Review: The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Booktheunrequited
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher:  CreateSpace
Hero: Thomas Abram
Heroine: Layla Robinson
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: July 13, 2017
Started On: June 19, 2019
Finished On: June 24, 2019

“You know, Layla, falling in love isn’t bad or wrong or even hard. It’s actually really simple, even if there’s no reciprocation. It’s the falling out that’s hard, but no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise, reciprocation is important. It’s what keeps the love going. Without it, love just dies out, and then it’s up to you. Do you bury it, or do you carry the dead body around? It’s a hard decision to make, but you have to do it.”

First of all, let me start by saying, dear Saffron, I am forever grateful to you for writing The Unrequited. You have literally swung up to the position reserved for the authors that I hold in the highest esteem. That is all!

I quite don’t remember how The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent landed in my hands. I believe it was through one of my countless search attempts for new books on Amazon, especially after the lackluster book that I had just finished reading. The Unrequited gave me everything I wanted and more, and as a romance reader for life, there is nothing that makes me happier.

Being my first book by the author, I waded into the book cautiously at first. I shouldn’t have even bothered, because I felt right at home from the very start. With the heroine Layla Robinson who hides in her heart unrequited love for a man that had gone unnoticed by everyone else for years, that hopelessness now accompanied with the guilt of being “responsible” for sending him away, Layla is not at all prepared to meet her newest professor in poetry, Thomas Abrams who literally and figuratively takes her breathe away.

Thomas is a man hardened under the emotional assault of a life that had gone awry. Married with a son to his name, Thomas is not the kind of man who should rightfully entice Layla. But then Layla is someone who is adapt at finding men who are emotionally unavailable, or so she tells herself as she unwittingly pursues the heady and wanton feelings of desire and want that sparks to life between them.

There is cheating involved in this novel, there is no escaping that. Saffron does not try to justify it either, but rather, she tells the story as is, leaving the reader to make whatever judgements that they may. Because in real life, our emotions, actions, hesitancy, and  inner fears all bring us to the inevitable conclusion that things are not as black and white as we may like them to be. Or deem them to be. The people who always sit on their high horses and judge the rest for being human, are those whose desires and passions have never been tested, or lead a life that is more hedonistic than most, who hate themselves for it and takes it out on other people.

Thomas is an intense man, a poet, who has lost his muse in the wayward direction his life had taken. He struggles with his burgeoning desire for Layla, going above and beyond to push her away. However, Layla seems to be made of sterner stuff than most, and she comes back time and yet again, and revels in the “punishment” that he doles out for her “misbehavior”.

This was a novel that took my very soul on a journey it has not forgotten four months down the line when I sit down to write my review. Sometimes the hardest reviews you write are for the books that steals the very essence of you, taunts you, haunts you, and makes you revel in the emotional upheaval it gives you.

Thomas, my God, Thomas – he just assaulted all my senses and has not left since. He invaded my emotions and took over my whole being in all his arrogance, wiping out basically every other hero I have read and fallen in love with – hot damn! To see Thomas lose his ironclad control was one of the best parts of this story. At the risk of repeating myself, Thomas is a fascinating man. The way Saffron brings him to life; the rough and hard edges to him, the tender and vulnerable side to him, and the passionate poet within brings remarkable beauty to the story.

I loved how Saffron pushes the boundaries of what constitutes as acceptable romance stories. The aspect of cheating in this story may put a lot of readers off, but for me, this was as realistic as it gets. How Layla comes and basically smashes into Thomas’ life, how both of them are so caught up in this web of desire and want, how all of it is tied together with deeper feelings of tenderness and love, which both of them deny at first, and are forced to face towards the end. I loved how the story did not take readers on other tangents that would have reduced the whirlpool factor when it comes to Layla and Thomas. I dislike it intensely when authors create situations to prolong the inevitable, but what is the point?

There is obsession and desire, and then there is Thomas and his need for Layla and vice versa. While the story is mostly written in the perspective of Layla in the first person, Thomas’ view of how things are unfolding, his painful past and the present give insightful clues to readers along the journey. In Layla, Thomas finds the kind of woman who would give him her all, no questions asked. She matches him, word for word, kiss for kiss, and answers to the needs of his soul.

I love how effortlessly Saffron seems to bring out the best and the worst in her characters, how she so expertly wields the words she uses, often as if she is spinning poetry of her own. The interview on Huffington Post on this book perhaps explains that vibe, because according to her, the story does take its premise from a poetry class she attended.

