Menace by J.M. Darhower
Series: Scarlet Scars #1
Also in this series: Grievous
Published by Self-published on January 16th 2017
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Once upon a time, there was a guy who got so fed up with life that he resorted to murder and mayhem just to feel alive.
Lorenzo Gambini is bored. So f*cking bored. Most people either annoy him or avoid him, afraid to face him. Figuratively. Literally. With his face partially disfigured, scarred, he looks every bit the monster the stories make him out to be: the notorious Scar. They say he's a sociopath. Maybe he's a psychopath. Whatever path he's on, people tend to stay far away from it.
Until one day, a young woman bumps right into him--a woman just as fed up with life, but for much different reasons. With a Scarlet Letter inked on her wrist and secrets buried deep in her soul, Morgan Myers is running from something... or maybe somebody. Lorenzo isn't quite sure.
You can bet your ass he's going to figure it out, though.
The heightened suspense began early on, then at 84% the suspense level was knocked out of the park and continued right through until the final chapter. Initially, I regretted not having read this book earlier, then I hit the cliffy at the end and was glad I had waited so I could dive straight into the next book.
There’s a reason girls yell ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’, why we lie and say we have boyfriends instead of just saying ‘no’ when we’re not interested. Because a lot of men respect another man’s property more than they respect a woman’s right to her own body.
So while I’m forced to live in a man’s world, I do what I have to do.
I highlighted non-stop, with the writing always poignant, amusing or because the words were resonating so strongly I didn’t want to let go of them. The frequent fairytale and movie references added frivolous imagery to the dark and dangerous lives Morgan and Lorenzo experienced. They were opposites with so many complimentary traits. Morgan quickly became an irresistible challenge to him, a distraction he craved, a puzzle he needed to solve and a damsel he wanted to rescue. He was rewarded when it was evident that only he could put life and sparkle back into her eyes.
“Then I wouldn’t really call it misogynistic,” she says.
“You’re more of an equal opportunity asshole.”
Dry humour masks the dark undertones of how Lorenzo distances himself from hurt. He used various tactics, including not using people’s name to avoid any emotional attachment. There were rare exceptions, one being his young brother Leo, but then again, the reference Pretty-Boy comes a little too quickly to mind when I think of Leo, so I am going to scrap the whole exception thought! It was almost comical, with two such different siblings coexisting harmoniously under the one roof, with their quirky attitude to each other proving Lorenzo did have a streak of humanity running through his veins.
If this is how they protect people, I think I’d rather protect myself.
Morgan is a mysterious woman, tough and resourceful, doing what she has to do to see her next sunrise. Her innocence was ripped from her as a child, but she holds on to the tricks/games her mother taught her to keep her safe. Taught to be aware of danger from an early age, she refuses to allow anyone to get too close to her for fear of being found by her father or his men.
“You know, Kassian’s not just cruel,” she says, approaching. “He’s callous… soulless… vicious.” “Cold-blooded, hardhearted, and a dozen other synonyms that mean he’s a real piece of shit?” “Yes,” she says. “He’s not someone you mess with.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not Mary Poppins, either.”
For the villains in this story to stand out, they have to employ extreme tactics. All the characters in this story have a dark element to their psyche and although it is easy to pick out the good guys from the bad to an extent, there was no doubt as to who the evil one was. Awareness of the travesties that had been dealt out justified the indifference Morgan and Lorenzo had acquired.
This story has it all–suspense, drama, mystery, sizzling hot chemistry blended with enough levity to not feel lost in the bleak reality of the catalyst driving the plot. I am fearful of what will happen next but desperate to continue reading. I am not a reader who demands a HEA but at the moment I am willing to beg for one for all the characters I became rather attached to while getting to know Lorenzo and Morgan.
5 Scarred Scarlet Stars
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