Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10!

I’m joining in with That Artsy Reader Girl and her meme, Top Ten Tuesday. It’s a very Happy 10th Birthday to this meme, so the floor is open for the choice of topic.

I was considering using the very first prompt ever, but my childhood was a loooong time ago, and I’m not sure I could remember all of my favourite books, so have decided to pick my favourite 10 books of the year so far.

The Velvet Chair – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/06/21/review-the-velvet-chair/
Resistance – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/05/09/review-resistance/
Myth of Omega – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/04/11/book-review-myth-of-omega-books-1-3/
Missing In Action – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/03/30/review-missing-in-action/
Primal Sin – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/03/26/review-primal-sin/
Midnight Fae Academy 1 – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/02/23/book-review-midnight-fae-academy-1/
Destroyed – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/02/13/destroyed-by-eva-dresden-review/
Twilight Seeker – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/02/02/twilight-seeker/
The Escape Artist – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/01/16/the-escape-artist-by-kitty-thomas/
Sin & Spirit – https://louisesbookbuzz.home.blog/2020/01/11/sin-spirit/

Do you have a top ten to share? Let me know and I’ll come by and comment.

Top 5… Books by Debut Authors


Top 5 … Books by a Debut Author


Today’s meme is hosted by Devouring Books, and the prompt is “Books by a debut author”. Go and check their blog out and say hi, it’s always appreciated!

My 5 books are not featured in any particular order, but they are all books that I have read and enjoyed. One of the authors is hugely successful, most publish independently and there still seems to be a stigma around that. Which is a shame because those that assume no self-published author is worth reading are missing out on some amazing books.

The very last book is iconic within the dark romance/dark erotica world, it was my introduction to this sub-genre/trope as indeed it has been for many others. What I really love about these indie authors is their approachability, their friendliness, the way the truly do care for their readers. Yes they need to keep up sales and it pays them to do the whole social media bit, but so many, in fact it seems to me the majority of them, go above and beyond that. Interacting with their audience on a much deeper level than that of just author and reader.

So without any further ado, here is my selection for the Top 5.


Broken by Eva Dresden

Genre: Dark Paranormal/Omegaverse Romance

Street smart, stubborn, and struggling.
Quinn Ivers scrapes by one day at a time in a world where Omegas are viewed as less than nothing and are subject to the whims of others. Slinging drinks in a nightclub with a wicked reputation, she just wants to make it to the next day. Her world is rife with an array of dangers, but it’s hers and she answers to no one.
Until Tobias Kahler appears and ruins everything, including her.
The man who owns the city has set his eyes on the waitress, and he won’t be denied. Merciless and without remorse, he’ll do anything to make her his and keep her by his side for a purpose Quinn could never have guessed at.
Even when broken, she will fight to keep her sanity and herself alive, enduring whatever evils are thrown at her.
For the spark of hope buried under all the pain, she’ll do a lot more than that.


Harry Potter and the Chamber or Secrets by JK Rowling

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Ever since Harry Potter had come home for the summer, the Dursleys had been so mean and hideous that all Harry wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange impish creature who says that if Harry returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor and a spirit who haunts the girls’ bathroom. But then the real trouble begins – someone is turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possible be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself! 


Ravenous Innocence by Myra Danvers

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

“I can give you everything,” he whispered, smiling through the lie. All I had to do was kneel…
The Caledonian forces come armed, yet offer peace. Spouting claims that they can deliver a new era—one of luxury and ease—they think to seduce. They promise our countries will thrive together, that they will save us from ourselves in exchange for Tritan’s secrets, our expertise in the mystical arts of wielding ki. Partner with warmongers unaccustomed to being refused, or fall beneath their boots.
These conquerors fool no one.
They seek to leash my people and claim our priestesses for their own sick uses.
But I will not kneel.
Especially not to him.
Captain Asher Rawlings.
Powerful… Elite… Relentless… He’s been tasked to hunt me down and dress me in chains—a mission he relishes, for with one taste of my lips, he hungers for my submission above all else…
In an instant, the deadly secret I’ve been keeping for years is exposed to his attention. He knows what I am, what I might be capable of, and he’s drawn to my fire… my ki…
With a kiss, he feeds me whispers of a coddled life kneeling at his precious feet, his offer nothing more than the life of a cherished pet.

But he won’t have me or my ki, for his betrayal has given me strength even he didn’t expect.
Only one thing is certain— he’ll either put me on my knees, or I’ll kill them all.


Take Me Break Me by Cari Silverwood

Genre: Dark/BDSM Romance

Jodie is scraping the barrel trying to stay afloat. An idea arrives that could rescue her finances and bring her together in a kinky way with a man she never gave up on. She’s terrified and fascinated, and tempted as hell.
Capture fantasies rule her eBook. Re-enacting one in a documentary would surely be irresistible viewing to millions of women?
But Jodie and Klaus discover that underneath an ordinary man dark desires may lurk. What will win in the end? The man and lover, or the monster?


Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas

Genre: Dark Erotica/Romance

Emily Vargas has been taken captive. As part of his conditioning methods, her captor refuses to speak to her, knowing how much she craves human contact. He’s far too beautiful to be a monster. Combined with his lack of violence toward her, this has her walking a fine line at the edge of sanity.
Told in the first person from Emily’s perspective, Comfort Food explores what happens when all expectations of pleasure and pain are turned upside down, as whips become comfort and chicken soup becomes punishment.


New Release // Perfection


PERFECTION

standalone dark contemporary romance

by: Kitty Thomas


Everyone thought I was married to the perfect man. But if Conall Walsh were perfect, I wouldn’t have killed him.

I thought I got away with it until I received an anonymous note at the ballet company I dance for:

You were a very bad girl. If you don’t want me to report what I know about last night, meet me at the old opera house after rehearsal. I will tell you the price of my silence when you arrive. If you speak of this or bring anyone with you… no deal.

But his price isn’t money. It’s me.


THIS IS A STANDALONE contemporary dark romance.



“A hot dark story with a twist you won’t see coming. Perfection lives up to its name!”

Anna Zaires, New York Times bestselling author of TWIST ME


“So raw, sexy, and twisted, I couldn’t stop reading. The combination of mystery, fear, and eroticism is what Kitty Thomas does best.”

Annabel Joseph, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of MERCY


Read my review of Perfection here.



LINKS:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086R4Y35X/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086R4Y35X/
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B086R4Y35X/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B086R4Y35X/
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/perfection-kitty-thomas/1136707702
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/perfection-42
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/perfection/id1504151283?ls=1
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kitty_Thomas_Perfection
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1014226


GIVEAWAYBlitz-wide giveaway (INT)
5 surprise signed books AND a $100 Amazon gift card!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/70f5e72b18/





Teaser

“Please what?” he asks, his voice hard again. And I can feel his distance from me. He’s too far away for me to touch even if I reached out. And I want to reach out. I want to beg for him. I want to crawl.

“Sir, please… please… don’t stop. Please.”

I’m still holding onto the barre. My arm is aching, but I can’t bring myself to break the position he ordered me into. Mercifully, he takes that hand in his, and pulls me to stand. Then he leads me away somewhere. Off the stage… backstage… I don’t know where we’re going, but I don’t protest.

When we reach the bathroom backstage, I know that’s where we are. I feel the tile floor through my soft ballet shoes. I hear the water go on in the shower. A zipper. Clothing hitting the floor. Then he’s stripping me. First the shoes, then the leotard and tights. But the blindfold remains in place. The glass door slides open, and he pulls me into the enveloping wet warmth with him.

I know he’s seen me naked before on the screen, but realizing his closeness, feeling the hard naked length of his body pressed against mine is another thing. He’s so tall and strong. So much stronger than me. Suddenly being in this confined space with water pouring down on me, naked with a stranger—with my blackmailer—jars me out of his seductive spell.

He could rape me. He could fucking drown me. He could tilt me back and hold his hand over my mouth and just let the water take me. I panic, and then tears come. I’m so isolated from the rest of the world, from anyone who could help or hear me. Suddenly being this vulnerable with this man I don’t know scares me in a way I haven’t been scared since the note in my locker.

“Shhhh,” he says. “Shhh. You’re safe.” He pulls me into his arms, which should feel more confining, more terrifying, but I can feel his steady heartbeat against my skin, and he’s stroking my back in the most delightfully soothing way. I shouldn’t melt into him like I do. I shouldn’t feel this sense of trust flow out of me and into him. Especially not after Conall. This is a dangerous man. This is not a romantic comedy. This is something dark and disturbing and wrong.

But my brain can’t process that reality anymore because he’s being so gentle. My arms go around him, clinging to him, my head pressed against his chest, sighing like a contented house cat as he strokes the back of my neck. 

“I think that’s enough for tonight,” he says.

I want to say no. He can’t leave me wanting. Even as he says these words, the desire comes flooding back, overriding all doubts and fears. I grip him harder, as if I can stop him from pulling away.

His mouth grazes my ear. “Do you want more?”

“Yes, Sir.” I am nothing but adrenaline. Fear and desire blending together until I don’t know where one thing ends and the other begins. But I need him to keep touching me.

“Turn around and put your hands on the wall.” He doesn’t say it in the same hard way as usual. And it doesn’t come out in a growl. The command is soft, calm.

And suddenly I am soft, calm.

I do as he says, and a few moments later he’s washing me, lathering my body, the relaxing scent of lavender permeating the space.

