Review: Damnable Grace (Hades Hangmen, #5), by Tillie Cole

Damnable Grace (Hades Hangmen, #5)Damnable Grace by Tillie Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like all of the ‘Hades Hangmen’ books, ‘Damnable Grace’ is one that will rip your heart out. This series definitely tackles some offensive and upsetting content. It is not a series that will appeal to many readers because of the tough subject matter.

If you’re like me, and love dark books that push your limits and make you cringe, then ‘Damnable Grace’ is a great one. The fifth book in the series, it centers on Phebe and AK. If you’ve followed this series, you’ll remember AK as the “leader” of the psycho trio. You might also remember Phebe as the beautiful mistress of the “false” prophet who was cast aside for his new, younger mistress.

Phebe had been trained from a very young age to lure men into the cult with sex. She was trained to be a “Sacred Sister”, one of the girls sent out by the cult to recruit, or “fish”, for new male members. She was prized for her sexual allure and was considered to be the best of all the girls. She is used to men using her for their sexual pleasure and has never been valued for anything else. A devout believer, she has only recently begun to question the cult teachings.

When Phebe is sold by Rider’s brother, the “false prophet”, to a leader in the Aryan Brotherhood, Meister, she is in for more suffering than she could have imagined. Meister has been obsessed with Phebe from the first time that he saw her and his cruelty knows no bounds. At his hands, Phebe will endure unthinkable acts and will be left scarred, both physically and emotionally.

AK has not forgotten the beautiful woman that he left behind after the Hangmen raided the cult commune. When he and a few of his brothers are sent in to rescue Phebe from the Aryan Brotherhood’s compound, it was worse than anything that he could have imagined. The heinous abuse taking place at that compound were unthinkable. It was all he could do to maintain composure until he could get Phebe out of there.

In the weeks that followed, both Phebe and AK must come to terms with their pasts. Both have survived cruelty and tragedy. Each of them lives with loss and guilt. These two had a long road ahead of them, but they helped one another heal and face their pasts. Their story was tragic and messy, but beautiful.

It had been quite a while since I’d submersed myself in the world of the Hades Hangmen. So, I was worried that I wouldn’t remember all of the relevant details from the previous books. However, my concerns were completely unwarranted. Ms. Cole provided plenty of reminders throughout to keep me abreast of what was going on and what had passed.

While every Hades Hangmen book has made me cringe at times, none did so more than this one. It was absolutely brutal at times. Child abuse, rape, extreme sexual violence, murder…there was no shortage of depravity in this book.

Of all of the books in this series, I have to say that this one is my least favorite to this point. I enjoyed AK and Phebe’s story, but I wasn’t completely consumed with it like I have been with other books in this series. Even so, it was still a great book.

If you enjoy, dark and gritty stories, I highly recommend this series. Each of these characters has carved out a piece of my heart. They aren’t easy books to read, but they are well worth it.

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Review: The V Girl: A coming of age story, by Mya Robarts

The V Girl: A coming of age storyThe V Girl: A coming of age story by Mya Robarts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started this book, I knew it would deal with some pretty “heavy” subject matter. After all, the blurb is pretty forthcoming about the fact that rape is commonplace in this futuristic world that Mya Robarts created. While it proved to be every bit as gut-wrenching as I expected, there were also more moments of simplistic beauty than I had anticipated.

Given the dark, gritty and downright gloomy existence that the heroine lives, these few exquisite moments provided her with the inspiration necessary to keep living another day. For the reader, they served to keep the story from becoming so depressing as to not be enjoyable. Even in the darkest of times, there is light to be seen if you look hard enough. Finding that light is the essence of the human drive to survive against all odds.

Lila Velez was a girl that managed to find the light in a very dark world. Coming of age in her town meant being eligible for recruitment by the army. While this sounds deceivingly honorable, don’t let the fluffy language fool you. “Recruitment” is really a nice way of saying “rape” that is completely legal and sanctioned by the government. There is nothing nice about it or this life that Lila was born into. It is raw, brutal and horrific.

