Stolen (Alpha’s Control #1)

1

He stole her off the streets in broad daylight—the first Omega discovered in Bernard Dome in generations. He took her with violence while none intervened. He broke her, swearing he’d put her back together.

Brenya Perin was ordered to submit.

Bernard Dome is the jewel of Europe, a bastion of art and culture, pleasure and decadence. But life in the city depends on the occupation chosen for you at birth. There is no subversion, no question of who rules. There is no freedom.

Peace has a price, a price the Commodore of Bernard Dome is willing to pay… so long as the Omega remains his.

—                         —                         —

This has proven to be a difficult book to review. There are some aspects that I loved but others that I hated. I had no idea at first how many stars to give!

Let’s start off with what I liked.

Stolen is a dark romance, which is definitely what I was looking for when I read it. It contains scenes of dubious consent, and is set in a firmly hierarchical society. It may not be something that I would want to live IRL, but I love dipping my toes in through books.

I didn’t like that there were certain scenes from POV of characters from the (previous) sister-series, Alpha’s Claim. I wouldn’t have minded if they just popped up as secondary characters, but it was super weird to me that their story was incomplete, and did not like having so many POV characters in this book.

Secondly, Stolen ends on quite the cliff-hanger, and unfortunately, it has been a looong wait for the sequel. Book 2 in this series is tentatively titled Corrupted and is slated to be released sometime in 2019, but I haven’t seen any further updates.

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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.

* *

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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Stealing Amy (Disciples #2)

stealing

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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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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Crime Lord Series (Books 1-3)

Three years ago, Lyla fled from her ex, Gavin Pyre. She created a new identity and began a relationship with a man who knows nothing about her past. The normal life she built for herself is shattered when Gavin blackmails her into returning to Las Vegas where he rules the criminal underworld. As Lyla navigates through the dark secrets of her past she’s forced to face a man who refuses to let her live without him.

—                         —                         —

I read all three of these books in one day. They are just slightly addictive.

Crime Lord is a series of mafia romance books. The first three tell the story of Gavin and Lyla. Gavin is the King of the Underground in Las Vegas.

I felt that these books got better as they went on. The first one was a little over-dramatic at times, and I kept waiting for Lyla to overcome her fear enough to show Gavin how she has changed in their three years apart, but she seems to just slide into her old role of silly, spoiled airhead. Despite her misery, she goes shopping, and has spa days and wears her old styles instead of updating her wardrobe to reflect the person she is now. I also expected her to pick up volunteering – since Gavin won’t let her work and she purports to miss it – but this doesn’t happen until the third book.

I don’t feel that these books are the best of the Mafia or dark romance genre, but they are still delicious reads that I greatly enjoyed. They certainly hit the spot and I will be reading more from this author as books are released. I’m glad that Ms. Knight has started to expand the series by giving background characters like Blade expanded roles, and also introducing more dark anti-heroes, like the Roman brothers and Lucifer.

The heat level of this series is a solid “romance” level but doesn’t pass into erotica, IMHO.

The author has announced that she is working on the fourth book in this series, but is finished with this couple for now. The next books will feature different anti-heroes/heroines and there are lots of yummy folks to choose from!

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Obsession Mine by Anna Zaires

This is the second book in the trilogy. To read my preview of book one, please click here.

Obsession Mine is available for pre-order today and will be released on 14th November 2017. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

obsession

I stole her in the night. Caged her because I can’t live without her. She’s my love, my addiction, my obsession.

I will do anything to keep Sara mine.

—                         —                         —

Anna Zaires is the reigning Queen of dark romance in my world. I loved her Twist Me and Capture Me series, and now the current WIP has stolen top spot.

I absolutely loved both Tormentor Mine and Obsession Mine. This book starts off immediately from where the previous one ends, which is certainly an action-packed couple of chapters, as Peter is kidnapping Sara, stealing her away from the world!

Sara becomes a true captive of Peter, even more so than when he was living in her house because he has taken her away from her family, her friends and her patients. I think that the lack of work is the hardest to adjust to for Sara. She is a workaholic who fills emotional needs through her efforts as an OB-GYN and to suddenly have days that are mostly empty is difficult to reconcile, especially given the circumstances.

It is difficult to believe, but the sex just gets hotter in this instalment! And it is now beyond obvious that there will be a third concluding book in this trilogy, something I was hoping for though it also means having to suffer through the months of waiting for the conclusion. Anna, please write quickly!

