Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all had a good week. I just got highlights put into my hair so that was great. (Technically I am pre-writing this so I hope it is great *fingers crossed*) And tomorrow I have a night out with some work friends who I haven’t seen in about a year so I am excited to see them!
As always this is a Spoiler Free review.
I downloaded this via Kindle Unlimited after my booksta friend Lauren (@Fall.into.Fiction) recommended it to me. I’d never read anything by this author before but from the very first lines I knew I was going to adore this book. The writing just had that special something about it.
Before I jump into the review I need to mention that this book has some extremely triggering scenes and topics. I am going to make it extremely clear now that this is a DARK BOOK. This is not for the faint of heart. It is 18+. It is not safe or sweet. It is very toxic and triggering. This came with a great trigger warning, which I have pasted below. I don’t know how to make it any clearer but this is not a sweet romance. You have been warned!
Anyway, let’s jump into the review.
Author: Sam Mariano
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Bully romance, Dark romance
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: December 16th 2018
When I Read It: May 12th 2021
Goodreads Rating: 4.07 Stars
The bully isn’t supposed to win.
Senior year was off to a rough start: lube in my locker, panties on my front porch, unimaginative name-calling. See, I got a player suspended from the football team for harassing me, and in my small Texas town, you don’t mess with the football players—even if they mess with you first.
I didn’t care if it was an unpopular thing to do; I stood up for myself… and in doing so, opened Pandora’s Box.
I never dreamed I would attract the attention of locally worshipped star quarterback, Carter Mahoney. Never imagined his coveted attention would turn out to be such a nightmare. Beneath his carefully constructed façade lurks a monster, a predator looking for the perfect prey to play with. Now, since I’m the girl no one likes or believes, I guess I’m the perfect target for his dark games and twisted desires.
After surviving my first encounter with his casual depravity, all I really want is for Carter to leave me alone.
But all he seems to want is me.
Warning: This book is provocative. It is categorized as DARK ROMANCE for a reason. It will not be for everyone. If you are a reader with certain triggers or sensitivities common to the dark romance genre, please heed the author’s note at the beginning of this book:
“Please, please take me seriously when I say this is a BULLY romance. This book contains some dark shit, and if you have sexual violence/abuse triggers, this may not be a good fit for you. I know where the characters’ limits are, but you know your own sensitivities much better than I do.
Carter Mahoney is not a comfortable hero, and this is not always a comfortable love story. If you need safe, good-guy heroes in every romance you read, this is not the story for you. These characters have their own unique damage, needs, desires, and proficiencies, and they are seeking out partners who fit them as they are, not partners who need them to change and be something they’re not.
I have very much enjoyed Carter and Zoey’s story, so I hope you will too, but I want to make sure I’ve prepared/warned you adequately. 😉 Carter Mahoney is not for the faint of heart.”
My Favourite Quote:
This book had so many awesome quotes but I adored this one because in amongst all the triggering content, this line is so poignant and sweet in contrast. I just love it.
” I spend everyday of my life with people who like the look of the mask I wear, Zoey. You’re the only person who likes what’s underneath better.”
I’m really struggling to write the review for this because all I want to do is scream with joy. This is definitely the best bully romance I have ever read. Warning – it is hella dark! BUT it was perfect that way.
I adored that Zoey didn’t try to change Carter. She just accepted him for him. Carter was amazing. Their banter/friendship was incredible. After reading a few romances recently that felt quite forced this was amazing because you could feel the genuine pull and connection between them. They just understood each other and it was amazing to see that develop over the course of the story.
It was so well-paced and literally never a dull moment but also not much action, it was just so realistically developed and progressed that I just loved it. Seriously I can’t find the words.
I knew from the very first page that the writing style was for me – it was so my kind of thing. A brilliant mix of witty inner thoughts, funny dialogue, and almost the sense of talking to the reader directly without addressing the reader. I laughed so many times at this book. Seriously, it was hilarious. It just made me love them so much more and balanced out some of the more intense scenes.
I really related to Zoey, especially her attitude and outlook on life (about not caring what others think of it being your choice whether things affect you or not) and I just thought it was so refreshing to see a female MC who thought and felt the same way as I do as it is definitely not something you see often.
I loved that this went from super dark to super heart-warming and sweet because I feel like it’s often thought that those things are mutually exclusive, but that’s definitely not the case and this is an amazing example of this. Again, just the way Zoey didn’t try to change Carter but instead just complimented his personality – so amazing.
Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year – cannot recommend this enough.
Thanks for the rec Lauren, I seriously owe you for this one!! ❤
Overall Score = 9.5/10
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
That’s all for today’s review folks.
I hope you enjoyed this. This book was quite a surprise to me because it didn’t expect to love it as much as I did because it’s a dark romance which I tend to enjoy but doesn’t usually knock me off my feet. But this was so good. If you like Dark Romance I definitely recommend. I will see you on Sunday ❤
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