If you can picture that, then you can imagine the morose feeling that pervades this book. The vast majority of this book takes place in the months preceding the recruitment ceremony. (Yes, they actually have a big ceremony to celebrate these traumatic, and very public, mass rapes.) There was a strong sense of impending doom and the clock ticked down to the time that Lila would face a certain and brutal rape.

Fully aware of what the future holds in store for her, Lila is determined to take control of her own first sexual experience–to the extent that she can when she is faced with an ever-shortening timeline. She sets out to lose her virginity before it can be taken from her. She has no illusions of romance, but refuses to let the soldiers take that part of her. At least she can be sure that her first time will be with someone that she cares about, even if it isn’t with someone that she is in love with.

When Lila’s best friend, Rey, first turns her down, she is disappointed but not deterred. She is certain that she will be able to convince Rey before the troops arrive in their town. If she can’t she is sure that she can find somebody. After all, anyone would be better than the soldiers.

General Aleksy Furst immediately takes notice of Lila when he arrives in town. An awkward, rather comical, first meeting ensures that he won’t soon forget Lila. Despite her initial protests, Lila eventually comes to consider Aleksy’s offer to rid her of her virginity.

While reading this story, it was easy to draw many parallels between this fictional futuristic dystopian America and factual past and present war crimes of the world. This book forces readers to evaluate their values and sheds light on many unpleasant truths that are not discussed in polite society. From homophopia, rape, government-sanctioned war crimes, genetic modification, gender-specific roles to hypocrisy, this book touches on so many controversial topics that I couldn’t begin to list them all.

That is really what makes this book so moving and memorable. Of course, I enjoyed the love story that evolved between Lila and Aleksey. However, the beauty of this book was in it’s ability to make readers think about these controversial topics. The best books are those that force us to reevaluate our beliefs and behaviors, sculpting us into better, more compassionate, individuals. This is one such book.

While this book certainly isn’t a feel-good type of story, I highly recommend it. Like ‘1984’ and other dystopian classics, ‘The V Girl’ is a thought-provoking social commentary. I especially liked the questions for discussion that the author included at the back of the book.

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Review: All the Lies (Mindf*ck, #4), by S. T. Abby

All the Lies (Mindf*ck, #4)All the Lies by S.T. Abby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! If I thought that things couldn’t get more intense, I was sadly mistaken. This series is really aptly named. My mind is completely f*cked!

Four of five books in, Lana’s plans for revenge really start taking off at rapid speed. Logan’s investigation in to the Scarlet Slayer has led him to Lana’s hometown of Delaney Grove. On the surface it is all “Pleasantville”, but there is an underlying eeriness that hints at the corruption that inundates this community.

When Logan invites Lana along, he has no idea that he is playing right into her plans. In fact, he still has no idea of the darkness that lives within the woman that he loves. He remains the primary source of goodness in her life and the only thing keeping her from being completely consumed by the darkness.

Although he played a vital background role in earlier books, this installment has Jake really stepping into the spotlight. He is vital to Lana’s success and that is never more evident than in this book. I quickly grew to appreciate Jake and everything that he does for Lana. It was great to see that she has someone other than Logan that cares about her, especially because it is still yet to be determined how he will react to her secret life.

Things get very violent and interesting really quick in this book. As Logan gets closer to unveiling the truth, Lana continues to check off the remaining names on her list. Meanwhile, the horrifying details of the transgressions against Lana and her family continue to come to light.

If I ever had any doubt that the men on Lana’s list had it coming, I certainly don’t any longer. What they did was unspeakable. If anything, Lana is too kind to them in the end. They deserve everything she dished out and more. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a serial killer so strongly as I have Lana.

Like the other books in the series, this one ends with a huge cliffhanger. With only one more serial to go, things finally come to a head. I immediately started the fifth, and final, book in the series. I absolutely could not put these books down until I had finished the entire series. It is totally addicting!

