by Laura Thalassa
Published by Lavabrook Publishing
Book 3 in the Four Horsemen series
They came to earth--Pestilence, War, Famine, Death--four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.
Ana da Silva always assumed she’d die young, she just never expected it to be at the hands of Famine, the haunting immortal who once spared her life so many years ago. But if the horseman remembers her at all, he must not care, for when she comes face to face with him for the second time in her life, she’s stabbed and left for dead.
Only, she doesn’t quite die.
If there’s one thing Famine is good at, it’s cruelty. And how these blighted bastards deserve it. Try as he might, he can’t forget what they once did to him. But when Ana, a ghost from his past, corners him and promises pain for what he so recently did to her, she and her empty threats captivate him, and he decides to keep her around.
In spite of themselves, Ana and Famine are drawn to each other. But at the end of the day, the two are enemies. Nothing changes that. Not one kind act, not two. And definitely not a few steamy nights. But enemies or reluctant lovers, if they don’t stop themselves soon, heaven will.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Violent Mythical-Fantasy Kinda fun
TRIGGER WARNING: Scenes depicting brutal death and torture. Please be advised.
Famine by Laura Thalassa is the third book in her Four Horsemen series, and centers around Ana, who was once spared by the cruel horsemen Famine. When they meet years later, she was hoping that he would recognize her - and spare her again. Instead, he has her stabbed and thrown in a pit. By all accounts, she should have died, but Ana held on, her hatred for Famine and thirst for revenge getting her through the worst of her injuries. When she catches up with Famine - and he finally does recognize her - her threats of violence to him enthrall him, and he decided to keep her captive. Despite his intense hatred of humanity, and her painful past that involves that first fateful meeting, their mutual attraction simmers. But in this world, is a happily ever after possible when there are other forces at play?
Getting right into it - Famine is my favorite of the series so far. It's checking off my boxes. Original - yes. Good plot? Yes. Captivating. It took me no time at all to read this book. It was equally interesting, emotional, and believe it or not - funny. This leads to characters. I really liked both Famine AND Ana. They both had a backstory! Even Famine! And no spoilers, but it's made clear early on why Famine is so cruel, and that there was a time he wasn't always like that - making his violence more digestible. And Ana's story is traumatic in a different way, but equally dark, and leads her to being the woman she is in the present tense of this book. Backstory aside, their chemistry was fucking delicious. It was a slow burn, but when it happens for these two, it HAPPENS. The banter was absolutely amazing. Two characters with a deep sense of sarcasm and wit, and a passion for getting under each others skin? Love. As for consistency, the plot has remained consistent throughout the series, but Famine stands apart for me. We get two characters that don't try to change one another, and despite not liking some things about the other, accepts it. That's a big change from the last two books.
Famine, while still a darker romance (I mean, apocalypse, and a horseman tasked by God to kill, and the horseman has his own issues with humans - it's pretty brutal at times), Famine had me smiling - even laughing - more than a few times. It has some of my favorite things in romance - enemies to lovers, slow burn, complicated characters - so for me, Famine was a hit. If you can handle some violence in your books, I recommend this one to you.
Now ... if only I noticed that the final book is not out yet before staring this series. :/
In the past, Ana holding Famine while he sobbed
Famine creating a new flower for Ana as a thank you
Ana taunting Famine with sex talk
Famine admitting that he drinks to forget all sorts of sins
Famine, much to his own surprise, not letting Ana die
Famine tending to the wounds from the plant she was restrained in
Famine letting Ana sleep in his lap when they were staying in the abandoned house
Ana saving Famine again, and holding him as he cried.
Famine saying Ana's common "Calm your tits" had me cackling
Ana forcing Famine to get in the bath, and swatting his butt to do so. HAHA
Famine and Ana's first night together
The first time they make love
Famine getting Ana help for the infection, and speaking to her in Angelic
I love that Famine keeps growing plants in the house, waiting for Ana to truly freak out
Ana: "I'm the gift."
He raises his eyebrows, his mouth curving into a mocking smile. His gaze flicks over me again.
Famine: "What could I possibly want with you?"
