*REVIEW* – Captive Beauty, by Natasha Knight

#fairytaleretelling #romanticsuspense #eroticromance

Blurb

Cilla

The Beast had Belle.
Killian Black has me.

How I got here doesn’t matter, even though he says it does. Says it was my choice. He doesn’t get it, though. It wasn’t ever a choice for me.

And now, he’s changing the rules.

The agreement was one month. For thirty days, I’d be his. He’s no longer satisfied with my body alone, though. He wants my soul, too. Wants every part of me. And even though I can pretend I’m safe when I lie beneath him, this man does something to me. Something wicked.

A thing that will break me.

Killian

Cilla made the choice. She offered the deal. I just took her up on it. So what if I changed the rules half-way in? I’m not apologizing for it.

See, Cilla and me, we’re the same. She’s dark. As dark as me. Something happened to her. Something bad. It damaged her.

But it’s not a hero she seeks. It’s an avenging angel. A dark knight. That, I can do. I’ll slay her dragons, but it’ll cost her, because in return, I want everything. And I’ll take it.

She’s mine.

Author’s note: Captive Beauty is a standalone romance. Think Beauty and the Beast, but twisted and dark in the best, dirtiest ways. 

My Review

Freaking Fabulous – 5 Stars ***** TOP READ

I just loved this latest release Captive Beauty, by Natasha Knight, one of my go to author’s when I want to read about exceedingly dark alphas and complex and damaged characters. It was not only a delicious panty melting read, but it was based on one of my favourite romance tropes – Beauty and the Beast. I one-clicked and devoured it with gusto at the first opportunity.

To save her brother from a serious kicking (and possibly worse) for daring to cross mob boss Killian Black, Cilla feels compelled to offer herself instead as recompese. She soon finds that she has signed herself over to the devil for 30 days to do exactly what he wants to her… For this woman who likes to keep men at an emotional distance she soon finds herself challenged by the darkness and intensity that Killian personifies. Killian is one hell of a dominant and likes very much to keep Cilla in her place. They are so well matched. as Cilla is feisty and certainly no pushover however, and I hugely enjoyed their battle of wills and the sex scenes truly sizzle!

The hero, or rather the anti-hero Killian Black is such a worthy beast: a remorseless mob boss with no scruples, a deliciously dark alpha. Yet Killian has his own inner demons to slay, feeling tormented that he could not protect an innocent from his past. The connection he forges with Cilla is profound and I loved that Killian is drawn to the darkness that he senses in her. He is determined to peel away her layers and discover what she is hiding. Yet Cilla is determined to keep her secrets at all cost, even when she enlists him to avenge a past wrong. As for Cilla, I loved that even as she struggles to submit to him she begins to enjoy his wicked attentions and very wicked they are too – cue serious hotness Natasha Knight style! My heart bled for what both these characters had endured.

I adore how this author delved deeply into their respective characters and slowly revealed their respective pasts. The attraction between Killian and Cilla was palpable from the off and increases in intensity as the read progresses.  I was glued to the pages as I waited to find out whether their darkness would tear them apart or whether together they could slay their respective demons and together find resolution. It was unclear whether Killian’s actions would help Cilla find closure or somehow destroy them both.

The book contains a number of triggers, as you would expect with a dark romance, but they are integral to the plot and the character development. The writing, narrated in dual POV, flows beautifully. The book is an intense, emotional rollercoaster for Killian and Cilla and I enjoyed accompanying them on the ride.

This thoroughly addictive and sizzling dark romance, is without a doubt a superb read for lovers of the genre.

Goodreads

Purchase Links

Amazon UK     Amazon US

Connect with the Author

https://www.facebook.com/natasha.knight.946

http://natasha-knight.com/books/

 

Obsessed with Me – When She Rejected Him He Set Out To Destroy Her, Books #1 and #2, by Eve Rabi

17927637[1]-001Passionate and Heartrending Love Story  Adult Content

This tale has so many twists and turns that it kept me on the edge of my seat, with my heart in my throat and my head in my hands at what the heroine was going through! It is yet another stellar work by author Eve Rabi which plays with your emotions and comments on social issues and power within relationships. The tale is set in 1993, in Cape Town, in a South Africa a year before Nelson Mandela became President, and apartheid officially ended,  a time ripe for change, when racism and corruption such as we see in the tale was rife. The tale contains violence, strong language, racial slurs, sex scenes and sexual violence.