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Review: Sidetracked (Mindf*ck Series, #2), by S. T. Abby

Sidetracked (Mindf*ck Series Book 2)Sidetracked by S.T. Abby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Sidetracked’ is the second serial in S. T. Abby’s ‘Mindf*ck’ series and it proves to be just as exciting as the first. To this point, there hasn’t been a dull moment in this series. I could not read these quick enough. I devoured every twisted detail as Lana and Logan continue to court danger.

In spite of their hectic schedules and Lana’s secrets, the couple continues to grow closer. They are quickly falling in love, even as Lana knows that she should distance herself from Logan. The man who is bringing her back to life is also the man who will cost her everything.

Logan is increasingly busy working two high-profile cases. Aside from his unknowing hunt for Lana, he is also trying to pin down a serial rapist and murder that is dubbed the “Boogeyman”. As she continues to avoid detection, Lana provides some insight and assistance to Logan on his other case.

When things heat up with the Boogeyman, Logan’s notoriety makes him a target for the killer. Only, the Boogeyman plans to get at Logan through the woman he loves. As a result, security for everyone on Logan’s team and Lana is beefed up.

Needless to say, having a 24/7 law enforcement presence proves to be a challenge for a serial killer trying to fly under the radar. The fact that Logan does not truly know Lana is never more obvious. Despite the added scrutiny, Lana manages to continue her plans for revenge with a few modifications.

More and more, Logan tries to get Lana to open up about her past to no avail. Meanwhile, readers are given tidbits of information, but are still left largely in the dark with Logan. It is clear that Lana’s survived an incredibly traumatic incident in the past, but the full extent of that trauma is yet to be revealed.

However, enough of Lana’s story has been revealed to make her plight sympathetic to readers. I am still rooting for her. She has yet to kill anyone that I didn’t think had it coming.

As expected, this second book ends with another huge cliffhanger. If I thought that the cliffhanger at the end of the last book was anxiety-inducing, I hadn’t seen anything yet. I dived into the third installment of this series immediately.

I am completely and totally hooked on this series. It is dark, twisted and has everything that I love in a suspenseful story. I am dying to know how everything works out. I have no doubt that I won’t stop until I’ve finished this entire series. I love it!

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Review: The Risk (Mindf*ck Series, #1), by S. T. Abby

The Risk (Mindf*ck Series #1)The Risk by S.T. Abby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy hell! This book was fantastic! I had never heard of S. T. Abby before now, but she has blown me away with this book. This is one twisted and fascinating story. I will be one-clicking her releases from this point forward.

The first in a series of five serials, ‘The Risk’ was suspenseful and utterly addicting. I could not put this super short book down. Once you’ve finished the first one, you’re going to want to delve into the next book immediately. Luckily, the entire series has been released, so you don’t have to live with the anxious anticipation for long.

Logan Bennett is a very successful FBI criminal profiler. His team is the FBI’s “dream team” of sorts. They get assigned the toughest cases, tracking down and capturing the country’s worst murderers. He is the quintessential “good guy” and a real-life hero.

Lana Myers is his polar opposite. Her life experiences have taught her that good does not always prevail. She is no longer a young girl with illusions of a criminal justice system that is fair and just. She knows all to well that there is true evil in this world. She has no qualms about handing out her own special brand of justice to those that she deems deserving of punishment. I can’t say that I disagreed either. Lana is quite possibly one of my favorite leading female characters ever…and she’s a serial killer!

When Logan and Lana cross paths, sparks fly immediately. One chance meeting at a coffee shop sets a chain of events in motion that will change the lives of these two forever. I was completely glued to this story. I knew that things were bound to get really ugly, but I couldn’t tear myself away.

Lana knows that the last thing she should ever do is pursue a romantic relationship with an FBI profiler. However, she just can’t deny herself the happiness that she feels with Logan. For his part, Logan is completely clueless about Lana’s true identity or what she does when she’s away from him. He has no idea that the serial killer he’s been hunting is actually warming his bed at night.

