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 ‘People said he was dirty and feral, an urban transient. People loved or hated him.’

There are certain books that deserve to be read in one sitting to fully appreciate and maximise that intense and incredible emotional connection you ultimately feel when you are swept away in the story and characters. To be so fully immersed in a journey so vivid – ugly yet flawless – so gritty and powerful that you travel with it as if your whole body and mind is swept up in its rapid watery current.

“Why on earth would you love me? What have I ever done that would make you feel whatever that feels like?”

“I don’t know.” Why is rain wet or snow cold? It just is. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be what it was.’

We have always been avid lovers of Cara McKenna’s writing but we have to say Badger left us in stunned awe of this Author. There is no question that what she gave us in Badger surpassed anything we have ever read by her, it was quite simply awe inspiring perfection.

‘He was so deeply screwed up, no one person, no well-intentioned woman, stood a chance of being enough to make up everything that had happened to him. Especially not one as unremarkable and flawed as me.’

Badger went beyond every expectation and thoughts we had upon starting this story. Yes the synopsis gripped us and we knew we HAD to read it, but we were not prepared in the slightest. You have to suspend much of what you may be used to and what you feel is right. Leave it at the door as you enter a story that will have every single one of your senses on high alert. You will cry. Not a few measly tears of compassion, no….you will CRY. You will laugh as situations so dark and disturbing have an injection of sarcasm and irony. You will be tested morally and perhaps even further. You may even judge. You will be provoked and think how incredibly ugly this story is, you may even think it’s a lost cause so why continue?

“Give up on me, Adrian, for fuck’s sake.”

“You make it sound awfully easy.”

Why? Because it’s one of the most powerful stories we’ve read in a long time. Because it is written in such a way it commands you to not be a quitter. To show such strength, compassion and understanding. To see beyond mere words and actions, till you feel and see the human heart trying it’s best to be what it needs to be – all it can be – under the circumstances. To overcome and live with the past, the now and the future.

‘His damage was all so much more tangible than mine, so tactile. Like the darkest scenes from his life were stamped in Braille across his skin.’

Badger is not your usual romance, in fact to call this a romance would not be entirely fitting. Badger is a story of love; the love that when stripped down to its unique components consists of loyalty, respect, compassion, empathy and a deep rooted sense of empowerment and self-realisation. That love when you feel and know you need to be with the other person whether it be right or wrong because the pull and the feeling of being without is incomprehensible.

“I’m riding around and everyone and everything is either black and white or bright, angry red, everyone blurry and 2-D, there to be ignored or attacked. Except you. I’m riding around in fuzzy, flat monochrome, then there’s you, all in color, in focus, in like, five dimensions.”

This Author managed to write a story that is unlike any we’ve read before. She takes subjects that yes have been written about countless of times in our romance fiction, but what she tells us in her story is like none of its predecessors. She says yeah I’ll see your completely broken man and raise you a ‘Badger’ and I’ll see your struggling woman trying to rebuild her life as well as herself and I’ll raise you an Adrian Birch.

‘He was very human behind all the animal mannerisms. Very human and very, very screwed up.’

“Did I traumatize you?”

Whilst yes – we get one side of a story – we are given so much more. Biased? Perhaps but the journey we saw through Adrian’s eyes gave us everything…..absolutely everything. Cara McKenna gave us a story that felt true, honest and uncompromised. Bravo, such a breath of fresh air through a raw, morose, dark and almost hopeless journey.

“The only bearable thing about being human is that you can change, the second you feel like.”

Badger and Adrian Birch are not your stereotypical characters; you may have never even come across such or even ever again. However, we urge you to read this very unique story of a man and a woman trying to do their best in life with the hand they’ve been dealt. We implore you to pick up Badger, we have to be honest here, we don’t even know how we are supposed to move on from this story……..

‘When I watched him leave for the last time, I knew it would feel like he’d eaten my heart straight out of my chest. He might as well know the taste of my blood.’

**Reviewed from an ARC Copy provided by Brain Mill Press, with thanks **


C.M. McKenna’s compelling voice has earned a devoted audience and multiple awards for her erotic fiction (as Cara McKenna.) Her page-turning literary debut, Badger, disturbs and titillates with the story of a recovering pill addict whose compulsive fascination with a Boston antihero spirals out of control.

Nearly twelve months sober, Adrian Birch feels like a nobody. But when her wrist is broken in a hit-and-run accident, she’s avenged by the Badger, a secretive street vigilante. Instantly obsessed, Adrian takes to staging suicide and constructing chance meetings to get his attention. Their resulting affair is harsh and needy, wrought with McKenna’s signature dark eroticism—until the connection gets out of hand and ignites the violent passions of the city.

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