Obsessed with Me is a tale about Tanin, a young Indian woman living in South Africa and Tarago Jackobus, a wealthy, white Africaan. It tells of what happens after Tanin turns Tarago down, after he invites her to share a drink with him. No one, but no one refuses Tarago! Thus begins a very unorthodox seduction, which introduces a series of harrowing events, where Tanin loses her job, has no  prospect of employment and her family is threatened with losing their home. She even finds herself in jail. There is however no knight in shining armour to save her, her boyfriend having deserted her. Instead to keep a roof over her family, pay her mum’s medical bills and support them financially, she is compelled to make a deal with the very Devil himself, Tarago.

Tanin finds herself living at Tarango’s mansion, where day after day Tarago and his inner circle of hangers on, women and men, subject her to racist taunts and Tarago uses her body to satisfy his lusts. Tarago is a real brute and a hateful figure, but such is the skill of the author that somehow, part way through the tale, the real Tarago is forced to reveal himself, faced with Tanin’s strong spirit, resilience and inner strength. I actually found myself beginning to empathize with him and like him. Not only that but he appears to genuinely care for Tanin, who begins to reciprocate his feelings.  There are some truly romantic, very sexy  and humorous scenes between the couple. Has beauty charmed the beast for real? It all seems too good to be true, especially when there are some amongst Tarago’s inner circle who are dead set against their union and will go to any lengths to destroy it. Will Tanin and Tarago’s love prevail or will it be destroyed by the whims of others?

I enjoyed the character of Tanin. She is immediately likeable young woman when we first meet her, studying hard for her future and working part time to support her family, paying for her mother’s medical bills and her siblings’ education. Due to the situation Tarago puts her in and the shocking events which follow, Tanin has to seriously toughen up and I shed more than a few tears over what she had to go through as the tale progresses and what she suffers is not all at Tarago’s hands. If any heroine deserves a HEA it is Tanin. 17927636[1]-001

Tarago started off as an out and out read b******, with no redeeming features. A giant of a man, he is not only a womaniser and a drunk but arrogant, racist and as sexist as they come. However, as the story progresses and I learned of his background and need for real affection I began to empathize with him. His brash exterior masks his true self, which is more sympathetic than is at first evident. Indeed, he too becomes very much a victim of events as the tale unfolds.

The cast of supporting characters is varied and they all have their role to play. They include Tanin’s boyfriend Ashwin and her best friend Rheema, who play pivotal roles. Tanin’s mother is a tour de force when Tanin needs her. Tanin even finds support amongst some of Tarago’s hangers on, who at first reviled her for her colour and/or being a rival for Tarago’s affections. However, there are certain characters – I will not reveal their names, who have only their own interests at heart. As usual the author does not shy away from including controversial issues in her storytelling and we are compelled to examine our own feelings towards them and the complex characters she creates.

Obsessed With Me is another must read for Eve Rabi fans and those who like to be entertained by a wild and totally thought provoking romance, told in her trademark indomitable style.

A copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Eve Rabi’s website http://everabi.wordpress.com/

Eve Rabi Facebook https://www.facebook.com/eve.rabi

Obsessed With Me Amazon UK

Obsessed With Me  Amazon US

The Vampire Viscount, by Karen Harbaugh

17183031[1]-001Vampire seeks willing Virgin

I came across this romance the other day, attracted by its title and the cover but especially the book blurb. I love to read both paranormal and Regency romances and I really like historical novels with an arranged marriage theme. The story centres on the Viscount St. Vire, a vampire who tries to invoke a magic spell to restore his humanity and prevent his slow but sure descent into madness due to his vampire state.

