Blog Tours, Dark, Reviews, Romance

Tour & Review: Darkest Before Dawn – Stevie J. Cole

darkest-before-dawnDarkest Before Dawn by Stevie J. Cole
Series: standalone
Genre: dark

Sixty-four days in captivity. Sixty-four days to lose yourself—or find yourself.

I’m Ava Donovan. I was abducted at the age of nineteen. I’m told I’m a survivor, but the truth is, I only survived because he saved me. Even when he kept me locked in that room—he saved me.
Constantly wondering when and how you will die, that does something to you. To your mind. But what do you do when it does something to your heart? What do you do when the man holding you captive seems just as broken as you are, when his mere presence becomes a comfort you crave—when you love him even though you shouldn’t?

You smile and tell yourself it’s okay because love has no morals.
Sixty-four days in captivity gave me a love most people will never have and my freedom took it all away.

Purchase it

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU


Heat: ★
Rating: ★★★

This may be the first book I’ve read by Cole, but I definitely won’t be the last. I really did enjoy immersing myself in this one, though I have to admit I was slightly disappointed in the dark factor, expecting something a lot grittier and more brutal. Maybe I’ve just read too many dark books recently and I’m now broken inside. I was also hoping for a little more on the erotica side, too, but these sex scenes didn’t quite do it for me.

Abuse cracks the mirror of self-perception, causing flaws in the way you view yourself and the way you accept how others view you.

Aside from these slight disappointments, I thought Cole weaved a highly intriguing story with a clear message about loving the darkness inside others, or indeed loving them because of their darkness. This shone through and gave the story a much deeper focus than I’m used to reading in the dark genre.

I feel much like Lucifer luring an angel from the realms of heaven; however, the devil wouldn’t feel guilt pressing down on him like I do.

Cole’s writing style is excellent, wonderfully fluent and clear, and towards the end I absolutely became attached emotionally to the characters, and was rooting for the resolving of their issues despite the questions of morality attached to it. It was the ending which really sold me on this book; yes, I was disappointed in the lack of dark, gritty, sexy scenes, but there was an element of originality in the conclusion which I very much enjoyed, especially with the question of whether love is valid if it’s the result of manipulation.

Two broken people together – that will either end in something so unreal and raw that all those fractured pieces of the two of us will fuse together or we will only break each other further until nothing is left.

This is a story of two people entangled by fate, loving one another because of their mutual scars and darkness. It may not have the gritty brutality I was hoping for, or even that much erotica, but it is still a story well worth reading.

Dark, Erotica, Reviews, Romance, Suspense

REVIEW: Seduced in the Dark – C.J. Roberts

Seduced in the DarkSeduced in the Dark – C.J. Roberts
Series: The Dark Duet #2
Genre: dark erotica, romance, suspense
Themes: kidnapping, slavery
Archetype: anti-hero
Add it to your TBR

The exciting, titillating, and action-filled conclusion to Captive in the Dark.

What is the price of redemption?

Rescued from sexual slavery by a mysterious Pakistani officer, Caleb carries the weight of a debt that must be paid in blood.

The road has been long and fraught with uncertainty, but for Caleb and Livvie, it’s all coming to an end.

Can he surrender the woman he loves for the sake of vengeance?

Or will he make the ultimate sacrifice?

Purchase it

Amazon US | Amazon UK


Heat: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Rating: ★★★★★

Every breath I take should come from his lungs.

The first thing I noticed when I started this book was that I had no clue what was going on. I read the prequel, Captive in the Dark, a while ago, so was worried I’d just forgotten what had happened – having skimmed the final chapter to work out where I was, I realised that it was totally fine and supposed to be like that. Phew.

So, structurally, this is one of the most interesting and well-crafted novels within the romance/erotica genre I’ve had the chance to come across. It begins, not where the prequel left off, but a little down the timelines, and the events within that timeframe are recounted by Livvie. Two new complex characters – Reed and Sloan – are also introduced, and we have a few POV chapters from Reed to add to the mix. There was a danger here that this would detract from the story I actually wanted to read, but in actual fact, it worked well. Reed’s chapters and the bracketed chapters in the present day were slight respites from the abject darkness of Livvie and Caleb’s story. And yes, Roberts does not shy away from the dark.

The main effect of this narrative/structural element was to provide a sense of inevitability. Similar to a Shakespearean tragedy, the plot is hurtling towards what feels likeimpending doom and heartbreak. It creates a momentum that is all-engrossing, and try as we might to remove ourselves from it, we are also slaves to its will. The echoes of Livvie’s situation here are startling. I know I’ve basically written an essay about narrative and structure, but when an author in the romance/erotica genre crafts something this clever and effective, it needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

“That’s why you think you love me! Because I’ve broken you down and built you back up to believe it.”

