Release Blitz – Black Light: Roulette War

Release Blitz – Black Light: Roulette War


Authors: Jennifer Bene, Livia Grant, Renee Rose, Measha Stone, Sue Lyndon, Golden Angel, Eris Adderly, and Kay Elle Parker 

Genre: Contemporary BDSM

Release Date: February 7, 2020







Add To Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50691557

One Click in Amazon: https://amzn.to/389aGEd



About the book:

One crazy bet. Two sexy clubs. Eight bestselling authors.

During this Roulette, only one can come out on top.

Black Light’s naughty game of Valentine Roulette returns with eight brand new scorching hot stories. For the first time, Black Light East and Black Light West will compete against each other to capture the title of hottest BDSM club of the year in Black Light: Roulette War.
More than bragging rights hang in the balance when couples risk their hearts in this wild game unlike any other. With stories from Jennifer Bene, Livia Grant, Renee Rose, Measha Stone, Sue Lyndon, Golden Angel, Eris Adderly, and Kay Elle Parker, everyone will be betting on this sizzling game of chance.






Excerpt 1:

Wicked by Jennifer Bene:

“Are you a dirty girl, Tori?” he asked, squeezing her hip in a firm grip. “Have you ever been treated like a filthy little slut, or have you only let people call you Baby?”

Her brows pulled together, a flicker of something on her face that he actually couldn’t figure out when she replied with, “I’ve only let people call me Baby, sir.”

Hmm…
Lifting the marker, he carefully wrote the words ‘DIRTY GIRL’ on her right thigh. “Do you know what dirty girls get, Tori?”

“No, sir,” she replied, her eyes glued to the stark contrast of the black marker on her pale skin.

“Exactly what they deserve.”

A picture containing text, photo, building

Description automatically generated

Excerpt 2:

Unexpected by Measha Stone

“I didn’t mean to sound rude,” she said, and she meant it. People threw her into the bitch category before getting to know her. She wouldn’t blame any of them. First impressions weren’t her strong suit. His lips cracked into a smile, not a pleased and handsome one, but rather a grin that soaked her panties—a knowing grin filled with dark and sinister promises. 

“I know you didn’t.” His fingers tightened, sending another jolt of fire through her scalp. “And I know you weren’t trying to manipulate me into letting you top from the bottom.”

She opened her mouth to agree with him, but the arching of his brow stilled her tongue. That was exactly what she’d been doing.

“I don’t think we’re supposed to start yet,” she said instead.

His smile didn’t fade as his other hand caressed her jaw.

“I can tell our couples are ready to get started, so everyone have fun and play safe!” Madison’s voice boomed over the crowd.

“Now we are.” He released her hair. “Let’s go.”





Teaser 3:

Facade by Livia Grant:

Just as the marble fell into its slot, the stress of the day and heat of the room combined with the dizzy feeling from watching the wheel spinning caught up to her.

Stephanie wobbled on her feet enough that Master Wilde had to reach out and steady her with a tight grip on each of her hips. He crowded closer, molding his muscular chest against her back to help prop her up.

“Whoa, I’ve got you, baby.”

Baby? Stephanie Kranowski was no one’s baby, least of all some guy she’d met thirty seconds before. “I’m not your baby,” she whispered back, trying not to make a scene on the stage.

“Oh, baby. Tonight you’re gonna be whatever the hell I want you to be.”

His ominous words flowed over her. Most women might be afraid of the edgy promise he’d whispered against her ear, but to Stephanie they were like a long-lost song she’d been waiting to hear again.

As the wheel finally came to a halt, her Dom for the night chuckled. “Hey look at that. The perfect kink to marry up with the belting you’re going to receive. I’ll have to consider changing over to a nice crop instead of my belt.”

Fucking great. I rolled Pony Play.

A picture containing person, man, looking, outdoor

Description automatically generated




CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS:

Jennifer Bene: http://www.facebook.com/jenniferbeneauthor/
Livia Grant: https://www.facebook.com/LiviaGrantAuthor/
Renee Rose: https://www.facebook.com/reneeroseromance
Sue Lyndon: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSueLyndon/
Golden Angel: https://www.facebook.com/GoldenAngelAuthor/
Measha Stone: https://www.facebook.com/authormeashastone/
Kay Elle Parker: https://www.facebook.com/kayelleparker/
Eris Adderly: https://www.facebook.com/ErisAdderly/


Available exclusively on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

Giveaway:
Win SIGNED paperbacks of the first 3 Roulette Box Sets

Enter Here: http://bit.ly/BLRouletteWar

Favourite Reads from – Part One

For the last few years I’ve written a post on my top 12 books of the year, and my top 12 series’ of the year. This time I’m going to do thinks a little differently and talk about my top 3 reads in various categories/genres/tropes.


