become a handsome man wielding power in all the wrong places.
Archer is the security head of an evil organization. Swift and harsh justice is all he knows, and punishment is all he doles out. Even though Archer revels in his role, he can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong.
A string of violent deaths bring him face to face with the culprit. A raven haired woman he doesn’t remember.
Will he carry out his orders to kill? Or can she be the key to discovering who he really is?
Enter The Factory if you dare.
Dani René Bio: Dani is a USA Today Bestselling Author of a variety of genres, from romantic suspense to dark erotic romance and even BDSM romance. She loves to delve into the raw, emotional journeys her characters venture on, and enjoys the dark, edgy, and sensual scenes that fill the pages of her books. Dani’s stories are seductive with a deviant edge with feisty heroines and dominant alphas.
Anna Edwards Bio: All I am a British author, from the depths of the rural countryside near London. In a previous life, I was an accountant from the age of twenty-one. I still do that on occasions, but most of my life is now spent intermingling writing while looking after my husband, two children and two cats (probably in the inverse order to the one listed!). When I have some spare time, I can also be found writing poetry, baking cakes (and eating them), or behind a camera snapping like a mad paparazzi. I’m an avid reader who turned to writing to combat my depression and anxiety. I have a love of travelling and like to bring this to my stories to give them the air of reality. I like my heroes hot and hunky with a dirty mouth, my heroines demure but with spunk, and my books full of dramatic suspense.
Beautifully Brutal is the first release in the Cavalieri Della Morte series, a collection of books based loosely on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Only these ‘Knights’ are anything but just and true. They are a group of assassins and fixers who only answer to Arthur Calthorpe, and he certainly hasn’t tasked them with ‘ensuring the peace of the kingdom’.
This intriguing and fascinating idea was dreamed up by the opening author, Dani Rene and, if her book is anything to go by, this is going to be an exciting series of reads.
For me the majority of the book was a solid 4 stars, though it had a few annoying aspects that would often score a book only 2 stars. In the end I’ve compromised on 3.5 stars with the proviso that in my rating system this is still very much a positive review. On Amazon I will be leaving a rating of 4 stars.
I’ve read several other works by this author, this one ranks as the most gripping in terms of story line and pace. It teeters on the edge of darkness, with its background of murder and violence, though in and of itself I wouldn’t label it a dark romance. However it is an absolutely cracking romantic suspense and well worth reading. The mystery and intrigue is incredibly well executed, I often had no idea who to trust, who not to trust, who was good and who was a bad guy. Suspect everyone, trust no-one became my motto!
Beautifully Brutalis a better than average read, for a good chunk of the book it had me on the edge of my seat. However several little things together just kept it from becoming a great read for me.
Pacing at the end was SO quick that I actually lost track of who was where and what was happening at one point. It didn’t help that characters learnt information ‘off the page’ that we weren’t privy to until later in the story. This resulted in me having to go back and re-read part of a chapter or two, using the benefit of ‘hindsight’ to fully comprehend the whys and wherefores of some events. I want to stress that this refers to only a very small percentage of what was otherwise a riveting read.
The story is a little different in that we don’t see the falling in love part of it. Lance and Giuliana are already totally besotted with each other, so the romance aspect was more subtle. However I firmly believed in their connection and love for each other. The pair also shared an intense chemistry that lead to some very hot bedroom scenes. Whilst they don’t actually get down and dirty for quite a while, I still got the impression of a very hot and sexy story. Plus the twisty plot kept me busy, leaving my mind otherwise engaged.
I do agree with another reviewer (on Goodreads) who was annoyed about the man-whoreish ways of the hero. Apparently being madly in love with our heroine, and desperate to know where she is, wasn’t enough to help him keep it in his pants. Thankfully we don’t experience this activity first hand (other than one kiss), but rather via his very arrogant musings on how he can get any woman he wants. It also only really lasts for the first couple of chapters too, so didn’t really impact most of the story.
Sadly the following passage slapped me in the face enough to throw me momentarily out of the story
“Insufferable?” I chuckle. “Yeah, I know. But you love it. I can’t stop thinking about how pretty your virtue looked coated all over my cock.”
Lance Knight, Beautifully Brutal
He’s referring to the blood from having taken her virginity. Just… no, really, no, just – urgh. However I’m sure this is an example of ‘it’s me, not you’ and plenty of readers will love it as much as I hated it. After all isn’t that the beauty of books, that there is something for everyone, and heck it’s easy enough to skim over parts that I don’t care for.
So in summary this was a good read with an exciting plot and decent characters. There’s too much sex and swearing for it to be anything other than an 18+ read, but if you’re OK with that then I do recommend it.
Title: Beautifully Brutal Series: Cavalieri Della Morte Author: Dani Rene Release: April 4, 2019 Genre: Romantic Suspense
TBR: http://bit.ly/BeautifullyBrutalTBR Blurb In a world ravaged with violence, I still think about the beauty who was taken from me. I’ve turned rabid in her absence. The dormant beast she had tamed is ravenous, feeding on brutality and bloodshed. I focus on the kill, until Arthur confesses his trump card, shattering every hope I had of reclaiming her. Focused on the job at hand, I step into the lion’s den, only to find nothing is as it seems. My beast hungers to be satiated. And my beauty is the only one who can feed it. A dark treacherous journey where happily ever after may be just out of reach.
Author Bio: Dani is an international bestselling author and proud member of the Romance Writer’s Organization of South Africa (ROSA) and the Romance Writer’s of America (RWA).
A fan of dark romance that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. It’s from this passion that her writing has evolved from sweet and romantic, to dark and delicious. It’s in this world she’s found her calling, growing from strength to strength and hitting her stride.
On a daily basis, she has a few hundred characters, storylines, and ideas floating around in her head. From the feisty heroines she delivers to the dark, dominant alphas that grace the pages of her books, she promises light in a world filled with danger and darkness.
She has a healthy addiction to reading, TV series, music, tattoos, chocolate, and ice cream.