“I’m going to remove the blindfold. Stay facing the wall, and keep your eyes closed. I really don’t want to punish you right now. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir.” It’s barely more than a whisper. But he hears me.

He removes the fabric from my eyes, which has miraculously mostly remained dry, since my face wasn’t in the water. Then he releases my hair from the bun. He runs his fingers through it. He shampoos my hair and washes my body, and I stand there, obeying him—my eyes closed, turned toward the shower wall, my hands flat against the tile. 

Why the hell am I doing this?

“Good girl,” he murmurs in my ear as if it’s the answer to my internal questioning.


REVIEW //\\ Perfection


PERFECTION by Kitty Thomas







Perfection is a very twisty, unusual and full of surprises read, so good I read it in virtually one sitting.


Overall I really enjoyed this story of Cassia and the mysterious man who knows her secret. I did find I had to suspend my disbelief at times, in order for the story to work, but even despite that I was totally drawn in. The blurb is deliberately vague, and to avoid spoilers I’m going to do the same thing.


I can tell you that I really liked Cassia, she was a really normal, down to earth character – murder of her husband aside. Given the situation, and I’m being deliberately vague here, I did struggle with how quickly she was attracted to her blackmailer. I wasn’t quite convinced by the speed with which she became infatuated, hence the 4 stars. That said, the chemistry was incredibly well written and it didn’t take long for me to buy into the connection. The story itself makes it harder to connect fully with the hero, as he remains very mysterious throughout most of the book Though the situation did make things more interesting and exciting too.


The middle part was less dark, but this was where we really start to build a picture of the characters, and where the story really began to unfold. I have to give credit to the author for some unexpected twists, for seeming to be heading in one direction but actually be leading us along a totally different path and for pulling out some real shocking surprises. I also found it very refreshing that the principal ballerina wasn’t portrayed as a raving bitch, instead was actually a kind and caring human being.


The ending of the book was the real highlight for me, it is incredibly strong and those last few chapters had me gripped. It actually felt really sinister and dark at times, and definitely pushed both mine and Cassia’s buttons. Her confusion, hurt and angst were so visceral, so real that it felt like a punch to the gut.


There are elements of dubious consent, some fairly mild discipline scenes and the relationship contains elements of power exchange and mild humiliation. There is, however, a very definite HEA to soothe the soul.








Everyone thought I was married to the perfect man. But if Conall Walsh were perfect, I wouldn’t have killed him.

I thought I got away with it until I received an anonymous note at the ballet company I dance for:

You were a very bad girl. If you don’t want me to report what I know about last night, meet me at the old opera house after rehearsal. I will tell you the price of my silence when you arrive. If you speak of this or bring anyone with you… no deal.

But his price isn’t money. It’s me.

THIS BOOK IS A STANDALONE contemporary dark romance.






AMAZON US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086R4Y35X/
AMAZON UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086R4Y35X/
B&N – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/perfection-kitty-thomas/1136707702?ean=2940162687276
KOBO – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/perfection-42
GOOGLE PLAY – https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kitty_Thomas_Perfection?id=V1HYDwAAQBAJ
iBOOKS – https://books.apple.com/us/book/perfection/id1504151283?ls=1

GOODREADS – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52654462-perfection



REVIEW //\\ Mafia Captive










I’m really disappointed with how low the average rating is for this book, because to my mind it takes the “captive romance” genre and twists it into something uniquely and refreshingly different.



Kitty Thomas writes complex characters in difficult situations and refuses to follow the expected conventions and ‘rules’. Perhaps that is why so many give the books low ratings, their enjoyment comes from a certain set of expectations being fulfilled, plot rules and routines being stuck to, no criticism if that is your preference. However I loved this book because it really DIDN’T stick to those preconceived notions of what happens in a captive romance book.



They do say to be careful what you ask for because you just might get it, and that’s what happened for me with this story. So often when I’m reading a dark romance I want the heroine NOT to be dripping like a leaky tap (faucet to you USA folks) in the hero’s presence. Faith was attracted to Leo, but the situation she was in, and his sadistic desires left her cold. I feel it only fair to warn you now that this does contain a lot of dubious-consent and one scene that is non-consent. It wasn’t the darkest non-con scene but it is pivotal to the story.



Leo is a good man prepared to do bad things for, at least to his mind, good reasons. So despite now owning Faith, when she reacts with the inevitable (and oh so realistic but usually missing from these books) fear and terror he, as the blurb says, keeps her almost as one would keep a pet or a piece of art. Leo is a complex man, born and raised in a mafia family but with too many morals and too good a heart to live that life. However it has left him with a darkness in his soul and a liking for the more sadistic aspects of BDSM.



