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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.

    Cute!

    Rating:
    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.

    Rating:
    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.

    Rating:
    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: Sinner’s Ransom by M.D. Gregory

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    Criminal Delights: Taken: Sinner’s Ransom – M.D. Gregory

    Montgomery Booker has it all—good looks, an inheritance, and an endless list of hookups. He uses his social elite influence to bully, manipulate, and blackmail, and he’s not ashamed of it. Quite the contrary, he enjoys it. But when he’s kidnapped, forced into ropes and gagged, he discovers the consequences of his actions when no one cares enough to send help. 

    Stone and his crew have one job: kidnap a spoiled, pretty boy and hit up his rich daddy for cash. When dear old dad refuses to pay the ransom, Stone switches to plan B. The torture he delivers doesn’t have the effect he expects on Montgomery though, and Stone savors every cry that leaves his pretty mouth. 

    If someone finally comes for Montgomery, will he be able to walk away from the man who made him feel this kind of delicious pain? And will Stone let him? 

    Themes: Kidnapping, stockholm syndrome, breathplay, pain play. 
    Genre: Very dark gay romance, psychological fiction.
     

    This story is part of the CRIMINAL DELIGHTS series. Each book is a standalone story with the theme of dark, gay romance.

    I expected this to be action-packed. I expected some BDSM or maybe blood. What I didn’t expect was this to be funny.

    LOLing at Monty who could not shut his mouth even if his life literally depended on it. And he was asking for it, again literally, asking to be punched and choked and hurt and would happily suck anybody for a hot shower. Also him and Conall, Sloane’s boy, bonding and comparing notes on who’s more fucked up, the guy who wears a collar and acts like a pet or the guy who likes fucking his kidnapper. Guess who won.

    I’m not even going to bother with the insta-attraction and the lack of build up because we’re talking about a spoiled rich brat who acts on impulse though Stone I would have expected to be tougher and more menacing. The guy was just too nice and lenient even if he says he’s not. His threats felt like they lack teeth and the “training” was too easy. Monty was hardly treated as a prisoner. He was locked in a stifling room. He was occasionally tied up but he was still more or less the bratty demanding brat who needed to be taught to behave. Heck, he even got his hair shampooed by Stone.

    “Better?”

    “Yeah.” Montgomery frowned at Stone. “Why are you being nice?”

    “Aren’t I always nice?” Stone’s lips twisted into an amuse grin.

    “No.” Montgomery grinned and laid his arms along the edge of the bath. He leaned closer until their lips were inches apart. “But I like it when you’re not nice too”

    SInner’s Ransom was more of a kidnapping how-to than action suspense. A major part of the story is about Stone’s gang creating a ransom demand video for Monty’s father, a man who couldn’t care less about his son. The gang worked with Sloan Killough, a New York mob boss, and together they tried to make Monty a believable kidnap victim.

    “The first scene will be Montgomery, struggling, crying. Everything a kidnapped man does, everything that your boy is currently not doing. He’s very comfortable for somebody who’s been kidnapped.”

    He’s so comfortable he’s making suggestions! And making sure the gang gets the money!

    Sloane and Conall nearly stole the show and Ardan, the assassin who appears on another Criminal Delights installment, I’m super excited to read his book.

    I enjoyed this grey romance story. I liked the humor and met interesting characters. There are some elements that might not be that convincing but I still find the Stockholm Syndrome aspect believable even if it happened in a span of only a few days. And though Richard Booker would rather keep his money than save his son, Stone and his crew made sure the asshole got what he deserved. Monty got all the punishment he wanted and he finally learned how to say “please“.

    P.S.

    Other Criminal Delights books here

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Bellevue Bridge Club
    Artist: Andrew Bird
    Album: My Finest Work Yet

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    REVIEW: Sweating Lies by Emma Jaye

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    Criminal Delights: Taken: Sweating Lies

    “Gladiator or toy?” Kaspar asks, as if it’s the easiest choice in the world.

    It might be an easy answer for someone branded, brainwashed, and who remembers no other life. But that’s not me, not yet anyway. I’m a cop—or at least I was until my cover got blown. 

    Now, I’m one of the trafficked people I vowed to save.

    Kaspar’s a toy —a pleasure slave— content to warm our sadistic owner’s bed; he laps up the abuse he’s conditioned to associate with affection.

    He’s my only way out. To gain our freedom, I must play the hardest undercover role of my career and be everything his fractured mind needs: a more controlling bastard than the man who turns people into grateful slaves for a living.

    Officer Jiao Sweatt thinks I’m a victim. 
    He has a lot to learn. 
    And it’ll hurt.

    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.

    Hmm…I don’t know why this has such a high rating because quite frankly, I was bored.

    But if dark is what you want, this is as dark as it can get. Human trafficking, brainwashing, slavery, cattle prods up the ass and that damn parrilla made me shudder. It was sickening so if you want your limits pushed, this is it.

    However, the book lost me when it dumped a boatload of information on the workings of the orta, a secret criminal organization specializing in bespoke slaves. I needed the backgrounder but it was just too much info for one scene and the way it was delivered by Kaspar, I think it was unnatural that he would suddenly give a lecture on the orta’s business model just because a captive asked him.

    I couldn’t care less about Jiao and Kaspar. I didn’t feel the chemistry. I liked the story better when Jiao was still undercover with Maksim’s gang and I was definitely more interested in Maksim and James. But after Jiao was tasered and handed over to the orta, it became boring despite all the disturbing implications. The pace was slow going. It took a while to get to anything interesting and I have no motivation to stick around and wait for things to perk up.

    So Sweating Lies wasn’t working out like I wanted it to but definitely YMMV because many people liked it.

    P.S.

    review of other Criminal Delights books here

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

    Soundtrack: Happiness In Slavery
    Artist: Nine Inch Nails
    Album: Broken

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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.

    POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
    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.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: The Woods
    Artist: Hollow Cove
    Album: Wanderlust

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