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Twisted Games by Ana Huang


Twisted Games

by Ana Huang

Published by Bloom Books

Book 2 in the Twisted Series


She can never be his...but he's taking her anyway.


Stoic, broody, and arrogant, elite bodyguard Rhys Larsen has two rules:

1) Protect his clients at all costs

2) Do not become emotionally involved. Ever.


He has never once been tempted to break those rules…until her.


Bridget von Ascheberg. A princess with a stubborn streak that matches his own and a hidden fire that reduces his rules to ash. She’s nothing he expected and everything he never knew he needed.


Day by day, inch by inch, she breaks down his defenses until he’s faced with a truth he can no longer deny: he swore an oath to protect her, but all he wants is to ruin her. Take her.


Because she’s his.

His princess.

His forbidden fruit.

His every depraved fantasy.


***


Regal, strong-willed, and bound by the chains of duty, Princess Bridget dreams of the freedom to live and love as she chooses.


But when her brother abdicates, she’s suddenly faced with the prospect of a loveless, politically expedient marriage and a throne she never wanted.


And as she navigates the intricacies—and treacheries—of her new role, she must also hide her desire for a man she can’t have.


Her bodyguard.

Her protector.

Her ultimate ruin.


Unexpected and forbidden, theirs is a love that could destroy a kingdom…and doom them both.



Genre


Triggers

Violence


 

I really enjoyed Twisted Love.

I was ... not looking forward to Twisted Games.

I'm aware it's a favorite for fans of this series, but I tend to enjoy the bodyguard trope.

It's just not my thing, and its often always the same plot.

Big, alpha bodyguard gets assigned to beautiful woman, who he assumes is just another spoiled brat, but is surprised by how humble and kind she is. He falls for her and they begin a relationship, despite it being against his rules.

Twisted Games was looking a lot like that, but what saved the story for me was the stakes. The absolute forbidden nature of it.

It wasn't just Rhys' moral code keeping him from her. It was that she was literally the future Queen of a country that didn't allow their royals to marry anyone who wasn't also a royal.

Not predicting the outcome of the story also saved it. And yeah, despite it being an obvious solution to their problem, I didn't predict it would actually be how they overcame the law.

Something else that saved this book from my usual dislike of the bodyguard trope was the fact that while he was a bodyguard, he wasn't protecting her because of one 'big bad', like it is in so many other bodyguard books. Just regular, everyday protection duty.

Another thing I loved?

Rhys.

I didn't hate Bridget. I didn't not like her. I liked her enough. She was reasonable, logical ... I guess I just felt she was kind of boring. Which, I mean ... makes sense with her being raised as a royal.

But Rhys was fun. Very rarely do I not love a grumpy alpha.

The prim and proper Bridget and the dirty talking, bossy Rhys was fun to read. Steamy, yet also heart wrenchingly sweet.


While I know many will disagree with me, Twisted Games isn't my favorite so far. I know that Twisted Hate gets a lot of ... well, hate ... but I'm looking forward to that one. It's not going to be a favorite series of mine, but I definitely am enjoying it.



 



 


Any attraction I’d felt toward him crumbled into ash, dying the quickest death in my history with the opposite sex. Not that it would’ve gone anywhere. He was, after all, my bodyguard, but it would’ve been nice to have eye candy without wanting to drop-kick him into the next century.

Men. They always ruined it by opening their mouths.


Rhys: “How’s the book?”

he drawled later when he’d finished his workout and I’d grabbed the closest book I could find before he entered the living room.

Bridget: “Riveting.”

I tried to focus on the page instead of the way Rhys’s sweat-dampened shirt clung to his torso. Six-pack abs for sure. Maybe even an eight-pack. Not that I was counting.

Rhys: “Sure seems that way.”

Rhys’s face remained impassive, but I could hear the mocking bent in his voice. He walked to the bathroom, and without looking back, he added,

Rhys: “By the way, Princess, the book is upside down.”

I slammed the hardcover shut, my skin blazing with embarrassment.


Rhys: “Don’t think I’ve ever been in as much danger as since you became my client though.”

Her brow scrunched in confusion, and I almost smiled. Almost.

Rhys: “My risk of rupturing an artery increased tenfold.”

Bridget’s confusion cleared, replaced with an odd combination of delight and exasperation.

Bridget: “Glad to see you found your sense of humor, Mr. Larsen. It’s a Christmas miracle.”


Bridget: “I hate when you do stuff like this.”

A grim half smile touched Rhys’s lips.

Rhys: “I’d rather you hate me alive than love me dead.”


Jules sighed.

Jules: “Tell your man he’s hot as hell but a total buzzkill.”

Bridget: “He’s not my man. He’s my bodyguard.”

