Tag Archives: gritty

DIRTY GAMES by BARBARA ELSBORG :: REVIEW

Standalone dark MM romance

SYNOPSIS

The last thing Linton needs when he arrives home after three months in the States, is to find his beautiful flat is a squat, complete with his younger brother Dirk, who’s lying in Linton’s bed with a couple who’ve paid him for sex. Dirk isn’t even supposed to have a key. But after Linton throws Dirk out, life slams in hard and if his brother is to have any hope of a future, Linton has to play dirty. Or at least pretend to. What he hasn’t factored in is having to play the game to the bitter end.

Film star Thorne Morrisey has everything. Good looks, charm, seductive magnetism and a voice that could charm a snake from its basket. He can also be a real shit and yet people still love him – though he’d rather not have the love of his suicidal ex, dumped by Thorne in a very public and humiliating way. His ex’s wealthy brother has his own reasons for wanting revenge on Thorne, and his weapon of choice is Linton.

Linton and Thorne are on a collision course and in for the game of their lives. But who is playing whom?

This book has dark themes and violence.

DIRTY GAMES is available to purchase below

          


Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte

4.5 Stars

‘How was it possible to hate and love someone at the same time?’

We’ve been huge admirers of Barbara Elsborg’s work for some time. Whether it’s MM, MF, Contemporary romance or paranormal, we’ve been impressed and loved everything we’ve read and wish more readers looking for a ‘new to them’ author would experience this talented lady’s work!

With Dirty Games, we found ourselves completely captivated by this emotional, angsty and passionate story of love, revenge and manipulation. Though, at the core of Thorne and Linton’s s story is one of love, loyalty, healing, forgiveness and acceptance.

‘He wasn’t going to break Thorne’s heart, but he worried that in the process, he might break his own.’

Linton Williams is an up and coming architect who returns to England after a three month working stint in New York to find his life turned upside down. Linton’s brother Dirk is a drug addict, unemployed and has moved himself into Linton’s flat without permission during his absence. Trouble follows the damaged Dirk and soon Linton sees himself an unwitting victim in Dirks seedy world. Being forced to make a deal he’s dead set against in order to save Dirk and get him the help he so desperately requires. There is nothing Linton wouldn’t do for Dirk. He’s always protected and cared for Dirk, leaving him feeling incapable of love, this aspect of Dirty Games broke our hearts!

“All my life I’ve tried to let pain flow over me without letting it touch me. A bit like standing at the back of a waterfall and watching the torrent fall in front of me but I only get a bit wet, not drenched.“

Thirty year old Thorne Morrisey is seductive, charming and ridiculously good looking actor with his star on the rise. Whilst his career might be on the up, his personal life is anything but. Thorne has been unlucky in love, has made some poor choices and trusted the wrong people. The consequences of which have made it difficult for Thorne to open up and trust completely. Thorne would rather strike out and hurt someone before being deeply hurt himself. A coping mechanism that’s been forced upon him from his past issues.

‘He dragged his teeth over his bottom lip as he smiled, and with that one simple gesture, broke into Thorne’s damaged heart.’

It is through six degrees of separation and fate that Linton and Thorne’s paths cross, with players in the story being interconnected in more ways than one. Thorne and Linton strike up a friendship which becomes more. Both Thorne and Linton are devoted to, protective of, and fiercely loyal to their brothers, River (Thorne’s autistic brother) and Dirk (Linton’s troubled drug addict brother) a quality each respects in the other.

Thorne is drawn to Linton in ways he hasn’t felt before and Linton’s connection, patience and understanding of River has Thorne wanting to pursue something on a deeper level with Linton which is a big step for the cagey Thorne who believes everyone has a motive and Linton is harbouring a secret which could tear their relationship apart.

“I don’t want to have to choose between loneliness and a broken heart.”

We were completely immersed in Dirty Games, as the emotion of Thorne and Linton were stripped raw. The sex, though sensual and steamy, never overshadowed the emotion, instead enhancing the feelings, connection and passion between Thorne and Linton. Barbara’s wit is always spot on. We adore her droll, sarcastic humour which always endears her characters to us even further. The sarky humour ensured the story, whilst dramatic, never became melodramatic. We loved it!


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Filed under 4.5 Stars, Barbara Elsborg, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny

RIOT (A Scarred Souls Novel #4) by TILLIE COLE :: REVIEW

Gritty, dark Mafia romance series to be read in order. Final book in series.

