“Untouchable” by Sam Mariano

★★☆☆☆

Ok, here’s the thing. I’m pissed. Proper, unadulterated, pissed-off mood. I’m still screaming and lashing internally in frustration at this book. Now I understand why I stopped reading high-school romance!

And it’s not just about the eye-rolling amount of petty drama, or the glaring stereotypes, or the amount of times immature people in that school mentioned ‘whore’, ‘slut’ or ‘ho’ to get at others (seriously, don’t they have anything better?) but gawd! The sheer STUPIDITY of the main characters just… bloody… decimated… my… brain!

Long story short, Zoey (our female MC) lives in this town where everybody worships the local football team. One of the players (called Jake) had touched her without her consent, so very sensibly she reports him and he consequently gets demoted from the team for the rest of the season.

However, the residents and other students didn’t really appreciate that (since she’s a ‘nobody’, and he was one of the ‘gods’) so the name calling and other pranks start on her. It was disquieting to see the way she was being treated, but I was proud of her inner thoughts and strengths, how she didn’t let them bring her down.

So far so good. I even thought, “damn, she might be one of the very few main protagonists I could actually come to like…”

Well, I thought bloody wrong!

You see, her sensible brain lasts for only the first… what, 5% of the book? After that… ha! What a fucking joke! Why, you might ask?

Jake and two of his ‘jock’ buddies corner Zoey in a classroom. They proceed to assault her, take her shirt and skirt off her, grope her breasts, and threaten to rape her. And if that is not enough, when Jake gets tired of toying with her, Carter (one of the other two jocks, and the male MC) forces her to give him a blowjob.

The scene was horrible. This was a ‘dark romance’ so I was prepared for it, but it still rattled my sensibilities a bit. I mean, in the majority of other dark romances, the female MC always seems to enjoy it and like the guy deep down, blah blah blah… But in this book Zoey was bloody crying and begging them to stop. It was just… ugh.

But wait, that is not what bloody confounded me, what bloody froze my mind from incredulity and outraged shock! It was the amount of bullshittery committed by Zoey after that incident!

For a sliver of a moment, there’s a break in my focus on getting away from him. Curiosity tugs at me. He’s searching my gaze for something, but I don’t know what.

She gets curious about him! That’s right! Something about him just fAsCiNaTeS her! And even more shocking, this happens THE NEXT FUCKING DAY! Just yesterday he forced her on her knees for him and could have raped her!

• Day 3 after the incident

“How’d you do on the test?” he asks casually.

“I think I did all right. You?”

Why are you trying to have a conversation with him?? WHY??? In the same conversation where he says brilliant stuff such as:

“Remember that little chat we had, though? About you being a good little whore and keeping this pretty mouth shut, unless you’re opening it to take my cock?”

And later that day, when Carter magically shows up at the bookstore she works in, she fantasises about the books he could like:

Maybe a well-worn copy of Tales of Ordinary Madness. Carter seems like a Bukowoski kind of guy. Not the kind who buys it just to put on their bookshelf so they’ll seem edgy and interesting, but the kind who would actually consume every page and appreciate the madness, relate to the filth.

😩 🤦🏻‍♀️ I can’t even find the energy for more words, I might end up continuing this review with only emojis!

And oh! He brings his little sister with him! Another female protagonist that LOVES children! *gag*

“Your little sister is adorable,” I inform him.

And conveniently children make EVERYTHING in the universe alright again!

“Bringing a cute kid in was pretty low. I can’t be mean to you in front of your baby sister.”

Yes, Zoey, you can, but you’re just lying to yourself right now.

But wait! This is not the worst! Nope, the worst scene is when he buys a $50 gift card and leaves it to her. Does she bin his lousy gift? Tear it up in anger? Seethe at the gall of that man that assaulted her only three days ago?

• Day 4 after the incident:

“I did briefly consider the moral ramifications of using a gift card Carter Mahoney bought for me. On one hand, it could probably be looked at as selling myself out for $50 worth of books. But I haven’t sold myself out at all. I don’t like him any more for leaving the gift card behind; I just figured since he did, I might as well put it to good use.”