First category is Contemporary Romance.

This is a genre I’ve found myself reading less and less of, at least in terms of ‘straight’ contemporary. My first, and greatest, love in reading was the sci-fi/fantasy genre with authors such as Anne McCaffrey, Julian May, Katherine Kerr, Andre Norton and David Eddings being amongst my favourites. Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams will forever hold a special place in my heart, and prominence on my book shelf. Of late I have found myself drawn back to the genre, but preferring those books which also combine it with a good love story.

However I have read some excellent contemporary romances this year, and actually struggled to narrow the group down to a top 3! Colour me surprised because I didn’t actually expect to find even that number to include.

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE


1. Bass-Akwards by Eris Adderly.

This is one seriously under-recognised author. Her writing is superb and I just wished she was more well known, Eris thoroughly deserves it.

It’s the story of a seriously messed up pair, who are dysfunctional to the extreme yet who somehow come together to create something wonderful. It’s one of those “so wrong, it’s right” stories and I loved every minute of it.

My full review can be found here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/04/09/bass-akwards-eris-adderly/ – for what, to me, is a must read book.


2. Crazy on You by Amelia Wilde.

This is part of a series of books on the Bliss brothers, and oh what bliss they do bring. I really enjoyed the whole series, but Charlie and Leta just had that something extra special about them.

It’s a second chance romance, which has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. I’m just a sucker for folks getting their much needed HEA and this story just ticked all my boxes.

The full review can be found here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/05/31/crazy-on-you-bliss-brothers-4-by-amelia-wilde/. This is a book that will give you plenty of feels.


3. Rogue Wave by Gwyn McNamee.

This is part of an ongoing series, which really needs to be read in order to fully enjoy and understand the back story. Each book features one couple, Cutter, the hero in this one, is a complete alpha-hole but in the best way possible. He’s constantly brought down to size by the bad-ass heroine that is Valentina.

The book is full of twists, turns and steam. Find the full review here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/08/22/rogue-wave/.



I did have a fourth book, Rebel’s Redemption by Lexi C Foss, that I also need to mention. It is A-MAZ-ING and it’s only because I’m going to be featuring this author in other categories that I didn’t feature the book more widely here.



Next are my favourite 3 books containing BDSM. This was a category that I DID struggle with deciding on, I could easily have included many more books. In fact I’m featuring a series as one of my choices.

BDSM romance

1. Special Agent BDSM series by C.P. Mandara.

There are 6 books in the series, the final one was released a few days ago and I am currently reading (and loving) it. The first book, Sparks, is free. It is more erotic, less dark than the subsequent books, which take us into a dark, underground world full of danger and kink.

These have been amongst my most favourite reads of the year in any genre/trope. The author writes with a subtle humour and her characters are always strong. In fact along with Cari Silverwood, she has written some of my favourite heroines.

Sparks review link – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/09/03/special-agent-bdsm-1/
Smoke review link – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/09/04/special-agent-bdsm-2/
Flames review link – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/09/05/special-agent-bdsm-3/
Fire review link – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/09/06/special-agent-bdsm-4/
Embers review link – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/12/21/embers/
Ashes – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3104159478



2. Twisted Fates by Kitty Thomas.

Let’s face it, Kitty Thomas is the QUEEN of the dark romance. If you haven’t read Comfort Food I can only say – “Why?”. It’s not an easy read but it is amazing, as is Twisted Fates which is part of the interlinked Pleasure House series and may be read as a stand alone story.

Whilst it’s a morally dubious story, it doesn’t contain non-consent and the dubious consent isn’t all that dubious either. On paper we should hate the hero, and in real life I’d want to see him locked away from society for a very long time. However Kitty persuades us that not only is Lyndsay perfect for Shannon, but she made me love him too.

My review can be found here – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2654606.Kitty_Thomas – heaven only knows why I haven’t shared it on the blog yet. It must have been a busy arc period!


3. Black Light: Scandalized by Livia Grant.

Technically the Black Light books can be read stand alone, though part of this story builds on a short story by the same author in the Celebrity Roulette anthology. The book features two separate couples, mainly focusing on two new characters, Shane and Nalani, but also concluding Piper and Nolan’s story that began in Switched.

This book should have a trigger warning – there is a very violent and detailed rape scene. It wasn’t added just for the shock factor and the aftermath was handled well, in my opinion.

My review can be found here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/10/30/a-journey-into-the-world-of-black-light/.