I did think the abuse Faith had suffered as a child, her utter fear of ‘the belt’, would feature as an aspect later in the book. It almost felt like a loose end but, at the end of the day/book, this was a M/s relationship and really it was never going to make a difference. The ending, for some, may feel abrupt. Kitty Thomas doesn’t really go for the nice, sweet, tied-up-in-a-bow ending. She leaves us with a raw, realistic ending, one where I would argue quite ferociously that both characters are happy.



Neither has exactly what they want from a relationship, Leo felt like he compromised a lot less than Faith did, but isn’t that what life is like? And that ultimately is what I most enjoy about Kitty’s work. Whilst the original plot basis might be a slight stretch, how the characters feel and react does feel very genuine and real. I adore dark romances but so very often I can predict how the story will proceed almost blow-by-blow, or beat for beat I believe the literary version is. How much I enjoy the book is then entirely down to the quality of writing. Mafia Captive is just a breath of fresh air and the type of read that I just didn’t want to put down. I highly recommend it. 

























Without any family, Faith Jacobson faces the grim reality of Christmas alone. Walking home one night after drinks with friends, she stumbles upon a mob hit. Faith expects to be killed for what she’s seen; instead she is given to a wealthy and dangerous man tied to the Raspallo crime family. As a gift.

Leo Raspallo is beautiful, yet terrifying. But inside his home Faith is no longer alone, especially when his family arrives for the holidays, forcing her into the ruse of a fake wedding engagement. But she isn’t his beloved fiancé; she’s his captive. And he can’t be her savior while harboring dark desires of his own.









Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CF4U874/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CF4U874/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17737134-mafia-captive





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.





BIG SKY

BIG SKY by Kitty Thomas

This is a book that has been around for a little while, and when you read reviews you soon find out it’s a marmite book. It divides readers firmly into love it or hate it camps, which to me is a sign of great writing. A lot of the haters can’t accept the ending, many of them find the kink/darkness goes a step too far, others mentioned it was the ‘x‘ Kitty Thomas book they had read and hated. I do have to question why people continue to read an author they don’t ‘get’. Is it just so they can leave scathing reviews of a genre (dark capture fantasy) that they clearly disagree with?

I bought my copy a while ago, as part of a box set, The Capture Fantasy Collection. A Goodreads friend recommended it to me back in October last year. I had every intention of reading it then, but an over commitment to arc reading soon put paid to those plans! I’ve since stepped back from the majority of my arc teams, remaining on those where the authors only release a couple of books a year or where I love their work so much I need it asap.

One of those authors is Kitty Thomas, and it was reading The Escape Artist that triggered a need in me for more of her work. So I dug out the book that had languished untouched on my kindle for far too long, and jumped in.






Is this a romance? I’m not sure it is, and that ending…. my word I can’t remember the last time I felt that sad at how a story finished. Yet I loved the story, I devoured it in the same way Luke and the guys devour Ronnie’s milk. I gulped it down greedily and quite simply couldn’t get enough.

I’ll be honest, I read spoilers for this book and you know what? I’m glad I did. Forewarned is forearmed and all that jazz (and jizz). I knew this wasn’t going to be a ‘traditional’ happy ever after ending, and as I’ve already said it did feel sad. But it was that happy sad that only truly brilliant writing can elicit in you. Was Ronnie a victim of Stockholm Syndrome? Did it matter? At the end of the day, and the book, she might not have had everything her heart desired, but she was happier than she had ever been in her ‘before Luke’ life.


Was Luke crazy? I’m still on the fence with that one. Grief can make people do the strangest things. If Ronnie had hated the kink would he have pushed her the way he did? Who knows, that wasn’t the story that was written, and it’s fiction at the end of the day (even if it didn’t really feel that way when I was reading it.) There were times I wanted to hit the man, his actions were frequently indefensible, yet if Ronnie loved them were they truly wrong? And there we have just why I love this author’s writing. She takes such wrong storylines and weaves them into something that has you questioning your own morals and sanity.

I even questioned Ronnie’s sanity on several occasions, yet even as one half of my mind yelled at her to resist, to fight, to refuse, the other half pointed out that she was a girl with severely limited options.

To truly enjoy the story you do have to allow some flexibility on ‘reality’. Whilst I totally bought that looney Luke might take a vulnerable woman who reminded him of his dead wife, the complicity of the three ranch hands seemed to be pushing it slightly. But then they all had a ‘reward’ in keeping schtum, not forgetting that they had helped Luke keep other secrets that could get them all in trouble. So in the end I found that I could let it pass.

The book involves the sharing of Ronnie and hucow kink, if either of those is a hard limit for you then you will need to take a pass on this one. However Kitty Thomas knows how to write kink, even dark and depraved dub-con kink, in a smoking hot, can only read one-handed😉 manner, so if you’re on the fence get down and get kinky!

Oh and yes, I do recommend this one.







Veronica Cason lives in a small apartment with no clear view of the sky. It’s uncertain which might crush her first: her debt or the buildings squeezed in so tight that they surround her like ominous sentinels. She can’t breathe in the city. Her success is a lie, and her debt is coming to collect her — unless someone else gets there first.

When a stranger offers her a job at a ranch, it feels like salvation, but it could also mean her death if his motives aren’t pure. Which door has the tiger behind it? The claustrophobia of the city or ranch life under an open sky?







AMAZON US – https://www.amazon.com/Big-Sky-Kitty-Thomas-ebook/dp/B009KT2NUC/
AMAZON UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Big-Sky-Kitty-Thomas-ebook/dp/B009KT2NUC/
AMAZON CA – https://www.amazon.ca/Big-Sky-Kitty-Thomas-ebook/dp/B009KT2NUC/
AMAZON AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Big-Sky-Kitty-Thomas-ebook/B009KT2NUC/

B&N – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/big-sky-kitty-thomas/1112623129?ean=9781938639050

iBOOKS – https://books.apple.com/us/book/big-sky/id1227840416

GOOGLEPLAY – https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kitty_Thomas_Big_Sky?id=0AmMBAAAQBAJ

KOBO – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/big-sky

SMASHWORDS – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/241397

BOOK DEPOSITORY – https://www.bookdepository.com/Big-Sky-Kitty-Thomas/9781938639050


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.

The Escape Artist by Kitty Thomas





The Escape Artist by Kitty Thomas


Publication date: January 14th 2020
Genres: Erotica, Romance


Synopsis:

Claire was held captive for 43 days by a man who did unspeakable things to her.

Three years after her escape, she gets her revenge. The only problem is, she’s got the wrong man.

God help her if he escapes.


Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49240279-the-escape-artist





I absolutely loved this book.


From the first line to the last, The Escape Artist held me captive, just as Claire and Ari were held captive by one another. Kitty Thomas has crafted yet another amazing masterpiece of a story, one where she takes all the elements of wrongness and twists them into something that is so very right. This story is by parts emotionally charged, depraved, incredibly hot, fantastically written and populated with great characters.

This was wrong in every way a thing could be wrong. But he hadn’t been able to leave her alone in a world she could no longer navigate, and he wasn’t nobel enough to pass up this opportunity or just keep her as his indefinite platonic house guest.


The relationship between Claire and Ari is consensual at the same time as it isn’t, with the author somehow skating a fine line between the two. Just as I decided it was one thing, the tables turned and it became the other. Even more amazingly, Ms Thomas manages to take a relationship based on everything wrong and turn it into something perfect.

Ari was a good man until life gave him an opportunity to be otherwise, and yet that wrongness was the perfect thing to save Claire. Despite how morally dubious his actions were I adored him, and it was always clear that Claire’s wellbeing was his top priority. Theirs may not have been the most conventional of relationships, erroneous in just about every way possible, but it was exactly the relationship both of them needed.

The author has taken the possibly overused “captive” trope and shaken it up, producing a story that feels fresh and new. This is one red hot NSFW read, pushing buttons and boundaries in the most delightful of manners. I totally loved every single thought, word and action in the book, I simply can’t sing its praises loudly enough. In fact it’s left me with a deep need to read more of her work.

He’d felt how badly she needed someone to take control of her, her shattered life, everything. Someone who wouldn’t truly hurt her. But she could never ask for such a thing. And she could never feel safe if it were offered. Because she didn’t know who to trust.



Purchase:
Amazon: https://books2read.com/u/bx8g6k?store=amazon
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-escape-artist-kitty-thomas/1133948925
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-escape-artist/id1482334518?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo=4
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-escape-artist-29
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=rpazDwAAQBAJ


AUTHOR BIO:

KITTY THOMAS writes dark stories that play with power and have unconventional HEAs. She began publishing in early 2010 with her bestselling COMFORT FOOD and is considered one of the original authors of the dark romance subgenre.

To find out FIRST when a new book comes out, subscribe to Kitty’s New Release List:  KITTYTHOMAS.COM


Author links:
https://kittythomas.com/
https://twitter.com/kitty_thomas
https://bookandmainbites.com/KittyThomas
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2654606.Kitty_Thomas


a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js


(c) Copyright 2020, Kitty Thomas. All rights reserved. Excerpt used with permission.

TEASER SCENE 1:

Claire pushed the memories away, gripping the leather arm rests, willing her heartbeat and breathing to calm. That was him. She had him in a cell. That was the guy. He had a scar where she’d cut him. How could he lie to her with such a straight face when they both knew he had that scar and how he’d gotten it?

Because he’s a sociopath, Claire. He isn’t like normal people.