Ana: "Maybe I could warm that cold, cold heart of yours."
Famine: "Why find me and risk my wrath yet again?"
Ana: "I wanted to hurt you."
He raises his eyebrows.
Famine: "My balls are sore, little flower, I'll give you that."
Famine: "I have never made an exception for a human before, and I'm loathe to make one now. But I'm afraid there has only ever been a single instance where a human saved my life. It unfortunately, has made an impression on me."
He leans in close.
Famine: "That should worry a feeble little flower like you."
Don't worry, buddy, it does.
Famine: "You really should've stayed away. You may still be that same little flower who saved me, but then, I'm not known for letting flowers grow ..."
Famine: "You are a human-shaped headache."
Ana: "What a compliment to headaches everywhere."
Famine: "Do you ever stop talking?"
Ana: "Only if you put something in my mouth. I'm partial to food, but dicks work too."
He glances heavenward.
Ah, blessed reaction.
Famine: "You've presented me with a problem."
Ana: "I'm going to put this in the nicest way possible. You can go fuck yourself and your problem away."
Famine: "Is fucking your only solution to any problem?"
Ana: "Is killing yours?"
Ana: 'You know, you'd probably be much less bloodthirsty is you banged your aggression out."
Famine: 'I don't want to be less bloodthirsty - and I definitely don't want to 'bang' you."
Ana: "I wasn't offering, though I'm sure you could find someone open to the idea. Probably not a living someone, but still, someone."
Famine: "You say that as though you didn't throw yourself at me mere weeks ago."
Ana: "I was blinded by memories of a nicer Famine."
Famine: "And I have been blinded by memories of a nicer, less sexual version of you."
I raise my eyebrows, an unwilling smile spreading across my face.
Ana: "I didn't realize my sexuality mattered to you."
Famine: "Will you be quiet?"
Ana: "Only if you put something in my mouth. Dicks are still an option."
Famine: "I thought you weren't offering."
I open my mouth to argue, but - oh, he's right.
Ana: "I might make an exception just this one, for the sake of humanity, or course. A blowjob to end all bloodshed - that sounds appropriately valiant."
Famine: "If I give you one of your damned compliments, will you stop questioning me?"
But in the silence that follows, I brace myself for some stinging barb.
Famine: "You have a lovely voice."
Ana: "But I thought you wanted me to stop talking."
Famine: "About me. Talk your ass off about anything else."
Ana: "I'm sitting here with a man who says he's not actually a man, riding a horse that might not actually be a horse -"
Famine: "He's a horse."
Ana: " - and I'm supposed to not talk about any of it."
There's a long pause.
Ana: "Fine. I guess that leaves me to talk about sex. Moist, thick, wet sex."
Another beat of silence passes, then -
Famine: "Would you like another compliment?"
Famine: "Oh, for fuck's sake."
Famine: "Do not read into this."
Oh, I'm planning on reading the entire fucking series of Famine Acting Abnormally Kind and What it Means.
Ana: "Awww, I think you don't half mind my company."
Famine: "You're making me reconsider."
Ana: "Nonsense. And guess what? I don't half mind your company either."
Ana: "Are you sure you don't like sex? You're looking at me as though you might."
The horseman rips his gaze from my body, meeting my eyes.
Famine: "I am not looking at you in any way."
Ana: "Yep, you are. You definitely look like you could bang one out. I'm really good at quickies -"
Famine growls - growls! - in response, much to my delight.
Ana: "You think I don't know pain? I lost both my parents by the time I was a teenager, my aunt abused me, and my cousins did nothing to stop her, but that didn't prevent me from mourning them all when you killed my entire town. And then, left with nothing, I had to fend for myself, and I consider myself lucky that my madam was the one who found me. I was seventeen when I started to sell my body. Seventeen. Still just a teenager. You think I don't know pain? Degradation? I could sit here all night telling you about the horrors I've endured - the clients who beat me, who raped me, who told me I was worthless all while using me. Just because it hasn't completely broken me doesn't mean I don't understand all the ways we can hurt one another. So don't act like you invented pain. It's an insult to the rest of us."
