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    SERIES REVIEW: Criminal Delights Books 6, 11 & 14

    On to my quest to partake everything the Criminal Delights series has to offer.

    This is is a review of three books from the series, By Way of Pain by J.M. Dabney, Beloved Possession by Leona Windwalker and To Have and To Hold by Abigail Kade.

    All three books have a BDSM theme wherein a captive was taken against his will, subjected to training, develops feeling for captor, gets taken again by worse elements and rescued by original captor turned love interest. With several variations on the Stockholm Syndrome, some pulled it off spectacularly, others a paler version of themselves.

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    Criminal Delights: Assassins: By Way of Pain – J.M. Dabney

    Double lives were just the way it was for a man like me. By day I was a man with a reputation above reproach. Even assassins needed backup plans. For fifteen years, life was going without a hitch until I had to take out a witness. When it was time to kill him, beautiful eyes filled with fear urged me to do something else. Yet, in order to do that, I had to break him, and by way of pain, my captive would experience pleasure he’d never dreamed.

    This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.
    Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

    I read somewhere that assassins are really just serial killers for hire. That is basically Cowen.

    By day, he’s a successful defense attorney. At night, he takes jobs. And he doesn’t do it purely for the money. He’s a misanthrope who likes making people suffer. He has been killing people since he was a child. He said it himself that he doesn’t feel things the way normal people do. He doesn’t enjoy sex or even feel aroused . I was getting my hopes up that finally, we are going to get an asexual dom, but no. They had to have sex because that’s the way this series rolls.

    Cowen’s personal assistant is Harrison. Harrison has a bad crush on his enigmatic boss. He’s too shy to do anything about it.

    On day, while in the parking lot, Harrison witness a guy being attacked and then the attacker turned on him. The next thing he knew, he was held captive by a man wearing a mask. And forced to do humiliating and painful things.

    This book stands out for having MCs with diverse body types. Harrison is a plus size bear while Cowen was described as gaunt. Interestingly, it was Harrison who submits to Cowen’s dominance. Cowen could really be dominating. So dominating that you’d forget he’s really a skinny guy who had to wear lifts in his shoes to appear taller.

    By Way of Pain is high on the darkness spectrum. It was kept from becoming pitch black by the tender connection that blossomed between Cowen and Harrison. Harrison is oh so slowly, making Cowen feel things. And given the kind of person Cowen is, “I have no desire to kill you” is probably the only way he will say I love you.


    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Pain and Pleasure
    Artist: Divinyls
    Album: What A Life!

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    Criminal Delights: Organized Crime: Beloved Possession – Leona Windwalker

    Ishmael Lux.
    A name synonymous with wealth. The elite come to him- to stay in his hotels and to play in his club, both for business and for pleasure. He has a secret, though. It’s rather an open one, though believed by most to be rumour and speculation.

    Kristoffer Jones.
    A new hire of Triborr Property Management International, one of Lux’s many legitimate fronts. He was thrilled to be in London, straight on the heels of being informed he was being moved onto the management track. Some rumours are best left unconfirmed, as he discovers when he finds himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

    Ishmael saw it as an opportunity..
    As with all opportunities that will pay off handsomely, he takes it. Then, he locks Kris away. Kristoffer is his and he is never going to let him go.

    The kicker?
    Kris is rapidly becoming unsure if he wants to be free.

    *This book is written in UK English.

    Beloved Possession had, unfortunately, the most unconvincing transition from possession to beloved.

    It’s compounded by the fact the the lead characters were forgettable. I appreciated that Ishmael has successfully built a billion-dollar company and has a close circle of men that was very, very loyal to him. But he lacked the charm of other doms.

    Kris was so bland, I don’t see why Ishmael was so enamored with him other than he’s pretty and malleable. The only interesting point about Kris is that he’s half-Filipino. This is rare in MM especially as a lead character.

    I forced myself to slog through this story in the hopes that it would get better. I ended up skimming.

    I say pass on this.

    2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book

    Soundtrack: My Possession
    Artist: Ministry
    Album: Twitch

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    Criminal Delights: Taken: To Have and To Hold – Abigail Kade

    My name is Worthington Winters, and I have a confession before I die. I know he’s a killer. I know one day he’ll even kill me, but I don’t care. Because I feel more free with my captor than I ever did with my husband.

    My husband courted me, seduced me, ensnared me, then subjugated me in my own home. He pushed and I would bend. Until, one day he pushed too far, and I pushed back. I escaped and thought I was free, but I was so wrong.

