Dark Hunter (Zeta Cartel #4)

Dark Hunter is the fourth book in the Zeta Cartel dark romance series by AJ Adams. You can read reviews for books onetwo and three on this website.

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Rip Marston is a merciless killing machine. After a decade of hunting his prey, Rip joins the Zetas. The job offers protection as he practices his dark arts, but the Cartel are wary of the monster in their midst.

Finding a badly beaten unconscious girl, Rip sees an opportunity. Posing as her saviour will please the cartel – and provide him with his very own helpless captive.

Isabella Maria Franco is beautiful, wilful and used to making hard choices. Having grown up in the comfortable but lethal embrace of the Gulf cartel, she rejected a life of violence. But when a dark presence from her past returns, her world falls apart.

Betrayed and beaten, she escapes, only to find herself in a living nightmare. Surrounded by her enemies, one man stands between her and death. Terrified by her sadistic captor, she has little choice but to submit.

But embracing his darkness leads to consequences neither anticipated.

WARNING: This bad boy dark romance contains explicit scenes of dubious consent, graphic violence, sex and probably every trigger you can think of.

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Dark Hunter begins with a fairly significant amount of backstory to introduce two new characters into the Zeta Cartel series. This is helpful to fans of the series, but as a reader, I also wanted to just jump in with the main story and revisit old characters, so my impatient personality was also slightly frustrated by the seemingly slow start.

While Dark Hunter isn’t exactly a Romeo and Juliet story, Isabella is dang lucky that she wormed her way into the hearts of her new-found friends before they realized her parentage, because if not, they would have killed her on the spot just because of her last name. She is also supremely lucky that Rip needed her so badly to adapt to his new environment and that Rip’s skills were in particular demand at the time.

I’ve rated Dark Hunter four stars because Isabella is too similar to the previous two heroines in this series for my liking. All three seem to have the same dominant character traits. All are mouthy and hide their fear well from the Cartel, possess dubious backgrounds and fit right in with the outlaw lifestyle, and don’t take things personally. They are perfectly fine with murder and mayhem and don’t seem to have any moral qualms with the world they inhabit.

The heroine in the first book had some striking differences that separate her from these heroines, and in my opinion she probably had the hardest time adapting to her new life, but Dark Hunter felt like the third book in a row with nearly the same heroine. I am fervently hoping the author changes it up in the next book in the Zeta Cartel series, which I will still be eagerly awaiting.

At the end of the day, Kyle is still my first love and main squeeze among the Zetas.

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xx

Volkov Bratva Series Review

Hi ya’ll,

I’m going to review this series as a trilogy instead of as individual books, because I kinda read them all in one weekend…. whoops! Makes it hard to distinguish where one book leaves off and another begins when you do that.

The Volkov Bratva books are a Russian Mafia romance set in New York, where pre-med student Lauren meets NYC’s Mafia Prince, Mishca.

book 1

Book One

Blurb:

Twenty-year-old Lauren Thompson left her small town in Michigan to begin a new life in the Big Apple where no one knows her name or the tragedy that had rocked her family fifteen years prior. With new friends and an intriguing new love interest, starting over is easier than she expected…but Mishca Volkov isn’t what he seems. As the son of a Russian Mob boss, he thrives in a world of chaos and fear, earning the title of Bratva Captain through blood and pain.

When the two cross paths, lines blur and passions ignite, bringing them closer than they could ever imagine. Until secrets from the past threaten to tear them apart. Can they fight past their demons…or were they doomed by fate before they ever met.

Something that I really like about this series is that it unfolds over several years without taking multiple time jumps by the author lazily writing “nine months later”. As fantastical as fiction can be, I still want it to be believable and a whirlwind happily ever-after-romance, that has a “solid foundation” of 4 days is as believable as the sun rising in the west and  setting in the east. Sure it is fun once in a while, but it gets old fast with the amount of romance that I read.

Mishca and Lauren’s tale is continued in the second and third books in the series.