SYNOPSIS

Stolen by the Arziani Georgian crime mob as a child, 152 was raised and conditioned to be a Mona—the most subservient of the Arziani Blood Pit slaves.

Gorgeous and kind, she has been and under the imprisoning influence of the Type B drug and under the command of the Blood Pit Master’s sister, Mistress Arziani, for most of her life, until the Master calls her back home to Georgia.

He wants her under his total control, and Master always gets what he wants.

But when 152 is gifted to the Blood Pit’s fearsome champion death match fighter as a prize, 152 suddenly finds out that the men who appear most brutal, may just own the kindest hearts. And love may be found, even when living in hell.

Freedom, family, love, 152 will have to fight for what she wants and ultimately make an impossible choice.

RIOT is available to purchase below

                   


Reviewed by Gitte & Jenny

4.5 Stars

 ‘The male with the cruel eyes. The infallible killer. The Pit Bull of the Arziani Empire. Master’s living god among men.’

Wow, what a compelling way to finish this fabulously dark and highly emotional series. It’s been quite the horrific but brilliantly written ride, with each book giving us a new tormented hero and heroine all with a harrowing and tragic past and present.  All with the fighting pit at its centre. It’s been a tearful and upsetting journey but a journey that’s been lit up by a beacon of shining bright love.

“Our names are part of our path to freedom.”

In this series finale we hear the voice of 152, the lost sister of Valentin, and 901, the king of the fighting pit. The master’s favourite but for how long? This series has always had a flair for the dramatic and over the top, but it’s worked for us. We’ve been gripped, addicted and invested in every single book and Riot was no different. We loved it.

‘He was the most intimidating male I had ever encountered. And I was trapped in his cell. Completely alone. In the unwelcome company of a killer. And there was absolutely nothing I could do.’

152 – Inessa, the lost one, the beloved sister. She stole our hearts and they bled for her fate. She was a fighter a survivor and her story broke our hearts. She’s the chosen one for Master Arziani, who runs an evil and inhumane empire set to break the human spirit for his own gains and desires. Using her as bait to get final control of 901 who isn’t running the line of commands. This catalyst sparks a series of events that ultimately sets in motion a revolt that could see freedom at the end of a very long imprisonment under an evil reign of punishment.

“You became my heart. He made me want you like I have never wanted anything else. Even my freedom does not compare. If I had to fight every day for the rest of my life here in this pit, I would do it gladly to have you with me.”

901 and 152 are thrown together as part of a concluding plan for Arziani’s final blood lusting glory. However, where the evil intent succeeds the strength of love, protection and human spirit was ultimately underestimated. There’s such a vulnerable almost innocent essence to 901 and 152’s relationship. Considering the gruesome circumstances, this was such a beauty to read because of this. For two people so deeply embedded in the sadistic and brutal side of life there was such a beauty to their characters.

‘901 thought me beautiful. And he told me in Russian. In the language of our hearts. The language of our home.’

What we absolutely loved about Riot was being back with everyone and everything coming full circle, seeing vengeance and redemption. Finding happiness and love. We loved how it played out, how after such a long time being spent in virtual hell with our hero and heroine we saw a culmination of the previous books through Luka, Zaal and Valentin. We loved the final climax and what a fabulous ending to what has been a crazy good suspenseful, dark and passionate series.

‘We had been thrust back into hell. But this time the only way out was to burn it in our wake.’

‘We would maim. We would slaughter. We would kill. Together, we would fucking raze hell.’


THE SCARRED SOULS SERIES

Raze Book – One

                    

Reap Book – Two

                    

Ravage Book – Three

                    

Riot Book – Four

                   

 

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Filed under 4.5 Stars, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny, Tillie Cole

A WAR LIKE OURS by SAFFRON A. KENT :: REVIEW

A liar…a hater….a forbidden kiss. A gritty, raw standalone love story.

SYNOPSIS

A liar…

Three weeks ago, James Maxwell’s wife died in a car accident, but he hasn’t been able to tell his five-year old daughter the heartbreaking truth behind her mother’s death. Instead, he packs them up and leaves for a summer resort in upstate New York to spend a few peaceful weeks and to gradually break the news. But a spirited and outspoken maid at the resort has figured out his secret.