Some of the sex in Obsession Mine is of dubious consent and there is an oral rape scene. Please read the tags for this blog post if you are concerned about triggers.

The only thing that struck me as odd in this book is the limited amount of time spent developing relationships between Sara and Peter’s team, in the first half of the story at least. I expected them to have more interaction right off given the circumstances and hope those secondary characters will be expanded on in the next book because they all deserve their own trilogies!

I also really wanted Sara to have a full-fledged freak-out at some point, and the bathtub scene on her first day at the safe house seemed perfect. Readers of the first book will remember that before Peter and Sara became romantically entangled, he tortured her for information, and part of this was him water-boarding her. She has PTSD and an angry Peter standing over her in the bathtub should have triggered this.

Otherwise, an exceptional book that I will be re-reading again and again while I wait for the concluding part in this series!

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Air Bound by Christine Feehan

Air Bound is the third book in the Sisters of the Heart series by Feehan. Although this is written as a series, it can definitely be read as a standalone. Unfortunately. I understand it is better for an author’s sales to write every book as a standalone because it is easier for new readers to try them out, but it is extremely annoying for a regular reader to keep having recaps in each book of a series.

air-bound

For as far back as she can remember, Airiana Ridell has always been aware of her extraordinary gift. She can intuit revealing and illuminating ‘patterns’ in the air around her-whether in a spray of mist, in billowing clouds, or in the dense swirls of an impenetrable fog. Her abilities led to her placement in a secret government training facility when she was a child, but everything changed after her mother was murdered.

Airiana fled the program, but she couldn’t outrun the desperate members of a shadowy cabal who want her, who need her, who will kill to get her. Kidnapped and held aboard a ship bound for dangerous seas, her only chance for rescue is Maxim Prakenskii. He has his reasons for helping her, but he isn’t about to reveal them to Airiana. Not yet. Not as the two are drawn together as moth to flame. Not when there are so many secrets yet untold that could shatter the quaint community of Sea Haven and all who reside there…

—                         —                        —

Air Bound has a lot more action than the previous two books in this series. It starts with the heroine, Airiana, getting kidnapped from her home by Maxim, one of the feared and mysterious Prakenskii brothers, and her true love, although neither of them knows this yet. He is working undercover and was a little bit of an enigma, compared to the three brothers who have already had their stories.

Maxim is less than impressed that he has found his soul-mate. In fact, he actually is angry with her for disrupting his life and is pretty damn selfish. I mean, Airiana was just minding her own business on her farm and he swooped in with a helicopter and a team of thugs and kidnapped her! But he doesn’t understand love and relationships and is frightened that she is tempting him to things he never expected to find in his life, and turning his well-ordered world upside down!

Love does that to you.

Within 12 hours, Maxim has Airiana (and four children they rescued) trailing after him and begins to feel a little bit like the Pied Piper. He is unused to others looking at him with trust or hope and shudders under the pressure of the others’ expectations of him as a man. He knows that he can return them home safely, but the emotional commitments that each expect is daunting to a man who has suppressed emotions for his entire life.

Air Bound is a good book, but it is my least favourite in the series so far. I liked the characters but did not find this to be the best example of Feehan’s writing skills.

The action is so non-stop that is feels like it drags on for 15 chapters. From the time Maxim kidnaps her, to the drama on the helicopter, to the ship and the sub and the yacht and back to the farm, there just wasn’t enough down-time for me to feel like I got a break while reading. These emotionally intimate moments are what grounds a story with lots of action, and after years leading up to these moments, the author has to know that fans are yearning for brotherly unification to play out on page.

As a reader, I felt cheated that we didn’t get to experience Maxim’s introduction to Stefan or Lev, or see the brothers greet Airiana after they rescue the couple. Especially since they are essentially greeting the brother who kidnapped their sister-in-law from under their noses, when they were supposed to be protecting her. And he wasn’t particularly gentle about it!

So why didn’t the author include these moments on the page, even at the risk of sacrificing a bit of action? Does she doubt she can do justice to the moment?

I have a theory that this book came in way over the word count and parts had to be cut. Airiana and Maxim seem to jump from being on the sub to being on the yacht without it happening on page. At first read, I actually missed this transition and had to go back and re-read a bit to make sense of what had happened. The only point of importance that happens on the sub is the introduction of a new supporting character, Valentin. I hope he turns up again in the series, but surely he could have been introduced elsewhere.

Overall, the book is another worthy edition to the Sea Haven saga, but it isn’t going to be on my favourite list any time soon. Air Bound could have used another round of beta readers or edits.

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