From start to finish, I could not pull myself away from this story. Despite being polar opposites, S. T. Abby managed to make both Logan and Lana characters that were endearing. I loved them both, even as I feared the heartache that I know has to be looming in the distance.

This story was dark, twisted and thrilling. This first serial ended with a big cliffhanger, that had me jumping into the next one immediately. I was blown away by this story.

If you’re a fan of dark, suspenseful stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time, then you need to read this series. The first book is free, so you’re not losing anything if you don’t like it. If you’re like me, you won’t even want to come up for air until you’ve read all five. This series was phenomenal!

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Review: Alternate: A Gypsy Brothers Novella (Gypsy Brothers, # 7.5), by Lili St. Germain

Alternate: A Gypsy Brothers NovellaAlternate: A Gypsy Brothers Novella by Lili St. Germain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s no mystery that I love dark, twisted stories. So, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I absolutely love the ‘Gypsy Brothers’ series. It is a raw, gritty and disturbing story of revenge and I devoured each one of the books in this series.

Somehow, I managed to miss the fact that this novella had been released until I saw a couple of reviews start popping up on friends’ pages. That is precisely why I love Goodreads so much. I hate to think that I would’ve missed this otherwise. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Although this is just a novella, I found it to bring a lot to the series. Providing three snippets of scenes from the POVs of Jase, Dornan and Elliot respectively, I gained a much better understanding of what was going on inside each of their heads. Some things were surprising, like Jase’s darker urges, and some things not so much, like Elliot’s love for Juliette.

Dornan continues to be one of the most intriguing villains that I’ve ever encountered. He is wicked through and through. Yet, there is a tiny part of him buried deep down that is remorseful and regretful. In his own sick way he still cared for Juliette, even as he was determined to destroy her. I still struggle to reconcile the man he could have been with the man that he became.

This novella also sheds more light on the time that Jase spent as his father’s captive for the years following Juliette’s brutal rape. He was an entirely different person than the Jase that we met in the other books. His despair led him to some very dark places. He’s never even told Juliette about his time pushing the depths of his own depravity.

As for Elliot, you just can’t help but love him. He was just what Juliette needed at the lowest point in her life. Without him, she wouldn’t have stood a chance at survival. He sacrificed so much to save her. Unfortunately for him, she just couldn’t ever love him the way he wanted her to. His story is one of sacrifice and heartache, but integral to the series.

This was another terrific addition to the ‘Gypsy Brothers’ series. This is hands-down, one of my favorite dark series and I’m so glad that Lili St. Germain gave fans another little taste. It does need to be read after other books in the series so that you’ll have an understanding of the characters and events. This one is not intended to be a standalone. If you’re a fan of the series, you can get a free copy of this ebook on the author’s website if you sign up for her mail group.

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Review: Seducing Virtue (Wicked Trinity, #3), by Courtney Lane

Seducing Virtue (Wicked Trinity Book 3)Seducing Virtue by Courtney Lane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It has been a while since I read something as messed up as ‘Seducing Virtue’. This was just the dark, twisted and shocking story that my depraved mind needed. Christ on a cracker! Courtney Lane always messes with my head. She has one disturbing imagination…and I love it!

This is the third book in the ‘Wicked Trinity’ series and the books must be read in order. In fact, this series is so multifaceted and complex that I found myself having to go back and re-read many parts of books one and two in order to make sense of certain events. It was absolutely no bother though, because this series is that good!

If you have already read the first two books, then it goes without saying that this is one dark and twisted series. It is brutal, gritty, gory and offensive. If you can’t handle a really dark read with very disturbing content, then you probably wouldn’t have made it this far in the series. Ms. Lane does not hold back when it comes to the dark content and I applaud her for that.

This book picks up with Keaton back at her parents after recently escaping Noah. She’s still shocked at the revelation of Braeden’s true identity, but inexplicably drawn to him nonetheless. She’s kind of in limbo, trying to do what she knows is logical while wanting to do something that is absolutely crazy but feels so good.

The beginning of this book seemed a little slow to me. However, once it got going it really took off. Buckle up, because you’re in for one hell of a twisted ride!

