My reading tastes are pretty eclectic, but I always come back to sexy romance every third book or so. Within the genre, I tend to steer clear of Daddy/little girl stuff and ‘sweet’ romance. Not being sniffy, but DD/lg just isn’t my kink and fluffy stories leave me a bit cold too. I like raunchy, explicit sex in the stories I read, but this is no substitute for a strong plot and great characters.
Do I have a favourite sub-genre? Not sure, but if I do it would be dark romance. I love the emotional gymnastics needed to redeem a seriously unlikeable hero and I never cease to be amazed at the ingenuity demonstrated by exemplars in the field. Natasha Knight is perhaps my Number One go to, the queen and Queen Mother of dark romance. Anna Zaires, too, spins a gloriously torrid tale.
All of this said, are some scenes just too graphic? I recently read Natasha Knight’s Benedetti Brothers duo of books and whilst the first in the set, Salvatore, is darkish but not overly so, the second story, Dominic, really had me wincing. There is one particular scene where the mafia villains torture a man and chop off his tongue. This is described in graphic and visceral detail and made for pretty hard reading. The violence was not gratuitous, it added to the plot and gave credence to the fairly extreme thirst for vengeance which drives the pace of the story. Still, it is an image I find hard to get out of my head.
I wonder if perhaps this is the difference between film and the written word. Had this scene been part of an 18+ mafia crime thriller I would not have been even remotely tempted to watch it. When it happens in a book I might shudder but my inner filter renders the image somehow acceptable, keeps it within my ‘shock and horror’ parameters. We are able to be our own censor when we read; we interpret the words the author gives us and we make of them what we will.
Dark romance is one of the few sub-genres of romance that I have never written in. I think about it from time to time but I know I would struggle to keep my hero nasty enough for long enough. In my writing I gravitate to towards sexy alpha males with a soft centre, not the stuff of dark story-telling at all. Natasha Knight, Anna Zaires and the rest have the field to themselves and long may they continue to delight and horrify me in equal measure.
Here are my reviews of Salvatore and Dominic. I gave them both five stars.
Salvatore:A Dark Mafia Romance (Benedetti Brothers, Book 1)
I have read all of Natasha Knights books and every time she brings out a new one my one-click finger goes into over-drive. Ms. Knight never disappoints, and Salvatore is another real treat. Somewhat dark, though less so than some of her other books, the story is set against a backdrop of mafia and organized crime. Salvatore is the heir to the Benedetti empire, soon to become boss of a network of violence, robbery and vice. He is also the not-so-proud owner of Lucia, the daughter of a vanquished enemy who has been gifted to the Benedettis in settlement of a debt.
Never entirely comfortable with the arrangement, Salvatore is drawn to his ‘property’ and finds himself protecting Lucia from the rest of his family. He wants her, but not as a possession. Lucia, too, should loathe her ‘master’ but somehow just doesn’t.
If you like your heroes sexy as hell with a soft centre, you’ll love Salvatore. The plot is brisk and engaging, the characters well fleshed out and Ms. Knight’s raunchy prose delivers a satisfying HEA.
Go grab yourself a bit of Benedetti – you won’t regret it!
Dominic:A Dark Mafia Romance (Benedetti Brothers, Book 2)
Dominic is dark with a capital D. The character, and the plot are set against a pretty disturbing backdrop of human trafficking, sexual slavery and brutal violence. This book is not for the faint-hearted, but offers a solid and compelling read. I couldn’t put it down.
Dominic is the dysfunctional outcast son of the Benedetti clan. Illegitimate, he doesn’t belong and he is eaten up by resentment and bitterness. Ostracised following a violent confrontation with his family he embarks on an even darker career which brings him up against Gia.
Helpless, the captive of a violent and terrifying adversary, Gia simmers with her own demons and her thirst for revenge is even greater than his. Bound by love and hate in equal measure, Dominic and Gia are made for one another and their explosive, sensual, twisted relationship hooked me in right from the off.
If you like dark romance, Natasha Knight should be your go-to writer. On my scale of dark and shade, Dominic is positively pitch black. Don’t miss it.