Romantic Suspense


1. The Savage Duet by Nicolina Martin.

The link will take you to all 5 books of the Russo Saga. It’s a series of interlinked books, all of which I can highly recommend, but the duet of Absolution and Redemption are definitely my favourites. T

he story takes you to hell and back, along with the anti-hero and heroine. There were times. whilst reading Absolution, where i had to take an “feelings break” in order to recharge my emotional batteries.

My reviews for this duet can be found here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/08/08/redemption/ – and here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/08/24/book-review-absolution/


2. The Kingmaker Saga #2, 3 & 4 by London Miller.

Book #1, White Rabbit: The Rise, was listed amongst my favourite reads of 2018. The series has gone from strength to strength this year, with the release of 3 further books and the imminent release of book #5, Dark Horse.

White Rabbit: The Fall, Black Swan and Red Herring continue the story of Belladonna and The Kingmaker, otherwise known as Karina and Uilleam. And oh what a twisty, cat-and-mouse, game-of-chess, power-play story it is. London Miller has an amazing talent for weaving a complex tale where a seemingly random array of threads pull together at the last minute to form an intricately detailed tapestry.

My links can be found here – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2722883777?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1 , here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/05/27/black-swan-the-kingmaker-saga-3-by-london-miller/ – and here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/08/17/red-herring/.


3. Beauty (Part 1 & Part 2) by Kirsty Dallas.

Part of the Blaire’s World collection, and based on Anita Gray’s books of the same name, this is a dark and delicious duet. It delves into the underbelly of society, a world of pain, cruelty and evil and it doesn’t pull it’s punches.

One could argue that this belongs in the “Dark” catagory, below, but it’s my post so it’s my rules.

My reviews can be found here – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2705398076?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1 and here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/05/19/beau2y-part-1-by-kirsty-dallas/.


Again, I need to mention a Lexi C Foss book, this time it is the amazing Scarlet Mark. Part of the Cavalieri Della Morte series, it was the book that brought the author to my attention. When I discovered this was her first foray into Romantic Suspense I was gobsmacked to say the least. I tell you, she hit this one out of the ball park, and then some.





I’m going to finish today’s post with my top 3 Dark Reads of the year, and will be back tomorrow with 4 other categories of goodness to share. I think this was the hardest group to pare down to just 3 books, but I did it eventually!

Dark Romance


1. The Five by Lily White.

No list is complete without a Lily White book, she is an expert at knowing how to mess with your mind. She’s had some personal struggles this year, so has been very quite for the last few months, but we are expecting a new release soon and I, for one, can’t wait to read more by this wonderful author.

The Five is typical Lily White, and was a very popular Book of the Month over in the Dark Erotica group on Goodreads. It’s not your typical romance and is very psychological, testing your morals, pushing your boundaries and challenging your judgemental side. It was a book that seemed to have a marmite effect, dividing readers into loved it or hated it. I was most definitely in the former camp and highly recommend it.

My review can be found here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/03/20/the-five-by-lily-white/.


2. Crazy Broken Love by Jennifer Bene.

This story started life as Cocoon in the ‘Just Breathe‘ anthology, but has since been extended and improved, even though I didn’t feel that was possible as I thought the original was already perfect.

This is not as dark a piece of work as we are used to from Ms Bene. It does contain strong elements of dub-con, hence including it in this group. Crazy Broken Love spoke to me deeply and left me questioning my own prejudices, however unintentional they are.

My review of this amazing story can be found here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/11/16/a-truly-crazy-story/.


3. Dark Necessities Prequel series by Felicity Brandon.

For some reason the link only takes you to the first two books of the trilogy. Book #3, Forbidden, can be found here. The trilogy of books are NOT stand alone and must be read in order, they feature Ethan and Lily, the parents of Conor, who is the anti-hero of the original Dark Necessities trilogy.

Despite not liking Ethan for most of the story, my love for Lily (and her love of Ethan) made this one gripping must-read series for me. It’s dark and Ethan is not a good man, not a good man at all. But he does love Lily and that was his saving grace for this reader.

My review of the books can be found here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/05/07/flawed-by-felicity-brandon/ – here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/06/26/fallen-dark-necessities-prequel-by-felicity-brandon/ – and here – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2019/08/10/forbidden/.

THALIA #3

Continuing both with my ‘blast from the past’ reviews AND the Thalia series, today I’m spotlighting the third book – Salvaged by Love. This book delves back into some of the darkness found in Security Binds Her, tying up some of those loose ends along the way.

I know that technically this isn’t the last book but what an amazing conclusion to Thalia and James’ story.