*gag gag gag*

What follows are endless pages about her ruminating over Carter. Who is he? Why does he act that way? What is he doing? Is he a bird? Is he a plane? Is he the Loch Ness monster?

I remember a saying I heard once, some trite, throwaway phrase: Hurt people hurt people. Did someone hurt Carter Mahoney? What is his home life actually like?

Get yourself together, girl! My god, he could have raped you!!! He wanted to rape you!

But it’s like it never happened. She checks his social media and GETS JEALOUS:

Around bedtime, my mind drifts back to Carter. I decide to check on his social media again, and the newest picture causes my stomach to sink and my face to curl up with distaste.

It’s his rally girl, mooning at him as she leans in the window of his car.

I’m just… I was just so fucking speechless.

• Day 5 after the incident:

He invites her to go have wings with him for lunch since she had forgotten hers. Does she give him a hard no because, hello! He sexually assaulted you?!

The thought of wings does make my mouth water, though. It’s been ages since I’ve had them.

Yeah, wings are more important than your safety. Gotcha.

“You promise this isn’t a trick?” I ask, that icky vulnerable feeling hitting me again.

Like he would tell you the truth? 🤨

Carter offers a reassuring nod. “Temporary truce.”

This is probably a terrible idea, but as if on cue, my stomach rumbles, begging me to let the nice man buy it some chicken wings. I tell my stomach he’s not a nice man at all, but my stomach decidedly doesn’t care what kind of man he is, so long as he’s buying it some chicken wings.

Sighing, I clutch my books tighter. “Fine.”

Oh! You really cannot help it, can you? Faking it like you’re really reluctant, like you totally don’t want to go out with him. Give the fault to your stomach. Sure.

And whilst she’s gobbling the wings he bought her, the best worst fucking quote in the entire book comes up:

If you ignore the things that make him repugnant—like his whole rapey jock thing, for example—Carter is actually pretty all right to hang out with.

And after that thought, they just talk merrily about their likes and dislikes like a cute couple on their first date.

Her thoughts would just be so ridiculously idiotic. She made me scream in anger!

On one hand, it could be a manipulation. He must know I have some kind of soft spot for him, because by all rights, I should be seething with anger and discomfort every time I see his face, not skipping out on lunch to go get boneless wings with him.

On the other hand, it could be true. If he’s actually being sincere, I don’t want to be mean and shut him down. If he’s actually trying to reach out, I don’t want to swat his hand away.

He buys for her another gift card, she accepts, soon after that they get together, then they’re fucking (without condoms, because fuck being responsible, right? And fuck getting morning-after pills because Zoey magically becomes a devoted Christian with a conscience at the thought of ‘aborting’ any possible babies, but at the same time she totally doesn’t want any babies yet. Guess she’ll leave it to chance, uh?)

I must admit some scenes between them were enjoyable and cute towards the end of the book, but the way it all started was such a dark cloud throughout the novel. I was more angry on what had happened than she was, and she was the one that was assaulted!

They just acted like nothing of importance had happened, and it just disgusted me. I could feel my stomach roiling throughout the first 70% of the book at the way they interacted, I’m amazed I never actually puked.

In the end, they have a magical and sappy ending, everything is fine in their lives, they get married and they lived happily ever after.

🤮

“The bully isn’t supposed to win.

Well, guess what? In this stupid book, he does.

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“Hostage” by Skye Warren and Annika Martin

I know what you’re thinking… two books, one after the other, which I actually liked?! Believe me, sometimes I surprise even myself 😉

I’m on a serious Dark Romance binge because I read too many of them 😩 I can’t help it that they’re the most interesting to me though 💁🏻‍♀️

Brooke is today’s female MC – she’s the daughter of socialites that seem to be getting in a dire financial situation lately, but not so dire that she’s not having her ‘Sweet Sixteen’ birthday party…

They can never know that the great Carson Development empire is crumbling, little by little, and that this party is a lifeline.