Mishca and Lauren have time to grow as individuals and as a couple. The weight of their problems feels legitimate because they are not overcome in a weekend, but through weeks and months of effort. They continually choose each other, at times over things and people that use to have real meaning to them. Love is hard work. It requires that continual effort, dedication, and sacrifice,  and choosing each other again and again. It might become more familiar or comfortable, but it doesn’t get easier.

These books are awesome because it takes a fantastical experience (falling in love with a Mafia Prince) and humanizes it. The author takes you through the experiences of disapproving parents and conflicting morals merging into one unified sense of direction for a couple.

One of my favourite scenes is when Lauren allows Mishca  to tattoo his (thieves-in-law) stars on her shoulders, denoting his possession of her in his world. For Lauren, this is as serious – or more so – than a wedding band and something that she was reluctant to do for ages. This step symbolizes her acceptance of him, not just as a lover or friend, but in his entirety, and declares her dedication to him in a pretty public way.

There series end felt natural, although I was reluctant to let the characters go. Luckily, there is also a “post-script” novella written after The Final Hour.

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The fourth, and final, full novel in the Bratva series is about Aleksandra, Mishca ‘s sister, who is introduced early on in the series. I think of her novel as a bit of side-quel, because you see her developing through the first three books, but Aleksandra and her beau only have their moment in Hidden Monsters. As such, I will review it in a separate post in a few days.

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xx

Alexandr’s Cherished Submissive by Ann Mayburn – a review

Alexandr and Jessica’s story is a two part story-line within the Submissive’s Wish series; this is the first part so the couple doesn’t get their happily ever after yet, but the author doesn’t leave you with a cliffhanger either. Part II is due out in September 2015. Thankfully, not a long wait.

alex 1

Here is the cover blurb for this book:

7 years before books I & II

From the moment Alexandr Novikov met the young auburn haired woman bartending at her uncle’s pub in Ireland, he’d been fascinated by her delicate beauty and fiery spirit. Unfortunately, he is in no position to offer her the kind of safe, normal life she deserves so he attempts to put her from his mind for her own good. Something easier said then done when a deal is struck between the Novikov Bratva and the Irish Cleary Gang, an arrangement that includes Alex and his men being on twenty-four hour bodyguard duty with the object of his forbidden desires.

Jessica Venture came to Dublin to spend some time bonding with her birth mother’s family, a connection she desperately needs after losing her adoptive parents within a year of each other back in the States. The last thing she expected was to fall in love with a handsome, mysterious, and sometimes scary man who was well known for his sexual appetite, but rejected her attempts to seduce him.

There are outside forces that will do anything to keep them apart, and Jessica will have to make a desperate choice that will change their lives forever.

Warning: There is light bondage, domestic discipline, spanking, and an F/F scene that is a voyeuristic Doms delight.

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This is probably my favourite series at the moment, and has been for about a year. I was curious going in, because I knew that this book would be different from the others and I wasn’t sure how I would like that.

To start, ACS takes place several years before books 1 or 2, sort of like a prequel I suppose, and many of the life-changing, formational events that turn our beloved characters into the people they are haven’t happened yet. Plus, the reader is used to seeing them in a certain way and in a certain relationship so it is rather strange to see them with other woman. Thankfully though, I didn’t have any problems with the familiar characters and their undevelopment as it were.

Books 1 and 2 both feature female leads in their mid-twenties, several years older than Jessica’s 19, and their relationships are hot and heavy from the beginning. Alexandr’s Cherished Submissive is much more of a slow burn. Alex and Jessica are friends for months before they become intimate and their bedroom shannanigans feature much less dominance and submission than voyeurism and swinging, another departure from the other books in the series.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, this whole series is definitely 18+ erotic 😉

Now voyeurism and swinging aren’t really my thing, I’m more of a straight D/s person, so I didn’t enjoy the sex scenes in this book as much as I did in others, but they were still      H-O-T HOT!  And the plot development was great.

Jessica is young and innocent and sweet. Although a lot of people in her life have died, her birth parents, adopted parents and their parents, she is still such a kind-hearted person who sort of floats through life doing good deeds. She isn’t a pushover in any way, but she has great compassion and occasionally shames her bodyguards for not being more helpful to perfect strangers. Jess has a heart of gold.

