romance reviews

Carnage – A Book Review

I just finished this book a couple of hours ago and not only did I have to immediately start the next entry in the series, but I had to talk about it. Here’s the book jacket info so you know what we’re talking about today:

They call us The Four Horsemen.
Four friends forged in fire and blood.
No one knows where we came from nor how we got our name.
Drake, Francis, West and I rule the financial industry like kings.
Gods in our own right.

We grew up with a fifth. A girl. Scarlett.
She was one of us until she was ripped away from her life. The only trace of her was dust in the wind.

One day she returned to the city and sought us out. Scarlett couldn’t remember who we’d been to her, but we recalled her all too well.

If she knew what was good for her, she would have never come back. The moment she stepped through the doors of Fortuity, it was the beginning of her end. And the start of our reign over the girl who wanted us dead.

The Cliff Notes

Title: Carnage

Series: The Four Horsemen #1

Hashtags: #darkromance #reverseharem #erotica #suspense #MFMMM #smuttok

Content warnings: Violence, dub-con, blood play, rough sex, BDSM

Main Characters: Prescott, Drake, West, Francis, and Scarlett

Ratings

My overall rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Spicy/Heat Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Romance Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon.ca | Goodreads

Holy crap. Has my heart stopped pounding yet? I can’t quite tell.

This story does a great job of balancing the sex with the dark with an actual, honest-to-Goddess plot. I’m so sick and tired of reading books that are “dark romance” but are really just porn with a few conversations thrown in. I mean, those have their place and all. But what I want is a real STORY and this book has set me off on a series that is going to give me that.

There’s some back story that we haven’t quite sorted out by the end of the book. The titular four horsemen – Drake, Francis, West, and Pres – operate as a unit, intent on bringing the seemingly naive and innocent Scarlett into their fold. Scarlett is on a mission to infiltrate the group for some unknown purpose (all we know at this point is that she was sent by her family on a mission of revenge). What she doesn’t know is that a) the men are well aware of why she has come into their lives, and b) they knew her from before she remembers, before her memory was taken in some sort of accident. They have been waiting for Scarlett to return to them, to complete their complicated family. And until she clues in as to what is going on, Scarlett will be waaaaaay in over her head in the most delightful fashion.

The story has an interesting POV framework in that this initial entry in the series is focused on Prescott (aka Pestilence), but the story is still told from the POV of all the characters. There’s some bouncing around but it feels relatively seamless. In some books that deploy this method of storytelling, it can feel like we’re re-reading scenes from different points of view, but the author keeps the story moving along as we jump from person to person.

One place where that POV framework falters is that we don’t necessarily get a good picture of any one character. We have bits and pieces of each of their personalities, not enough to truly understand any of them or what makes them tick. I mean, I suppose that’s the point in some ways – if you want to know more, you have to keep reading. But after finishing the first of the books, I don’t feel like I know who any of the characters are. They’re still a mystery. But that’s where that great plot/storytelling comes in. I want to know more. I need to know more. There’s a tale to be uncovered. The cliffhanger is compelling.

On the spice side, it’s a weird mix of a slow burn and in-your-face, if that makes any sense. This first book doesn’t really have a lot of straight-out sex in it – a couple of scenes at most, and the first one appears about halfway through. It’s A LOT of sexual tension and foreplay and that hits from the very start. Each of the horsemen has their own sexual quirks, and Scarlett is going to be learning to manage all of them. I both envy her and am completely jealous of her. You’ll note that I’ve rated the book pretty low on the romance scale. That’s because there really isn’t a lot of what I would consider to be traditional romance. There are romantic elements – the sexual tension, some romantic angst. But at this point in the series, no one is acting for romantic reasons. It’s about sex and violence and revenge and family. But not love. Not yet.

I want to keep talking about this book some more, but typing up this review is preventing me from reading the second book in the series. If you can’t tell by now, I’m recommending the hell out of this one.

Quick Thoughts:

  • I’m 80% sure that Drake will end up being my favourite of the horsemen. Controlled and regulated on the outside, oozing sex on the inside.
  • I can’t figure out who Scarlett’s friend Mason is supposed to be to her, but I do know that he’s a douche.
  • Scarlett’s parents also fall into the douche category. We don’t know yet what caused her to lose her memory, or what happened to her in the intervening 10 years, but we get the impression that it wasn’t pretty.

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