In The Vampire Viscount, reclusive Nicholas, St. Vire, has found that he needs to marry a virgin, who will come willingly to him and after a year he will be human again. Fate plays into his hands when he fleeces a drunk and impoverished Mr Edward Farleigh at cards and for payment accepts the hand of his virginal daughter, Leonore in lieu of this and other debts. Leonore at first resents being ‘sold’ in such a way, preferring to continue with her life as a governess. However, she acquiesces to the match in the hope that she can secure a better future for her mother and sister. She also believes that Nicholas is seriously ill and does not have long for this world, his wan complexion and need to avoid the sunlight bearing testimony to some sort of wasting disease and she feels pity for him. Leonore and Nicholas have a whirlwind courtship, where he seduces her with his wit and charm.

Once they are married Leonore willingly gives herself to him and falls hard for him as he is all that is attentive and kind and they appear to share a mutual attraction. She suspects nothing of his true nature, which is kept well hidden and Nicholas eagerly awaits a time when he may be human again. All is well until Leonore suspects that Nicholas has secrets that he is not willing to share with her and she begins to lose trust in him. This trust is severely put to the test when a mysterious woman, the widow Lady Lazio, appears. The unfolding tale contains elements of jealousy, deception and murder.

The storyline flowed smoothly and I enjoyed the central romance and the supporting characters. I liked both the hero and the heroine and enjoyed their witty repartee. There are some sweet lovemaking scenes, and St. Vire is a very cheeky viscount indeed as he pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable in Regency society during their courtship! Leonore does not trust easily due to her experiences with her drunk and abusive father. However, she is no shrinking violet and speaks her mind. Nicholas, although jaded by his vampire state, appears thoughtful and charming and has a great sense of humour. Although he is clearly using Leonore for his own ends, he does develop strong feelings for her. My only concern was that perhaps more could have been made of the dark side of his nature. However, this is perhaps not surprising as Nicholas is a vampire who values his humanity and tries to control his vampire urges. Also this book was first published in 1995 and as the author explains in a preamble to the book, the melding together of vampires in a regency romance was unheard of then! Overall I thought  this novel was a really enjoyable read and I liked the fact that it helped pioneer the paranormal sub genres that I love.

Although there is much romance in this book, there is less emphasis on the world of vampires. If you are looking for a Regency romance with strong paranormal elements, this probably is not the book for you. However, if you’d like to read a Regency romance with an innovative paranormal twist then this fits the bill perfectly.

Author Karen Harbaugh’s website

 

Dragon Rose (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms #2) by Christine Pope

Book cover of Dragon Rose

True Love versus Sorcerer’s Curse

As a re–interpretation of the fable Beauty and the Beast, this was a must read for me as it was one of my favourite fairytales as a child! I enjoyed Christine Pope’s, “Welcome to Skullcrusher Mountain” (see my review earlier this month) and Dragon Rose (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms #2) is a compelling read which has you rooting for a seemingly elusive HEA for the cursed Dragon and his Bride!

Dragon Rose is set in Lirinsholme, a town that forms part of “the Latter Kingdoms,” lands which have prospered since the end of the mage wars and the decline of magic. Rhianne, a potter’s daughter, is expected to marry well to secure the financial stability of her family and fund dowries for her younger sisters. In ages past, when sorcerers ruled, Theran Blackmoor’s form was cursed by a mage and he become known as the “Dragon of Black Keep.” The town of Lirinsholme, over which the Dragon presides, is bound to provide him with a Bride when he demands one to avoid the destruction of its property and its citizens. All know that marriage to the Dragon means certain death for the unfortunate Brides as none are ever heard of once they enter the Dragon’s keep.

Rhianne’s actions inadvertently cause a scandal, which threatens her family’s livelihood and reduces her chances of making a good match. The town also learns that the Dragon is demanding a Bride. Rhianne and all unmarried women between the ages of 16 and 20 are summoned to the selection, where Rhianne’s best friend Lilianth, who is affianced to her sweetheart, is selected, by virtue of her name being drawn. Rhianne volunteers in her stead, leaving Lilianth is free to marry her fiancé and ensuring that her own family is compensated generously for their loss.