    Now, my Captor has me in his grasp. He’s supposed to squeeze me until I give him the information I took from my husband. I’ll never do it, so I know I’m destined to die. But, he’s beginning to see beyond my scars, my shriveled heart, and he’s forcing me to look, too.

    As he makes me look into the darkest depths of my soul, I finally find my truth, who I truly am and want to be. As strange as it may be, through the sweetest pain and most exquisite torture he inflicts, I’ll finally feel free.

    The truth may give me a new life I never existed. If I can survive.

    This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.
    Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

    To Have and To Hold is a terrific combination of dark and cute.

    Worthy suffered abuse from his evil husband who frequently humiliated his desires as a masochist while hurting him without his consent. The husband also stole his money and his family’s company. Worthy was able to get his properties back and he ran away. The bastard then set an assassin on his tracks.

    Crow is an ethical assassin. By that, he only kills the guilty. He caught Worthy and had every intent to make him suffer. Until he learned the truth.

    That’s when things turn sweet and fluffy with the way Crow was taking care of Worthy. It’s pretty fucked up that a person who has been abuse likes pain and Worthy’s evil husband used that against him. Crow showed Worthy the way to pleasure and pain without the humiliation.

    I love Worthy! He crawled his way out of a hellish marriage and decided to wear things that only makes him happy. He has the best fashion sense. I would gladly wear one of his kawaii statement shirts with adorable animal prints.

    Crow was a teddy bear. The fierce, morally grey part of him had no qualms about killing or torture. But he was also willing to break a contract if the target was proven innocent. Even feeding and clothing said target when the man looked liked he needed some TLC. He dropped everything and rescued his boy when Worthy was taken the second time. Also bought him more kawaii clothes.

    Crow belongs to a group of ethical assassins, what I liked to call the Bird Boys because they use birds as code names. I’m not sure if there are other books about these boys but I would love to read all about them. Especially Os a.k.a. Osprey a.k.a Obediah who had some very questionable exes.

    This is my favorite out of the three.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Submission
    Artist: The Irrepressibles
    Album: Superheroes

    Two wins out of three is not so bad. I still have a few ways to go before I finished the entire series. Even with the mixed reviews, I think this series is worth the time.

    Wondering which Criminal Delights books to read and which ones to pass up? Check out the reviews here.

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    REVIEW: The Unseelie Prince by Kaitlyn Abdou

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    The Hawthorne Throne: The Unseelie Prince – Kaitlyn Abdou

    The Folk have never shied away from taking what they want. Legends speak of Faeries stealing people from their beds, swapping infants with changelings, and impregnating women they find beautiful. You should never trust them, though they cannot lie. Eat their food, and you may never see home again. 

    Noah Reid has spent his life seeking normalcy after a turbulent childhood with a superstitious mother who refused to answer questions about the father he never knew, and instead, attempted to impress upon him a real fear of Faeries. 

    Despite his mother’s best efforts, Noah finds himself ripped from the life he knows and thrust into a palace of nightmares. Here, he must face the persistent attention of the Regent and discover the shocking truth his mother took to her grave. 

    Fàilte air ais, a Naoise. Welcome home…

    Content Warning: This novella contains dark subject matter.

    I think I’ve gone about this the wrong way. I came in blind, was enchanted by the Liam Taylor’s narration and kept expecting a fairy tale where the human snapped out of the spell and/or was saved at the nick of time. But nooo, Noah or Naoise continued to be mesmerized by the Regent, seduced by sex and just walked blindly into the trap until it was too late. So no happy endings here. There is also a taboo aspect, incest, which some might find disturbing.

    Majority of the novella is Noah having his brain addled and there is actually very little happening outside of the seductions. What very little that happened provided some conflict to the story, where the council questions and reacts to the Regent’s actions. A cursory glance would find the whole thing lacking in substance. However, the underlying story is actually quite compelling.

    The heir to the Hawthorn Throne of the daoine sìth was found and ready to be crowned but the Regent is determined to stay in power. The heir, Noah, is half human so he is susceptible to glamour. The Regent, Fearghas, used this to his advantage and kept Noah under his control.

    I liked that we also get the Regent’s POV so literally everybody, except poor Noah, knew. That the boy was so innocent had me wondering how he even survived the human world. Like in most fairy tales, food and wine should not be touched and Noah was constantly supplied with both so he stood no chance of resisting. Still, part of his brain sent warning signals. At one point, he even acknowledged he had Stockholm Syndrome but shrugged it off. He was presented to the council where they talked about him in Gaelic and he knew the language but he just stood there and did nothing. And then, there was that moment when the connection between his father and Fearghas hit him but still, nothing. It was hard to feel sorry for him, he was so passive.

