Alpha’s Claim series – Addison Cain

Alpha’s Claim is a three book series set in a futuristic dystopia. These books are dark, and contain dubious consent, and power exchanges.

I initially thought that the characters were werewolves, because the author uses terminology such as Alpha, Beta and Omega to describe different classes of people, who have different physiology, personalities, and political and socio-economic statuses. However I was wrong. Whatever events led to Earth becoming a series of isolated domes, the human species evolved between now and then.

I thoroughly enjoyed the start and middle of this series. There were twists and turns and all sorts of dark romance that I was thoroughly in the mood for at the time.

Unfortunately, I was not a fan of book 3 at all. It is a cliffhanger ending to the series, and you have to read the sister series Alpha’s Control, in order to catch glimpses of Claire and Shepherd, and thus finish their story. Book 3 absolutely convinced me that Shepherd is a mad-man. I don’t think that he is worthy of Claire, and is an irredeemable anti-hero in my eyes. Ms. Cain will have a difficult time convincing me to love him again in Alpha’s Control.

I have posted the blurbs and my ratings for the individual books below:

1Claire is desperate. Her once thriving city lies in ruins. The strongest of the three human dynamics, Alphas, have grown feral. Common Betas circle like vultures. The lowest in the hierarchy, Omegas like Claire, are being destroyed. They are starving.

All due to one escaped convict’s violent rise to power.

Shepherd is every bit as ruthless as his reputation suggests. Despite taking every possible precaution, Claire is captured and her worst nightmare realized. Shepherd, discovering a rare Omega in his midst, claims her like a prize, forcing a pair-bond that ties her to him. Forever.

* * * *

2Claire has a score to settle.

Unwilling mate to the brute who viciously conquered her city, she has once again escaped from her Alpha. Hardened by betrayal, cold as the ice outside the Dome, Claire becomes the mission. The Omegas must be freed, no matter the cost.

The price on her head will not deter her; after all, mated and subjugated her life no longer retains value. She can’t eat, she can’t sleep, and she’s running out of time before the inevitable end.

For once, Shepherd finds himself facing an adversary he cannot simply crush, the situation far out of his depth. Desperate to draw his mate back, racked and restless, he is forced to acknowledge that his pregnant Omega is willing to sacrifice her life for her false notion of a greater good. * * * *
2There is a greater threat than the virus.

Locked safely away in Shepherd’s nest, Claire is unaware of what stirs above ground. Her time is occupied fighting a war of another kind. Due to her mate’s relentless exploitation of their pair-bond, the nature of their link has grown all-consuming.

Thólos is coming apart at the seams, and Shepherd’s men can do nothing to stop it. Real war is coming, and unless the Alpha tyrant is willing to pay the ultimate price, everything he has sacrificed will have been for nothing.

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Overall series rating: * * *

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Twisted Pride (The Camorra Chronicles #3)

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Remo Falcone is beyond redemption. As Capo of the Camorra he rules with a brutal hand over his territory – a territory the Chicago Outfit breached. 

Now Remo is out for retribution.

A wedding is sacred, stealing a bride sacrilegious.

Serafina is the niece of the Boss of the Outfit, and her hand has been promised in marriage for years, but kidnapped in her wedding dress on her way to church by Remo, Serafina quickly realizes that she can’t hope for saving. Yet, even in the hands of the cruelest man she knows, she is determined to cling to her pride, and Remo soon understands that the woman at his mercy might not be as easy to break as he thought.

A ruthless man on a quest to destroy the Outfit by breaking someone they are supposed to protect. A woman intent on bringing a monster to his knees. Two families that will never be the same.

—                         —                         —

This. Book.

I had such a difficult time waiting for it to be released. I ended up reading nonfiction for awhile because every romance left me unsatisfied, and I realized it was because I only wanted to read Twisted Pride.

Thankfully, the book mostly lived up to my expectations : )

It certainly wasn’t how I played out Remo and Fina’s relationship in my head. Fina is dang feisty and I liked how important her relationships were to her. She is brave and proud and extremely loyal.

It was lovely to more intimately know Remo. He has been a secondary character in several books, but he is a difficult character to get a read on. Learning more about him made me admire him more. He may be crazy and capable of great evil, but he is also a family man and amazing with babies. He is an incredibly loyal fucker so long as you never cross him.

Even though I fell in love with both of these characters, I had a difficult time relating to them. Maybe I will feel differently on my second read – this has been known to happen with highly anticipated books – but I felt like some of the heart was missing from Twisted Pride.

It is possible the timeline is why I had trouble relating. The tale takes place over 18 months and nearly all of that time the couple are confrontational, even while falling in love.

