Penance by KL Taylor-Lane
Penance is the second installment of KL Taylor-Lane's Swallows and Psychos trilogy. It's edgy, heart-wrenching, and the flashback elements give more depth to the beautiful character KL has created with Kyla-Rose. I've been anxiously awaiting this part of the story since Purgatory, and part three cannot come along soon enough.
As we left off Kyla-Rose, Kacey, and Huxley in book one, Kyla-Rose gets the shock of her life when her past walks through the front door and reignites all the trauma she's worked hard to turn in to something productive. It's a small world when we find out the guys' missing housemate already has intimate knowledge of Kyla-Rose. The dynamic of these characters is so raw, and KL does an amazing job of making their thoughts and feelings jump out in such a visceral way. The introduction of Nox gives another piece of the puzzle, and as much as I wanted to hate him for Kyla-Rose's sake, his humanity just drew me in. I couldn't help but root for him to get a little redemption.
This installment is just as full of action as part one, and we really dig even more into the mental state of all the POVs. Their coping mechanisms are very unorthodox but stay true to their characterizations so well. I love that we got to peek into Charlie's mind, and I'm just saying, this guy needs to be allowed to find his own little slice of heaven.
At the end, we get an even steeper cliffhanger than the one at the end of Purgatory. Didn't think it was possible, but holy pitchforks, did that end make me feel all the feels for Kyla-Rose. I need to know how this is going to get turned around because I cannot live with a truth like that.
Character development: 5/5
Dark elements: 5/5
Steamy scenes: 5/5
Overall storyline: 5/5
Triggers: Yes, indeed - murder, torture, self-inflicted trauma, discussion of sexual abuse, breath/knife/blood play, mental health struggles/discussion