Famine: "The hand of god falls heavy."
His eyes flick to mine.
Famine: "You were wondering what they said, weren't you?"
I nod, my brows drawing together.
Ana: "What langua -"
Famine: "The one God speaks."
I pause, staring at the words a little longer.
Famine: "I shall take their crops and cast them out, so that nothing may grow. And many shall hunger, and many shall perish. For such is the will of God."
There it is, the proof that this is supposed to happen.
Famine: "I was always meant to be the cruel one. Pestilence, for all his disease, has always been perversely drawn to humans. And War was made from human desires. Terrible as my brother are, I am worse."
Ana: "Is there anything about us humans that you do like?"
Famine: "I like your stories."
Ana: "Our stories?"
Famine: "Don't sound so shocked."
Ana: "Stories are the most human thing about humans. Of course I'm shocked. What sort of stories do you like?"
Famine: "Ones where a lot of people die."
I reach out and give his chest a playful shove.
Ana: "Get out of here. No you don't. I bet you like romance."
Ana: "I bet you do. I don't think anyone can resist a good romance."
Famine: "Stop it, Ana."
But I swear it sounds like there might be a slight smile to his voice.
Maybe I'm just imagining it.
Ana: "Well, now you have to tell me one."
Ana: "C'mon, just one little bedtime story - and a head scratch. You know, as a peace offering for me not stealing your virginity."
Famine: "What makes you think I'm a virgin?"
I gasp and sit up.
Ana: "You're not a virgin?"
Famine pushes me back down on his lap
Famine: "Fine, I will tell you a story -"
Ana: "Tell me about your first time."
Ana: "Fine. First times are always messy anyway. Tell me about your second time."
I grin in the darkness. It was worth a shot.
Ana: "What? Did I say something wrong? Don't be mad - you're much less pretty when you're mad."
In response, he growls.
I grin. So much fun to tease.
Ana: "God, calm down, Famine/ I'm just teasing you."
Famine: "It's not funny."
Ana: "Well of course it's not funny for you. The joke's at your expense."
Ana: "What are you doing? Aren't you mad?"
Famine: "That you lost control? Little flower, I'm enchanted. Your antics have been the best entertainment I've see in a while."
Ana: "What does that mean?"
Famine: "It means that you're a decently good person."
Ana: "Decently good? I saved your ass once upon a time. That didn't earn me any heaven points?"
Famine: "You've also tried to kill my ass, in case you've forgotten, so no."
Famine: "Did he ...?"
Ana: "Hurt me? He tried, but can I tell you a little secret?"
I don't wait for the Reaper to answer before I lean in close and whisper
Ana: "You don't fuck with a prostitute. We can be the things of nightmares."
Famine: "I am ... almost frightened."
Famine: "Twice now you've saved me. Why? Why do such a thing when I have brought you so much pain?"
Gently, I placed my hand against his face.
Ana: "I don't know, Famine. Because I am foolish, I suppose. And because I'm too curious for my own good. But most of all, because I like you every bit as much as you like me."
Ana: "Why are we doing this again?"
Famine: "Calm your tits, Ana This is the fun part."
Famine: "Tell me, evil man, what did you intend to do to her? Did you intend to recite her poetry? Or to pledge your loyalty to her? Did you come to bring her food, or clothing or shower her with praise? Or to tell her how unworthy of her time you were? No. You came to violate her. And my friend, we're both discovering that nothing stokes my rage like trying to harm my flower."
Ana: "You give God a bad name."
Famine forces out his own laugh.
Famine: "You give humans a good one. Too good."
Famine: "I'm not one of your weak-willed clients. I don't want your posturing. I want the raw, angry woman who tried to kill me. The same woman who saved me."
Ana: "I ... don't have a lot of experience being genuine."
Famine: "And I don't have a lot of experience being human, but right now both of us are going to fucking try."
Famine: "I think you are remarkably brave, and your compassion is uncommon and admirable. I owe you my life twice over, and that is no little thing. And for what it's worth, you're also pretty. Excessively so."
I feel my face heat from all the praise.
