by Lola King
Book 1 in the North Shore Stories Series
When you were born on the North Shore of the Falls, that’s where you stay.
There is no way out, no fairy-tale-like escape, no hope. Our broken town has always been at war. Two gangs fighting to take over the shithole we’re all stuck in. I only know one girl who wants to leave this place. Me.
I’ve always been a tough, North Shore girl. Fighting is in my blood, survival in my DNA.
But two years ago, Caden King broke me, and he has proof of it.
Now he wants to blackmail me into doing a job for him. The kind that puts my chance of escaping the North Shore at risk. The kind that means betraying my own crew.
He’s on me at all times, his dangerous mind always working on ways to torment me further.
Caden is wicked, unhinged. The North Shore Kings wear his name because of the vicious ways his family has been leading their crew.
Everyone always says there’s no point in fighting him. He has that madness in him that blurs the line between right and wrong. Now he's got his hold on me, and I have nothing and no one to protect me from him.
There’s no way to win.
No way to escape him.
I’m left with no choice but to do exactly what I’m told.
This book is the first in a series of four interconnected standalones. Beautiful Fiend is a dark enemies-to-lovers romance intended for readers over 18. It contains scenes that some readers may find triggering. Please check CW in the book.
Trigger Warnings: Non con (non-consensual) and dub con (dubious consent). From the hero. This doesn't feature a morally grey hero. In Lola King's words, he is pitch black (and yet also redeemable)
First of all, I would like to thank Valentine PR and Lola King for sending me an arc of Beautiful Fiend in exchange for a fair and honest review.
That was a story.
I want to begin by telling you, in no uncertain terms, that this book is definitely dark. The trigger warnings are there for a reason. Read those trigger warnings. Absorb them. Really think if this is a book you can get into, because, let me tell you, as much as I love dark romance, and I read the trigger warnings before applying for this arc, Lola King did not mince words. It definitely pushed the boundaries of what I was comfortable with and is definitely the darkest book I've ever read.
Not just because of the non con event that proceeds this story.
Lola King creates a gritty, dark setting that even when we get into the dub con stuff, it feels dark.
Beautiful Fiend is probably the most - what I would think - a more realistic portrayal of gang life that I've encountered in a romance. Lola King doesn't make any attempts to romanticize it, and I loved that.
It's not supposed to be a good life.
It's brutal. There are drugs. Violence. Murder. Rape. Conflict.
Lola King doesn't hold back, which makes this definitely the darkest romance I have ever read.
In terms of the romance part of this book, I remain ... neutral. There is a little romance, but mostly it felt obsessive. Lustful. Nothing wrong with that ... but if you are looking for a dark romance, this might not fulfill those needs. As for the characters, I don't think you are ever truly meant to like them. I definitely found both of them interesting. I adore that Lola King switched things around and wrote a female MC who is a fighter and dreams of being in the UFC. I also appreciated that she didn't take away any of her femininity because she was in a male-dominated sport. Not that there isn't anything wrong with a more masculine female mc, but I feel like it's a more difficult balance to write a character that is both in a brutal sport, but isn't a stereotype. As for Caden ... well, when Lola King says he is pitch black ... he is. It works. I wish I could explain it better.
I didn't love this book - there were scenes that just had me cringing - but there were aspects of it that I loved. I'm struggling to decide if I want to continue the series. I tried it, and I don't think I can get into a non con romance. But I'm interested in the other characters and what their stories will be. I think it will depend if there is non con in it, honestly. Despite my discovering that, for me, there is such thing as too dark, Lola King is a talented writer, and despite the content, there is a part of me that wants to continue. If you are in the mood for a dark romance, this will fulfill that, but please ... PLEASE ... read the trigger warnings.