This is part of a series of books and you need to read both Security Binds Her (which is very dark) and Striking a Balance (which isn’t dark) before reading this. Salvaged by Love is a both a wonderful tying up of loose ends and also a fantastic blend of darkness, heat and a D/s relationship. The book held my attention from start to finish, even the parts that were difficult to read. I’m guessing that if you’re contemplating reading this you will have read SBH and therefore know how dark a tale this author can spin!

The six month deadline is looming for James and Thalia and tough decisions need to be made. Added to that is a threat from Thalia’s past, an evil that refuses to let her be free.

The first part of the story focuses on James and Thalia building strength into their relationship and really establishing themselves as the couple they want to be. This couple have intense chemistry that leads to some incredibly steamy situations and this book is very definitely NSFW in all the best possible ways.

However there is someone else who wants Thalia, regardless of what she herself wants. When that shoe drops the story takes a very dark turn. Be prepared for some very tough scenes and a battle for survival. My word Ms Bene does not pull her punches and Thalia shows just how strong she is when life seems determined to break her apart.

The writing is quite simply astounding. I was listening to the pounding music in those clubs, I felt the lash of the flogger in the playroom, I heard the cane whistling through the air and I felt Thalia’s despair and desolation in that concrete prison. The actions, thoughts and emotions, in the various scenes and situations, all felt so real and genuine.

I absolutely loved this book.




Are you ready to get through the darkness to find the light?

Love conquers all, or so they say, but is love enough to overcome James and Thalia’s history together? Is it enough to carry them through the heavy decision about whether they should stay with each other? And is it enough to take on the ‘normal’ relationship steps of meeting friends and family in James’ privileged world?

As Thalia and James work to build a life together, a real life, there are other challenges brewing on the horizon, and Thalia’s past isn’t done with her yet.

In this rollercoaster continuation of the Thalia series, she is taken to the loveliest of highs and the darkest of lows as she fights to decide who she is, and who she wants.



Ratings
5 stars – This is a book I will not forget and would definitely read again.
4 stars – I really enjoyed this book, I might not read it again but I would definitely recommend it to others.
3 stars – This story was good but either forgettable or just very typical of its genre.
2 stars – Whilst the book was readable I either didn’t enjoy parts of the plot or just could not connect to the main characters.
1 star – This is a book I simply could not finish for reasons listed in the review.

THALIA BOOK #2

Striking a Balance (Thalia, #2)
by Jennifer Bene

Since I featured Security Binds Her yesterday, I thought I’d post my review of the second story in the series today. Striking a Balance, whilst not particularly dark, is still a full of emotion and a brilliant follow up to the first book.

A really good follow up to Security Binds Her

The first thing I will say is that Striking a Balance must be read after reading Security Binds Her. This book really won’t make any sense without an indepth knowledge of the events that occur in Book #1.

Whilst the first book is a very dark read, this was much more of a contemporary BDSM romance read, though I do believe the next book edgers into darker territory. Having read and loved SBH, I very much wanted to continue on this journey with Thalia. Although the story didn’t quite proceed in the way I imagined it would, it is still a very captivating and engaging read. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed it, loving how it was more about getting to know James, the hero, and to understand the dynamic between he and Thalia

This picks up from where SBH ends, with Thalia setting off to begin her new life with James. At one point (and this was a fair chunk into the book) I began to wonder why Thalia wasn’t receiving more help following her captivity, rape and torture. I got that letting the authorities know what had happened would put James in the firing line, but with his resources he should have been able to get her some type of support. It was almost enough to reduce my enjoyment of the book, until it wasn’t. Stick with it because, just as I reached that point, we get a very unexpected twist that leads to truths being revealed and a total change in direction of the book.

Most of the time it felt as though Thalia still remained a captive, captive in a different way but still not truly free. This gave a much needed edge to the book and kept me reading. She is so totally lost that at times it was difficult to ‘get’ her character, but that is the whole point. I felt that the author did an amazing job of portraying how very broken Thalia is.

Written in third person the book also allowed me to get a very good feel for James, both as a character and also as a Dom. There were times I wanted to shake the arrogance from him, thankfully Thalia did a damn good job of doing just that when her confession pulled the rug out from under his feet. He has a selfish streak, that was shown by the fact that he watched footage of Thalia, knowing the girl wasn’t a willing trainee slave. But I liked how it made him fallible and human, so much more believable as a ‘hero’.

Finally, and oh my word, that cliffhanger – the only reason I’m not cursing the author is because book #3 is already available, lol!




Thalia may be free, but can she learn to live after the darkness?

Thalia and James have just met under the most insane of circumstances. He purchased her at an underground auction from a man who kidnapped her, tormented her, and sold her to the highest bidder.

