Lenni Reviews: “No Way Out” by Julie Lynn Hayes

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

While house-sitting for a friend of his mentor, Wyatt Findley sees Shylor Lind washing a car across the street and is immediately attracted. The problem is Shylor is a slave to Randy Grant; an abusive dom who keeps Shy as a broken prisoner to his every twisted whim and has done so since Shylor was a child. In the sparse moments they meet, Shy comes to care for Wyatt but does he possess the strength to defy his awful master?

This is another book I’ve read lately that comes with a smattering of trigger warnings; although most of the really icky non-consensual elements are done “off screen.” You’re still dealing with a damaged man who is not willingly consenting to his dom.

Mild spoilers but while I may have enjoyed Shylor’s story arch and his relationship with Wyatt, it was odd for me to have such a dark story culminate in a such a neat and tidy ending. I expected Randy to exact terrible revenge but nope! He storms off never to be seen again. Shylor and Wyatt’s chemistry makes up for it though. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Steel and Promise” by Alexa Black

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

I debated posting this review at all considering I honestly hope people don’t read this and think of buying it because of my reaction. But given enough thought, I decided people needed to be warned about this THING. I have been sitting on this review since October of last year because every time I started it, I would get so LIVID, I’d have to put it down. I was going to do sketches for this one too, but again, blind rage kept me from accomplishing this.

First off, just so you all know the level I am dealing with here? I apologize to Serena’s Plight. If you have not read that review? Go read that first. Then be VERY afraid.

Also, this review will be full of spoilers and I just don’t freaking care.

Cailyn Derys is a high-class courtesan who takes an interest in reclusive noblewoman Teran Nivrai, who is known for her darker tastes. While Cailyn can see there is a depth to the fearsome woman hidden from everyone else, there is still a very real danger in being involved with Teran.

First off this book is boring. Very, tearjerkingly, hair pullingly boring. Between the repetitive word choices and Lesbain Sex For Dummies 101 clinical and dry writing, it was a true struggle to get through this book I almost quit the book at 17% because the image of this alien woman in a pool of water was described in the blandest way possible. If I am tempted to stop reading your book because I thought of 5 different ways to rewrite your scene to make it more interesting, ya dun fucked up. I have ripped apart The Beauty Books and even there, I can at least say the prose was beautiful.

As to how “dark and disturbing” this is? No, sorry. It really isn’t. Teran’s darker tastes can be found in your average adult leaning vampire novel; bloodplay, cutting, and such. Not to mention how the tension between Cailyn and Teran is undercut by how familiar Cailyn is with Teran right from the start and their intimacy seems unearned. Out of nowhere this alien woman feared by all just opens up about her former lovers like Cailyn is a trusted confidant? Sorry, not buying it.

One point I will give this book is Cailyn is her own person. If a client or anyone steps over the line, she’s not afraid to call them on it and put her foot down. And that trait does carry through to the rest of the book. She never becomes a doormat.

So, after all that, all the build-up to how dark this book is and how I found it to be as dry as a bag of sand in the Sahara, what about this book made me want to rage out? At 80%, Teran gets mad for whatever fucking reason because it honestly doesn’t matter and we are treated to an overly detailed rape scene between her and Cailyn. As if I wasn’t annoyed or indifferent up to that point because of the rest of the boring sex in this book, now I’m pissed off and disgusted. Tossing this pointless shit in there doesn’t make this “dark erotica” it makes it exploitive schlock of the worse common denominator. Teran is now irredeemable and I don’t want to follow this character for the remainder of this book because all of that effort to make her seem less of the monster her reputation says she is has been destroyed. She IS a monster and this book can suck it for trying to make me see her as anything else.

I don’t know how I made it through this… Cailyn starts the book as an accomplished courtesan with autonomy and freedom and ends it as a slave owned by her rapist. If you want BDSM, Story of O did it better. If you want dark erotica, Killing Stalking is a great example of something taboo, disturbing, yet also compelling. Other reviews had people quitting around the 70% mark saying it was too dark but no, it was boring and dumb. I have never outright hated a book this much and I refuse to give it any stars at all.