There were so many twists and turns along the way that I had to clarify and reorient myself more than once. If you’re like me and it has been a while since you read the first two books, you’ll want to have them handy to reference. There were so many intricate details that I had to go back a few times to remind myself where different things had left off.

The layers of deception seemed never-ending. Every time that I thought I knew where the story was headed, something else would happen and I find myself going in another direction entirely. It was definitely a mind-f*@k!

Throughout the book, Keaton and Braeden had a strong push/pull relationship. The two could seem to be together or stay apart. There were many things about their relationship that had me scratching my head. Yet, I wanted them to get the HEA in spite of Braeden’s horrible crimes.

Noah also spoke to me. He definitely isn’t a character that is easy to like, but deep down, I think he loved Keaton in his own messed up way. These two guys are perhaps two of the most damaged characters that I’ve ever encountered. I’d love to hate them, and sometimes I did, but mostly, I felt sad for them.

Eventually, everything does work out for the best. Of course, that is a matter of opinion. This book has the type of ending that will have many readers wanting to pull their hair out, but for me, it was perfect. I couldn’t have dreamt up a more fitting conclusion to this series.

If you love a dark, disturbing story that pushes your boundaries this is a good one. I love the dark stuff and there were times I felt an urge to rock myself in a corner. Be forewarned. If that appeals to you, like it does to me, you don’t want to miss this series.

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Review: Raze (Scarred Souls, #1), by Tillie Cole

Raze (Scarred Souls, #1)Raze by Tillie Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Raw, Gritty, Story Of Revenge And Love

Holy hell! This was an intense and amazing story! I devoured this book. I was completely consumed by this story from the first paragraph, to the last. It was gruesome, sad, tragic, and at the same time, it was brutally beautiful. Surrounded by unspeakable acts of violence, an incredible love story unfolds.

I won’t be able to provide a better overview than what is already provided in the author’s blurb, so I’m not going to try. Read it. It will give you a good idea of what the book is about and won’t leave you to “go in blind” as many blurbs do.

I will say, that I was in no way prepared to fall in love with Raze like I did. That Ms. Cole could make a man with over 600 kills and interpersonal skills that were brutish, at best, invoke compassion from readers, is a testament to her exceptional storytelling skills. He may be a killer, but I just wanted to cuddle this poor, lost, sexy man.

The connection between Raze and Kisa was undeniable. Their attraction seemed feral, possessive and animalistic. Yet, there was also an unmistakable tenderness and protectiveness in Raze’s actions. I could not get enough of these two!

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

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Review: Hellraiser (The Devil’s Own, #2), by Amo Jones

Hellraiser (The Devil's Own #2)Hellraiser by Amo Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’ve read ‘One Hundred & Thirty-Six Scars’, then you’ll remember Braxton “Hella” Ward as the insensitive, promiscuous biker that had a thing for Meadow’s friend, Melissa. I’d like to say that by the end of this book that I came to understand the reasons for Hella’s obnoxious behavior, but I can’t. I did grow to like him a little more, but that’s about all I can say for him.

Whereas Melissa Hart was kind of “along for the ride” in the first book, ‘Hellraiser’ focuses on her tumultuous relationship with Hella. This is a guy that enjoyed flaunting other women in her face, just to get a rise out of her. Yet, despite her tough reputation, she can’t seem to get enough of this jackass. I guess we all have our weaknesses!

The Army is also out for revenge. As The Devil’s Own plan for Beast and Meadow’s wedding, The Army has their own plans underway. Once again, Melissa finds herself on “lockdown” at the club compound.

While some things never change, like the repeat of a crisis requiring a lockdown at the biker club, there were a few new elements to this story. Melissa’s estranged sister, shows up on her doorstep. She is very secretive about why she’s left her life behind as a nun, but it is clear that she is running scared from something.

Of course, we also get more of Melissa’s story. From the once naive college girl, to the strong woman that she grew into, it is easy to see how her life events made her the person that she is. Her past was a brutal one.

In more ways than one, the past collides with the present in this book. Seemingly unrelated events end up being anything but “unrelated”. Eventually, it all comes to light in a brutal twist.

While I still had many of the same issues with this book that I had with the first book in the series, I do think that there were some improvements in the writing and editing. Yes, the author still uses phrases like “deep, shallow breaths” and “usually, always”, which drives me crazy. However, these mistakes did seem to be less frequent.

Like the first book, things just seemed to happen without any reasonable transition. For example, Hella’s character is all about sleeping around and he flaunts the fact that he isn’t going to settle down right up until the moment that he does. Before you could blink, he has committed himself to Melissa and has an entire personality change without any explanation or plausible progression of his feelings being portrayed.

It was like the author needed certain things to happen for the story to go where she wanted it to, so she just wrote it without making an attempt to make it believable. It was like reading the creation story. You know, “Let there be light” and it just happens. Things fell together too easily.

Similarly, the conflict between Melissa and Hella seemed contrived just to create some drama. It was pretty ridiculous. Then was forgotten just as easily. I definitely rolled my eyes a few times.

I once again find myself curious about where the next book will go. ‘Hellraiser’ ended with a huge cliffhanger. Even though this book was just an “okay” read for me, I am dying to know what happens in the next book with Melissa’s sister. I’m having a bit of deja vu here, since I felt the exact same way after finishing the first book. So, I’m going to read the next one, but if it doesn’t improve significantly, I’m calling it quits for this series. I hope I don’t regret it.

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Review: Empire (Cartel, #3), by Lili St. Germain

Empire (Cartel, #3)Empire by Lili St. Germain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! This book blew me away! I am still trying to wrap my mind around everything that transpired between the covers of this book. It was brilliant, dark, gory…and I loved every damn minute!

After finishing ‘The Gypsy Brothers’ series, I was not ready to let go of the characters that I had grown to love or those that I had grown to hate. I wanted more. I needed answers.

Dornan, especially, was intriguing. How did he get to be such a sadistic, deranged killer? What happens to a person to turn them into that kind of monster? Lili St. Germain did a spectacular job of providing brief glimpses of Dornan’s conscience, hinting at some underlying humanity, while not taking away from the fact that he was a really bad guy. Despite the fact that he was a brutal murderer, there was something about him that called to me.

Beginning the ‘Cartel’ series, I tried to distance myself from Mariana and John. After all, I knew how things were going to work out in the end. That was a given, if you read ‘The Gypsy Brothers’ first.

This is not a story with a happy ending. It is tragic. It is raw. It is absolutely heartbreaking. I knew this at the onset, but I couldn’t help but be devastated when it all came to pass, just as I knew it would.

The final book in the ‘Cartel’ series, ‘Empire’ illustrates Dornan’s descent into madness. While we were introduced to Dornan’s dark side in ‘Kingpin’, this book submerses us in his darkness. There is no coming back for him and Mariana must face the fact that the man she loves doesn’t exist any longer.

Even knowing how things would end, I found myself wanted Dornan to redeem himself. I wanted something…anything…to make it alright. I was devastated as I watched him literally transform into the cold, depraved killer that I knew from ‘The Gypsy Brothers’. It was inevitable, but it still crushed me.

After everything, I was still taken aback by Dornan’s vulnerability. Although he became a monster, embracing his darkness at the expense of his humanity, there was still a small part of him that was tender and loving. I was mesmerized by his thoughts and contradictory actions. He definitely had more than his fair share of daddy issues and his desire to please his father ruined his world.

If you’re a fan of dark romance/erotica, then I highly recommend that your read ‘The Gypsy Brothers’ series, followed by the ‘Cartel’ series. These books are not for everyone, as they contain plentiful and graphic accounts of abuse of every variety. However, if you like raw, gritty, dark stories then you can’t go wrong with these series. I am blown away by the disturbing, twisted content that Lili St. Germain produces. Take the disclaimers seriously…and buckle up! This story will rip your heart out and leave you rocking yourself in a corner.

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