A hater…

After witnessing her mother’s violent death at the hands of her stepfather, Madison Smith has turned aimless and bitter toward the world—men, in particular. Her dead-end job at the local resort and her convenient girlfriend barely keep Madison from falling apart. When she meets James, however, she’s driven to protect his child from the darkness she sees inside him.

A forbidden kiss…

But Madison doesn’t expect to find that very darkness irresistible. Drowning in guilt and memories, neither does James expect to be drawn to the sharp-witted woman who has made his life miserable. When their tempers flare, a brutal kiss triggers a need that blurs the lines of hate and desire. As their lust spins out of control, they must decide if their attraction is worth fighting for or if love is the real enemy.

Author’s Note: This book is intended for mature audience. It has trigger elements: Abuse, self harm, death. 18+ ONLY. Despite having an HEA, this story doesn’t follow the usual or conventional rules. It’s rough, edgy and yes, difficult to read in places. The characters are broken and jagged and so is their descent in love. Please proceed with caution. Thank you!

A WAR LIKE OURS is available to purchase below

          


Reviewed by Gitte & Jenny

 “You push me and push me and push me. Every single moment with you is a battle.”
“You’re right. Every moment with us is a battle. A war. And I’m going to win this war, James. You’re going to lose.”

Well wow, we may be lost for words. A War Like Ours is the debut novel by Saffron A Kent and it completely turned us inside out. You know those books that shock you, yet compel you, because they’re so unexpected. The kind of book that you just know is going to be a marmite book. Well this is it. We still don’t know what we truly feel and have spent hours discussing this story. It’s a fine line between love and hate and we veered across this line touching both sides throughout. We love books that provoke a reaction out of us.

‘Famished. Insatiable. Mad. That was what I felt when I was around her.’
“Hurt me. You know you want to.”

First of all we have to say that we are so surprised this is Saffron A Kent’s first book. The writing was sublime, flawless and highly evocative. She does not mince her words and the emotion they induce are spot on. The quality of writing is why we continued reading this story and why we could not look away. We struggled to connect with the characters and we’re not sure we liked them all that much. That may sound harsh but it’s a testament to this Author that we kept reading despite this struggle. James and Maddison intrigued us, they challenged us and they provoked us. We loved them – we hated them.

‘I looked up, and the fogged mirror reflected a man – diseased and inhuman – with tiny streams of blood snaking down his torso. A liar. A coward. A disappointment.’

This is not a hearts and flowers romance. This is an ugly and quite frankly painful romance. Why? Because Maddison and James are seriously chaotic and emotionally messed up characters. Their relationship is beyond anything we can relate to. Whilst it’s dirty and hot at times it’s the twisted actions, extreme behaviour and emotional turmoil of these characters that left us reeling. We were absolutely exhausted by the end of this book, though we have to give this Author credit for writing a believable ending that fitted the story and the characters. Our hearts bled for these characters.

‘Where had she been all these years? She matched me in every single way. She was just as raw and untamed. Just as angry and selfish. Perhaps that was why she got to me. Because I saw myself in her, a better me, in fact. I saw how unfettered she was, and I desired that, to be unchained, guilt-free.’

Maddison and James are both damaged emotionally for reasons very personal to them. Neither have had a life smelling of roses nor many happy memories.  One could say that they have no idea or comprehension on what love truly is. Both have been starved of it. So when they meet, the recognition of themselves in each other, is incredibly visceral. Neither is convincingly looking to be healed nor looking to change or get better.  Their pain is what it is. This is who they are, who they believe they are. What they do recognise after a physical empowerment spurred in the other, is the possibility of love. A War Like Ours was in our opinion a unique story brilliantly written with a bruised and battered pen.

“Let the pain take over. Let it own you, turn you inside out. Let it win, Maddison. That’s the only way to stop this, to stop feeling.”
“Show me how.”

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Filed under 4 Stars, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny, Saffron A Kent

MENACE (Scarlet Scars #1) by J.M. DARHOWER :: REVIEW

First book in the Scarlet Scars Duet. A gritty, powerful anti hero Mafia romance.

menace

SYNOPSIS

Once upon a time, there was a guy who got so fed up with life that he resorted to murder and mayhem just to feel alive.

Lorenzo Gambini is bored. So fucking bored. Most people either annoy him or avoid him, afraid to face him. Figuratively. Literally. With his face partially disfigured, scarred, he looks every bit the monster the stories make him out to be: the notorious menace they call Scar. They say he’s a sociopath. Maybe he’s a psychopath. Whatever path he’s on, people tend to stay far away from it.