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Lenni Reviews: “Killing Stalking” by Koogi

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*This comic is rated 18+ and comes with just all the trigger warnings: rape, molestation, abuse, murder… Just YIKES.

Since there’s some sizable debate among readers about a summary a reviewer or… Well, anyone who writes their own synopsis, I’m gonna cover my ass for the time being and just copy and paste from the source:

Yoon Bum, a scrawny quiet boy, has a crush on one of the most popular and handsome guys in school, Sangwoo. One day, with Yoonbum’s obsession towards Sangwoo reaching its peak, Yoon Bum decides to enter Sangwoo’s home. But what he saw inside was not the Sangwoo he had dreamed of. (source)

Got that? Good. Now, into sorta of spoiler territory because based on the cover, the revelation shouldn’t be a surprise: Yoon Bum is trespassing in Sangwoo’s house and discovers the man he’s in love with is a serial killer. I dunno, reading that synopsis and seeing the cover to this? Is that really a spoiler?

This series… This series haunted me. Neither character is particularly likable. Bum is a stalker, Sangwoo is a killer (THAT’S THE TITLE!! GET IT!!!) so the ‘relationship’ here is unhealthy at the start.

And I cannot stress how spoilery talking about this will be because I am convinced it is impossible to talk about what is so compelling about this story without spoiling some of it.

Bum, of course, gets caught in Sangwoo’s apartment and is held prisoner. What unfolds is this bizarre mixture of Stockholm Syndrome, infatuation, psychosis, and do we even dare call it love? I don’t think so… But the way this is written, you somehow end up rooting for this couple? I read every available page in ONE DAY (and had some interesting dreams, let me tell you…) and had to stop several times to ask myself WHY. Why do I keep clicking, why do I keep reading, why have I not run SCREAMING in the other direction of this book!?

After some serious introspection (no really, I felt I had to ask myself some serious questions) I determined this: if you took out every single sexual element; this is a murder drama from the killer’s perspective. And Bum is no shrinking violet! There’s a scene (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS) where Sangwoo has… Ok, he has a girl over and Bum is hiding just… Go read it or imagine this. Bum reaches for Sangwoo’s hand and because Sangwoo is an asshole, he squeezes Bum’s hand hard enough to hurt. Bum’s response? He bites Sanwoo hard enough to bleed.

What I took from that scene was Sangwoo saying “I am a monster. Do NOT expect tenderness from me.” And Bum’s response in that bite? “I know. And I’ll let you know how much I’ll take.”

I gotta respect this book; neither of our main leads breaks character. Sangwoo is not going to be cured by Bum’s love and if that happens, all would be ruined. Shit is very fucking REAL in this book and I think that’s part of what keeps me coming back. There’s no “the power of your love has made me normal” magical happy ending; this is dark and erotic and scary.

That and I read some pretty hilarious censored pages… Where, because censorship law is a THING in various countries, breasts and gore are ok but an actual penis is not… So, they hide it with a giant white blob… Which I will forever term “Lightsaber Dick” and congratulations if you know Star Wars and are familiar with that sound? I just made every single sex scene in this comic unintentionally hilarious for you. You’re welcome.

And I’m sure I’m not the first to coin that phrase but if I am? Credit me.

All in all? Man, I am NOT sure I can totally recommend this. There is sex, rape, murder, gore, dubious con, manipulation, GROSSLY INCOMPETENT POLICE WORK, abuse… This is two damaged SICK people in a VERY unhealthy relationship… I honestly just DON’T KNOW.

But when there’s a new chapter? I’m on board. That premise hooked me and the writing kept me there. And if you can take the heat? Well… Bum cleaned the kitchen. He’s not a bad cook, either.

Try this out at your own risk and don’t come crying to me if you have “strange” dreams.

I’m gonna… I’m gonna go read something clean and wholesome now.

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