Rhianne is immediately whisked away to the Dragon’s keep and married to Theran Blackmoor, the Dragon, who has the appearance of a tall, slender man, hidden beneath a cloak and a cowl. Although there is a wedding banquet of sorts, there is no wedding night and Rhianne is given sumptuous chambers, clothes and jewels to wear and is treated kindly by the servants. Theran even indulges her love of painting. Theran initially remains aloof from Rhianne, however, they slowly develop a friendship and Rhianne finds herself falling in love with him. Secrets abound in the castle and Rhianne embarks on a quest to get to the truth of the fate of the Brides and the curse. Rhianne is plagued by vivid dreams, the content of which she becomes obsessed with. She also hears strange voices and grows increasingly melancholic as she becomes terrified of what will be her eventual fate. All seems hopeless but the author manages to secure a HEA with an unexpected twist.

Rhianne is a wholly likeable heroine. Although self-sacrificing and modest, she is also unconventional and has a strong determination to find out the truth. Once she is convinced that the Dragon is not going to eat her, she becomes to regard the castle as home. Her attraction to Theran grows over time and she becomes drawn to him more and more as the tale unfolds, although she feels her love is unrequited as whilst she craves his touch he draws away. Theran remains a mysterious figure throughout the early part of the tale, although his kindness towards Rhianne is shown early on. We also witness him in his Dragon form on a number of occasions, which are terrifying to behold. We see that he grows to admire and care for Rhianne through his speech and  actions, but like Rhianne are left wondering at his reticence to invite further intimacies and to not reveal fully the details of the curse and what it means for his Brides.

The story is told from Rhianne’s POV, which enables us to experience her changing emotions, encompassing feelings of fear, pity, love and increasing desperation first hand as the story progresses. The descriptions the author gives of the castle and the town of Lirinsholme and the rest of the kingdom are vivid. Roses and the rose garden at the castle feature prominently, paying homage to the fairytale we know and love. I particularly liked the way the author’s descriptions of the castle and its environs were used to reflect Rhianne’s increasing melancholy towards the conclusion to the book.

I would recommend this novel to all those who enjoy a sweet romance, especially those who enjoy fantasy romances. I was intrigued by Christine Pope’s references to other parts of the world she has created and will be reading the prior novel, “All Fall Down (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms #1)” and the next instalment,  “Binding Spell,” the release of which is planned in late Spring this year, details of which are given on the author’s website. At the time of writing this post I noticed that the author also has details of some easy to enter book giveaways on her site, so it might be worth checking these out. if you think you may like her work

Copyright 2012 by Christine Pope www.christinepope.com

Published by Dark Valentine Press www.darkvalentinepress.com

Cover art by Nadica Boskovska www.theswanmaiden.deviantart.com

Cover design and ebook formatting by Indie Author Services  www.indieauthorservices.com

Reviewed by Tina Williams

 

 

Eden by Louise Wise

Eden

Engaging Sci-Fi Romance

Eden is a beautiful story. At its heart it is a science fiction romance, a retelling of beauty and the beast. However, it has a lot of depth, exploring the themes of survival and discovery, overcoming prejudice and redemption. It is also full of action and adventure. It defies being put into a specific genre or even sub genre and in my opinion it is books like Eden, which should be winning major literary awards.

In Eden, Jenny is a pilot on a space shuttle team sent from Earth to survey the planet Eden, the others being Commander Brodie and Matt, the Mission Specialist. Just as they are about to descend to the surface, the shuttle is damaged by asteroids. Nevertheless the crew descend onto the planet in their buggies. Once there, after a brief foray into the immediate environment to assess its flora and fauna, they discover a large crater containing the remains of an alien spaceship, which appears to have crashed some time ago. Excited, yet full of trepidation, as no evidence of extra terrestrial life forms has been found by humans, they approach the craft. Jenny impulsively enters and is apprehended by a large, dark, humanoid, alien who drags her back outside. Brodie and Matt, followed by Jenny, who escapes the alien, run towards their buggies intending to return to the shuttle. However, Jenny falls and is knocked unconscious.