    This is tagged as romance, definitely of the gothic variety. I will try not to wonder how the romance will work because there are darker stories out there that pulled it off convincingly. I’m not gung-ho about Noah and Fearghas just yet, the power dynamics is so skewed. The Regent was villainous through and through. I will read the sequels because I wanted badly for the balance of power to switch or at least even out. Or for Noah to stop being a helpless ragdoll. The story is very effective that way, it makes you want to find out more.

    The Unseelie Prince might not have ended happily, but it ended with a bombshell. Delivered in Fearghas’ chilling whisper, never had the words “welcome home” sounded so sinister. What will you do now, Prince Naoise? Are you going to do anything at all?

    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: Mesmerism
    Artist: Dead Can Dance
    Album: Spleen And Ideal

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    REVIEW: Wrong Way Home by K.A. Merikan

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    Crimnal Delights: Taken: Wrong Way Home – K.A. Merikan

    — One wrong turn. One right man. —

    Colin. Rule-follower. Future doctor. Witness to murder. Captive.
    Taron. Survivalist. Mute. Murderer. Captor.

    Like every other weekend, Colin is on his way home from university, but he’s taunted by the notion that he never takes risks in life and always follows the beaten path. On impulse, he decides to take a different route. Just this one time. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s the last time he has a choice.

    He ends up taking a detour into the darkest pit of horror, abducted by a silent, imposing man with a blood-stained axe. But what seems like his worst nightmare might just prove to be a path to the kind of freedom Colin never knew existed. 

    Taron has lived alone for years. His land, his rules. He’d given up on company long ago. After all, attachment is a liability. He deals with his problems on his own, but the night he needs to dispose of an enemy, he ends up with a witness to his crime.

    The last thing Taron needs is a nuisance of a captive. Colin doesn’t deserve death for setting foot on Taron’s land, but keeping him isn’t optimal either. It’s only when he finds out the city boy is gay that an altogether different option arises. One that isn’t right, yet tempts him every time Colin’s pretty eyes glare at him from the cage.

    Themes: prepping, alternative lifestyles, disability, crime, loneliness, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, fish out of water, opposites attract, abduction, Stockholm syndrome, family issues
    Genre: Dark, thriller M/M romance 
    Erotic content: Scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes
    Length: ~ 70,000 words (Standalone)

    This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and will contain a dark M/M romance. 

    Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.
    This story contains scenes of explicit violence, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters.

    So the book comes with all these dire warning and promised to be dark but what we really get are bunnies, kittens and animal lovers who stand by their pets come hell or high water. Sure, somebody got an axe to the face and a few more were murdered, but they all deserved it. Like that guy who planned to burn an entire house full of cats. As Lucifer Morningstar would say, there’s a special place in hell for you, buddy.

    The real star of the show were Missi and her kittens, who turned things around, kicked the story up a notch and made me warm up to the humans.

    As for the humans, well, Colin was a bit none too bright for my liking. Like those horror movie characters, he made a wrong turn and was caught in the wrong place, at the wrong time. He was held inside a cage and his plan was to fuck his way out of captivity. Good luck with that. To his credit, Colin never gives up without a fight. He could be a brat but he really did care about the cats.

    Lucky for Colin, his captor, Taron, was an attractive hulk of man who lives in the middle of the woods so putting his plan into action was no hardship. Taron is a prepper who had some enemies out to get his property. He is very territorial, self-sufficient and makes a mean rabbit bacon. He has a soft spot for strays and doesn’t want to go to jail, so quite understandably he couldn’t let go of Colin, who, aside from being a witness to murder, has appealing chestnut eyes, is conveniently gay and most precious of all, knows ASL. The book felt entirely like him. Gruff, intimidating, hard-edged, intense, wild and rough but also with a surprisingly caring side that could give you a case of warm fuzzies.

    I wasn’t entirely convinced with Colin’s reasoning during his captivity but maybe that was the point. They weren’t supposed to be 100% rational for the rest of humanity (and who cares really). But Stockholm Syndrome or not, the attraction between Colin and Taron was real and the part where their relationship gradually transformed from captor to partner was believable and executed really well.

    Overall, Wrong Way Home falls between like and love. It is written in the usual K.A. Merikan style where huge chunks of the story were devoted to sex scenes and skipping those parts makes things go faster without losing the thread. It took a while for me to feel entirely invested in the story but in the end, it won me over and now, I am entirely convinced Colin and Taron would make it work. Also, the cats were safe which is what really mattered.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: The Woods
    Artist: Hollow Cove
    Album: Wanderlust