I've read the first four books so far (as I haven't been able to find the last three books in my library yet), and for me, this series was a great surprise! I had been willing to read the Tomorrow series for years, but somehow I never really got to the point where I would buy and eventually read them.
Till last year! And I may say that I thought it to be the best series I've read that year! This second book, I thought it to be thrilling, and I love the fact that (even though the things that happen are terrible) the story is original and full of suspense!
I would recommend this book to a lot of people, but please read the first book first!
First off, I had no issues whatsoever with the writing style of this author, or the writing itself. The story flowed along well, and I wasn't bored at all while reading. That is one of the two reasons this book got two stars instead of just one.
The other one is that I was super enraged for most of the book at the treatment Ikraam had to endure at the hands of her sister.
After I mulled it over for a while, I realized I had massive issues with some of the characters, the plot, and the setting, as well as the social aspects of this book. The messages within are really problematic for me.
I mentioned in my status update when I finished the book that "this was different". It sure is. The book is set in a country in the Middle East, where sheikhs and Bedouin tribes are still aplenty. Goat herding is mentioned. Grazing grounds. Filthy rich sheikhs. Camels. Donkeys. Lots of goats. Women are second class, at best, required to hide their faces and their bodies in hijabs, niqabs and veils.
The basic premise is that rich billionaire sheikh Fathi, who's secretly gay, has been told by his grandfather that he's been betrothed to a Bedouin girl named Ikraam, sight unseen, before the girl was even born, due to some debt the grandfather owed to the girl's father many many years ago.
That's basically believable, right?
The rest of this? Not so much.
Ikraam is actually not a girl. Ikraam is a young man who was born to the 2nd wife of a Bedouin tribe chief/leader who thus far only fathered girls. He's been raised as a girl in a large harem because his oldest sister didn't want him to be the heir and remove her from her position of power after their father died. She basically forced Ikraam's mother, and then Ikraam as he grew up, to keep his gender a secret and raise him as female. This was continued after the mother died. The oldest sister married a weak man who became the new tribe leader, but it's really been her in charge. She then set out to marry off all her sisters to other tribes so she could be HBIC.
I had some issues right there. Not only is this plot point unrealistic, but even if it were believable, the psychological repercussions of Ikraam being raised as a female, and eventually realizing he's not female, are never even addressed. Can you imagine being raised this way? And noticing at some point that, hey, I have a penis, and, hey, the others girls do not? And, hey, I could be killed at any time if someone finds out? And, hey, my oldest sister abuses me daily and I have absolutely no way out of this situation other than death? Wouldn't YOU have some serious psychological issues? Can you imagine how fucked up that is? The suffering? The constant fear? Knowing you will die on your wedding night? Feeling that you have to go along with this plan so you can possibly save your niece from a fate worse than death?
Additionally, Ikraam has been raised without ever learning to read, without knowing anything about the modern world (which I guess is expected when one grows up in a tent in the desert, weaving cloth and hiding underneath a niqab). And yet, this is never addressed even when Ikraam marries Fathi. The difference between Fathi, who was raised with money and educated in the US, and the poor Bedouin woman/man, who's never even been to a city, who's never read a book, who has no idea how the world works outside of goat farming and weaving cloth and hiding behind a veil - how could they possibly be compatible? And to top this off, when the secret does come out, Ikraam suggests living as a female in public, and as a male in the privacy of their bedroom, and NO ONE questions the feasibility of this and its possible repercussions. Fathi thinks it's a great idea. Is Ikraam identifying as gender-queer, made so by how he was raised? Are we supposed to believe that gender identity is thus nurture instead of nature? What message is the author sending here?
We are introduced to Fathi and his twin brother early on. Fathi has a secretary whose only apparent purpose was to be a contrast to Ikraam as this secretary is educated and modernized, but then used only to be shamed and ridiculed for her aspirations. There's a scene at the very end that had me cringe in second-hand embarrassment that the way this particular scene played out made it past the editor. What was that, even? This is a young, modern, educated woman, someone who did a good job in the position for which she was hired, and yet, she's shamed for being interested in her boss, and the uneducated, unworldly, MALE-pretending-to-be-female Ikraam is held up as a "better" example of being female than this young woman, going so far as showing up on the arm of his new husband, dressed in traditional FEMALE finery and given an opportunity to announce to the secretary that her boss is now married and she needs to take a hike. How did this make it past the editor? What message is this sending to the reader? Readers who are primarily women?
Don't get me started on Ikraam's oldest sister and the mother of his niece. The woman was pure evil but basically gets away with it. Not only is she perfectly willing to let Ikraam die for her subterfuge, which his husband would then obviously discover, but she's also willing to get rid of her own daughter by attempting to marry her off to a disgusting and violent man at least twice her age, who will likely break not only her spirit but also her body. Evil sister/mother don't care. And even when all of these things come out, she's not punished for her behavior. Ikraam is safe, and so is his niece, but the evil sister never gets a real punishment for not only the deception but also the cruelty and suffering she inflicted.
Fathi is secretly gay, as I mentioned. His grandfather, described as a very traditional and old-fashioned man set in his ways, then doesn't even really blink when a) Fathi admits to being gay, and b) Ikraam's secret is revealed, and c) they want to get married anyway. Say WHAT? You're trying to tell me that an old man from the Middle East doesn't care that his heir is gay? Embraces it? Is fine with the Bedouin girl being really a man? And you explain it away by stating that he's not super religious and THAT'S IT?? I'm sorry, but I didn't buy what the author was trying to sell here.
The secondary men in this book, namely the tribe leader and the niece's potential groom, are either weak or evil. Both were one-dimensional characters and used to provide a specific plot point or two, then discarded.
I usually like the titles in this very tropey series, but this was a complete miss for me. The gender identity issue could have been handled in a much healthier way here, and I would have expected more conflict and pushback from the grandfather based on his portrayal. I would have liked to see some psychological help for Ikraam, and some education as well.
This book didn't work for me. YMMV.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A review was not promised in return. **
This book was gifted to me by the author in hopes I'd leave a favorable review.
First off, I love this series, each one focusing on a specific material. We had Lace and Satin, and now I've devoured Silk.
Here, we have Lucas, early 40s, a self-made millionaire, whose stoic and rigid upbringing has left him with a mild case of social anxiety and an unwillingness to form romantic attachments. Or any kind of attachments with other people, really. When he needs sex, he calls upon an escort, never inviting the same man more than twice, at the very most. Usually, the escorts get only one dance upon his silk sheets - the rare man may be hired twice.
It was clear early on that Lucas was lonely and unhappy, but didn't realize it. He thought his life was normal. Cuddles, embraces? Who needs them.
Then Lucas, intrigued by images online, hires Matt, 27, an escort/underwear model/server at his parents' restaurant, which he'll take over at some point. When he's ready. Modeling underwear is for fun, as is escorting - and Matt likes sex. The money is nice, but Matt knows that this isn't something he'll do long-term. Besides, his parents would be mortified and disappointed if they knew about his side jobs. He has a few regulars, but is also perfectly happy to accept new clients.
So Matt breezes into Lucas' life/condo and their first night is super hot. Holy moly, do they burn up those silky sheets. A couple of weeks later, still thinking about Matt, Lucas hires him again. And then again. And then... well, you read this for yourself.
I really liked how the author drew her characters here, giving them a full backstory that made them who they are, but also gave them room to grow and expand their world views. As Lucas and Matt go from client/escort to more, spending time outside of Lucas' condo, they both realize that they could be much more than casual sex. Matt's rule of never falling for a client crumbles. He still has other clients, but there is thankfully no sex with others once he starts hanging out with Lucas outside of the bedroom.
Lucas, though being the older man, doesn't have a whole lot of experience with romantic relationships and it shows. And Matt, as mature as he is, crumbles under the perceived expectations of not only Lucas, but also his parents, and he definitely has some growing up to do. He's stubborn and somewhat unreasonable, but so is Lucas to some degree. They both need to learn the fine art of compromise which is so important in any relationship, and they both need to learn to communicate honestly and openly, which translates to telling each other what's bothering them. What they want. What they need. And what they expect.
Matt's sister Angela, as well as his parents, were also well done, and I absolutely adored Lucas' grandmother Diane. The scenes set at her house were often hilarious, but Grandma Diane also has a huge hand in sorting these two knuckleheads out when they can't seem to do that on their own.
The somewhat large age difference really didn't matter here - they were well-matched from a maturity perspective, and Lucas had no issue keeping up with Matt's libido either. *fans self*
That epilogue - perfection. I loved, loved, loved it.
This was an excellent read, and I enjoyed myself immensely while reading. I might have taken a cold shower after, but this is not unusual for a KC Wells book.
I also need the next book, Denim, like, RTFN! The short teaser at the end of this book has me salivating already.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A review was not promised in return. **
Book Title: Sweetest Venom
Author: Mia Asher
Narration: Lucy Rivers & Jeremy York
Series: Virtue #2
Genre: Erotica | Romance
Setting: New York
Source: Audiobook (Library)
⇝Add to Goodreads⇜
Main Characters: 3.5/5
Secondary Characters: 3.5/5
The Feels: 3/5
Theme or Tone: 2.8/5
Flow (Writing Style): 4/5
Backdrop (World Building): 4/5
Book Cover: 4/5
Ending: 3.7/5 Cliffhanger: Nope.
Steam Factor 0-5: 5+
Total: 3.7/5 STARS - GRADE=B
I went into this knowing it would have too much explicit sex for my liking…and so I wasn't pissed off about that. I also fast-forwarded through them some, and that helped, too. I do have to give the narrator's props for reading these sex scenes out loud, because wow, they were raw. Also some props for the Author, for always keeping it real with the way she writes her sex scenes. (I suppose I can let it slide the couple times she referred to a vagina as a sex…serious pet-peeve of mine.)
While I had some issues with the MC (Blair is one f'-ed up chic) and the believability of the story...I think, overall, I liked how different this story is…it wasn't cliched like a lot of New Adult/Contemporary Romance stories out these days. The fate of the love triangle will leave you wondering just which direction it's going in, right up until the very end.
⇝Will I read more from this Author?⇜ Maybe…