Brooke seems to be aspiring to be the perfect daughter, or maybe even forced. Nevertheless, one little societal error gets her overwhelmed, and she needs to get out of that room of blitz and fakery.

The back alley is such a common place to escape to get a breather, but what if you aren’t the only one using it?

Suddenly there are loud thwaps and thwocks and guttural groans of pain. Hair rises on the back of my neck.

What comes from it is poor Brooke getting kidnapped and forced to drive wherever Stone (the male MC) orders her to. For the next two years they’ll be playing a game of cat and mouse – dangerously teasing each other and wondering what the fuck they’re actually doing – why can’t they stop seeing each other?

Let’s be honest, Skye Warren is one of my favourite writers, and she never let me down before. Her books are very well written, and with such realistic grittiness it’s a pleasure to read. I really loved this book: the sombre atmosphere, the relationship between the main characters, the focus and beautiful description on their emotions…

I kick and fight for all I’m worth, but he just clutches me harder. My pulse races. It’s the weirdest thing, somebody killing you while they’re holding you so tightly.

It was all done very well. I can’t praise it enough.

I did categorise it as a Dark Romance, mainly because Stone kidnaps (or is the appropriate term carjacking? 😂) Brooke and tries to kill her at first (that’s food for Dark Romance right?) but you guys should know me by now… this book was pretty tame for me in that aspect, but it still didn’t take the shine off it 😉

Stone did have a bit of a humorous side which was gleeful to see, and it also added more depth to his character:

I’ll feed her before I kill her. It’s the most messed-up thing I’ve done in a long time.

“But,” you may ask, “If you loved it so much why not give it five stars?”

Ah! It’s hard to describe, but for me 5 stars would be absolute love and devotion to that book… it has happened before, but alas, this book didn’t make it in the list ;D

Well, what can I say? I’m hard to please 🤷🏻‍♀️

See you all next time!

Peace and love 🌈

“Twist Me” by Anna Zaires

You know, since the disastrous read I had last time, I told myself I needed to review a book I had already read, a book that I actually liked – so I could show my blog is not just me ranting on every literary work 😉

Twist Me (from the, aptly named, Twist Me series) is just my go-to book for whenever I’m in a bad mood and I need goodness in my life. Now, by goodness I don’t mean sunshine and rainbows (sadly 🌞) since it’s a bloody dark romance (please notice the emphasis on ‘dark’ 😂), but it’s a pretty good book where you can actually find a proper storyline and appropriate male MC. I personally really liked this series, so I’m hoping you guys will like it to.

Nora (our female MC) is a High-school senior full of plans and dreams about her future when she meets Julian (the male MC) in a club where she was celebrating with her friend. Their first encounter is intense:

He stands next to me, and I have to remember to breathe.

Fast forward some weeks, and she gets kidnapped one evening whilst having a date with her crush that she’s been pining on for ages. #sad #badluck

I mean, I would be gutted: the actual time you manage to go out with him, and that happens! Kidnappers are so inconsiderate 😒

Nora finds herself waking some place she doesn’t recognise… which turns out to be a whole private island. Owned by no other than Julian, of course.

What ensues is Nora trying to escape (which always happens in these captive books…), then getting angry and rebellious when she subsequently realises escaping is impossible… unless you can swim hundreds of miles of open sea 👌🏼

I personally loved Julian: he was such a believable character for a dark romance. His personality wasn’t bipolar like in other romances where they turn pussy-whipped after 2.5 seconds of meeting the female MC. He stayed consistent throughout, and I loved that, because that was more realistic than anything else I’d read.

Still, this would’t be a review of mine without at least something I didn’t like 😛 First and foremost, Beth irritated me to no end. She was just so annoying, I can’t believe she existed as a human character. She wouldn’t feel any empathy at all for Nora, and she idolised Julian like he was a God. Ugh, fair enough, whatever, I just learned to ignore Beth from then on.

