Review: Six (Men by Numbers, #2), by Ker Dukey

Six (Men by Numbers, #2)Six by Ker Dukey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second book in the ‘Men by Numbers’ series, ‘Six’ had many of the characteristics of a terrific, dark story. There was plenty of danger and Ker Dukey certainly doesn’t shy away from graphic, disturbing content like many authors do. I applaud her for that. If you’re going to write a dark story, I think you need to take that dive and not toe the line.

This is the story of Taylor Jake, aka “Six”. As a teenager, Six was bounced between foster homes before eventually ending up on the streets. His only family consisted of the gang he belonged to and Hayley, another kid on the streets that Six took under his wing.

Hayley was the “good” in Six’s life. They lived together and had a non-exclusive sexual relationship. However, more than anything, they were the closest of friends.

When Six falls in love with the member of a rival gang, it is Hayley that ends up paying the price for Six’s actions. She is brutally gang-raped and tortured. No longer is she the bright-eyed girl that Six strived to shelter. Her life is forever changed.

Six makes it his mission to seek vengeance for Hayley. Out of prison after killing some of the men involved in Hayley’s attack, he has set up a life for himself in a new town. He owns a bar and tattoo shop, biding his time until he can finish what he started.

When Misty first sets foot inside of Six’s bar, he wants to have sex with her as much as he wants to rescue her. She is clearly down on her luck and in need of some help. He gives her a job and the sexual tension is thick between the two.

Despite Six’s initial resistance, the two eventually end up getting romantically involved. Things only get more complicated when Hayley makes a reappearance in Six’s life, with a suspicious new friend in-tow. Shortly thereafter, things hit the fan.

There were many things that I really loved about this book. I love the fact that the author is not afraid to tell a dark story and embrace the shocking elements that many others dance around. I also thought that the story itself was entertaining and emotional. I enjoyed the story and felt connected to the characters.

The reason that this story got a 3-star rating, instead of a 4-star rating, is because there were some pretty big editing oversights. Maybe I’m being snobby, but I kind of feel like the author should know how they want to spell the names of their main characters and then stick to it. One of the major players in this book had two different spellings of their name. On one page it was spelled “Jordon”, only to be spelled “Jordan” further in. It was distracting and I found myself flipping back to be sure that this wasn’t a different “Jordon/Jordan” and to double-check the spelling. I’m OCD that way.

Another thing that irked me was that there were several instances of incorrect word usage. It wasn’t the worst I’ve encountered, but it was noticeable and distracting. The example that stands out with me is the usage of the word “mount” when the author clearly was referring to a woman’s “mound”. I don’t even want to think of what must be going on in her undies if her mound can be quantified as a “mount”, but I’d get a plastic surgeon on that problem. Not sexy!

Lastly, M/M isn’t really my thing. I don’t absolutely hate it and I did enjoy this story. However, Six flipping back and forth between male and female partners didn’t really appeal to me. This is just a reflection of my personal preferences, so this may not be an issue at all for others.

Overall, I give this one 3 stars. If the editing oversights were corrected, it’d be a 4-star read for me. If you can overlook those types of mistakes, I’d say that this is a great choice if you’re looking for a dark read. If not, it might drive you crazy.

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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: Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Six of Crows’ is the first Leigh Bardugo book that I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. I found myself lost in the fictional world of Ketterdam that Ms. Bardugo created, completely enthralled with this grim, yet fantastical place. I have heard that this story is connected to other series that she’s written, but as this is the first book of hers that I’ve read, I cannot offer any observations in that regard.

Like the world that she created, the characters were equally intriguing. They are flawed and often behave in cruel ways, making tough choices and often having to choose between morality and survival. They are a group of anti-heroes, villains that I grew to love.

‘Six of Crows’ tells the story of a group of street kids, working together to pull off a dangerous heist. The leader of the group, Kaz Brekker, is infamous in Ketterdam. He has feared and respected on the streets, climbing his way to the top of the criminal hierarchy through sheer force and determination. To mess with him is to meet a swift end.

Kaz assembles an unlikely group of outcasts for the job, each with their own motivations for accepting. Their personalities and talents are diverse, but together they compliment each other perfectly. Some have special powers. All are outlaws.

Right from the start, I was drawn in to this paranormal adventure/fantasy. There was never a dull moment. From prison breaks, to combat, to complex heist schemes, I never knew what was going to happen.

I also found myself enjoying the individual stories of each character. I couldn’t help but love each of them, despite their sometimes infuriating actions. Given the reality with which they were faced, it was easy to see why they made the decisions that they did. I couldn’t judge them harshly for some of their cruel behaviors, because they were often forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

After finishing this first book, I will certainly be continuing this series. This book ended with an upset. I have to know how things work out and what the future holds for this endearing cast of misfits. If you’re looking for a great adventure/fantasy, look no further. ‘Six of Crows’ was fantastic!

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