The tightly wound sexual tension in this book is so darn good. The premise of this book alone lends a sharp agony that twists and turns inside of you, and ain’t that the best feeling? Even with the whole world stacked against the two, there is a part of you that remains hopeful that everything would work out somehow.

There is deep pain in the throes of unrequited love. It is a rather heavy burden for one to carry. But carry it, a lot of us do. Because often, we do not get to choose who we fall in love with. The only thing that we can control is how we act upon it.

The epilogue that was published separately from the story was so welcome after all the emotional wrangling that I went through to read this book – which I am sure all readers who have gone through this story would have appreciated. The endless quotes section of the review perhaps hints at how much I loved The Unrequited.

This is no light and easy read – if you are looking for one, this is definitely not the book you should be choosing. But if what you want is a book that would literally consume you in every single sense, this is the book you definitely should be reading.

Recommended for anyone who loves taboo tropes and boundaries pushed. This is for the readers who have at one point or another in life held unrequited love in their hearts for someone. This is that book!

Final Verdict: The Unrequited delivers perfection at every page you turn. It will dominate your every waking thought because Thomas is the man who is going to eviscerate your heart before you are done.

Favorite Quotes

I’ve got goosebumps under the sleeves of my sweater, followed by flashes of heat. I touch the spine of his book, going up and down the length with my finger. The smooth texture of it causes something heavy to swirl inside my chest. It causes me to bite my lip. As if he’s attuned to my actions, his gaze falls on me. We stay connected a beat before we both look away. For that one beat, I saw his eyes flare, and the blue was so prominent, it took my breath away.

“How did you like the class today, Miss Robinson?”
Busted. I wasn’t paying attention—he knows it, I know it, but still I keep up the charade. “Great, as usual.”
“Is that right?”
I nod, keeping my gaze on the desk.
“Remember what I said, Layla?” His powerful, rich voice creates a buzz inside my body. “Lying might land you in trouble.”
I lift up my eyes to look at him. The buzz escalates into a restless trembling and words slip out of my mouth in a thick whisper. “I’m not afraid of a little trouble.”

I palm his hand that cups my cheek. The dusting of hair over his knuckles grazes my skin. It teases my senses, liquefying them, heating them up. I want to suck on his fingers. I want to taste them after he touches me, taste his flesh after it comes in contact with mine.
I’m assaulted by images of him—his fingers—inside me. Inside my needy core. Petting it, soothing it, stroking it. I picture them curling, hooking inside my channel to coax out my juices and then feeding them to me.
The desire is so strong, so alive that I can’t stop myself from nuzzling in his hand. He grows even hazier, covered by a certain mist, sparkling.
Fuck it. I’m doing it. I’m tasting his skin. Just one lick, I promise myself. It won’t hurt anyone.
I turn my face and peek my tongue out. I make contact with the juncture where his fingers meet the palm. The touch is barely existent. It barely registers in this vast, vast universe, but his taste bursts in my mouth—the strongest, most provocative flavor of salt and chocolate.

Abruptly, he fists my curls and stops me. I look at him fearfully, ready to apologize—not for the kiss, but for being the kisser. His gaze reflects passion, stark, raving need, and I shiver, despite wearing layers and sweating with his heat. “Are you trying to kiss me, Layla?” he rasps, flexing his fingers on my makeshift ponytail. He couldn’t tell? Blush rises to the surface and I know I’m glowing like a neon sign. Swallowing, I nod. “Yes.” He inches closer to me, still not touching—as impossible as that is—but infinitely closer. “You want to kiss me, Miss Robinson, you do it right.”

I rotate my hips, searching for that magical friction against the ridged planes of his body. Then I feel it—his erection against my upper tummy. It’s huge. Hard. A heated rod. It’s alive, and when I move against it, I feel it throb. A tortured moan rips out of his chest.
Thomas tears his mouth away from me and even my soul mourns the loss. We stare at each other, gasping for breath. I’m still clung around him and his cock is still nestled between our aroused bodies. I adjust my thigh around his hip, and it throbs with the small movement.
“Don’t fucking move,” he tells me, emphasizing it with a tug on my hair.

“I can do whatever I want with you and you’ll let me. Isn’t that right, Layla?” He licks his lips as if savoring his own words. “I can tell you to jump and you’ll ask how high. I can tell you to strip and you’ll strip as if your clothes are on fire.”
“Yes,” I moan.
He rewards me by grinding his muscular thigh and my cunt pulses. My lust-addled brain commands me to move, to chase the friction, and I do it. I slide up and down his maddening leg, digging my nails into his scalp as the pleasure mounts.
I feel the angry and rhythmic jerk of his cock on my stomach and I love it. I love the fact that I’ve shed all my inhibitions and am reduced to this, a lust-drunk puppet. I love that it gives Thomas pleasure. He isn’t sad anymore, or vulnerable.
Yes, I love all that.

“You want me to make you a grown-up, Miss Robinson?” His eyes smolder, and I’m glad I’ve got my arms around him or I would’ve dropped to the floor in a puddle. Something is so…weirdly erotic in that sentence.
I don’t have time to analyze it because he begins moving his hips, giving me that sweet friction, and Jesus fucking Christ, it’s the best thing I’ve ever experienced. The pressure is making my wounded pussy bleed cum.

“Fuck.” His agonized whisper brings my attention to his bowed head. I loosen my fingers from where I’ve been strangling the beautiful strands of his hair. “Your pussy is so tight, tighter than I ever imagined it to be, and I’ve imagined a lot.”
My breath evaporates as he looks up. He is aroused, flushed and sweating, yet he appears godlike. How’s that possible when he’s the one on his knees? He’s a beautiful, sexy god who has my sticky juices painted on his mouth and chin. It glistens in the yellow light like liquid fire.
“I’m not proud of it. I don’t want to think about it, but you tempt me, Layla, so fucking much. You make me feel crazy.”

“You think I hate you?” A short laugh escapes him, resembling the bark of an animal. “I don’t hate you, Layla,” he grits out. It sounds exactly like he hates me.
“So you like me?” I squeak.
My naïve question seems to have angered him more. His face is red, the vein on his neck bulging out. It’s scary.
“God, you make me so fucking mad.” He shakes his head. “Do you think this is a joke? Huh? Do you think we’re in high school? Do you think I’m going to kiss you and make out with you and take you to the movies or something? Is that what you think, Layla?”
“N-No.”
“Then what do you think is going on here?”
“I don’t…I don’t know.”

“You don’t get it, do you? I’m not a nice man, Layla,” he warns.
“I don’t believe that.” I fist his shirt tightly. “You’re just lonely, like me. Lonely and brokenhearted.” I let go of his shirt and caress his heated, chiseled jaw and cheeks. “You can touch me, Thomas. I won’t regret it, I promise.”
He shudders under my touch, as if coming apart. This is the most vulnerable I’ve seen him. But then he steels himself, goes rigid. I’m afraid he’ll push me back and send me away, but he hauls my body flush with his.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” He breathes over my lips.
“When you regret this—and I know you will—just remember that you asked for it.”

He walks closer to me; putting his hand on my cheek, he tips my face up and makes me stare at his gaze. I see desire lurking there and my heart skips a beat.
He wants me. So fucking much.
As if to prove it, he leans down and resumes kissing me. This time it’s even hungrier and more urgent, if that’s possible. I lean into his clothed body, my skin brushing over the warm fabric. It makes me wet and horny and so powerless that I’m exposed and he’s not. It makes me feel like a slut. His slut. Horny and shameless.

I arch under him, making his cock throb between us, and he clenches his teeth. He grabs a chunk of my hair in his fists and stares down at me. There’s anger and satisfaction in his eyes. “You can’t stay still, can you? You can’t stop tempting me for one fucking second.”
“No, I can’t,” I admit. “I don’t know how.”
“You’re always hungry, Layla. Always starving.” He rocks into me, drags his weighty arousal against my stomach, and blows a breath into the nape of my neck. “Why’s that? Huh? Why are you such a cock-hungry girl?”
I moan at his dirty words. God, he’s such a poet, speaking filthy poetry to me.

“Do you like that?” he asks.
I swallow and moan, “Yes.”
“I’ve thought about you like this,” he says in the thinnest of whispers. “Under me, naked and desperate. You moan when I touch you like this but I tell you to be quiet. I tell you to keep it in because I want to hear something else.” He presses his thumb and I bob under the pressure. His erection jostles, reminding me that I’m stuffed full of him.
“Do you know what I want to hear, Layla?” The pressure on my clit increases and I can’t keep the moan inside.
“Thomas… Oh God.”
“Shh. Tell me, do you know?” When I shake my head, he clarifies, “The poem you wrote for me.”

My desire ups with every slide and I forget about the pain. I wrap my legs around his waist and bring him closer. Thomas speeds up his thrusts until he’s slamming into me, grunting like a man possessed.
“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God,” I chant as his hips smash into mine, as his balls slap against my ass. I am sobbing with every jab.
Thomas has gone speechless as he stares down at me, at my rebounding breasts. He is feeding off my moans, my pleasure, my restlessness like a demon. My desperation spurs him on as I meet him stroke for stroke.

Thomas drops his head on my shoulder, his thrusts erratic. It’s a mad race to his own climax, the jerky movements, the rotation of his hips—and then it all stops. Orgasming, he throws his head back, exposing his neck.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful than this, than him. I’ve never heard anything more melodic than his animalistic grunts.

Thomas brings his hand over to my cheek and tries to wipe the salty water away, but I’m filled to the brim with emotions. God, I hurt so much right now. For Thomas. For myself.
“So you see,” he whispers over my lips, ghosting the wet, soft flesh over my plump, salty ones. “You can fall out of love if you’re in love with someone like me.”
As he hauls me even closer and fuses his lips with mine, I can only think of one thing. If I ever fell in love with Thomas Abrams, I’d never fall out of it.

“Caleb wouldn’t do that, would he?” He adjusts the waistband of the useless material so that it cuts into the soft flesh just above my knees. “He’d stop if you asked him to, but who am I, Layla? What’s my name?”
“Thomas,” I answer, quivering as he circles his hot hands along the back of my thighs. My frozen insides begin to melt under his touch. The cold has no meaning, no power over me.
“Yeah.” He rumbles, as if pleased. My breaths shake with the pleasure in his voice. “I won’t stop even if you beg me to. I’ll make you strip in the cold, put you on your knees on the ground and fuck you till I fill you up.”

“You’re so fucking wet.” He bites the juncture of my neck and shoulders, then soothes the sting with his tongue. “Ask to suck my cock.” Another whisper followed by another bite on the neck and a lick of his tongue. He is running his finger up and down my pussy before sliding under the fabric to play with my wet hole, but he never makes contact with my tight bud. He doesn’t give me relief.
“Come on, Layla. Beg me.” The need in his voice supersedes the need in me, and I’ll do anything for him. I’ll forget about my own pleasure and suck his cock, just so I can feel him pulsing on my tongue.

“This is what happens, Layla.” His speech is both slurred and cutting at the same time. “This is what happens when you do something I specifically told you not to. This is what happens when you strut in here in your short skirt and purple fucking coat and give me those big, violet eyes.”
He is panting, keeping up the punishing pace that feels anything but punishing. It feels…intimate, out of control, desperate, and I love it. Every inch of my body loves it. My thighs shake as he predicted they would. My breasts dangle heavy and full, and my tattoo burns bright on my stomach.
“You make me do this.” He rolls his hips, making my eyes water with the pressure. “You make me abuse your mouth.”

“Remember when I told you I’ll set you on fire and won’t even look back?” He strokes my sweaty hair and whispers in my ear, “That’s how I’ll do it, while fucking your ass. I’ll pour the gasoline, light the match, and watch you burn, Layla—and trust me, you’re going to love it. I’m going to ruin you for every other man out there and you’re going to love every second of it.”
God. God. I think I’m dead. I’m in heaven and hell. In another stratosphere. I’m everywhere. He has shattered me with his dark promises, broken me, and I don’t think I’ll ever be pieced back together. “Not today though.” He moves away, one hand on the nape of my neck, keeping me down.
“No. Today I’m going to show you something else. Today I’m going to show you how I burn.”

“Rub your clit. I want you to get yourself off.”
All thoughts evaporate at his commanding voice and I do as he says. I flick my clit and play with my puffy nipples.
“This is what I think about,” he bites. “It doesn’t even matter if you’re around. This. Bursting every door down so I can get to your pussy. All I can think about is fucking you, Layla. All the time. Every time. You’re in my fucking blood, and I’ll tear apart anyone who dares to fucking touch you.”
That’s when I come. My body strains, goes rigid as I come at his confession—a confession that seems to be torn out of his very soul.

I tip up my chin and open my legs, ready for him. Thomas clenches his jaw and in one stroke, jams his cock inside me. I nearly come off the desk, my nails skating along the hard wood. Gasping, I go back down and grab the edge to brace myself, because in the next second, I’m in danger of flying off and crashing to the ground.
His slams are punishing. Brutal. Borderline violent. My teeth chatter with every stroke. My breasts heave and rebound. His grip on my thighs is going to leave marks, I know it, but most of all, it’s the obvious pain of his hip bone hitting the desk that jars me. He is punishing himself as much as he’s punishing me.

He frames my face with his hands so I have nowhere to look but him. “Do you hear those sounds, Layla?” he whispers thickly. “That’s me talking to your pussy.” Then he changes angles, holds himself inside me, rotating his hips, bucking up and down, hitting me in just the right spot. In turn, I hear the sloppy gurgling of my core, a slightly different tone than the previous sounds, wetter and angrier.
“And that’s your pussy telling me she likes it, saying she loves to feel me inside her.” He stops grinding at that and starts ramming with a savage force that doesn’t let either of us breathe. Sweat drips from his forehead, plopping onto mine. “That’s all the talking we need to do. That’s all the fucking talking we ever need to do.”

“Why aren’t you in New York?”
“Because I have to tell you something.”
“Wh-What?”
“You’re beautiful, you know that?” he says, instead of answering my question. Somehow his voice shivers too, a rumbly sort of vibration that I feel in my tattoo. He lets go of the door frame and crowds me, forcing me to take a step back.
He brings his other hand to cup my cheek. His fingers tremble over my skin and I put my hand over them to give them stability. “Thomas, please, tell me what’s going on.”
His Adam’s apple jumps up and down. “No, that’s…that’s not right. You’re not beautiful. I think you’re the most exquisite thing I’ve ever seen.” He licks his lips, his eyes flitting back and forth. “No, not a…not a thing. You’re more than that, Layla. You’re…the poem I can never write. Yeah, you’re the piece of poetry I can never hope to finish, no matter how hard I try.”

He keeps sliding his cock in, and I swear I hear the muscles stretching, peeling away from each other. Oh God. Tears form as I breathe through my nose, trembling with pain.
This was a bad idea. Bad. Bad. Bad.
“Shh…” Thomas caresses my spine with his other arm, trying to soothe my skittish body. “It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. I’ll take care of you.”
“Is it…all in?” I whimper.
“No, baby, not yet.” He whooshes out a long breath. His strong thighs vibrate against the back of mine, telling the tale of his control and exertion.
That slip of his tongue, that casually thrown in endearment makes me open my eyes and look at him. Every hollow and crevice of his body stands taut and highlighted. He appears to be made of stone. My fire-breather. My stone god.

He falls over me as his cock pushes out hot cum. I sigh under his delicious weight and we lie in the puddle of our orgasms. His shuddering chest bumps with my back, his arm thrown over my shoulder. I smell his skin, nuzzle my face in the coarse hair of his forearm. His sighs scatter the hair on my neck.
For the first time in a long time, I feel sleepy on my bed. I don’t need the hard surface of the bathtub. My eyes are on the verge of falling shut when I hear him whisper, almost distractedly, “You bring them back…my words.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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ARC Review: Kimjongilia by Victor Fox

Format: E-bookkimjongilia
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Publisher: CreateSpace
Hero: –
Heroine: –
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: May 29, 2015
Started On: September 10, 2016
Finished On: September 12, 2016

Kimjonglia is a story that should interest anyone that has an avid curiosity when it comes to the ultra secretive regime that is North Korea. When one considers the recent events of volatility involving its current leader and the current US President, the North Korean leadership now into its third generation since the reign of the Dear Leader, its history is of vital importance if one is to understand where the regime and its ideology stems from. I believe that Kimjonglia offers vital insight into the regime’s very fragile beginnings which was orchestrated in a very large and significant way by both China and Soviet Union at the time. Stalin’s notoriety as a despotic leader and his regime’s dark influence is seen in the mechanisms that were used by the North Korean regime in the early years to subjugate the masses, which saw entire families “disloyal” to the regime sent to gulags, killed, or worse. Stories of the abject horror that the residents of these gulags are subjected to emerge and trickle down from prisoners who risk their lives to escape. But this is not what Kimjonglia is about.

Kimjonglia, according to the author of the book, is a flower that is named after Kim Jong. Story begins when Peter Chang, whose heroic role in defeating the Japanese forces in China is entrusted with protection of Kim Jong-Suk, wife of Kim Song-ju, the man who was being groomed to become the leader of North Korea. Kim Song-ju’s description in the book needs no further explanation which I will quote here.

“Kim Song-ju was born in 1912, the oldest of three brothers. His father was a Presbyterian minister, kicked out of the church for stealing funds. Even though Kim never fought in a guerrilla war, many stories about him circulate on the Korean Peninsula. No one really knows how these stories came to light, but there is strong evidence that Soviet leaders, desperately looking for a Korean ally, might have been behind the tales. In reality, Kim Song is an insecure man who loves to spend his time with loose women rather than with men of respect and honor. He loves to tell family stories to impress people, and often misrepresents his real family background. Many people in Korea, China, and the Soviet Union believe that he is a God-loving Christian man, but in point of fact Kim Song is an atheist who believes in aliens. He loves astrology and often makes absurd claims, such as seeing aliens and meeting them in his home. He believes firmly that he was born an exceptional man who is destined to rule the world. The Soviet Union and China know about his weaknesses but support him because he is the most gullible Korean public figure available. Both countries believe that Kim Song-ju will be easily controlled, and they use his incapacities to their advantage. An unspoken war is in progress between the two countries to get full control of Kim Song-ju, and unfortunately, from the Chinese point of view, our position is weakening and deteriorating. Kim Song is getting closer to the Kremlin and has even adopted his new name, Kim ll-Sung. We don’t know why the Soviet Union convinced him to change his name, but we think it was to hide his military records. Lately we have confirmed that he has become a big consumer of vodka and drinks heavily in the evenings. Our source also tells us that alcohol consumption is having a terrible effect on his health, and some Soviet doctors are trying to stop him from drinking too much. He also suffers from numerous sexual diseases. While the Soviets were busy throwing beautiful women at him, we arranged for him to marry one of our finest agents.”

Though born as a Korean, Kim Jong-Suk had been brought up loyal to China and the Communist Party of China (CPC). In the end, afraid that the Soviet’s influence on Kim Song-ju was growing too rapidly, China had been “forced” to convince Kim Song-ju to take Kim Jong-Suk as his wife. However, Kim Song-ju had proven to be far difficult and unpredictable a man to control as CPC had initially thought. Which is how Peter is sent as a live in household staff at Kim Song-ju’s residence.

At first, I did not believe that I would be as fascinated with the story as I was in the end. I didn’t expect myself to be thoroughly captivated by the tale that unfolded, but the story is told in such a way that the elite founding members of the dictatorial and autocratic regime that is North Korea appears in a more human light. I wouldn’t use the word humane on a leader who laid down the foundations of depraved cruelty for his people, but nevertheless he is discussed in a light that sheds insight into the man he became later on. A man who is as much flesh and blood as you and me. A man driven by his baser desires of drinking and need for women that he could never get enough of, and the wife that he kept at home, who turned to another man for comfort which brings forth with it scandalous secrets of the kind that could shake the very foundations of the regime itself.

Kimjonglia also shows the Chinese and Russian machinations that went on behind Kim Song-ju’s back. The Chinese and Russians trying to outdo each other in the influence both wielded on Kim. How the Chinese planted spies loyal to the CPC within Kim’s inner circles, and how the Russians cultivated enough personal information on the offspring of Kim that could have literally broken him into pieces. The hostility that North Korean regime shows towards the US, Japan and the South Korea is a dynamic that interests foreign policy enthusiasts. So does its close ties with Russia and China which has continued up till today. 

Kimjonglia is passed off as written by one of the earliest Generals of Kim’s army, one of Chinese origin, who worked as a spy for the Russians, but eventually found himself in cahoots with the Chinese in order to protect their assets on the Pyongyang ground. Utter barbaric cruelty of the Kim Jong even as a child is displayed in the book, one that barely hints at the savagery he would later wield over his people once he took over from his father. 

Tales of love, lust, betrayal, and treachery lines the lives of the family, and makes for a fascinating read that remains highly plausible once you do more reading on the characters that appear in the book as it unfolds. What happened to Kim’s first wife, mother of Kim Jong and her lover and father of her two kids remains a mystery, conveniently explained by the North Korean regime as having being killed in child birth. Because of the secrecy that shrouds the members of a regime that has become increasingly paranoid over time, what you read and garner between the lines is just as captivating. I just wish that there was more of it!

Final Verdict: Focusing on the personal lives & ties that bind, Kimjonglia tells a tale that is irresistible to anyone interested in the North Korean regime.

Favorite Quotes

“Do you know Kim ll-Sung?”
Peter thought momentarily. “The Korean?”
Hands clasped behind his back, Shao nodded gravely, his jaws tense.
“I’ve heard about him, but never met him in person.”
“How about Kim Jong Suk?”
“Yes, I know her,” Peter said.
“How do you know her?”
“I’ve seen her at the headquarters once or twice.” Several Koreans had fought the Japanese alongside the Chinese. “She is his wife, right?”
“True. You know more than I thought.”
“I’m not a fool. Who doesn’t know the Korean? People say he is full of shit and a coward. How can a man like him become important?”
“Don’t pay attention to gossips. Nobody is perfect,” Shao waved his finger. “Our job is to do what’s good for China. And he is good enough.”
“What if he is bad for his own people?”
“We can’t carry the burden of others. Our concern is only for the CPC.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-bookCorrupt
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Hero: Michael Crist
Heroine: Erika Fane
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: November 17, 2015
Started On: January 05, 2016
Finished On: January 08, 2016

Corrupt by Penelope Douglas is my very first read from the author. My hankering for romances that are dark led me to Penelope’s books, and I decided to jump with both feet in where this book was concerned. Though Young Adult is not my preferred genre to read, some of the books that I have forayed into have made out to be pretty good reads. A word of warning though; Corrupt is definitely not for those that don’t like their comfort zones pushed. It is a read for those that dare venture into areas they are not comfortable with, but when all is said and done, you still feel a sense of rightness and understand that at the end, it was pretty much worth it.

19 year old Erika Fane is about to leave the gilded cage her life had been pretty much up till then. With the death of her father and her mother taking to drowning her sorrows and shrouding herself in the depression that had not let up since then had made Erika spend much of her time at the Crist’s place which is where her history with Michael Crist comes from. Erika had always had a huge crush on Michael, the older and more aloof version of Trevor, his younger brother who seems more malleable and definitely seems to have the hots for Erika. Erika finally manages to break free of the “accepted mold” her life has become, only to find out that she has run smack-dab into Michael and his group of friends who for some reason, want to exact revenge on her.

Michael has not forgiven Erika for what that fateful night a couple of years ago had culminated into. Neither is he willing to accept the fact that Erika matters to him on a level that his heart, body and soul cannot deny. Michael is not the conventional form of hero, who changes overnight at the mere entrance of the heroine into his life. Rather, Michael clings onto what has essentially protected him from Erika all along. The fact that his family has other plans where Erika is concerned means little to him as he makes his move on her, intending to teach her a lesson that she wouldn’t forget in a long, long time.

Corrupt is a story told in first person from both Erika and Michael’s point of view. I was glad it was told from both, because it would have been very difficult to get where Michael was coming from if not. Michael is harsh, and very much so at certain points in the story that one thinks he would never be able to redeem himself. The story is dark, no doubts about that. Elements that makes certain things almost unforgivable exists in the story and like I said before, Corrupt is not for the faint of heart.

Michael’s saving grace comes from the fact that he understood Erika better than anyone else and wasn’t afraid to give it to her exactly as she wants it. Erika’s brand of pain and pleasure is one that entwines one another, and Michael dishes it out in doses that Erika is more than woman enough to handle. Michael’s refusal to coddle Erika and give her the freedom that she craves for and desires is one that made Michael win points with me. He had never liked Erika being coddled left and right and when push comes to shove, though Michael’s possessive nature makes him protective as well, it doesn’t deter him from pushing Erika to stretch her wings and fly.

Erika’s point of view was equally important in determining whether Michael was exactly what she wanted and needed. Of course, her love for Michael had been one that had stemmed from long back, but that fateful night that had brought Michael and Erika together for a brief moment in time had also been the pivotal point whereby Erika had decided that she and Michael would never be. Though she is far from immune to Michael, Erika is determined that she would lead her own life, no matter how much she craves for the brand of pleasure that Michael is so good at dishing out.

When all is said and done, Michael and Erika’s backstory and entwined history gives that sense of right to their coming together. It’s not perfect, but then again, who wants the kind of perfect that barely skims the surface? I guess the point of comfort that was all the darkness in this novel stemmed from the fact that Michael and Erika; they are two halves of one whole and it is evident once the story reaches its ultimate conclusion. It all clicks into place because Michael, even though he plays mind games and fucks around with Erika in a misguided sense of seeking revenge, it is there in the way he can’t help himself but protect her from the worst of it. Because they are the ‘us’ neither can live without and fate had meant it so. 

The ending had a surprising twist to it, perhaps one all readers might foresee as the story continues. Lots of possibilities for the emergence of a series exists in this novel and I for one clamor for books for the other guys in the story. Damon for one, is the darkest character in the story, at least from what Penelope has divulged so far. I believe he, more than anyone else deserves his own redemption and happily ever after. Kai is another character that intrigues me. Makes me wonder, what would it be that finally makes him go all in.

I loved the epilogue. It didn’t follow the traditional sense of an epilogue, but rather gives a peek into how Michael had gotten ‘corrupted’. Interesting tidbit to leave us with.

Corrupt is recommended for those that can take the pain with the pleasure. I believe, Penelope is an author to be contended with in the world of romances tinged with darkness.

Final Verdict: Penelope redefines darkness in romances, delivers a read most cannot even fathom!

Favorite Quotes

[Erika] I twisted around, ready to leave, but then I looked up and instantly stopped.
My stomach flipped, and I couldn’t breathe.
Shit.
Michael sat in one of the cushioned chairs all the way at the back of the solarium, his eyes locked on mine, looking eerily calm.
Michael. The one that wasn’t nice. The one that wasn’t good to me.
My throat thickened, and I wanted to swallow, but I couldn’t move. I just stared, paralyzed. Had he been there since I first walked down? The whole time?
He leaned back in his heavy armchair, nearly shrouded by the darkness and the shadows of the trees overhead. One hand rested on a basketball that sat on top of his thigh, and the other hand lay on the armrest, the neck of a beer bottle hanging from his fingers.

[Erika] The closer he got, the taller his six feet four inches looked. Michael was lean but muscular, and he made me feel small. In many ways. He looked like he was walking straight for me, and my heart hammered in my chest as I narrowed my eyes, bracing myself.
But he didn’t stop.
The faint hint of his body wash hit me as he passed by, and I turned my head, my chest aching as he walked out the solarium doors without a word.

[Erika] Oh, God. He was right.
My eyes burned, and I wanted to cry. Goddammit, he was right.
I locked my ankles behind his back and held his shoulders as his hazel eyes stared at me. He wore jeans and a black hoodie, just like in the past.
I stared into his eyes and slowly slid my arms around his neck, the drumming in my chest charging every muscle in my body, making me strong.
“Yes,” I breathed out, bringing my lips close to his mask and taunting him. “Yes, it turns me on.”
And then I dived down, burying my lips in his neck and devouring him.

[Erika] He jerked me into him, going faster and harder, and the feel of him sliding in and out of me, finally taking me, was doing nothing to ease my need. I was hungrier.
I dived into his neck, breathing against his skin as I grazed my lips back and forth, whispering, “They all thought I was a good girl, Michael.” I dragged his lobe through my teeth. “But there’s so many bad things I want to do. Do dirty things to me.”
“Jesus,” he gasped, hooking an arm under my knee and yanking my ass into him, fucking harder as he let his head fall back.

[Michael] I lowered to my knees, standing above her as I pulled off my hoodie and T-shirt. Then, I pulled a condom out of my pocket and ripped it open.
“You may think I fuck with your head,” I said, looking down at her as I unbuckled my belt and unfastened my jeans, “but you don’t know what you’ve done to me all these years.”
I came down on top of her, forcing her legs apart as I pushed her arms back over her head and held her down with one hand.
Rolling the condom on, I dragged my cock up and down her wet slit, finding her hot entrance.
I breathed hard, whispering over her lips. “You don’t know.”

[Michael] She said she didn’t trust me, but I knew it was a lie. I’d be willing to bet I was the one person she trusted the most.
She and I were the same, after all. We fought shame every day, struggling with who we could let see the real us, and we’d finally found each other.
Unfortunately…we were fucked.

[Michael] I shouldn’t be able to look at her. I shouldn’t love to touch her, and I shouldn’t need to feel her wrapped around my cock every second since I’d first had her last night.
She wasn’t mine. She would never be mine.
And I shouldn’t want her.
I stood up and walked over to the bed, leaning down and studying her pretty face.
Fuck you, Rika.
Fuck you. I can’t choose you.

[Michael] “Such a good girl,” I growled in a whisper, flicking her lips with my tongue. “Say it, Rika.”
“I’m a good girl,” she panted, her voice shaky.
“And I’m going to fuck you up,” I finished, taking my hand off her breast and gripping her hip.
Diving down, I covered her lips with mine, eating her up and tasting her, her tongue meeting mine in more heat and fucking lust than I had ever felt for anyone.
My body was on fire, and I was gone.

[Michael] “I’m not tough, Michael,” she whispered. “Not really. I can play, and I can let you fuck me in your brother’s bed or on your father’s desk and use me as an object to get back at them, but in the end—” She paused and then continued, “In the end I’m still here, Michael. I’m still here. It’s still just you and me.”
She breathed hard against my skin, and I dropped my head, caving. I wrapped both of my arms around her and held her warm body tight as I buried my face in her neck. I couldn’t ever let her go.

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