Above all, this is a story about conflict. There is no better example of this than Caleb’s characterisation. He will forever remain one of the most intriguing romantic heroes to me, though not necessarily what I would consider a “book-boyfriend”. He has periods of softness, alongside periods of disgusting and appalling behaviour – and interestingly, the crueler he is (particularly during the final half of the novel), the more I become obsessed by him. And he does some damn cruel things here; I could physically feel the pain in my heart and stomach from some of the ways he hurt Livvie, despite understanding his motives. He is flawed, complex, cruel.

Yet another example of the theme of conflict can be found within the sexual scenes. There are some which are disgusting and appalling, and some which are disgusting and erotic. Roberts manages to create that conflict in the reader, who, if they are anything like myself, may well find themselves enjoying some of the sexual acts and humiliations found within these pages, whilst feeling a little unsettled about the fact that they enjoy it. Again, this echoes Livvie’s own experiences and conflicts about her situation, something allowing us further into her own mind and emotions.

“I don’t want revenge, Caleb. I don’t want to end up like you, letting some fucking vendetta run my life. I just want my freedom.”

Overall, a fittingly dark, gritty end to a wonderfully dark, gritty duet. Now on to the epilogue.

Dark, Erotica, Excerpts, Release Boost, Reviews, Romance, Suspense

BOOST & REVIEW: The Found – Cole McCade

The Found Ebook CoverThe Found by Cole McCade
Series: Crow City #2 (can standalone)

Genre: dark erotica, suspense
Themes: kidnapped, BDSM
Archetype: anti-hero
Add it to your TBR

Witness to a murder. Kidnapped by a monster. Life hanging on a whim. Willow Armitage’s world was already falling apart; between getting fired and caring for her chronically ill father, she’s had little room for anything but survival. But that survival hangs in the balance the night she stumbles into a back alley – and watches a stranger die at the hands of the most beautiful man she’s ever seen.

Lethal. Powerful. Unstable. Terrifying. The contract killer known only as Priest is a dangerous unknown, and when Willow wakes tied to a chair in his hideout, the only thing she sees in his fox-gold eyes is death. Yet for Priest, Willow is a dilemma: an innocent, a saint among the sinners he cuts down in the streets of Crow City. His code of honor forbids shedding innocent blood. Releasing her will send her straight to the police. The only answer is a warped game, and his promise: that he will find the darkness inside her, expose it, and prove that deep down, everyone is just as monstrous as he…and just as worthy of death.

 Yet he unearths not a monster, but a smoldering and secret desire – one that has always terrified Willow, and may be her undoing. His touch sets her alight. His strength burns through her like flame. And his control melts her each time he binds her virgin body, possesses her, teaches her the strength in weakness and the passion in submission. But that passion may be her damnation, and in the end Willow must choose: Priest’s love, or her own life.

 When his every kiss is pure sin…can she resist damnation long enough for Priest to find his way to redemption?

This story contains content centered around non-consent, bodily autonomy, sexual assault, bodily functions, and violence. Please focus on self-care above all, and don’t be afraid to put the book down if you need to in order to protect yourself. You come first, always.




His fingers grazed the curve of her waist. With a gasp, she snapped her eyes open. He met her gaze, fox-gold turned hot as melting amber, fierce and animal and stripping her more bare than that exposed, naked flesh. She felt like a butterfly pinned to a board, held by his gaze, her limbs going slack and her struggles stopping against her will. She hardly felt it, when he hooked a fingertip under the bunched edge of her tank top—then ripped with such effortless strength, the threads of the side seam snapping apart one after the other, until there was nothing left of her tank top but rags of cloth. No, she hardly felt that…but she felt it when he teased those rags from underneath the ropes, as every scrap of cloth stroked and washed against her skin until she was nothing but a trembling tangle of sensitivity and frozen breaths building tighter and tighter in her chest.

And she felt it when that taunting, teasing fingertip hooked in her panties, slipping into the opening just above her thigh, and she realized just what he intended to do.

Don’t touch me.”

Suddenly she could move again—and she writhed against the ropes, fighting to squirm away. But she had barely an inch of slack, nowhere to go but against the ropes, hanging in midair and so fucking helpless she would scream with sheer rage if she didn’t want to cry with sheer hopelessness. Was he enjoying this? Enjoying watching her struggle? Enjoying how her skin tightened and pulled and her nipples swelled and her breaths came shallow with every touch, her fucking disobedient body whispering dirty thing, dirty thing, give me more of that dirty thing while her mind and heart screamed no, no, not like that, never like that?