Jenny finds herself stranded on the planet with the alien, whom she names Fly, as it sounds like a shorter version of his name in his own language (they are able to communicate with the aid of an alien translation device which has survived). What follows next is an extremely original story of survival in a hostile yet strangely beautiful environment. Fly is intrigued by Jenny and recognising that she is female views her as a potential companion to satisfy his sexual needs. Jenny is initially terrified of Fly, who although humanoid in appearance has expressionless black eyes and a battered face and is unemotional and at times violent. Fly is pretty upfront about what he wants from Jenny and for some time she lives in constant fear of rape which puts a severe strain on their relationship.

During this time Jenny manages some sporadic communication with Brodie and Matt, using the transmitter on the buggy. She ignores their advice to keep away from Fly as she recognises that she needs his help to survive and she initially plans to gain his trust and kill him. The shuttle is severely damaged and is losing fuel and they too are effectively trapped with nowhere to go. Jenny spends a number of nights taking refuge on the buggy. However, one night some of the native wolf- like creatures violently attack her whilst she is in the buggy. Matt and Brodie hear her screams and the creatures’ howls over the transmitter and believe that she has been killed, although she is eventually saved by Fly. The buggy is badly damaged and she loses contact with the shuttle. Matt and Brodie repair the shuttle as best they can and argue about whether to return to the surface to confirm what has happened. Meanwhile Fly, seeing that Jenny is afraid of him, seeks to try to gain her trust and encourage her compliance. Through sharing his food and shelter with her and eventually teaching her valuable survival skills they slowly get to know each other, discussing their respective cultures and form a growing mutual attraction, friendship and eventually fall in love. They begin to build a life together on Eden.

I do not want to give away any more of the plot, but suffice to say that the love between Jenny and Fly is severely tested in the remainder of the book as the both face prejudice and danger and revelations about Fly’s past.

The two main characters held my interest from the start. Jenny, the human, is a strong, feisty individual at the start of the book, but is severely challenged by the situation she finds herself in. She is ashamed of her initial dependence on Fly for her survival and is repulsed by the very idea of physical contact, let alone sexual relations with him. Fly has been damaged physically by the crash but he is also harsh and unemotional, making it clear to Jenny that is only because she is female that he has not killed her. For a long time she fears that he will rape her to get what he wants and there is one harrowing scene where it appears that her fears are being realised, before Fly redeems himself and begins to open up emotionally.  I loved the way the relationship between them progressed and the turning point in the book where Jenny sees Fly as just another person and they succumbs to their mutual attraction is beautiful. I liked how their love for each other enabled them to grow and learn from each other.

There is a lot of sexual tension in the book between them, but the sex scenes themselves are not graphic, just a natural expression of their feelings at the time. The descriptions of the flora and fauna on Eden are also believable and the planet, which starts off as cold and uninviting, begins to thaw and reveal its beauty mirroring the relationship between Fly and Jenny.

The secondary characters, Brodie and Matt appear weak in comparison with Fly and Matt’s personality in particular is not attractive. He is jealous of Jenny’s professional achievements and like Brodie opposes her relationship with Fly. Brodie is very defensive of Jenny and her safety for reasons that become clear in the book. They too have to grow as individuals and overcome the prejudice they exhibit.

I read a lot of science fiction romance and I can say that this story stands head and shoulders above the others in its freshness, depth and intensity and character development. I would recommend this book to lovers of straightforward romance, science fiction romance and straight science fiction adventure novel enthusiasts. I read the book in one sitting so eager was I to find out what happens. The story can stand alone but Louise Wise’s website states that a follow up novel, dealing with the further adventures of Jenny and Fly, will be released in 2013. I will be purchasing this novel as soon as it is released.

Reviewed by Tina Williams