She couldn’t let herself forget that—what he was. She couldn’t let herself be tricked by the beautiful monster into setting him free and losing her own life. She got up and went to the kitchen, taking another bottle of beer from the fridge. This one she drank all the way down until a light pleasant buzz of calm skated across her skin. She took a long, steadying breath and grabbed the broom and dustbin.

When she returned to the cell, at least the arrogance had left his face. Maybe he was starting to understand his situation, that the tables had turned and he was now at her mercy. Let him lie about things, as long as she could wipe the smug smile off his face.

She silently swept up the shards of the beer bottle. The last thing she needed was for him to have a weapon. That had been his mistake with her after all.

“You can still let me go,” he said. His voice was so gentle and soothing. Calm and reasonable. 

He’d never spoken to her like that in the basement. Of course not, he’d had the power then. He has to placate you now.

Claire just laughed. “Right. I’m going to let you go so you can hurt me again. Am I supposed to believe you’re reformed? After me, you stopped torturing and killing women? You realized the error of your ways?”

“What’s your name?” he asked, changing tactics. “My name…”

“Shut UP! If you speak your name I’ll kill you. I swear to fuck I will. I NEVER want to hear your fucking name. EVER. Don’t you try to humanize yourself. You’re a fucking monster, and you know it!”

“I’m sorry,” he said quickly, holding his hands up in surrender.

No he wasn’t, he was placating her.

“What’s your name, then?” he said, trying again.

“You know my fucking name. You used to hiss it in my ear while you were…” she trailed off, unable to say the words. She turned away from him and took a deep breath, quickly wiping the tears that threatened to spill over. She was not going to cry in front of him anymore. She’d cried all the tears for him she would cry.

She had the power now. Not him. NOT him. But she was shaking. She could feel the light tremors in her arms. He must be able to see them. He was the one chained up, and he was going to break her again.

Never.

“It’s okay if you don’t have it in you to hurt me. I don’t think you’re that kind of person,” he said gently.

“Just shut the fuck up!” she screamed. “I should starve you, just like you starved me for the tiniest act of defiance.” She turned back to finish sweeping the stray shards into the dustpan.

“Look at me,” he said.

It was a fucking command. He thought he could order her around when he was the prisoner? But she turned and looked at him.

“I would never starve you. Ever,” he said, holding her gaze in his.

He’d already starved her, and they both knew it. These head games… she had to regroup her strategy or he was going to get inside her head and mess with it. If she lost her nerve… if he got free again, he’d kill her this time. She was already in too deep. She had to get her shit together and finish this. It was the only choice.





TEASER SCENE 3:

“I thought you’d never wake up,” she said. “I worried I gave you too much. Wouldn’t that be a tragedy?”

But they both knew she wasn’t worried. Though it did cause Ari to worry because while there had been moments when he thought she might not have it in her to kill him—even though she had to know the price of not following through—now there was the new concern. She might accidentally kill him. She could give him too much of whatever drug she was dosing him with. One of these times when she was feeding him or injecting him with whatever, he could just… never wake up.

It sent a cold wave of anger running through him that she played with his life this way. He wasn’t her enemy, but she seemed dead set on turning him into one.

“I know you can’t control your smart mouth, and I don’t want to talk about last night,” she said, explaining the tape.

He nodded and remained silent. He knew the pointlessness of trying to speak behind the tape. Ari was beginning to feel more helpless than he’d yet felt while under her control. He couldn’t even talk to her. Or try to reach her. And he wanted to. He had no idea what he’d say after last night, but he needed to talk to this girl.

The previous night he could have forgiven her for what she’d done to him. Those helpless agonized screams would be seared into his own nightmares for a good long time. But now? With the way she was looking at him and whatever she might be about to do to punish him for hearing? He wasn’t so sure.

Ari flinched when her fingertips skimmed over the scar on his chest again. What he wouldn’t give to know what she thought that scar meant.

Her gaze panned over his naked body, and she flinched. Oh shit. Yeah, he still couldn’t control his body’s reaction to her. Damaged or not, she was exactly his type. She was everything he’d wished Holly had been. That sweet and fragile look just did it for him. Except that despite her fragile exterior and how she hung to the edge of sanity by a thread, this girl could fuck his shit up beyond recovery. He knew that now. It was probably better she’d used the tape. He needed to buy himself enough time to figure out the drugging pattern. And after last night she was far too volatile to risk any of the million wrong things he could say right now.

Both times she’d drugged him, it had been in the beef stew. Probably covering up the taste of the drugs. So then the other foods shouldn’t be drugged. Though she wasn’t a stupid woman. She’d no doubt send him some decoy stew so he could never be one hundred percent sure which meals were drugged and which meals weren’t.

His eyes widened as a hard slap connected with his face. His gaze flew to hers. He thought she’d smacked him because he’d zoned out, but the next words out of her mouth proved otherwise.

“You sick piece of shit. You can have a hard on until the end of time but you will NEVER touch me again, do you understand?”

He nodded quickly. It wasn’t as though he could help his physical reaction to her. She was so goddamned gorgeous. There was no part of Ari that liked being dominated. It wasn’t her act of being in control that affected him. It was the tragic vulnerability that threatened to escape out from under her mask of calm, cold retribution.

The mask had already slipped when she’d whipped him and fallen into sobbing fits on the floor. Some absolutely insane part of him had wanted to comfort her in that moment. Both of them were playing games they were ill-equipped to handle.

He didn’t do well without the control. His smartass remarks were a way to deflect from the very real distress over not being the one with the power. He didn’t even like the minor defiance of a brat sub, let alone being in a position like this. They were in the wrong roles here. She should be on her knees at his feet, and he should be the one holding the whip.

She paced back and forth across the cell, watching him carefully. Finally she snapped her fingers in front of his face to get his attention—as if there was anything else in this room he could give his attention to. She was in too deep. They both knew it. She was breaking apart at the seams even as she broke his skin with her whip. He needed control of her. And he needed it soon. Before this went too far. 

In one swift movement, she ripped the tape off his mouth.

“Owww, motherfuck!” he growled.

“I changed my mind. We should talk,” she said. “Does it give you a thrill to know you can get into my head in my dreams? I bet you just love that I’m still fucking running from you even when I’ve got you helpless and at my mercy. Do you like that? Is that why you’re so hard?”

Ari sighed. “I’m not him. I’m not the man from your nightmares.”

Those calm words earned him another hard slap across the face.

“Stop. Fucking. Lying to me! We both know the truth. You have the scar. You look the same. You’re HIM!”

She began to pace back and forth, her eyes wild.

“I don’t know what you want me to say. You’re not going to believe it anyway so what’s the point?” Ari said. She might become even more erratic if she knew how he’d gotten the scar. And if he made up any other lie he was sure she’d read it on his face. It was both risky and pointless.

She gripped his throat and held him against the wall. Even chained he could probably buck her off him, but if she got injured with him confined like this it wouldn’t help anything. And despite how crazy he knew it was, he didn’t want to hurt her. He wanted to take her out of here and fix this.

He just had to figure out a way to escape her inescapable fortress cell. 

She squeezed harder against his throat. He would no doubt have a bruise if she didn’t just kill him. He wished he knew her name. He needed something to call her. How could you reach and reason with a person if you didn’t even know their name? He was sure she wouldn’t respond favorably to any of his standard pet names. Calling her Doll might get him castrated.

Finally she released him and went back to pacing.

“I think this is hurting you more than me,” Ari said, knowing even as he said it, that it was probably the wrong thing to say.

She laughed. It was a bitter sound that bounced eerily off the walls of the cell. “Right. So… me letting you go… that’s for my benefit. You are an evil fucking piece of work.”

He captured and held her gaze in his. “Yes. I think letting me go is for your benefit. It will destroy you if you take a life. You and I both know it. You don’t have it in you. You don’t have to do this. I won’t go to the police. I’m not going to hurt you. I know it might seem that way, but I’m not him. Do I act the same way?”

“You’re the one in the chains! Of course you don’t act the same way. You have to act reasonable. You have to trick me! You think I’m dumb enough to let you trick me into my own grave?”

Ari took a slow calming breath and tried again. “If I was the type of man who would have done unspeakable things to you, do you really believe I’d still be calm right now? Wouldn’t I be yelling and threatening you?”

“You DID threaten me, the first day!”

Ari shook his head. “That was before…”

“When you thought you’d been taken by a man? Am I supposed to be charmed by the patronizing sexism?”

“Tell me your name,” Ari tried again.

“Fuck you!”

“Is that the way it’s printed on your birth certificate?”

She pulled another piece of duct tape off the roll and slapped the tape over his mouth. “We’re done talking. You’re not getting inside my head. It’s bad enough you can still do it while I’m sleeping. You will never be in control while I’m conscious.”

Ari raised a brow. Wanna bet? 


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/.

COVER REVEAL

The Escape Artist by Kitty Thomas

 
Publication date: January 14th 2020
Genres: Erotica, Romance

Synopsis:
Claire was held captive for 43 days by a man who did unspeakable things to her.

Three years after her escape, she gets her revenge. The only problem is, she’s got the wrong man.

God help her if he escapes.



Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48258165-the-escape-artist

Pre-order:
Amazon: https://books2read.com/u/3LpLDX?store=amazon
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-escape-artist-kitty-thomas/1133948925
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-escape-artist/id1482334518?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-escape-artist-29
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=rpazDwAAQBAJ

GIVEAWAY – https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/70f5e72b11/

AUTHOR BIO:(No author photo)KITTY THOMAS writes dark stories that play with power and have unconventional HEAs. She began publishing in early 2010 with her bestselling COMFORT FOOD and is considered one of the original authors of the dark romance subgenre.

