Darkly haunting erotica with the taboo appeal of V.C. Andrews.
There’s something wrong with Leigh.
She’s known it her whole life. She knows it every time she spreads her legs. Every time she begs for the pain, the pleasure, the heat of a hard man driving deep inside. She’s a slave to her own twisted lusts–and it’s eating her alive. She loves it. She craves it. Sex is her drug, and she’s always chasing her next fix. But nothing can satisfy her addiction, not even the nameless men she uses and tosses aside. No one’s ever given her what she truly needs.
Until Gabriel Hart.
Cold. Controlled. Impenetrable. Ex-Marine Gabriel Hart isn’t the kind of man to come running when Leigh crooks her pretty little finger. She loathes him. She hungers for him. He’s the only one who understands how broken she is, and just what it takes to satisfy the emptiness inside. But Gabriel won’t settle for just one night. He wants to claim her, keep her, make her forever his. Together they are the lost, the ruined, the darkness at the heart of Crow City.
But Leigh has a darkness of her own. A predator stalking through her past–one she’ll do anything to escape.
Even if it means running from the one man who could love her…and leaving behind something more precious to her than life itself.
TRIGGER WARNING: 18+
This book contains material that may be triggering or deeply disturbing to some readers, including scenes discussing or detailing rape, physical and emotional abuse, and incest. Please focus on self-care and, if this book is triggering to you, do not be afraid to put it down and walk away, or skip certain chapters. Be good to yourselves. -C
This is one of those books that I requested based on the cover alone. From the first moment I saw it, I thought the cover was creepy and sad, so obviously it got my attention. Having now read the story, it perfectly captures the theme of the story. This story is dark in that it is nearly devoid of light. It’s heartbreaking and tragic, but in an odd way, I did not find it depressing.
There are flawed heroines, and then there is Leigh. The flawed heroine is a common theme in a book, but often, when the revelation is made about the person’s flaws, I sometimes find myself scratching my head and thinking, “that’s it?” But make no mistake, Leigh is flawed. Any sane person would look at her and questions her.
“You skitter and flinch and run away.” His lips twitched. “This small thing living on the fringes, never wanting to be seen.”
Leigh is also weak, yet I still liked her as a heroine. She’s been handed a horrible deck with her life, raised under odd expectations and a lack of love. The little attention she is given, is for all the wrong reason. Which brings me to the elephant in the room. I-N-C-E-S-T! Yes, this book has it. It is not glossed over, but told in graphic detail. The moments together with her father, forever shape Leigh and her sexual needs. It’s not until Gabriel that she seems those moments in a different light.
I didn’t know what to think of Gabriel when he’s introduced. He’s a little bit mystery and a whole lot scary. Yet Gary, Leigh’s only friend at the time, thinks she might be good for him. With time, I felt myself agreeing with that assessment. They are good for each other. But good and happy don’t have a place in this story. Any brief moment of happiness seems to be stolen from Leigh in a flash.
What sets this book apart, other than the edgy storyline, would be the manner in which it is told. This author is a true wordsmith. The words are beautiful, raw and as my buddy reader, Rachel, mentioned, they have a lyrical quality. I often reread sentences, once to capture their meaning, and then again in appreciation. Here’s just a sample of the author’s talent:
To describe Gabriel: God, he was pure gunmetal, and right now he moved like the safety was off, the trigger cocked, ready to fire.
Leigh’s describing her story for Gabriel:
“That moment was when she realized that every woman is a broken goddess. Every last one.”
“Why broken?” Hart asked softly.
“Because we’re all born in that cage, and we’ve been breaking our wings against the bars ever since”
With the dark and taboo subject matter, this book might not be for everyone. I’ll admit, I was terrified after just reading the trigger warning at the front of the story. There are moments you will question the heroine, moments that are in such detail you feel them. And it’s not usually a good feeling. Leigh is not your typically heroine. She’s not shiny and beautiful, she is damaged inside and out. Most people around her make judgments and try to change her. Except one.
The ending felt a bit rushed to me, but I was thankfully there wasn’t a cliffy. Even the deeply damaged souls deserve some happy in their lives.
*An ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.