Updated: Mar 12, 2022
What the heck did I just read, and where can I find more like this one? Everyone who is into thrillers needs to run out and eat this story up pronto! With heart pounding action from start to finish, HD Carlton delivers mystery, suspense, thrills, and romance in this start to what is sure to be an amazing duet.
We first met Zade in HD's novella Satan's Affair. (If you haven't read that book yet, here is my gratuitous plug to getcha some.) His mysterious persona combined with his vigilante actions in the novella whet my appetite for more of him. I was so excited to find him the antihero for this duet. Zade has made it his life's mission to help save children and women from human trafficking rings. But along with that, he is also committed to doling out his own brand of justice by personally partaking in the punishment of those involved in the trafficking. By Zade's own admission, he stumbled upon his calling just by being sickened by what was happening to these children and women and felt he could put his skills to use to help. What an amazing guy, right?
When Zade catches his first glimpse of Adeline, it is OBSESSED and POSSESSED at first sight for our ridiculously over the top antihero. His stalking knows no bounds with Addie, and I'm here for it. Zade makes stalking look sexy, something I honestly don't think I would have ever said before now. Addie herself is an interesting lead, a socially awkward writer who finds a mystery within the mystery when she starts delving into a family drama that left her great grandmother's murder a 70+ year old cold case. Addie is equal parts intrigued and disturbed by Zade's obsession with her, and her character development encompasses her conflict: is she truly creeped out by Zade, or does she just feel she should be?
This book is fairly lengthy and honestly delves into some pretty dark subject matter. We have graphic descriptions of murders, non-con/dub-con encounters between our leads, discussions of human trafficking focused heavily on child victims, and good old fashioned stalking. Look for a cameo from a cute little psycho dolly, too! The development of Zade and Addie's romantic relationship is actually fairly slow, all things considered. But I think the timing really works better to showcase their overall growth into a couple and help put focus onto the other parts of the storyline. Sometimes, it's good for a story to be all about the smexy times, but heavier subjects deserve to have more substance than the number of positions and o-faces we read about, you know? In my opinion, HD's overall writing style keeps a wonderful balance of the steamy scenes and the rest of the storyline and is one of her greatest strengths in writing these dark romances. I commented much the same in my review for Satan's Affair, and I'm impressed to see that my observation wasn't a one-time deal with her.
Overall, this book was on fire! It was deep and a tough read in several ways, but I am looking forward to seeing how our mouse and her kitty cat get out of these whoppers of a cliffhanger we ended on. This book was easily one of my top reads so far in 2021!
Character development: 4/5
Dark elements: 5/5
Steamy scenes: 5/5
Overall storyline: 5/5
Triggers: Sooo many, reader beware! Stalking, non-con/dub-con, murder, human trafficking, secret society rituals...