The previous book, Twisted Emotions, is going to remain my favourite for a long time I think, but I would still recommend Twisted Pride. It will make far more sense when the series is read in order.

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Hidden (Deep Ops #1)

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Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .

Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .

Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock .

—                         —                         —

Hidden is a great new romantic suspense novel from Rebecca Zanetti. It is the premiere of the Deep Ops series, and there are two more books coming up in a couple of months. I love it when an author doesn’t keep fans waiting for long periods of time!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting. Zanetti introduces quite a few secondary characters and arching plot points that are clearly meant to carry the series through more than just the first book. I like when this happens in a series. To me, “community” within a book is what sets a series apart from standalones!

Most of the characters are a little whacky. You can tell that the world has chewed them up and spit them out and they are more than a little out of sync with society because of it. But it also leads to some interesting situations and wildly amusing anecdotes in the midst of a serious and fast-paced plot.

Even the dog is crazy!

West came up on the other side in case the dog made a move on Nari. What was it with the tie? It was blue with a red crisscross design on it. Pretty boring…

Force handed the tie to Roscoe. Snarling and growling, the dog took it over to the corner, where he started ripping it apart.

Tension permeated the room. Adrenaline flowed freely.

Forced eyed his calming dog. “I thought we were doing better with that. Hmmm. Okay”.

Suffice it to say, no one wore argyle again.

There is a lot of action in the Hidden, from shootouts and knife fights to bombs and abduction. This quote is from the start of one of my favourite scenes.

Strong arms banded around her waist from behind, and a hand clapped over her mouth. Her body seized. It took a second for her brain to catch up with reality.

She tried to scream and the large, male hand muffled the sound. The man lifted her right off her feet and turned, forcing her past the archway in the opposite direction from her car. Panic burst through her, and she started to struggle, fighting against him with all her strength.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of romantic suspense!

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Pieces of her (Karin Slaughter)

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Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

—                       —                       —

This was another audiobook I could not put down. I listened to it in just three sittings, and still wish that there was more. I listened while I worked, commuted, snuggled the cat, cooked, folded laundry … nothing was more important than finishing this story.

I am a huge fan of Karin Slaughter. I only started reading her work around a year ago, but I have quickly fallen in love with her style, and her stories have drawn me further into the thriller genre. I will devour any book she puts out.

Pieces of Her switches perspectives and time periods, between the 1980s and 2018. I was thoroughly engrossed and emotionally invested in Slaughter’s characters. This book was heavily reliant on a fast-paced plot to drive the story. There was much less graphic violence than the other standalones this author has published, and I would easily recommend it to someone new to her, or to the genre.

There were a few points in the book that brought out some light-hearted humour to balance out the heavy tone predominant throughout the chapters. I liked the author’s references to pop-culture references. When Andi first is on the run, she can’t think straight and so falls back on tv and movies as her aliases. Hence, her proclamation that she came from the town of Mystic Falls.

I will definitely be picking up the next audiobook as soon as Karin Slaughter released a new book!

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Breaking Meredith (Disciples #4)

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For five years – one thousand, nine hundred and twenty-two nights to be exact – I’ve watched her from afar…

Protecting her. Keeping her safe from the world.

And stalking her every move.

What started as a favor for her brother has grown into something so much more.

A full-blown obsession.

I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, unless I get my Meredith fix.

Claiming her could start a war, and might very well result in my death.

But she’s mine, she’s always been mine.

She just doesn’t know it yet.

—                         —                         —

What to say, what to say, what to say. Breaking Meredith is not what I expected.

Meredith is Lucifer’s estranged step-sister, who has been living in Europe since before the series began. She isn’t painted in the best light. Meredith was previously painted as a superficial socialite which is not true at all. However, she is also depicted as a super smart individual who is actually pretty airheaded and powerless through the entire story.

The anti-hero, Simon, was also unexpected. He has a serious serial killer vibe going on in past books. Super intelligent, emotionally detached, and the biggest germaphobe in the world. He reminds me of a stronger, better looking version of the Lord Varys from Game of Thrones. They even share the same nickname, “The Spider”.

Well, our Spider loves to torture enemies and is into some rough lovin’ as well. I fully expected him to be a sadist, or at least have sadistic traits in the bedroom, but he doesn’t. This would have stepped the darkness up a level in the series, which is marketed as dark romance, so I was disappointed that this expectation of mine was unmet.

Overall, this was my least favourite book in the series so far. I hope that the author will write another one at some point though. The series didn’t feel finished, especially with James single out there, but I haven’t found any evidence online that the author is working on another at this point.