In their first few months together Thalia wants to view James as her savior, her knight in shining armor that she can stay with in safety, but she can’t escape the trauma she went through and the lingering effects it has caused. James isn’t sure, now that he has Thalia, if he can handle the depth of submission she displays.

Can James help her strike a balance between who she is as a person and her newfound craving for submission, or will her urge to submit swallow her whole until James has no choice but to set her free?

Ratings
5 stars – This is a book I will not forget and would definitely read again.
4 stars – I really enjoyed this book, I might not read it again but I would definitely recommend it to others.
3 stars – This story was good but either forgettable or just very typical of its genre.
2 stars – Whilst the book was readable I either didn’t enjoy parts of the plot or just could not connect to the main characters.
1 star – This is a book I simply could not finish for reasons listed in the review.

THALIA SERIES

Security Binds Her (Thalia #1)
by Jennifer Bene

Since I’m currently busy with the festive season, beta reading and a book that is loooong, but thankfully also really good, I’ve dug through Goodreads for an older review to share here. This is one of the very few books that I’ve not only given a second chance to but have gone on to totally change my opinion of. It also lead to me attending a book signing, back in June, just because this author would be there.

The first time I tried to read this it proved too dark and non-consensual for me. It was a DNF and whilst I appreciated the quality of writing the content proved too much. However I became corrupted by the writings of Addison Cain and Cari Silverwood, authors who both write excellent dub-con/non-con stories but in the Sci-Fi/fantasy genre. For me this step away from reality makes it easier to accept the lack of sexual consent.

Since the entire Thali series was one I’d seen repeatedly mentioned, and recommended, I entered a competition and won an e-book copy of Security Binds Her. This time, because I was not only more aware of the type of content but also more mentally prepared to read it, I found it a much more enjoyable experience. In fact I LOVED the story. This is NOT and never will be an easy read, it has some very difficult and challenging scenes, but what makes the difference is Thalia’s strength through out.

You can’t help but admire this heroine, and hope she gets a HEA of some sort. Marcus/The Guard is a complex character, obviously twisted and evil (or mentally unbalanced) to think
it is ok to snatch women off the street and force them to be sex slaves. However he shows real moments of tenderness and care for Thalia too. Be careful when reading reviews for this book, as there is a huge twist at the end. Just in case you’ve missed it I won’t spoil things but I will say that I loved this unusual approach to resolving the story.

I read this in two sittings, and that was only because I had to get SOME sleep before going to work the next day. Whilst I feel that you could read this as a stand alone, the story does continue in other books. They are not as dark as this one but are still great reads and this is a must read series for all dark erotica fans.




The first book of the #1 bestselling Thalia Series from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Bene, acclaimed as “dark, intense, and emotionally harrowing…” ★★★★★

“I’ll break you down. It may take time, but I will.”
“And if I don’t break?”
“You will.”


Taken from work one night, Thalia is thrust into the violent, controlling world of a man she thought had been the security guard for her building, but she quickly learns that this was only a cover to get to her, to take her. As her old life is erased, the guard pushes Thalia to recognize the darker sides of herself, while Thalia endeavors to hold on to who she is.

Trapped alone with her abductor, can Thalia fight to retain her sense of self, or will his small glimpses of kindness cause her to finally submit to him?


‘Security Binds Her’ is a dark, brutal journey that leaves readers breathless and waiting to turn the page to find out if Thalia will break, or be lost forever to the darkness around her.

Ratings
5 stars – This is a book I will not forget and would definitely read again.
4 stars – I really enjoyed this book, I might not read it again but I would definitely recommend it to others.
3 stars – This story was good but either forgettable or just very typical of its genre.
2 stars – Whilst the book was readable I either didn’t enjoy parts of the plot or just could not connect to the main characters.
1 star – This is a book I simply could not finish for reasons listed in the review.

A truly crazy story

Crazy Broken Love
by Jennifer Bene

REVIEW – 5 STARS 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Even more amazing than the original

The core of this story was originally released as Cocoon, in the Just Breathe anthology. It has been reworked, tidied up and given an extended epilogue to boot. I LOVED this story in it’s original format and this version is even better.

Deep, profound, thought provoking, intense and empowering, this is a book that doesn’t leave you when you’ve finished reading it. You think about it a little bit, and then some more, and then a LOT more after that. After contemplating and pondering on this WONDERFUL, FANTASTIC AND AMAZING story, it struck me just how unwittingly judgemental and bigoted we can be.

The heroine suffers from an OCD disorder that, at times, leaves her teetering on the edge of sanity. I found myself waiting for a white knight to rescue her from this and ‘cure’ her. Yep I judged her as needing to be changed in some way and my word has it made me hang my head in shame. Because what Amy needs, what all people in this situation need, is to be accepted for who they are and understood.