Ana: "Why are you telling me this?"
Famine: "Because you are human and I imagine you like compliments far more than I do. And for whatever insufferable reason I want to give you many."
I watch, transfixed, as in a matter of moments a rosebush comes to life around me. From it sprouts a single bud. I stare at it as the bud grows, the bursts open, revealing the delicate, smoky petals of a lavender rose.
I go numb at the sight of it.
Famine grew the same flower the first time our paths crossed. And now he grew it again.
He plucks the rose from the plant, removing its thorns. He runs a hand over the rose bush.
Famine: "I know she's lovely, but you must let her go."
As though it understands, the rose bush uncoils itself from me.
Just as I'm stepping away from the plant, Famine hands the rose over.
Famine: "Because around you, I feel the oddest urge to use my power to create rather than destroy."
Oh my God.
It actually hits me then.
Fuck my tits and my asshole too.
I'm falling for this psycho.
Ana: "You said everything was going to go back to the way it was before."
Famine: "I lied. I cannot forget how you saved me and all you have admitted to me since. And I cannot forget how your skin felt against mine and the look in your eyes when I touched you. But most of all, Ana, I cannot ignore the way you draw me in, again and again."
Famine: "Fuck things going back to the way they were."
With that, he kisses me.
Famine: "Don't hide from me. All I want is to see you right now."
You saved me when you had every reason not to.
You broke me.
And in the process I broke you.
And now I fear the only way we will ever be whole again is together, all your jagged edges nestled against mine.
I hate that I want that.
But I do.
I want to be whole with you.
Famine: "I never could've imagined that I would love the slope of your nose or the space between your eyes. I know you are considered lovely by human standards, but I don't have human standards, and Ana, you are the most exquisite thing I've ever laid eyes on. Even when you sleep with your mouth open. Even when you yell at me - especially then because I love seeing your fire."
I bring her hand to my lips and press a kiss to her knuckles.
Famine: "You were made from the earth. I can feel the universe moving through you, and yet you are something else unto yourself. I never wanted to love a human. I fought you with everything I had. You were everything I shouldn't want. But then, your compassion pierced me deeper than any blade. I have felt the earth move, I have felt the grinding of rock as mountains shift and the world changes shapes. None of it could prepare me for you. I love you. Maybe more than all of what I am. And I don't understand why, but I do. I love you."
Ana: "Is that ... a proposal? Because if it is, that's going to be a no from me."
Ana: "I want an actual proposal. With sex. The ring is optional. Groveling is a must."
Famine: "Groveling? I'm not a dog begging for scraps."
Ana: "Nope, right now you're a dog with zero scraps. I want sex, a pledge of your undying love -"
Famine: "Now it's a pledge of my undying love?"
Ana: "That goes without saying."
The Reaper looks irked.
Ana: "You've gone down on me, so you're already an old hand at this groveling business."
Famine: "You've had all this practice pleasing people and no practice being pleased."
Ana: "There's no way you've ever pleased anyone besides yourself before now."
Famine: "Alright, you've caught me. But, am I not a quick study, little flower?"
Ana: "Is that supposed to flatter me? Because that sounded creepy as fuck."
Famine: "I'm glad you haven't completely forgotten that I am 'creepy as fuck.'"
Ana: "You're the devil."
Famine: "No. He's nicer than me."
Famine: "Marry me. Please."
My heart lurches.
I think this is him groveling.
Ana: "Why do you want to marry me?"
The Reaper's lips quirk.
Famine: "Little flower, don't you know? I happen to enjoy when you pee on my boots, and you sing songs off-key, and when I wake up to your atrocious morning breath - you know, you also fart in your sleep."
Ana: "This is the worst proposal I have literally ever heard."
It's a strange and unnatural sight, watching the flora spirit away a grown woman into the forest beyond. It's the thing of human myths.
What's not so mythical are the curses pouring from her mouth.
Ana: "You goddamn bastard! Let me fucking go! Famine, I swear upon your God, I will kick you in the dick so hard you'll feel your balls in your throat."
Check out the rest of the Four Horsemen series