Starla’s August – September 2021 Reviews

Falling for the Opposition
By Lola West

Genre: Contemporary romance, new adult fiction, enemies to lovers
POV: 1st Person, alternating dual perspective
Heat gauge: 🔥🔥🔥🔥 (4/5)

This is not your typical enemies to lovers tale. So many of the books you read in this genre are dark and full of angst. While I love those, this one stood out for its lighter mood. It was refreshing to read this author’s take on the trope.

Hippie commune girl meets son of a conservative politician. It’s an explosive mix, but also fun and thought provoking. Lola West tackles some important issues through this book such as gender equality and the importance of sexual consent. The messages are clear, but they do not come across as preachy because they are integral to the plot. I absolutely loved watching the romance blossom between the main characters. Their chemistry is H-O-T!  The character growth impressed me and took me by surprise at times.

I highly recommend this book to all romance readers. Even if you don’t normally read the dark enemies to lovers novels, I promise this one does not fit the mould.  

Timber (Hades #4)
By Tate James

Genre: Contemporary dark romance, romantic suspense, reverse-harem
Triggers and content warnings: Physical abuse, sexual assault, post-traumatic stress, group sex
POV: 1st Person, primarily single perspective
Heat gauge: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 (6/5)

Wow! Tate James has blown me away! Such a satisfying end to an intense and riveting series. If you like dark, twisted romance packed with thrilling violence, this is the series for you. Just be sure to read the trigger warnings. This fourth instalment goes to some very disturbing places, so it is not for everyone.

This series centres around Hades, the badass bitch who rules the town from the shadows. But her citadel of crime begins to topple when a ghost from the past returns with a vengeance. The only way she can win this war is by depending upon the people who love her. But who can she trust when she is surrounded by traitors?

This is by far the most erotic of the books in the series. The heat level is off the charts! I will admit that the gratuity got a bit much for me. I’m no prude by any means but reading variations of the same sex scenes over and over does lead to page-skipping. Even so, I thoroughly loved the rest of this story and am keen to read more books by this author.

Vicious Prince
(Royal Elite #5)

By Rina Kent

Genre: Contemporary dark romance, enemies to lovers
Triggers and content warnings: References to sexual assault and trauma
POV: 1st Person, alternating dual perspective
Heat gauge: 🔥🔥🔥🔥 (4/5)

OMG Ronan Astor! Swoon…

What was I doing again? Oh right, it’s book review time. Just give me a moment to wipe away the drool. I’ve always been a sucker for the fun and flirty types and Ronan is no exception.

Before I continue with my review, I’d like to detour down controversy lane. I’ve read some of the scathing reviews and thought I’d defend my stance on this book. Firstly, I want to point out that different people process trauma in different ways. I do not believe that Rina Kent has stereotyped these characters. The point is that Ronan and Teal are young adults who are still working through their issues. I would not call them survivors of abuse, not at the start of the story anyway. All good character-driven tales involve character growth, and this means starting with protagonists who have room for improvement. In the case of Vicious Prince, the author has presented us with two broken people who find comfort in each other’s arms. These characters put me in mind of Chiron, the wounded healer. Helping each other was the therapy they both needed.

So back to the rest of my review. Tense and gripping. This book hooked me from start to finish. A revenge plot sat at the core of this story and watching it unravel felt a little like watching an accident waiting to happen. It horrified me, yet I couldn’t look away because I needed to know if the characters would be okay in the end. Heart-warming and intriguing. Finding what lay beneath Ronan and Teal’s facades pleasantly surprised me. Original and refreshing. I loved the author’s spin on the old high-school bully trope. Teal just didn’t give a damn, so most of the bullying washed over her like water off a duck’s back.

I recommend this book for lovers of dark and steamy romance. While it is true that this novel can be read stand-alone, there are numerous references to characters from previous books in the series. I suggest starting with the first 3 instalments to enhance the reading experience.

The Devil's Kiss
(The Devil's Kiss #1)

By Gemma James

Genre: Contemporary dark romance
Triggers and content warnings: BDSM and dubious consent
POV: 1st Person, single perspective
Heat gauge: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 (5/5)

BDSM with the rich boss. Sound familiar? When I first read the blurb of this book, I assumed it would be another Fifty Shades rip-off. While I wasn’t entirely wrong, this story had much more going for it. Gemma James did not pull any punches with this one. Shit gets dark! If dubious consent fiction isn’t your thing, you’ll want to avoid this book. If you can handle it though, you’ll find an intense psychological thriller mixed in among the erotic romance.

Kayla made the mistake of stealing from a sadist. Gage Channing took advantage of the situation and punished Kayla himself. Why? Because he’d had his sights on her for some time. Motivated by a dark past, his intentions are sinister, making Gage the classic anti-hero.

If the plot of this book were a road, I’d have travel sickness by now. It took so many twisty turns. I’m still not sure who was more blind-sided, me or Gage! I’m keen to see what happens next. If you can handle the heat and the trigger warnings, I recommend giving it a go.

Kissed by the Reaper
(Heaven and Hell #1)

By Rebekah R. Ganiere

Genre: Paranormal romance
Triggers and content warnings: Religious references
POV: 3rd Person, single perspective
Heat gauge: 🔥🔥 (2/5)

Lucifer’s favourite reaper and one of God’s angels; such an unlikely couple. I guess that’s why their relationship is so forbidden. Yet there is more to this love story than first meets the eye. Elijah and Rose share a history, one that she forgot when she died and went to hell.

There are strong religious references and themes throughout this book. The battle between good and evil, war between heaven and hell. Yet I’m still unclear as to what the author’s religious persuasion is. Ganiere has done a good job of remaining relatively neutral in her story telling in this first book at least. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I can see why this might offend some readers. The slowly unfolding backstory of the main characters intrigued me and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

I recommend this book to lovers of angel and demon-themed paranormal romance.

Civil Contempt
(Of Magic & Contempt #3)

By Jade Thorn

Genre: Paranormal romance, reverse-harem
Triggers and content warnings: bullying, m/m, cliff-hanger ending
POV: 3rd Person, multiple perspectives
Heat gauge: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 (5/5)

This series tells the story of a witch who suffered under the tyranny of her abusive aunt. When she comes of age, her aunt sends her to a university that specialises in shifter bonds. Melody has her first taste of freedom here, but that’s all it is. A sample, teasing and tempting her to break her aunt’s magical shackles. Disobedience could cost Melody her life. But it is the right thing to do.

Okay I kinda have to agree with some of the other reviewers. This book does depart from the story somewhat in favour of the erotic romance. But gosh it is so GOOD! The chemistry between Melody and her shifter harem is delicious. Their relationship dynamics are complex, and the author kept me guessing. I can’t wait for the next instalment!

If PNR reverse harem is your thing, I recommend reading this series.

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