Amy doesn’t need ‘fixing’. Just because she doesn’t fit our societal preconceived notions of ‘normal’ does not mean that she isn’t perfect just exactly how she is. Thankfully she did find a knight in shining armour to save her, he saved her from the judgement and narrow-mindedness that stops us accepting others just as they are. Colton saw how imperfectly perfect Amy was, and matched it with his own wonderful imperfections.

This is a Jennifer Bene book, so of course there is a touch of darkness to be had. There is a frisson of fear and threat to be powered through, bad (misguided?) actions that are done with the best of intentions. Contained within the pages is a truly fantastic love story that touched both my heart and my mind, that spoke to me in a way few romance stories do. That left it’s gentle touch on my heart and soul. Bravo Ms Bene.

Without order, without the rules, she’ll go mad.

Amy has issues, but she’s organized her life in such a way that the Noise will never reach her again. No one understands it, understands her, except for the one who writes her messages with perfectly counted words.

Equilibre, whose name is French for balance, made up of nine letters. Three times three.

And he wants her.

Forever.


Note: This book discusses OCD and may trigger some readers. Please read with self-care in mind.

Ratings
5 stars – This is a book I will not forget and would definitely read again.
4 stars – I really enjoyed this book, I might not read it again but I would definitely recommend it to others.
3 stars – This story was good but either forgettable or just very typical of its genre.
2 stars – Whilst the book was readable I either didn’t enjoy parts of the plot or just could not connect to the main characters.
1 star – This is a book I simply could not finish for reasons listed in the review.

JASMINE – Jennifer Bene and Shane Starrett

Jasmine by Jennifer Bene and Shane Starrett


4.75 stars – Not to be read if you’re feeling delicate in any way!

I’m a long time fan of Jennifer Bene but have not read anything by Shane Starrett before (well other than his super witty/sarcastic posts on social media). I may need to rectify that omission fairly soon, since the book this duo has produced is pretty darn fantabulous.

It’s dark and goes there on so many occasions. If you’re wondering where there is, it’s all the way to Depravedville, via Shock-Horror Town and taking in the sights of Psycho City along the way. Because no sane person can withstand the level of dark that is “Jasmine’s” (Her) existence, we occasionally get chapters from the POV of other characters in the book. Whilst these aren’t necessarily sweetness and light, nor full of positivity, they do add texture and dimension to this sorry, sordid tale.

The parts written from “His” perspective were both chilling and somewhat heart wrenching. I found myself feeling pity for him and his severely messed up head. I’m not sure if his skewed perspective, his complete lack of understanding around his actions, his removal from all reality actually made his actions worse or a tiny bit understandable. And many may not understand or agree but I did feel sadness for him. In fact the more I read from his perspective the more my heart broke for him. Even though he was mad as a box of frogs, or perhaps BECAUSE of that, he sort of, maybe, snuck into my heart a little. His actions might have been evil but his heart was pure and in his own way he truly loved and revered Jasmine.

In many ways he became the main character for me. Other readers, those with a more normal disposition, probably hated him from the tips of his toes to the very roots of his hair. And it’s fair to say his actions WERE deplorable, unacceptable and so very damaging both mentally and physically. Yet somehow, when I ‘heard’ things through his voice, I wanted to save him. He was so broken, so damaged and so in need of help. However his actions probably meant he would never receive the help that his poor deranged mind was so desperately in need of. I struggled, really struggled with the end result of his actions. I didn’t feel he deserved those consequences, even though he did some very bad things he wasn’t a bad man, just a deluded one. Perhaps it was the only resolution that wouldn’t cause him more mental suffering, and sadly (strangely?) that is what I have to remind myself of in order to ‘deal’ with the conclusion. 

With excellent writing, great characterisation, a twisty, convoluted plot and extreme nastiness this is a must read for all those who love a very dark, gritty and hard as nails read.

Add it on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48394506-jasmine

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946722529/
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07ZCC3QC2/



I am his obsession. His property. His Jasmine.
And he will never let me go.

Trapped in the middle of nowhere, taken by a madman, I’m forced to be his wife. Obedient, meek, righteous in the eyes of God.

But I am none of these things, and I can’t give in. No matter what he does to me, no matter how much he hurts me, I have to get out of here.

I have to escape… before I forget who I was before him.

Are you feeling brave…..?

Mesmer
by Cari Silverwood and Jennifer Bene 

Less “Lions and tigers and bears oh my!” More “Mesmers and bottles and hooks, oh my god!”

