Title: Never Sweeter (Dark Obsession #2)
Reviewer: Ivy @PoisonIvy70
Genre: New Adult
Length: 256 pages
Rating: 4.75 stars
Second chances are sweeter than ever in Charlotte Stein’s steamy Dark Obsession series—perfect for fans of Katy Evans—as a self-reliant college girl falls for a reformed bully who’s desperate to make up for lost time.
Letty Carmichael can’t believe her eyes when she catches a glimpse of her high school tormenter, wrestling champ Tate Sullivan, on campus. College was supposed to be her escape from Tate’s constant ridicule. Now he’s in her classes again, just waiting for his chance to make her life hell. But when Letty and Tate are partnered up for an assignment—on sex in cinema, of all things—she starts to see a kinder, gentler side of him. And when she realizes Tate knows more about sex than she could ever guess at, he soon starts making her blush in a whole new way.
Tate Sullivan is haunted by regret over his cruelty toward Letty. So when she agrees to work with him, he seizes his chance to make amends. He can’t blame her for not believing he’s for real, but soon Tate starts to break down her wall. She wants to know about passion, desire, lust—topics he is well versed in. And in return she offers the one thing he always wanted: the chance to be more than just a jock.
Letty is shocked by how sensitive Tate can be. Still, desiring him feels ludicrous. Loving him is impossible. Craving him is beyond all reason. So why can’t she stop?
Letty has been bullied all through high school by three idiots, Tate, Jason and Patrick, in horrible ways. Being told she’s fat and ugly over and over has annihilated her self-esteem. But she takes a stand, says no more. Then something unbelievably horrible happens. Flash forward two years later – she’s put her life together (though the damage done to her self esteem is ever present) and she’s finally starting college…where she runs into Tate. She’s terrified and…confused. He’s not the same boy who tormented her, but is he someone she can learn to trust? As you may have guessed, this and many more questions are answered and yes, romance happens.
Ms. Stein has a unique talent: Ms. Stein has a singular voice – you know when you’re reading her that her characters will be humorous, different, interesting and never quite do what you think they will. Never Sweeter is the second book in her Dark Obsession series. The first one wasn’t quite my cuppa but as I devoured this book, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Letty and Tate’s relationship. It has a sweetness with a sharp edge of emotional pain that kept me turning pages well into the night.
Letty is so relatable: I can say, as someone who’d been there (and unfortunately, what woman hasn’t had body issues inflicted on them by society) I couldn’t help but connect with Letty. Her body issues are understandable, her reluctance to trust Tate’s intentions, all rang true and I shed a tear or two for her. It’s a fine line to ride between damaged and annoying, and Letty never crossed that line for me.
Tate is a revelation: What surprised me deeply was how I connected with Tate. When I began this book, I knew for a fact that Tate was a massive asshat. Trying to imagine how I would learn to forgive him and want to root for him to get the girl was a challenge I wasn’t sure would be accomplished. In the beginning, there’s not alot shown of their history, but there’s enough to know that Letty has been hurt and hurt deeply by the type of psychic wounds he and his friends inflicted on her. As the story unfolds though, I was way impressed with how Ms. Stein developed Tate’s character in a way that I could empathize with the bully. Getting to know the pain he’s gone through and seeing him through a completely different lens than the one I started with, by the end, I adored him. The way he was trying to make right all the wrongs that he did won me over in spectacular fashion.
Crazy sexy chemistry: I’ve read alot of sex scenes in new adult romances, and I’m usually pretty cynical about it all. If I’ve read a blow job or masturbation scene, I’ve read a thousand. So many certainly have heat and sweetness, though they’re fairly traditional expressions of attraction and love. Add to that they’re complicated history, I wasn’t sure if the heat would translate. People, I was sweating from the heat generated between these two. I was delightfully surprised at how the sexual tension played out and how deliciously different it is from your usual angsty sex fumblings. These two felt realistic, fantastically dirty (Tate’s dirty talking is a thing of beauty) and made me all sorts of buttery just reading it. The sex progresses at a natural pace, so that when the final deed happens (and it takes a while to happen), I was just as worked up and ready for them to get together as they were.
Odds and ends: There’s a mild mob subplot that wasn’t entirely necessary (and vaguely connected it to the first book) that I could have done without and there’s moments when it veered into kind of overly goofy verbal territory, though even that gave them a realistic edge since they are so young. The minor flaws didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this tale.
I loved it and I definitely recommend it. If you’ve ever been bullied, or been the bully, if you love seeing two people overcome their past, seeing beyond their own pain and find redemption through their love, I think you’ll like this. I’m happy I read it.
*An ARC was received for an honest review.