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Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual content, kink/fetish content (see author’s summary or cw/tw page for details), talk of drugs & drug dealing, mentions of adultry, occult themes, alcoholism, death, stalking, talk of hospitalization/institutionalization, loss of a loved one, grief, trauma/PTSD, depictions of blood, knife play, needles, gun play, talk of torture, violence, sex, anxiety, predator behavior (drugging drink), scene of emesis, scene of snuff (sexual arousal/climax by killing/murdering someone)
“Revenge had been a long time coming.”
Friends, I had been looking forward to this book so, so much. I read the first book and absolutely fell in love with it and was eager to continue this series. Plus, any bread crumbs about the third and final book had my motivation spinning into overdrive. However, this book was definitely not what I had expected and I definitely wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did after reading this. There were a lot of surprises, many tears shed, and maybe a few times where I almost threw my tablet across the room (I didn’t, but oh, there’s just some lines you shouldn’t cross). It was all around a rollercoaster of a time.
The Deep One demands it’s sacrifice… The one who got away… Juniper Kynes has other plans than to have her piece of light blown out all because the majority of the people she thought she knew, all seem to want her dead. Ever since that night, Juniper has been fighting for survival, but her fight isn’t lost on watching eyes. Zane is demon who loves things that are fierce, scarred, and have a history to them. So the story of Juniper has caught his interest not only as demon, but as a soul hunter. And oh, he will have Juniper’s soul and he’s willing to wait for as long as it takes until she’s his. Only problem is, every thing comes with a price and sometimes that means putting your life on the line to take on a god and cult out of control.
I absolutely loved Zane and Juniper together. I love them so much more than Leon and Rae. The way Zane feels about her, how he sees her despite everything she’s been through… it was just wow. It truly was everything. It really brings forth that whole theme of ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and there’s so much emphasis from Zane (through Juniper’s perspective and Zane’s own perspective) of how beautiful he thinks people who have been through trauma and how they move on from that is. And it just hit like a ton of bricks. I don’t think there’s enough words to convey how that all made me feel. Not to mention, that these two together flip roles constantly of who’s the dom and sub. Like, how often do you get to see that in steamy time books? Not that often or at least in my case not that often. So that was a really fun time and the chemistry is so dang good.
One of the things I really appreciated about this whole book, even in the first book, was the trauma/PTSD representation. As someone who has permanent PTSD, seeing that in Juniper (also in Leon from the first book) and how she handles a lot of things, how she views herself and her body, it hit really close to home. I saw a lot of myself in Juniper especially with trying to bury the scars under layers of clothes or tattoo work, even building that hard exterior of showing no weakness. It hit like a ton of bricks. Every time I read a book with good PTSD or trauma rep, I get so emotional because there’s still so much stigma around PTSD and trauma, and trying to have conversations about is never easy. So seeing the author include that in these books and handling it so well just makes my heart feel really warm and full.
“Don’t be ashamed of what you want to say. I’m not going anywhere.” And that was the thing, wasn’t it? That was the spark that lit up my dark, dead, broken soul — he’d seen all its sharp edges and hadn’t left. He’d seen me as broken as I was and wanted me, regardless.”
Despite the many good things in the book like the quotes for days, I had two major issues with this book. The biggest issue of this book is that it reads like the first book of the series and it should have been the first book in the series. Having read the first book in this series and comparing it to this one, it would have been so much better for this book to be first. Even more so timeline wise with events and who’s the last to see whom within the book. And in my opinion, the first book sets things up better for the third and final book in this series. That’s the real kick that kind of gets me and has me feeling a little salty. It was a bit disappointing for me especially as someone who like the timeline of things and can really get sucked into the storyline very easy.
My final issue with a particular scene that’s an intimate scene. Typically, I love a lot of stuff that goes down in sexy time books, but not this, this crosses an uncomfortable line for me. The first scene that bothered me I’ve kind of let slide because looking back and reflecting, it’s not too big of a deal. However, this scene I’m about to talk about is and honestly, I think the author should have outright stated that there was a scene like this instead of not mentioning it at all in their own content warnings. At the 70-75% mark there’s a scene of snuff. Now some of you may be going, “What the hell is ‘snuff’?” Snuff is an extreme sexual act of getting a sexual arousal/climax from murdering someone. Now, I originally thought this was bordering into nercophilia territory and had to do some research because this whole scene didn’t feel right and kind of shocked my system. I also had someone else fact check me before I even made notes about it. Even more so, no one has talked or mentioned this scene, at all. So I’m talking and addressing it so others don’t have to. This is not a good scene, at all. It’s a really messed up scene and the author should have done better to actually make it known that this was in the book. And I really wish I could wipe this scene from my mind, but I can’t and now it lives in my memory with the other things I wish I could forget.
“Survival is messy. Survival has no morals or kindness. Survival isn’t black and white, good versus evil. Survival is shades of red; it’s blood taken and blood lost.”
Overall, what a freaking roller coaster of a book. I cried a lot, I cringed a lot, and I’m still trying to figure out what the hell I just read. There really was a lot of stuff I loved about this book and I think those who like dark romance erotica will also love it. But also, there’s a lot of things that just live in my brain rent free now. Some of them good, others regrets… yeah, lots of regrets. It was still a good read and as I mentioned with the first book, this series would be the perfect read for the fall/spooky season if you’re in need of books to chill your soul.
Buddy Read with Destiny ♥