Three years ago, I had everything.
A beautiful wife.
A reason for living.
Until a ruthless task force, assembled under Mayor Michael Culling, with a brutal strategy to make the streets of Detroit ‘safe’, ripped away everything I loved in a deadly hunt called The Culling.
They tried to kill me, too. I wish they had. Now I’m cursed by the memories of that night, and the words I whispered to my dying wife.
A promise—to avenge the wrong and set it right.
I’m no longer Nick Ryder. I’m a masked vigilante. Faceless. Loveless. Fearless. A man with nothing left to lose—one who’s seen the dark and violent truth behind the city’s flawless veneer.
Michael Culling doesn’t know who I am. Or what I want. All he knows is that I’ve kidnapped his beautiful wife.
An eye for an eye—isn’t that how the saying goes? And Aubree Culling is the perfect pawn to destroy him.
If she doesn’t destroy me first.
After reading the synopsis months ago, I was literally salivating to get my hands on this book. I am a huge fan of dark reads and this one appeared it would be something new and twisted. I was somewhat surprised to learn this was the author’s first contemporary romance, it certainly didn’t feel like it. This book is definitely not for the light reader; there are graphic and intense scenes from the Prologue onward. However, it’s a gripping tale of the lengths people will go to for revenge.
To defeat a monster, I had to become one.
There is no more realistic place to set this book than Detroit, and it makes the story and characters much more believable. Nick is a deeply troubled anti-hero. Despite his need for revenge and overwhelming sadistic ways of achieving it, I found myself empathizing with him almost from the beginning. Most of his tactics are so disturbing, but I could not stop reading or even rationalizing his methods. While Nick is brazen, Aubree is the silent survivor. The torment she endures made me cringe but she never waivers. I admired her immensely, and she is a survivor in the truest sense.
“I bleed my sins.”
While I liked the chemistry between Nick and Aubree, it did feel forced at times. I really enjoyed their separate storylines and was hopeful their chemistry would carry the same intense emotion. Mayor Culling is one of the most vile villains, and I admire the ability to create such a hated character. I do not want to spoil the plot, but I was able to determine early on what was happening. While it did take away from the overall surprise factor toward the end, I still enjoyed the journey. This is the first book I have read by Ms. Lake but can’t wait to read some of her PNR work. I would recommend this book to any seasoned fan of dark romance.
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“You had everything to do with it.” I pushed harder, my muscles steeled. “He didn’t just wrong me, he annihilated me. And there you were, stroking his cock, smiling beside him all the while.”
“All you saw was a smile, then. You should’ve looked deeper. So what? I’m your revenge? Your ticket to hurting him?” She sneered. “Guess what? He doesn’t give a shit about me. He never did. So, go ahead, Nick. Kill me.” She lifted her head away from the wall, only inches from my face. “Snap my fucking throat, if that’s what you plan to do. You’d be doing him and me a favor.”
Her body pulsed with tension, the tremble beating against me, through me, inside of me. Anger. Hate
So much hate.
With one quick twist of my hands, I could’ve snapped her neck, been done with the whole plan and exited my miserable fucking existence on the wings of a bullet to my skul
Instead, I slammed my lips against hers. Loving the struggle of her body trying to push me away. Hating the fact that her lips tasted like sweet salvation, beckoning me to whatever web of deception she’d been weaving since I’d taken her. Her delicious smell pervaded my senses—water on the flames burning inside of me, steaming up my mind.
The last time I’d devoured a woman’s lips was three years ago, and that had been out of love. Kissing Aubree was something else entirely. Not gentle or tender. I kissed her violently, with all the fury locked inside of me, our frantic breaths clashing with one another.
Her moan vibrated inside my skull, as her hands clenched to fists, trying to break free from my grasp.
She opened her mouth wider, dragged my lip between her teeth, and bit me.
Aggression surged through my body and rattled the cage of something dark inside of me.
I wanted more. More pain. More rage. I wanted to tear into her while cursing her name. Purge myself of the hate until it was spent.
I broke the kiss, breaths heaving, as I glared down at her. “What do you know about Brightmoor?” I rasped.
“I don’t know anything about Brightmoor,” she gritted out.
Lies. “Yeah? Then, why did you have the fucking blueprints tucked in your purse? Devil’s Night plans safe and sound, beside your goddamn lipstick and compact.”
Her chest rose and fell as I kept her captive against the wall, her stare deadpan. “I didn’t—”
“Don’t lie to me.” I pressed harder, lips to her ear. “I fucking hate liars,” I whispered, inciting a shudder in her that brought a smile to my face. “Why did you have the chip?”
“I stole it.”
“You stole it.” I wanted to laugh at the stupidity of such a thought, but my voice lacked any ounce of humor or inflection. “I don’t think you did, Pistol Lips. I think he gave it to you. His little pet.”
“I fucking hate you.” Venom laced her words as she stared back at me, those golden eyes blazing with vehemence.
I licked my lips and glanced down at her pert breasts, and smiled. Squeezing her captured wrists with one hand, I reached up under her dress, only grazing the patch of lace that kept my finger from being inside of her, knowing everything she was too stubborn to admit.
Her lids turned heavy, as drunken eyes riveted on my lips.
“Tell me how much you hate me.”
“Don’t,” she warned, and I caught the scrape of her tongue across her teeth.
Grabbing a handful of hair, I tugged her head back until her neck stretched taut, and like a creature of night, I wanted to bite down into that supple flesh and rip her throat out. Dragging my tongue along her shoulder, I made my way to the base of her neck and bit her collarbone. She let out a gasp and I released her wrists. Lust blazed through my veins, when her fingers tangled in my hair and her leg curled around my hip, drawing me against her.
“You know what, Aubree? I fucking hate you, too, but goddamn … you taste so good.”
Hell was having her skin against mine and craving her so badly I wanted to crawl out of my own body.
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Keri Lake is a married mother of two living in Michigan. By day, she tries to make use of the degrees she’s earned in science. By night, she writes dark contemporary and paranormal romance. Though novels tend to be her focus, she also writes short stories and flash fiction on the many occasions when distraction sucks her in to the Land of Shiny Things.
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