“It hit like a bullet to the gut, but I smiled through the pain.”
Phenomenal. There were goosebumps on my arms, tears in my eyes, and a knot in my throat when I turned the final page – and my eyes had been glued to EVERY SINGLE page before that. And there are a lot of pages, lol. This was so completely different than anything I’ve read before, and I loved every minute of it. I won’t be able to do this book justice with my review, especially since I have absolutely no intention of offering up spoilers. I went into this completely blind, and I think you should too. It’s tragic and twisty and toxic and tension-filled, and such a very treacherous romance. I’ll throw in one more T word as well: triggering. This won’t be for everyone, and that’s because the focus is on people who are broken *almost* beyond repair. If suicide is a trigger for you, stop now. If not, read on, because this was SO very good.
I’m not going to tell you anything about the plot, so let’s talk about some of the things I loved about the book – in a vague-ish way, lol. I loved the heroine. This is her story, and she is resilient beyond belief. Her light shines strong throughout the book, and she’s one of the things that makes this work so well. I also loved the hero (antihero?). He is damaged, hurting, and not an easy man to handle. I wasn’t sure that I liked him for awhile. Their sexual tension crackles and snaps in so many scenes, but this is also a slow, torturous burn that pays off with some incredible intimacy by the end. I was absorbed in the book at the beginning, I was reading hungrily by the middle, and I was starved for the happy ending by the end. There’s a friends to lovers dynamic and also a strong enemies to lovers feel, as well as a heavy, emotional mood that makes an impact. The supporting cast of characters is also excellent. I was emotionally devastated repeatedly, and I was immensely frustrated when I had to pause my reading to get some sleep. Because this is not a quick, easy read. It’s not short and sexy. It bites and soothes, hurts and heals, hooks you in. And I’m so glad that I read it. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this emotional romance.
My first love ended in tragedy.
My second began with his brother.
From Wall Street Journal bestseller Parker S. Huntington comes a broken love story laced with angst and forbidden romance.
I wasn’t supposed to be on that roof on Valentine’s Day.
Neither was Kellan Marchetti, the school’s designated freak.
We met on the verge of ending our lives.
Somehow, the tattered strings of our tragedies tangled and tightened into an unlikely bond.
We decided not to take the plunge and agreed to check on each other every Valentine’s Day until school ended.
Two restless souls.
We kept our promise for three years.
On the fourth, Kellan made a decision, and I was left to deal with the consequences.
Just when I thought our story ended, another one began.
They say all love stories look the same and taste different.
Mine was venomous, disgraceful, and written in scarlet scars.
My name is Charlotte Richards, but you can call me Venom.
I loved the book so much that I preordered the audio without hesitation – especially once I saw the narrators! This is a heroine-focused book, so Ava Erickson narrates the majority of it, and she’s one of my favorite female voice actors. She does a great job. We also get Sebastian York AND Jacob Morgan, each narrating pieces of the book as well. More details about that would be spoilers, so I’ll just say that they play smaller roles, but also do an excellent job. I would’ve loved duet narration, but that would be my only complaint about the audio. I’ve only sampled chapters here and there – it’s a 15+ hour listen – but everything I’ve listened to just enhances the story.
Speaking of the length, yeah, it’s a lot! Reading my ebook took a couple of days and the audio is also quite the marathon. This isn’t an easy workday listen anyways, but keep the runtime in mind. The slow burn romance lends itself perfectly to an office listen, but the heavy themes might require more of your focus and the length means it’ll run over 2-3 days. The good news is that it’s already Whisper-synced, so you can borrow the ebook from Kindle Unlimited and upgrade to the audio inexpensively, giving you the ability to switch between audio and ebook with ease.
About the Author:
Parker S. Huntington is a stay-at-home dog mom from SoCal, where she discovered her allergy to rain. In spite of her shoddy attendance record and strong aversion to homework, she earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside and an A.L.M. in Literature from Harvard. When she’s not writing or exchanging food pics with her friends, she’s binge-watching an unhealthy amount of Netflix while curled up with her dogs.
Parker hates talking about herself and is (also) allergic to social media, but you can catch up with her in her newsletter at parkershuntington.com. Occasionally, she’ll post a TikTok video, which you can find at @parkershuntington.
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