Until one day, a young woman bumps right into him–a woman just as fed up with life, but for much different reasons. With a Scarlet Letter inked on her wrist and secrets buried deep in her soul, Morgan Myers is running from something… or maybe somebody. Lorenzo isn’t quite sure.

You can bet your ass he’s going to figure it out, though.

MENACE is available to purchase below

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PRE ORDER GRIEVOUS, releasing 6th Feb below

grievous

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Menace Review

Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte 

4.5 engrossing stars!

“You got me?”
“I got you.”

J.M. Darhower has again delivered an enthralling story that set our hearts racing at a million miles an hour Hollywood needs to make her Mafia romances into a movie, because her words are so visually captivating, we can imagine it playing out before our eyes, as we did with Menace.  We were once again captivated by her story, fascinated and madly in love with an antihero with a ‘couldn’t give a fuck attitude’, and a feisty, strong heroine who had us championing them both at every turn.

We first met Lorenzo Gabini in Target On Our Back, and were beyond excited when we realised he was the central character in Menace. You can absolutely go into this duet as standalone’s as Menace/Grievous are essentially Lorenzo and Morgan’s story with JM Darhower doing a fabulous job of getting us up to speed without wasting a precious moment of actual story.

‘Nobody trusts their gut anymore, but they ought to. Sometimes wires get crossed in the brain, things get all jumbled, everything gets confused, and your heart…..you can’t fucking trust that son of a bitch. It’ll be the first to betray you. It’ll make you feel like the world is a beautiful place. It’ll make you forget all the darkness. It’ll make you hope, and believe, and then it’ll destroy you, just when you start to think maybe it’s okay to not be so goddamn frigid.’

What an exhilarating, exciting start to this duet. As usual with this authors stories, she grabbed us from the very first page and never let us go. There’s something so incredibly addictive about her stories, and Menace is no exception.  The Mafia, the Bratva, a troubled girl and man with a thirst for revenge, all went into making this one a totally addictive winner and we need the next book!

“What do I smell like?”
“Like sex and shame….and something distinctly vanilla.”
“It’ll fade. It’s just my lotion…vanilla orchid. The sex, well, I’m afraid you’ll have to wash that off.”
And the shame?”
I ask, strolling toward her. “How long until that fades.”
She laughs dryly. “I’ll let you know if it ever happens.”

Lorenzo Gambini, is the epitome of the antihero. He’s the guy you would expect to hate but can’t. He’s brutal, pragmatic, unforgiving, has a short fuse and is intolerant of most people except his brother Leo, who he will protect at all costs. He’s also bored and completely unapologetic about his lifestyle and his thirst for violence. He loves oranges and is one engaging, witty and snarky narrator injecting humour amidst the mayhem. Seriously, this guy had us in fits with his internal monologue. At times it was as though he was arguing with the reader. It was priceless! His outlook is ‘it is what it is and I don’t give a fuck’ in the world according to Lorenzo and yup, we fell in love with him!

Lorenzo quite literally bumps into Morgan Myers, a ballsy, troubled young woman with a price on her head who is hoarding many secrets. Just what and who is she running from/to and why? Lorenzo’s boredom soon turns to intense interest when it registers with him that Morgan has pulled one over on him by stealing his wallet. No one gets one over on Lorenzo Gambini! He seeks her out and soon realises Morgan needs help when it comes to light that she has somehow pissed off the Russian Mafia.

‘I used to read all these fairy tales, and I just think about how fucked up it is to realize that heroes are make-believe but monsters are real.’

The story is told in dual pov’s with an interesting pov added in which kept us guessing as it heartbreakingly unfolded throughout the story.  J.M. Darhower never fails to breathe life into every new book she produces, despite a similar theme being woven throughout. We couldn’t look away from this book for a second and we need Grievous now! What a gritty, dark, sexy, heartbreaking and engrossing ride and we’re not done yet!

“Who broke you?”

 

Menace Teaser (1)

 


TBB also Recommends
MONSTER IN HIS EYES SERIES by J M DARHOWER

Monster in His Eyes Book One :: amazon us | amazon uk | our review
Torture To Her Soul Book Two :: amazon us | amazon uk | our review
Target on Our Backs Book Three ::our review|  amazon us | amazon uk


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Filed under 5 Stars, J M Darhower, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny