TOP 20 OF 2021: Darling Venom by Parker S. Huntington

As 2021 comes to a close, I’m revisiting my 20 favorite romance novels of the year, and that list would not be complete without the heartbreaking powerhouse, Darling Venom. It’s been two years since Parker S. Huntington released a new book, and Venom flew to the top of my favorites list – just like Devious Lies did back in 2019. There’s something about her writing that is so gripping, and these girthy books – that should be way too long – somehow fly by. This one had me tearing up within a few chapters, and it had me completely immersed the whole way through. It’s a devastating, tense read – and an excellent one. Here’s hoping there isn’t another two year gap between Huntington’s releases, but this was well worth the wait!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3GqekdQ

Read on for my original review, notes about the audiobook, and plenty of quotes to give you a feel for the vibe!

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.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3GqekdQ


Blurb:

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.

Same time.

One roof.

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.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3GqekdQ

Audio note:

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.

Audiobook: https://amzn.to/3dF5CMm


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.


More of the Best of 2021!

Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here

Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!

Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!

Best of 2021: My Favorite Covers can be found here!

Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!


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