Buying Beth (Disciples #3)

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I thought he bought me to save me… but he’s keeping me for himself.

It was a girl’s night out gone wrong. Like some awful horror movie, my friends and I were grabbed in a dark parking lot and shoved into the back of a van.

Coming from powerful families, we thought we were untouchable.

We thought wrong.

Our captors trapped us, violated us, and put us up for sale on the black market.

Johnathan was sent to buy me so his boss, Lucifer, could have leverage over my father.

He was supposed to save me, protect me, and return me.

Not claim me and keep me for himself.

—                         —                         —

For dark and sinister mobsters, these guys can’t help but fall in love with a damsel and sign up for the instant family!

Jonathan goes undercover for Lucifer’s crime organization as a human trafficker, in place to purchase sex slaves for his boss. In reality, he is helping to shut down a ring that thinks they can operate in Lucifer’s city without his approval. But lets just go with Jonathan is the good guy here.

He buys Beth and a little boy while undercover, but instead of letting them go when the traffickers have been killed, he decides to keep them. Thomas is only six and has no family to be returned to, and Beth instantly becomes the apple of Johnnie’s eye. Add in her politically powerful and highly abusive father, and there is no way that Jonathan is letting either of those two out of his sight.

Jonathan is big and scary and romantic. Beth wasn’t a bimbo which was an improvement over the heroine in the first romance story. If you like dark (ish) romance, mafia heroes and single-mother love stories, this is one for you.

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Stealing Amy (Disciples #2)

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They grabbed the wrong girl.

They thought I was his wife, not the woman he’s obsessed with.

Ivan Romanov is one of the Russian mafia’s biggest financial backers.

And he’s been destroying my life piece by piece just to get me in his bed.

I never wanted to be in this situation.

Stalked.
Cornered.
Desperate.

I was doomed. About to be forced by a powerful man who was willing to take what I didn’t want to give.

Then he came, a demon in the dark. A dark voice that told me to be a good girl if I want to live…

—                          —                          —

Stealing Amy is the second book in the Disciples mafia series. Poor Amy happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, with someone who is very much the wrong guy for her. She gets picked up by Andrew, a made man in Lucifer’s employ, along with their target, her date.

Given that Amy is currently classified as collateral damage, and that Andrew clearly wants to “keep” her, she is under orders to return to Andrew’s house and stay with him. Although, they pick up her five year old daughter along the way.

Stealing Amy has a lot of similarities to Keeping Lily in that sense.

In both cases, the man falls instantly in love and decides to keep the woman he is convinced is for him.

I have a feeling that this will be a repeating trend throughout the story.

The relationship between Andrew and little Abigail is adorable though. He clearly has limited experience with little girls, but will do anything to protect the little Princess and make sure she is on team Andrew in the war to win over her mother’s love and affection.

This is an interesting and enjoyable single mother /  mafia romance that you will be able to read in a couple of hours.

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Keeping Lily (Disciples #1)

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My husband traded me away to save his own life…

And now I belong to the devil.

One night and everything in my life changed. Two words and my world turned dark.

“Take her”.

Owing the most ruthless crime lord in Garden City five million dollars, my husband chose to trade me and my children away to save himself.

I was on the cusp of freedom, so close to divorcing that scumbag I was married to.

Now I’m enslaved to a man who is obsessed with me. A man so wicked and beautiful, they call him Lucifer.

So alluring, he makes the angels weep with envy. He’s so powerful, I can’t stop myself from bending to his will.

He’s determined to master me, and he won’t rest until I give him all.

He wants my light, and he wants my dark.

He wants my body, and he wants my heart.

But most of all, he wants the one thing I can’t give him. The one thing I can’t bear to part with…

—                          —                          —

The Disciples series is a dark romance mafia series based in Chicago. There are four books (as of Feb 2019) in the series. The whole series is available on the Kindle Unlimited program on Amazon at the moment.

In Keeping Lily, the head of the organization, “Lucifer”, finds out that his target – a man who borrowed $5 million he cannot repay – has a beautiful wife and children. Lucifer immediately falls in love with the woman, just from the picture in her husband’s file.

So he does what any self-respecting mobster does. Takes what he wants.

Lucifer gently corrals Lily and her children into his home and life, adopting both kids as his own and marrying himself to Lily through his nefarious connections in government.

To me, this seemed perfectly acceptable. It’s a dark romance. Handsome, rich mobster sees what he wants and takes it.

Lily’s reactions were harder for me to accept. I can appreciate the physical attraction that she felt, but she gets over the fear way too easily and quickly for my liking. She came across as ‘too dumb to live’. Even though romance novels are essentially escapism, for me, there has to be a certain amount of realism in them as well. Otherwise, the characters and the relationships that they develop feel unauthentic and I lose interest in the story.

