Go big or go home. This dark tale concerns Rika, a young woman growing up in small town America, and Michael, the angry alpha she comes up against (pun intended). Rika spend more time with her boyfriend’s family than her own, as it’s just her and her mother, and mother is mostly wasted. Michael, her boyfriend’s older brother, both fascinates and terrifies her; she’s been in love with him for years, yet he’s never noticed her.
Until the night he does. Michael, plus three cronies, Damon, Will and Kai, come back to their old high school for an annual tear-up-shit ritual called Devil’s Night, and Rika can’t resist sneaking along with them. (I get that they are all over privileged, but no-one stops them, which is weird.) For the night she becomes one of the bad-boy crew, nicknamed ‘Little Monster’ by them, but something goes wrong, and they get into serious trouble.
Speed forward to present day (a few years on), and three of the boys have just got out of prison for the actions of that night. They blame Rika and are going to take their revenge.
Whoa, it’s creepy and dark and almost pushed me to not want to read further. But then I needed answers to questions – what happened that night? What did they do? What did Rika do? Does she deserve their anger and hate? What do they plan to do to her?
And I’m glad I carried on reading. I liked the atmosphere of this book a lot. It’s very sexy and the ever-present weight of male aggression and Rika’s why me/F-you attitude made me sweat. As with other PD books, you might not like this if you can’t get on with a whole lot of hate, but let me reassure you that it doesn’t go too far and it’s a plot device to build up the tension. Similar to PD’s Bully which has a lot of mean bullying in, but it’s really a love-thing so you forgive it in the end, in the most part, or it’s punished as it should be.
Trigger warning – part of this is the suggestion of violence against women. Nothing happens and it’s all part of said atmosphere. I guess not everyone will respond to this in the same way as I did, so head’s up.
Anyway, Rika moves to a new city for college and finds she’s living in the same building as Michael. We hear from him too as – hurrah – it’s joint perspective. He is a blackened soul but IT’S A LOVE STORY so it’s good, people and we (eventually) like him, despite the bad stuff we see at first.
“He was a sadist, and my little heart just had to go pitter-patter the second his yanks, grabs, and pulls turned into gentle caresses and his frowns, scowls, and snarls turned into whispers.
I fell, and I never even tried to stop myself.”
The four horsemen – Michael and his cronies – and Rika cross swords and Michael soon realizes his feelings aren’t as clear cut as he thought. Maybe they never were. He has to decide where his loyalties lie, just as much as Rika has to get to the truth and exert her steel.
Oh, and the sauna sex scene? *Claps hands* Thank you, Penelope.
P.S. This says it’s standalone, but I happen to know PD is working on another book with the same characters, focusing on Kai – yay! She also released a Valentine’s Day teaser for that book which is awesome so go look it up.
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Penelope Douglas
Release Date: November 17, 2015