Another thing that was a bit of a pet peeve for me… the fact that Nora fell for Julian so fast. Maybe it wasn’t actually that fast, but I personally thought so. At first it was just her body liking him, which is fine, it happens, but… legit, days later she starts talking about actual feelings for him. It made me go “Wait, wut?”

Finally, last (but extremely not least) the bad guys are terrorists. From the Middle East. I found that cliche as fuck, and not needed at all. I understand that usually all the terrorists seem to be from the Middle East, but they are not the only ones. Terrorists can be from any country. Anna Zaires could have brought more uniqueness and awareness by choosing terrorists from… dunno, bloody Alaska, or Australia… or even Sweden. That would have totally made me go, “Ohhh, this is a new one I haven’t seen before!”

Apart from all that though, I still believe this series as a whole is the Bible of all dark romances because of nicely put storyline and character play. All in all, it’s totally a book I’ve read multiple times, and I will continue to do so indefinitely. A truly great achievement for Anna Zaires ;D

See you all for my next blog post this Sunday, where I may or may not get back to ranting 🌝

Peace and love!

“Stolen” by J. Marie

Another dark romance! Yay!

I love that genre, so I couldn’t wait to start reading it. I was expecting a ruthless but sexy male MC, a clever and strong female MC, and a storyline that left me breathless and hanging on the edge of my seat.

What I actually got was a laughable pile of digested food.

The story starts with Jade (I think her name was that…) waking up in a cell, surrounded by more cells containing other women. She is confused and she can’t remember how she came to be there. A girl next to her informs her they’ve all been kidnapped by a human trafficking organisation.

“Where am I?” I asked, my voice dry and cracking, my irritation evident.

“Hell,” she said nonchalantly.

Now, the thing with Jade is, she is a bitch. Simple as that. I didn’t care for her once in the whole of the bloody book, even when she was being tortured or whatever. That makes me sound evil, but bloody hell, she was just so hate-able I just didn’t give a shit for her.

First of all, she’s a bitch to the fellow girls:

“So, what have you learned about this place?”

“What do you mean?” she asked me curiously.

I rolled my eyes. God, I hoped she wasn’t useless.

Uhm… alright, chill, not everybody is as clever as you 🙄

Then she starts kicking the metal lock (??) to try to break it (yes, good luck with that), and a girl, obviously, tries to stop her hurting herself:

“Won’t do any good. Most of us have already tried that.”

“Most of you probably don’t know how to kick properly,” I growled.

I mean, that was a bitchy comeback, right? It’s not just me, right? But wait, after she says that, this is her brilliant excuse for snapping like that to the poor girl:

I didn’t mean to insult her, but I was pissed to be in this situation, and rightfully so.

Like, come the fuck on! Those girls have been there longer than you, probably been through tortures you never imagined, and you dare say that you were justified to act like that?! Simply because you were kidnapped? Where’s your bloody empathy and humbleness?!

But God, she gets WORSE! How, you may ask? Well, at that moment in the story, some guards (the bad guys that are ‘staff’ in the compound where the girls are in basically) come inside the room, and some girls whimper at the sight of them. As a Psychology student, I understand that completely. But how does Jade-The-Bitch act seeing that?

All the girls who were awake staggered back into their cages, whimpering and attempting to put as much distance between them and the guards as possible.

Pathetic.

She. Just. Called. Them. Pathetic. For her, victims of human trafficking are pathetic. How in the ever loving God is this girl….?!!! I cannot… I just cannot explain the anger I felt at 3am yesterday night whilst I was reading this book. I swear to God I hate her, I really do. The gall of her to look down on them. She deserves whatever will come at her. And that was the moment I didn’t give a shit about Jade anymore and kept reading the book like I was reading a shopping list.

But as well as being a bitch, she’s also an arrogant bitch. And one of those types that are so insecure and immature that they always rely on violence. Because, ya know, Jade-The-Bitch is above using words like a proper, mature adult 🙄

This is how high she believes she is (and also how much better than other women she is):

No matter what situation I was in, I never showed fear. Never. I was not someone who was easily intimidated. While other girls might cower away in a corner, probably because that’s all they could do, I would stare the threat down, pick it apart piece by piece, analyze its weaknesses, and formulate a strategy to strike.