This is particularly true when kids are involved. Lucifer never threatens her children, and is fiercely protective of them, even though he isn’t exactly sure how to parent in the beginning. Regardless, Lily shouldn’t just trust him with her kiddos …. that is part of what held me back from full-throttle jumping in. I will still recommend this book though, and will read and review the following books in the series shortly!

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Vengeance Road (Torpedo Ink #2)

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Breezy Simmons was born into a ruthless motorcycle club—and now that she’s out, she’s never going to be that girl again. But when her past catches up with her, Breezy must go to Sea Haven to seek out the man who almost destroyed her. The man who chose his club over her and left her feeling used and alone.

As vice president of Torpedo Ink, Steele is ride or die for the brothers he lived through hell with. He never thought he’d find something as pure as his feelings for Breezy, or that keeping her safe would mean driving her away with cruel words that turned her love for him to ash.

Now, Steele won’t let her walk away twice. He’ll do whatever it takes to make Breezy his woman again—especially when he learns the real reason she came to him for help, and that the stakes are higher than he ever could have imagined.

—                         —                         —

Vengeance Road starts off like a rocket, with action and confrontation between Steele and Breezy. There are a lot of strong emotions on the table, so the story captures your attention right away, and holds it through to the end of the book.

I think I have some sort of “hero manhandling his true love” fetish going on here …..

There is a lot of communication in this romance. More than any other couple in the Sea Haven books, I think Breezy and Steele really work through their issues with communication.

I liked the introduction she has to Torpedo Ink. Although she had met the members in the past, she has never seen their true selves or experienced the family aspect of club life. Feehan gave us insights into characters mostly in the background until now, especially Maestro and Savage, and I for one cannot wait to read their stories!

Vengeance Road has some seriously dark parts, and Steele goes to his assassin roots in his efforts to retrieve his son from kidnappers, but this would hardly be a surprise to any regular reader of Christine Feehan.

The one thing that annoyed me – and maybe its just because I have seen numerous authors do this lately – is that Steele and Breezy talk about anal sex without actually doing the deed on page. A lot of “dark romances” I’ve read recently have had this trend. If an author is going to write about it, WRITE ABOUT IT! It feels like they are too scared to put it in, for fear of scaring of other readers.

Otherwise …

This will definitely be a book I read again and again. In fact, I have already re-read some of my favourite scenes a couple of times. Can it just be said that I want a Torpedo Ink man for myself, and also Breezy’s home?!!

The next instalment in this series has been confirmed as Vendetta Road (Ice’s story), and it will be out in 2020. Definitely recommend check them out!

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Taken by the Warriors by Marlee Wray

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First she was taken. Now she will be shared.

After the princess she serves is given as a mate to a powerful Ketturan warrior, Falise soon ends up as an unwilling passenger on a spacecraft headed for a far-off world. More disturbing still, she quickly discovers that as far as her captors are concerned, her body no longer belongs to her.

As the princess is stripped bare and claimed roughly by the ship’s captain, four of his companions set their eyes on Falise. The brutishly handsome barbarians plan to share her and use her in every manner possible, but first they must train her. She will learn to obey without question and take everything they give her or she will be punished in ways more shameful than she could have ever imagined. But when the journey is over, will she still want to return home?

Publisher’s Note: Taken by the Warriors is a stand-alone book which is the second entry in the Owned and Shared series. It includes spankings and sexual scenes.

—                        —                        —

This book is much kinkier and more hardcore than the previous book in this “series”, Owning Their Pet. I was surprised by the very different vibe. The author introduces a second alien race, different from the one introduced in Owning. A Princess is forced to marry their leader as part of a trade agreement, and she is abducted by them before the marriage takes place.

The book follows the trials of the Princess and her handmaid, Falise, and is told from both their points of view, as well as two male points of view. There are scenes of dubious consent and vaginal and anal “trains”.

I hate to refer to erotica as “book porn”. I hate that term but it fits this story, IMHO. Taken by the Warriors didn’t have a love story – at least for me – and was such raunchy scene after raunchy scene. The plot barely served to explain the move from one sexcapade to another.

I found it difficult to keep track of the varying characters and the constant changes in the POV character. Overall, it almost felt like a completely different author than the one I had just read.

I will read the third announced book, but I am hoping that it is much more similar to Owning Their Pet, or I doubt I will continue with this author. This book was not for me.

*Please note that while I am referring to these two books as being part of a series, they are only loosely connected.

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