I’ve had Cold Hearted Bastard, Reckless Heir, and Corruption long enough that I’m no longer 100% sure where they all came from. Mostly, I’m uncertain where I got Cold-Hearted Bastard. Perhaps I purchased it at the same time I bought Reckless Heir and Corruption from the author. But I don’t know why I would have bought it as an ebook and the other one as a paperback. So, I suspect I already had the e-copy of Cold Hearted Bastard, and that’s why I chose to buy books two and three in The Underworld Kings series when I saw that Jenika Snow had signed books available in her shop and bought a couple.
Regardless, I’m trying to make a concerted effort to read some of the paperbacks that have such a tendency to get put on the shelf (out of sight, out of mind), which is why I’m reading these at long last.
About Cold Hearted Bastard:
He didn’t have a heart… but he wanted hers.
All I knew about life was anger and violence. Pain and suffering. Kill or be killed.
I was a “fixer” for the Ruin—a syndicate for the Bratva, Cosa Nostra, Cartel, and any other organized crime faction that dealt in the darker, crueler aspects of humanity.
I was a free agent who was called upon to do things weaker men didn’t have the stomach for.
And when you surround yourself with death for long enough, soon, you didn’t remember what it felt like to be alive.
And then I saw her. She was a fragile little thing who tried to be strong. But I could tell she’d seen too much horror in the world, too much of the ugly within people. I should have stayed away. I’d only bring her farther down into the darkness.
But for the first time in my life, I felt a stirring in my chest, this protectiveness and possessiveness toward another living person. And it was painful. It made me feel alive.
Lina tried to hide how broken she was, but I was an old friend of being ruined. She held secrets I’d find out. Because for the first time in my miserable life, I wanted something for myself. I felt something more than apathy and indifference.
I wanted to possess the innocence she clung to. I wanted to break it open and consume it for myself.
I could look into her too trusting blue eyes and knew I’d maim for her. I’d kill for her. And that became our truth when her past finally came back for her when my present tried to destroy her.
They thought they could take the one thing—the only thing—I’d ever wanted for myself. They were wrong.
When I looked at her, I felt some of the monster that made me who I retreated back to my black soul. He’d never leave… but he’d share the space.
Meh. The writing and editing were fine. The spicy scenes were spicy, and the book isn’t lousy with them. But if you’ve read my reviews for a while, you’ve probably seen me call something the low-hanging fruit of plotting. That’s what I call books whose primary plot hinges on bad men sexually abusing women. It’s not that I’m screaming trigger warnings or feminism. There is no moral outrage here. I’m not saying such things shouldn’t get written. It’s just that it’s been written so often and regularly that it’s cliched by now. I read such books and basically visualize a lazy author not wanting to work too hard, so they reach for the low-hanging fruit, the story that is all but a cultural narrative by now. There’s no creativity, nothing original or new. It’s old, tired, overused, and boring at this point.
If you happen to like the kind of thing, good for you. You’ll probably love this book. I cannot express my disappointment that Snow didn’t stretch her creative muscles even a little bit to write this book. Personally, I’m tired of seeing our victimhood trotted out as entertainment with nothing more to accompany it in a book. As if he’s a rapist or a trafficker and she’s a rape survivor or escaping trafficking is character development and plot by itself. It is not. Do more.
About Reckless Heir:
My father sold me off to a ruthless killer in the Russian mafia, an alliance between the Bratva and the Cosa Nostra.
An arranged marriage where I’d be at the mercy of the man who’d no doubt see me as his property, where I was sure he’d be just as cruel and violent as every other Made Man I’d known in my life.
Nikolai Petrov, known to be a sociopath and for killing anyone for the smallest infraction. And I’d be forever tied to him, an accessory he could use or dispose of any way he saw fit.
And then I found myself painted red, my wedding dress stained in blood. A man dead by my husband’s hands for simply touching my hair.
I was terrified of the lengths Nikolai would go to get what he wanted… to keep me as his, but despite all of that I felt something far stronger, far more dangerous.
Need. Want. Dark and depraved desire. And it was all for the man who said I was his.
For better or worse.
I think I am just going to have to accept that, as much as I want to get on the Jenika Snow bandwagon, her books are just not for me. It’s not a quality issue (though the editing in Reckless Heir was pretty shoddy, especially toward the end). It’s that every one of her books that I have read has an ick factor for me.
In this one, it was how often and strongly the fact that Amara was barely 18 was stressed. Nikolai, who is 29, must have said young and innocent (code for young and virginal) about a million times. And yeah, I get that this is a dark romance, and he’s a murderous anti-hero. But I still did not enjoy it. Paired with the fact that the reader is told what a savage his father was ‘to the fairer sex,’ but the things Nikolai wants to do to Amara sound just like the things his father was doing to women in the previous book. (Guess the apple didn’t fall far enough for me.) So, the man too focused on how young his bride is and having tastes just a little too close to his sexually abusive father’s (who we are made to believe was irredeemable) made for an ick factor I couldn’t quite let go of. Also, I’m not a huge fan of the humiliation and degradation kink. But I could have handled that if it hadn’t been in combination with the ick.
When I finished this book and put it back on the shelf, I realized that I also have book 3, Corruption. I’d forgotten that. I know I should read it now so that they all get reviewed together. But I just don’t think I can take a third of these books in a row. And that should tell you a whole heck of a lot about how I’m feeling about the series at the moment. All the power to those who enjoy it. But I think it’s just not for me.
Even the beast could get the beauty… he just had to take her.
Anastasia was a Russian mafia princess.
I was unworthy to even look at her.
But that didn’t stop a bond, a friendship to form between us. She was the only good and right thing in my painful, brutal life. She was the only one who could look at my bruises and wounds and see I wasn’t a total waste of space.
But I was ripped away from her, thrust into the underground world of violence and fighting, molded and shaped to be the ultimate killing machine for the Bratva.
And that’s who I was now.
Now, ten years later all of humanity had been stripped from me, all the emotion and empathy that I’d once felt taken away until I was nothing more than the beast who craved blood and had far too many kills tallied up.
But they could never take her away from me. And so I followed her, watched her through her bedroom window, broke into her apartment, and held her as she slept.
I wasn’t a good man. I was carved out from the very devil himself, and although I would ever be good enough for Anastasia, that didn’t mean I’d ever let anyone else have her.
So when she was forced to marry another, I did the only thing that made sense.
I took her in the middle of the night and kept her locked up until she realized she was mine and mine alone.
I hadn’t actually intended to read this book at this point in time. But I decided that if I didn’t read it with the rest of the series, I probably would never come back and do it. So, I muscled through. Oddly, I actually liked this one more than I did either of the previous books. Ruin is even more unhinged than the rest of the men in this series (which is saying something), and that moved the book a little further away from reality into fantasy land. Plus, the ick (because, like I said before, all of Snow’s books seem to have an ick factor for me) is a relatively shallow one. I’m just not down with all the spitting. But that’s an aesthetic ick, not a full-body flinch like I encountered in Reckless Heir. The plot is pretty thin, and this feels like a middle book. But I suspect whether you like it or not will come down to if you like the sort of thing or not.