I lowered my voice, but I thought I saw Rhys pause for a millisecond before he resumed polishing his knife.

Jules: “Even worse. He’s running your life and you’re not getting any dick from it.”


This time, I was the one who frowned.

Bridget: “You say it like you’re training a dog.”

Rhys: “Most things in life are like training a dog.”

Bridget: “That’s not true.”

Rhys: “Show up to work, get paid. Woo a girl, get laid. Study, get good grades. Action and reward. Society runs on it.”

I opened my mouth to argue, but he had a point.

Bridget: “No one uses the word woo anymore,”

I muttered. I hated when he was right.


And that was when another catastrophe happened, one far more disturbing than getting stuck in a too-tight dress in a public dressing room. Something light and velvety brushed against my heart…and fluttered. Just once, but it was enough for me to identify it. A butterfly.

No, no, no. I loved animals, I truly did, but I could not have a butterfly living in my stomach. Not for Rhys Larsen. It needed to die immediately.


If Bridget were anyone but my client, I’d drag her into the bathroom, bend her over, and spank her ass raw for her insolent tone.


Rhys: "I do want you. But I don’t want to kiss or make love to you. I want to fuck you. I want to punish you for mouthing off and letting another man put his hands on you. I want to yank up that tiny fucking dress of yours and pound into you so hard you won’t be able to walk for days. I want all those things, even though I can’t have them. But if you don’t stop looking at me like that…”

I tightened my grip on her chin and throat. She stared at me in the mirror, her lips parted and her eyes dark with heat.

Rhys: “I might take them anyway.”


Bridget: “It was never supposed to be me. I was the spare.”

Bridget blinked, her eyes bright with unshed tears. My chest squeezed at the sight.

Bridget: “It was never supposed to be me,”

I grasped her chin and tilted it until she was looking at me.

Rhys: “You’re a lot of things, Princess. Stubborn, infuriating, a pain in my ass half the time. But I promise you, you’re not a spare anything.”


Rhys: “I know he fits the image of Prince Charming, but you might want to keep looking.”

Rhys unlocked the car doors.

Rhys: “I’ve seen you kiss a cat with more passion.”

Bridget: “Is that why you knocked over the lilies?”

Rhys: “My. Hand. Slipped,”


Rhys: “I came back despite knowing the torture I’d have to go through because I can’t stay away from you. Even when you’re not there, you’re everywhere. In my head, in my lungs, in my fucking soul. And I’m trying very hard not to lose my shit right now, sweetheart, because all I want is to cut off that fucker’s head and serve it on a platter for daring to touch you. Then bend you over the hood and spank your ass raw for letting him.”

He cupped me between my legs and squeezed. I whimpered with a mixture of pain and pleasure.

Rhys: “So don’t. Push. Me.”


Rhys: “Perhaps…”

Rhys’s touch skimmed down my neck and over the curve of my shoulder. I shivered, my skin blossoming with a thousand more goose bumps.

Rhys: “I was always meant to find my way to you.”


Bridget von Ascheberg was mine and mine alone. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t mine to take. I was taking her anyway, and if I could tattoo myself onto her skin, bury myself in her heart, and etch myself onto her soul, I would. Her eyes widened, but before she could respond, I closed the distance between us and grasped her chin with my hand.

Rhys: “But first, I want to make one thing clear. From this point on, you’re mine. No other man touches you. If they do…”

My fingers dug into her skin.

Rhys: “I know seventy-nine ways to kill a man, and I can make seventy of them look like an accident. Understand?”


Rhys: “Remember. In public, you’re my princess, but in private, you’re my whore.”


Rhys: “I want you to know something, Princess,”

he said, his voice a hoarse rasp against my skin.

Rhys: “There’s not much in the world I want to claim as mine. I’ve seen and done too much shit in my life to believe in forever. But you…”

He grasped my chin with his free hand.

Rhys: “You belong to me. I don’t give a fuck what the law or anyone else says. You are mine. Understand?”


Bridget: “Why…”

I trailed off again when he fiddled with something on his phone and soft music filled the air.

Rhys: “We never got to dance at the wedding,”

Bridget: “You don’t like it when I dance,”

I half joked, trying to hide the emotion welling in my chest. What happened in the library during Nikolai’s reception would forever be etched in my mind.

Rhys: “I love it when you dance. But only with me.”

He placed his free hand on the small of my back.

Bridget: “You don’t dance.”

Rhys: “Only with you.”

The burn intensified.

Bridget: “Careful, Mr. Larsen, or I’ll think you actually like me.”

His mouth curled into a grin.

Rhys: “Baby, we’re way beyond like.”


Bridget: “Is that my coat?”