Was he enjoying having her at his mercy, unable to escape his every touch?

His fingers dug into the fabric of her panties. Clenched it against his fist. Pulled. Cloth creased, bit, burrowed into her dirty, dirty thing, her wet dirty thing, her pulsing dirty thing, and she was a fucking dirty thing when she arched off the seat and cried out and whimpered and mewled, as he dragged the cloth against her and all she felt was sweet-rough friction and that slickness, sickness, wet and running like a licking tongue.

“D-don’t,” she cried again, and yet he only pulled harder, the panties so much worse than the rope when every fold and crease molded to her flesh like liquid fire and left nothing untouched. “Don’t!

He paused, held that steady pressure, keeping her on the end of a taut-stretched wire. “Are you a virgin, firefly?” he growled.

She spat in his face.

Panting, body heaving, she drew back and spat in his face, and watched with a sort of foggy, dazed satisfaction as it landed in a wet streak on his cheek, dripping down his bronzed skin like a tear. He remained unmoved, watching her steadily, waiting, holding her dangling from the one hand as if he hardly felt her weight and those damnable fingers pulling her panties against her flesh.

“My body is not your business,” she hissed.

“Right now, your body is my property.” He slid a fingertip down into the crease between her hip and thigh, the place where the seam of her panties normally cut in whenever she sat, moved, shifted; there was something too personal about that touch, so close and yet so far, a threat that made her shrink back even as that feeling inside her nearly exploded, that hollow feeling that seemed like a rapacious beast, a dragon with an open maw and empty gullet that was hungry, so hungry to be full. “I want an answer.”

He bunched her panties into his hand again, curling the fabric in stretched wrinkles against his palm—and this time when he pulled he gave no quarter, a single sharp rip and a sound of cloth tearing like tape pulling off the spool, high and shrill. There was a moment’s painful bite, a muted cry welling in her throat, and then the pressure eased as the tatters of her panties fell, forgotten, to the floor.

Still he watched her. And she, naked with nowhere to hide, curled into herself; she felt her nudity like a presence, like a thing touching her and twisting over her flesh to force her to feel every moment of her exposure, every moment of her vulnerability and helplessness. Priest said nothing. He didn’t need to. He never needed to. When he wanted an answer, he got one, and would wait her out as he had before, implacable and unmoving and relentless. She had always imagined men like him to be all force, all bluster, all violence and snarling and threats.

She was quickly learning that silence—silence and careful, metered application of just enough strength to drive his point home—was just as effective as force.

And just as frightening.

Dangling from his grip like a puppy, she hung her head. Anything not to meet those piercing eyes; anything not to feel the shame of giving in to the quiet demand in his gaze; anything to make this end, so he would stop tormenting her and leave her alone.

“…yes,” she mumbled. Still he didn’t speak, or put her down. Defeat sparked into frustration, and she glared at him from under the fall of her hair. “Yes, all right? Are you happy? Is that what you fucking wanted to know?”

“Yes,” he said simply, and lowered her to the floor.


Heat: ★★★★★
Rating: ★★★★★

He lay on his side, sprawled with the indolent languor of a wild thing utterly aware of its own power.

This is something special. Never before have a read any romance – dark or otherwise – which is simultaneously an introspective character study, delving so deep into the mind and unique voice of Willow Armitage that I could completely understand her choices and actions throughout the novel. Understanding does not necessarily mean approving of; rather, throughout this tale I felt like the firefly in the cage, able only to mesmerisingly watch these events unfold and unravel towards their climax, at times feeling disgusted and horrified, at others being seduced and needing.

Dealing with dark subject matter, issues regarding consent, morality and shame, it is easy to be told what to think by an author; McCade instead shows rather than tells, allowing the reading experience to be a totally unique journey for each person, as reading should be. We can form our own conclusions and opinions on Willow and Priest, their relationship and their pasts – something that provides any novel with value.

“You seem, to me, rather than one long road…instead like many short paths that wander a few steps in one direction, before changing again. There is no story; only the beginnings of many, tales unfinished and untold.”

This is a story that is passionate, and will invoke a passionate response from readers – whether hate, disgust or intrigue. It has been a long time since I’ve felt the urge to sit up all night absorbed within someone else’s brain – and rather than a book to consume, for me this was one to savour. I did not want it to end, but I needed to continue reading.

It’s books like these that make me reconsider my entire rating system. If this is a five star read, there are maybe only one or two others I’ve found thus far in my lifetime that can match it.

And honestly? These characters, this intrigue and obsession…it’s something that will stay with me forever.