Between Zombie Robot girls, reboots, resets, glitches, *nasty men*, evil twins and lies this is one truly dark, evil and twisted tale. Hannah most certainly isn’t in Kansas anymore and if she’s in Oz it’s not the one with nice little munchkins, a yellow brick road and Glenda, it’s that scary place with the flying monkeys and evil mind twisting wizards called mesmers.

This almost proved to much for me at first, partly because the start is deliberately disjointed but mainly because I hadn’t pulled my big girl pants up far enough. Fair warning though, I had to pull them up that far I ended up with a wedgie that’ll take me weeks to remove from between my bum cheeks. In fact I had to do that ‘skip to a couple of chapters before the end’ stuff just to assure myself that this book wouldn’t destroy my soul forever. Along with some deep breathing exercises and repeating the mantra “It’s fiction and not real life” because boy this duet’s writing has you there in the midst of the carnage and mayhem feeling every emotion and stab of the needle.

Mesmer is so much darker than The Dark Hearts trilogy and Wolfe , so much bleaker, less hopeful but thankfully not hopeless. It felt as though the authors recognised perfectly when the plot was becoming overwhelming, throwing in the tiniest speck of light to buoy your spirits and keep you afloat in their tumultuous sea of darkness.

Champagne, caviar, the head of a horse, a ballet company…..Okay, I was exaggerating but, yeah, anything. I owed her.

Hannah is a collectable, a female susceptible to the powers of a mesmer. Tomik is the mesmer who is currently pulling her strings like the puppet she has become. However the pair have history, unresolved feelings and a bond that keeps drawing Hannah back. Greta (Oh you’ll love Greta! I’m fairly certain she’s the spirit guide of Cari Silverwood herself) thinks Hannah is stupid, Greta wants to destroy Tomik, but Hannah loves him too much to allow that. The only problem is how do you truly know what you want, think and believe when you don’t have full control of your own mind?

If you’ve read any other mesmer books then Tomik, despite being our hero, is one of those really nasty ones. Happy to use and abuse for his own kicks, well that and the fact that he doesn’t have full control of his mesmer side. Oh this leads to some nastiness, it’s also made me wonder if I should get the old rocking horse out of my attic. He has an obsession with needles and making holes in Hannah, actually I think that it’s really the aforementioned author and her current fascination. He has a need to hurt her, whether she’s willing or not. But therein lies the crux of the issue – he can make her like it but then he wants her to still be Hannah.

And that is only just touching on the surface of the depravity contained within this book – I’m not sure I’ll ever look at a shopping trolley/cart in the same way again. I just hope to goodness I’m not putting my fruit and veg into one that’s been used in the ways described in Mesmer. The story is sick, wrong, perverted, deviant, degenerate, debased and immoral, so if you’re looking for light and fluffy you need to step away right now. However if you enjoy falling down the rabbit hole and getting very dirty on the way down, then this is a must read book that needs to go straight to the top of your TBR list – especially as it pays homage to Dr Who.

*A ghost? A spirit guide? A magical nymph from the land through the wardrobe? I could be many things. But those would be spoilleerrrssss!*


SYNOPSIS

“She wasn’t an angel, but she was his angel.”

Tomik took Hannah like he had a hundred women before her, like any other collectable that his mesmer abilities let him control utterly and completely. He wanted to dress her in wings, make her crawl to him, do things to her body that were worse than sinful… they were nightmarishly obscene.

But Hannah isn’t like any other collectable.

She’s the girl he ran away from, tried to protect… until she called him back.

Now there’s no stopping the darkness inside him, the cravings that demand he keep her all to himself — but that’s against the rules and his mesmer brothers are dangerous. Unpredictable. And how can he keep her safe when all he wants to do is make her scream?

Before love will come pain, blood, and the near destruction of her soul, and his.

AMAZON US / AMAZON UK / GOODREADS

BURNED by Jennifer Bene

4.25 stars
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This is one of those books that leaves you wondering what exactly it was you just read, whether you should really be reading it and if there is something wrong with you because you enjoyed it.


I read all the warnings, fully heading the author repeatedly saying this was dark and hopeless. And boy did this take me to the darkest, most depraved depths of hell. I knew going in that this wouldn’t totally be my kind of read, but I also adore Ms Bene so much that, despite that fact, I had to read this. It very much makes it difficult for me to rate the book though. I’ve settled on four stars quite simply because I felt the story flowed, the characters were well crafted and had personality, there was some good world building and background detail and the writing is of a high standard.

Burned is a no-holds-barred and no happiness whatsoever type of read, just in case you didn’t know. There is NO romance, NO happiness and NO satisfactory bad guy getting their just deserts. And until you’ve read one of these types of books you can’t be sure whether or not you will like it. What I will say is that I did enjoy this much more than the original Inferno books. It just felt like it had a little more direction and reason. I also like that the ending, whilst totally a Debby Downer of a conclusion, felt like a hopeless hope. Believe me that will make more sense if and when you’ve read the book! 