Jules: “Yes. I love it. It makes my hair pop.”

The emerald color did, indeed, make her red hair pop.

Jules: “Your closet is everything. I need an in-depth tour later.”

Bridget: “You already had an in-depth tour, courtesy of yourself.”


Ava: “Stop provoking him. I can’t always save you.”

Jules: “I’m not provoking him. It’s a compliment. Your man can get anything done.”

When Ava turned away, Jules leaned in and whispered,

Jules: “He’s totally whipped. Watch.”

She raised her voice to a panicked level.

Jules: “Oh my God! Ava, are you bleeding?”

Alex’s head snapped up. Less than five seconds later, he ended his call and crossed the room to a confused-looking Ava, whose hand froze halfway to the scones on the table.

Ava: “I’m fine,”

Ava said as Alex searched her for injuries. She glared at Jules.

Ava: “What did I just say?”

Jules: “I can’t help it.”

Jules’s eyes sparkled with mischief.

Jules: “It’s so much fun. It’s like playing with a windup toy.”

Stella: “Until the toy comes alive and kills you,”

Stella murmured loud enough for everyone to hear.


After everyone filed out, I turned to Alex and crossed my arms over my chest.

Bridget: “It took you long enough. And you could’ve given me a heads-up you were coming.”

Alex: “I run a Fortune 500 company. I do have other business to attend to besides your personal life.”

He straightened his shirtsleeve.

Alex: “You might also want to look up the definition of ‘surprise.’ Ava insisted.”


Alex: “I have to say, I’m impressed. I didn’t think you had it in you. Maybe you’ll make a good queen after all.”

Of course he thought good leadership rested on manipulation and deceit. His favorite philosopher was probably Machiavelli.

Bridget: “Alex. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you are a complete dick.”

Alex: “One of the nicer things people have said about me.”

He checked his watch.

Alex: “I would say thank you, but I don’t care. I trust you can take it from here?”


Rhys: “In Costa Rica, you asked if I’d ever been in love. I said no.”

I lowered my head until our foreheads touched and her lips were scant inches from mine.

Rhys: “Ask me again.”

It was the same request I’d made at the hospital, but this time, Bridget didn’t break our gaze as she asked,

Bridget: “Have you ever been in love, Mr. Larsen?”

Rhys: “Only once.”

I slid my hand up from her neck to the back of her head, cupping it.

Rhys: “And you, Princess. Have you ever been in love?”

Bridget: “Only once,”


Erhall: “And if I don’t?”

Bridget: “You might find the news about your long-lost love child splashed across the front page of the Herald. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Journalists can get their hands on the darnedest things.”

She shook her head.

Bridget: “It’s too bad they won’t wait until after the elections. You have quite a strong opponent this year. Just a hint of a scandal could tip things in his favor. But what do I know?”

Her smile returned.

Bridget: “I’m just a ‘pretty face.’”


Andreas: “You can’t sit by a queen’s side if you don’t know which fork to use. You’ll embarrass yourself at state functions.”

Andreas crossed his arms over his chest.

Andreas: “Did you not look at the diagram I sent you?”

Rhys: “They’re. All. Forks. They serve the same function.”

Andreas: “I’d like to see you try to use an oyster fork to eat steak.”


Andreas: "While you’re here, maybe you can explain place settings to your boyfriend. I drew a perfect diagram, but alas, it’s not enough.”

Bridget’s confusion morphed into amusement when I explained the situation, glaring at Andreas the whole time.

Andreas: “He doesn’t know his forks. I’m trying to civilize him. Imagine using a salad fork to eat pasta.”

He sniffed with disdain.

Rhys: “I know them enough to stab you with one of them,”

Booth snorted from the doorway.

Andreas: “The violence is another thing we have to work on.”

Andreas finished his whiskey and set it on the counter.

Andreas: “You’re dating a princess now. You can’t go around stabbing people.”

Rhys: “Oh, I think people will understand once they find out who I’m stabbing.”


Rhys: "You know how I live for your approval,”

I deadpanned.

Andreas: “I do.”

He clapped me on the shoulder on his way out, and my annoyance ratcheted up another notch. I couldn’t believe I shared DNA with that guy. When I turned back to Bridget, she was trying, and failing, to suppress a smile.

Rhys: “What’s so funny?”

Bridget: “You and Andreas. You bicker like Nik and I do.”

Her smile widened at the incomprehension on my face.

Bridget: “You bicker like siblings.”


Bridget: “I can’t wait to get out of this dress though. It’s not as bad as my coronation dress, but I swear it still weighs ten pounds.”

Rhys: “Don’t worry. I’ll rip it off you later.”

I lowered my head and whispered,

Rhys: “I’ve never fucked a queen before.”


 

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