*YAWN*

And on top of that, we learn she has been driving bikes since she was 10 (???!) because her father made her do so (what kind of father….?) and she’s a martial arts master. Of-fucking-course she is. And oh! On top of that (like we need more) she’s from Law School, graduated in Psychology, had a minor in Political Sciences…. for fuck’s sake, I was dying of boredom on how fucking perfect and clever she was.

Lucky for me, I was big on fitness and worked my body to be strong and dependable, so my confidence was usually pretty fucking fierce.

I had to admit, my four pack was visible from a mile away. My biceps, though small, were rock hard, my shoulders defined, and my legs lean and powerful.

She goes on and on about how good she looks… when is it ending?! Nobody cares about that, this is a dark romance about human trafficking. Where are the emotions? The gloomy metaphors? The dark ambience? The everyday struggles of victims? This book only seems to be a pedestal for Jade-The-Bitch to shine on.

And lets add YET another virtue to her (because she never ceases to be amazing). Stupidness. Yep. Jade is fucking stupid.

Basically, the guards punish you whenever you do something they don’t like, one of them being talking back at them. And guess what Jade does? You guessed correctly! She talks back at them, curses at them, and then she gets all pissy and angry that she gets punished. Uhm… yeah, she’s stupid. Like, shit girl, you don’t really learn, do ya?

Oh, and did I mention already she a violent little bitch? Yeah, just wanted to stress it further:

[…]the very idea of someone thinking I was small made me want to punch them square in the face

You’re short. Big fucking deal. Just get on with life, bloody hell.

She keeps on fucking angering the “Owner” (the male MC) and she also gets pissy with him when she gets punished. She starts singing together with the other girls, and gets pissy for getting punished. She fucking has a chance of running after flooring one of the guards, but stays there to keep on hitting him instead of using that opportunity to escape. Just. Fucking. Stupid.

*ARRRGGGH*

Also, she acts like she’s the only victim, and I have a slight inclination she hates males. Why, you ask?

I didn’t fit the profile, but what the fuck did I know about their slave qualifications? I had tits and a vagina. Good enough.

Can I remind you Jade, that there are male slaves around the world too?

“I swear to God, men were pathetic.”

Oh yeah, because you are so much better as a female 🙄

She describes brown as a masculine colour:

[…]and a dark chocolate brown painted the walls, giving the room a very masculine vibe.

I don’t know in what world she lives, but in my book, brown is a shit colour to paint your walls for both sexes. Pun definitely intended.

“But, Flavia,” you may ask, “what about the storyline? Was that at least to your fancy?”

And I would laugh in your face.

Because. WHAT FUCKING STORYLINE.

It was all about her, her, and more her. Her ranting, her belittling others, her showing off, her doing stupid shit, and her fighting. Yes, more than 10 pages was just her having ONE weird-assed martial arts fight with the Owner. Yes, I did skip that, thanks for asking.

“What about the Owner? Was he as ruthless and dark as you wanted?”

*More laughing in your face.* He sucked. Period.

“…and, the sex? That, at least…!”

Nope, the sex scenes were shit too. Mainly because it was mostly him raping her (*cringe*), but even when she started enjoying it (as you do in dark romances) it was seriously boring.

“But- but, did you even enjoy anything??? Anything at all????”

Why, yes, I did. I really fucking loved it when I reached the end of this sad excuse of a book.

I can’t believe this novel received so many 5 and 4 star reviews. Are we even reading the same thing? So many praises on Jade being strong (*GAG*) clever (*DOUBLE GAG*) and relatable (*UNCONTROLLABLE GAGGING*). To me, she was the only pathetic creature there.

I guess it’s the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” thing…

Well, see you guys on Wednesday for my next blog post, here’s to hoping I’ll read something better, but you can only go higher after this…

Peace and love!