Bryden is a loathsome man and whilst his actions are not reasonable or acceptable, I could almost understand the ‘why’ of it. Marian was much more of a monster to me, she knew the truth, she knew right from wrong, she knew better. To allow, condone and participate in those acts made her much more of a monster in my eyes. It takes a talented author to craft truly believable, hateful and despicable characters.

My only criticism, which was also true of the original Inferno book, is that there is no explanation of how the family is funded. Bryden goes grocery shopping and I didn’t get the impression that they were self sufficient. Whilst that information wasn’t vital to the story, it was something that I made me ponder and pulled me from the story at one point. 

The connection between Ella and Wesley, despite the way Bryden tried to pervert it, gave my poor little soul something good to cling to. It was what allowed me to connect to the story and ‘enjoy’ it, though I’m not sure how appropriate a description enjoy is. They gave each other strength, comfort and ultimately a choice. It was a tiny sliver of grey amidst the pitch black.

I didn’t want to be this man. 
I never wanted to be like my father.

I just wanted to be loved by him. Accepted. That’s how this happened, that’s how I became this person. Too many years of listening, too many years craving his approval. His words burned into my mind.

And now I crave things the world says I shouldn’t.

I open doors that should remain closed. I cross lines meant to be straight and narrow. But they’ll understand, they’ll see just like I did.

This is the right way of things. The way it’s meant to be.

And whether I have his name or not, at least I’ve finally become the perfect son.

AMAZON US / AMAZON UK / GOODREADS

Reign of Ruin by Jennifer Bene

5 stars – ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Oh my dark loving brethren, here is an offering that will torture your sinful soul.


Reign to Ruin is a reworking of Baptised in Eden, Jennifer’s offering in the Twisted Sacraments anthology. Not only has it been tidied up but it has been significantly expanded into something even more dark and twisted. There are no heroes in this world, there is no salvation, no rainbows, unicorns nor dancing cats. Instead there is only the loss of all hope, except perhaps the one for death. A continued existence of choosing the lesser of two evils, or at least doing that when you are given the option of a choice. 


Danielle is a woman with fragmented memories, trapped in a hell of man’s making. Repeatedly sacrificed to the corrupted lust of the priests who hold her prisoner. Abused, degraded, beaten, raped again and again, revived by baptism in the ‘holy’ water, only for the horrifying violence to start again. 


This story punches its claws into your gut, grasps your insides and refuses to let go. The writing held me spellbound. I suffered alongside Danielle, through her pain, despair and the countless violations of both her body and mind. I can not do this story justice, I am unable to find the words that will convey just how bloody brilliant this tale is. Perhaps I should worry that Ms Bene’s mind can produce such a dark, dark, dark story, instead I’m rather selfishly glad that she produces such masterpieces of depravity.


The original story left us just after Danielle was ‘treated’ to a very special second baptism and thrust into a pitch black chamber. Now I do remember feeling like this situation had a minuscule ray of hope within it. Well I was sort of right and a lot wrong, but you’ll need to read this compellingly twisted, licentious, deviant and obscene (and I mean that in a very good way) book.


Be warned, this book contains a multitude of possible triggers, caution is advised if you are sensitive to certain subject matter involving physical and sexual abuse.

Bonus story – The Day The Sky Burned

This is such an eerie read. It has enough of an air of the believable about it to be incredibly frightening. Mob mentality, panic and politics make it only too easy to imagine this actually happening. 

I loved the insight it gave us, both into Danielle’s life prior to the sky burning, her family and loved ones and how Eden could ever possibly come into existence. A stunning read.

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07R4BKRPN

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45360689-reign-of-ruin

What others are saying –

If you are looking for a dark, disturbing read then this is the book you need to get.

Jennifer Bene, Author

“This story was absolute hell and I couldn’t put it down if I wanted to.”

Amazon Reviewer

“I absolutely loved how this book confused me and dragged me (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the darkness!”

Amazon Reviewer

“I couldn’t stop reading. Partly out of intense fascination and partly because if I put it down, I wouldn’t be able to think of anything else until I picked it back up again.”

Amazon Reviewer

BLURB

‘The priests want me to thank God, but the only thing I pray for is death.’

There is nothing before Eden. Just flashes of a time before Danielle woke up in chains, in hell, to be violated and broken.

Over, and over, and over.

They say that God honors those who serve, that each baptism is a gift, but all Danielle wants is to die.

Eden has other plans.