To find out FIRST when a new book comes out, subscribe to Kitty’s New Release List: KITTYTHOMAS.COM

Author links:
https://kittythomas.com/
https://twitter.com/kitty_thomas
https://bookandmainbites.com/KittyThomas
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2654606.Kitty_Thomas

RELEASE BLITZ & EXCERPT

TWISTED FATES by Kitty Thomas

Dark Romance NEW RELEASE

“A twisted darkly erotic story that only Kitty Thomas could tell.”

Willow Winters, USA TODAY Bestselling Author 

“With Twisted Fates, Kitty Thomas is at her best, creating an intensely emotional dark ride you won’t want to get off.” 

Anna Zaires, New York Times Bestselling Author of Twist Me

Synopsis

When Lindsay Smith brought her to the house, it was to train and sell her. They both knew it. She’d agreed to this arrangement. She wanted to belong to someone. But Lindsay wanted her to be his.

Three days into her stay at the pleasure house, Shannon Foster’s life is forever destroyed by a sociopathic monster. Lindsay saved her life that day, but the scars bind her to the house without a future.

Now, eight years later, Lindsay saves her once again, only this time he’s playing for keeps. 

NOTE: The books in the Pleasure House world are interlocking standalones. Each book has a full and complete ending with no cliffhangers and focuses on a different couple. These books can be read in any order the “series order” is the order of publication.

TWISTED FATES is only $3.99 through release week. It will return to the normal retail price of $4.99 after September 24th.

GIVEAWAY:

Be sure to check out the author’s Rafflecopter giveaway at her blog:
https://kittythomas.com/twisted-fates-release-week-rafflecopter-giveaway-over-200-value/


LINKS to TWISTED FATES:
Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XLNK2CP/
Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07XLNK2CP/
Amazon.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XLNK2CP
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07XLNK2CP/
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/twisted-fates/id1476169648
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/twisted-fates-kitty-thomas/1132910747
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/twisted-fates-4
GooglePlay:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kitty_Thomas_Twisted_Fates?id=hXqoDwAAQBAJ
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/953284

The rest of the Pleasure House series can be found here:     https://kittythomas.com/book-series/pleasure-house/


The first book, Guilty Pleasures is on sale for $2.99.

EXCERPT:
She realized suddenly that she was still crying. This agonizing sobbing sound was coming out of her, so foreign she kept forgetting it was her. How could she make those sounds? She was sure she’d cried every tear, felt every regret, ruminated and obsessed over every grudge.  She’d thought she was empty, done.

It was that emptiness that had finally brought her to the brink of her own demise. Yet here she was, the emotion spilling out, a never-ending fountain bubbling over with rage and pain. She flinched when he started to stroke her back. She flinched because she expected to feel him flinch when he touched her. She expected his fingertips to stutter and halt against the scars in revulsion. But they didn’t.

He touched her as if she were unbroken. 

“What do you need, Shannon?”

“Something you can’t give me.”

“You don’t know until you ask.”

She shook her head. “It can never be you.” Even though he was the only offer on the table. Even though he was the only one she’d wanted back when things were simple. 

The arousal cream continued on in its mission to drive her crazy, but her mind had become so far removed from sex that it acted as a dull background throb which she kept forgetting how to define because all she could think about was how this couldn’t happen with the doctor.

She couldn’t give herself to him like that—not in the way every last insane ounce of her wanted to. She couldn’t give in to the id. She’d made that mistake once. He’d already proven he wasn’t a man she could trust. 

He pressed warm soft kisses against her back, trailing up to her neck. He quietly untied her, then he sat beside her on the leather table and pulled her into his arms, his mouth finding hers, lingering there, softly at first, then hungrily as if he might devour her whole. She didn’t resist him. It felt too good. Even if she hated him. It was so late. She was so tired. 

He carried her up the stairs to his suite and laid her down on his giant bed in the plant room. Ralph was asleep in his cage though the parakeets still twittered quietly to each other. He covered the bird cages with a blanket, turned on a thunderstorm white noise machine, and then climbed into the bed with her.

Shannon barely breathed as he pulled her against him and wrapped an arm around her.

“What are we doing?” she whispered.

“We’re sleeping.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Sleep, kitten.”

She knew what he’d said in the dungeon about wanting her, and the kiss had felt real enough. And they’d shared a moment—she thought—but she couldn’t help thinking this was all some strange unconventional therapy that meant nothing beyond keeping her from killing herself. She couldn’t let herself believe it was anything more.

But if it was therapy, it might be working because suddenly dying was the last thought on her mind.