Alexandr is pretty much what I expected from the first two books. He loves Jessica with everything in him and is desperate to protect her from the consequences of his fathers’ increasingly erratic plots, and the numerous enemies of both his Bratva and Jessica’s Uncle’s.

My favourite aspect to Mayburn’s writing is her ability to create such multi-dimensional characters and worlds, and to create multiple interesting secondary characters with depth and backgrounds without detracting from the leads. It was a treat to revisit many characters already introduced, including Dmitri, Maks, Ivan, Petrov, Catrin, and Nico, while also meeting Krom and Oleg. I cannot wait until Krom gets his own book, probably book 5 in the series.

The only section that didn’t quite hit it with me, is when Jessica discovers that Alex is a mega criminal and flips. At the time, her bodyguards lock her in the house to keep her from taking off before Alexandr can return from out of country the next morning. You never see her really lose it on them for physically holding her captive essentially, nor does she have a moment of doubt about what else they might do to her for Alex. Although they had come to love and respect her by then, their loyalty is to Alex and the Novikov Bratva first, and I expected her to be rather displeased for a period.

Plus, she totally caves to Alex upon his return. Granted, he makes a big gesture to show her how much she means to him, but I still thought she let him off too easily for keeping this a secret from her for something like 18 months!

The conclusion to Alexandr and Jessica’s story arc is coming soon:

Book 4

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xx

Favourite Author Series – Ann Mayburn

This is the first part of a three series blog

(By the way, the spacing is messed up in this post and the next couple and I have no idea why. I tried to fix it like twenty times. Please forgive)

I want to talk up some of my favourite authors and share what types of books they write and the different series they write. When they spend so much of time creating something that ultimately brings a great deal of joy to my life, the least I can do is recognize them and maybe recruit another fan.

This post is about Ann Mayburn. I only discovered her about 14 months ago but she has sky-rocketed to my top three authors. The funny thing about Ann is, I love love love two of her series, and couldn’t care less about her others. It’s strange. All of her books are intensely erotic though. If you like reading sexy-time, she is for you.

Ann has two series that I am in love with. The first is the Submissive’s Wish series. It features male protagonists who on in the Russian mob, or bratva. She describes them as good men who do evil things. Their women are (usually) experienced submissives and these stories have lots of action and lots of lovin’.

The first two are already out:

Book 1

Book 1

Book 2

Book 2

Aren’t they just smoking?!

This is one of two series that I read that I would love to jump into, if magic ever comes my way. Books 3 & 4 are both coming out this summer and I am beyond ecstatic. They are a two-parter set. Alexandr, a character we are introduced to in both of the above books, gets a prequel from five years ago illustrating his backstory and then the second book takes place from where book 2 leaves off. Watch for my reviews of these books in the next few months.

Book 3

Book 3

Book 4

Book 4

Both of the series that I follow from this author have a fair amount of violence. I like this aspect, because she is writing about worlds that are very violent in real life and I like my romance grounded in a realistic world, even if the relationship timeline gets compressed to fit a book.

I also like the Iron Horse MC series, about a group of outlaw bikers. The first two books are about Smoke and Swan, and introduced us to the biker world as well as the characters.

Book1

Book1

Book 2

Book 2

The third and fourth book are also following the prequel – sequel format, and will be about Beach and Sarah.

I love how Ann is able to weave together such intricate, complicated series that have vibrant back characters. That is something most authors are not able to do. In Dimitri’s Forbidden Submissive, there are a couple of paragraphs where Dimitri is telling Rya about his ancestor whose portrait she is looking at. Such a simple little part of the book that really isn’t at all important, and yet it is so interesting that I really hope the author writes a book or novella about the ancestor one day.

I highly encourage you to pick up either Ivan’s Captive Submissive or Exquisite Trouble as soon as possible.Both are also available on audible.

Next up in this blog series, later this week, are Cherise Sinclair and Christine Feehan.

xx