Dirty Ugly Toy

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Her time is over.
Things are looking up.

She’s dirty and ugly.
He’s wicked but handsome. 

Six months to toy with her.
Six months of vacation and a ton of money.

I’ll hurt her beyond repair.
I’ve been through much worse.

She’s difficult to control and doesn’t obey.
I’m done submitting to anyone or anything in this life.

I should hate her.
I should hate him.

The game has changed.
I will win.

Dirty Ugly Toy is a novel that blurs the lines of right and wrong, deals with abuse, contains dubious consent, and adult subject matter. If you are sensitive to violent sexual situations, the book may not be suitable for you. Some parts of this book are not easy to read and are not intended for everyone. However, those that keep an open mind and stick with it will not be disappointed.

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I ordered Dirty Ugly Toy on a whim the other night, because it was recommended by two authors I read and follow on facebook. It was marketed as a dark romance containing dubious consent, a sub-genre that I have had a difficult time finding books that are worth recommending lately.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

I don’t feel like this book was worthy of the dark romance tag. It is a contemporary romance, with possible dark scenes… another one of those books that I would classify as “grey romance” if there is such a thing.

The beginning of the story definitely sets itself up to be a dark romance. The hero is initially portrayed as a serial killer – he’s not – and it seems the author is setting up a dark psychological thriller / dark romance. However, that quickly fizzles out.

Brax is a devoted son. His mother, who was a drug addict when he was a child, left a deep mark on him. Brax is a successful, billionaire business owner who abducts drug-addicted women from the streets and keeps each for a period of about six months, before returning them to their home city. During those six months, he helps them to detox with medical professionals, uncovers their backstories, the reasons they started using in the first place, and their aspirations for life. He wants to change them for the better.

During this time he also indoctrinates them into his brand of sexual relationship, one between a sadist and a masochist. The heroine who features in this story is a natural masochist however, and she has the emotional upper-hand in their relationship from the beginning. She’s different.

Jessica was addicted to heroine against her will by sexual traffickers and is deep into the throes of addiction until Brax picks her up. However, she is also extremely well educated. Before her kidnapping, Jessica was a trophy wife to a wealthy politician who is currently running for President of the United States. Of course, this husband is cruel, sadistic and very abusive, which is why she never attempted to get back home or contact him after ending up on the streets.

This is why I don’t feel like the dark romance tag is applicable. Brax and Jessica have consensual sex and play in S/m scenes. Jessica’s detox is admittedly against her will, but she is more than thankful after the fact and it is medically supervised the entire time – as safe as something like that can be. Brax saves her from her ex-husband who they inevitably run into and helps take the creep down. Jessica has the ability to leave Brax during their six months together, after she is physically healthy, and has access to a therapist specializing in D/s and S/m relationships the entire time. She also is able to leave Brax after the six months – she is not tied to him.

So how in the heck is this considered to be dark romance or dubious consent?!

I understand that some of the subject matter is dark, and it could be disturbing for people who do not want to read about prostitution, drug addition, etc. But for me, the essence of a dark romance is that the romance is dark. 

The story isn’t terrible although events all fall into place rather conveniently. At the end of the day though, I finished reading this book less than a week ago and still had to reopen my kindle to look up the hero/heroines’ names. So I wouldn’t say it is very memorable or that I would read it again.

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xx

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Craving Redemption by Nicole Jacquelyn – a review

Nicole Jacquelyn writes an outlaw MC series that is full of strong-willed, dominant bikers with out-spoken alpha females at their sides.

The second book in the series is Craving Redemption.

Craving Redemption

Book Blurb:

Asa and Callie had nothing in common. He was an Ace, raised in the club and loyal to it above all else. She was a high school student with braces on her teeth and a narrow view of the world.

They should have never crossed paths.

But when Callie decides to defy her parents, and Asa goes on an errand for the club, their lives collide. He saves her, and she mesmerizes him.

They part believing they’ll never see each other again.
Neither could have predicted the chain of events they’d put in motion.

Now the two have to navigate the dark waters of a relationship built on tragedy and need without drowning in guilt for things outside their control.

How do you love someone when the worst decision of your life was the reason you met them?

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Craving Redemption is a solid sequel to Craving Constellations, but it wasn’t quite a good in my opinion. I just didn’t buy it.

For most of the book, the characters are not physically together. Either they are living in different states, or Asa aka ‘Grease’ is in prison. Despite this, Callie wasn’t able to overcome the psychological trauma of her past until the end of the book, when she undergoes serious therapy following a second traumatic event that triggers a mental breakdown.

The reader doesn’t get to experience her resolving many of the issues in her behaviour because the book glosses over it to the end, where she is “better” and Callie and Grease have their happy reunion. It seems like she has all this time apart from him to learn to be independent and know her own mind and in many ways she does, but she didn’t take that emotional step to independence and healing which was really the point of her journey in the book.

The second aspect that I don’t quite buy is why Grease feels this commitment and sense of duty towards Callie. He rescues her from a dangerous situation and delivers her safely home, even though he wasn’t the one to endanger her in the first place. When his rescue marks her as a target, because the bad guys think she belongs to the club, he again swoops in and rescues her and sets her up in a new state, with an apartment in his name that he pays for, basically setting up her life and getting her enrolled in the new high school.

I don’t understand the sense of responsibility that he feels towards her. He is a big bad, weapon-dealing, drug-running, murdering outlaw biker bad boy, who is going way out of his way to financially support and care for an extremely traumatized teenager, who is agoraphobic at first. I don’t believe that he feels sexual attraction to her at this point in the story, when he is taking care of her. It would be really messed up if he was because her traumatized brain is so devastated that she is fragile, and child-like in the beginning. They don’t have any established relationship on which these interactions are based …

So why is he helping her, besides a romantic attraction (for when she has ‘healed’) or a sense of duty and responsibility, neither of which I accept.

Despite these failures (in my opinion), the story was still enjoyable and I recommend it to you, because it is part of a great series which is better than just this one book. I still rate it four stars.

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xx