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Twisted Love by Ana Huang


Twisted Love

by Ana Huang

Published by Bloom Books

Book 1 in the Twisted Series


He has a heart of ice…but for her, he’d burn the world.


Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can’t escape.

Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart.

But when he’s forced to look after his best friend’s sister, he starts to feel something in his chest:


A crack. A melt. A fire that could end his world as he knew it.

***

Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember.

But despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world…including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want.

Her brother’s best friend. Her neighbor. Her savior and her downfall.

Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen—but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both…and everything they hold dear.



Genre


Triggers

Violence, death, kidnapping, trauma from tragic murders


 

I'm working on my TBR, and I've been looking at these books for over a year now.

I mean, how many times have they been featured in #booktok or #bookstagram reels?

Countless.

So I decided, what the heck! Time to read it!

And I really enjoyed it!

I didn't love it as much as the hype promised I would - and that might be a case of heightened expectations - but ultimately, I really, really liked it.

Plot-wise, it was interesting. A tad predictable, because I figured out the twist with Ava's character, and most of Alex's twist, well before it happened. It didn't ruin the story for me though. It was entertaining, and left just enough hints to the future books.

Ana's disclaimer is right on the money. If you are wanting a romance with a sweet love interest, you are not finding it here. And while I love reading romances with cinnamon role men, I also love darker, grumpy, alpha male love interests. And Alex Volkov is definitely that.

The sex? Hot. Super hot. All the tension and banter that leads up to their first time, and all the times after, add so much to the steamy scenes and the romance.


While it didn't live up to my ultimate expectations, I can't pretend I didn't thoroughly enjoy Twisted Love, and look forward to reading the rest of the series.



 



 


Ana: “Do you ever smile?”

I asked, peeking inside the box to make sure they hadn’t messed up the order.

Nope. One Death by Chocolate, coming right up.

Ana: “It might help with your condition.”

Alex: “What condition?”

Alex sounded bored.

Ana: “Stickuptheassitis.”

I’d already called the man an asshole, so what was one more insult? I might’ve imagined it, but I thought I saw his mouth twitch before he responded with a bland,

Alex: “No. The condition is chronic.”


Ana: “Josh has the worst taste in friends. I don’t know what he sees in you. I hope that stick in your ass punctures a vital organ.”

Then, because I’d been raised with manners, I added,

Ana: “Thank you for the ride.”


Ana: “I know you don’t want to be here any more than I want you here—”

Crap, that came out wrong.

Ana: “But since we are neighbors, we should call a truce.”

Alex arched an eyebrow.

Alex: “I wasn’t aware a truce was necessary. We’re not in a war.”

Ana: “No, but—”

I blew out a frustrated breath. He had to make this difficult.

Ana: “I’m trying to be nice, okay? We’re stuck with each other for the next year, so I want to make our lives easier. Just take the damn cookies. You can eat them, throw them out, feed them to your pet snake Nagini, whatever.”

His mouth twitched.

Alex: “Did you just compare me to Voldemort?”

Ana: “What? No!”

Maybe.


Ana: “How are you not crying?”

I demanded, brushing away my tears with the back of my hand after the end credits rolled.

Ana: “This movie is so sad.”

Alex: “It’s fiction.”

Alex grimaced.

Alex: “Stop crying.”

Ana: “I can’t stop when I feel like it. It’s a biological reaction.”

Alex: “Biological reactions can be mastered.”

I couldn’t resist—I scooted closer to him on the couch and pushed his shoulders forward so I could run my palm down his back. His muscles bunched beneath my touch.

Alex: “What,”

he said in a tight, controlled voice,

Alex: “are you doing?”

Ana: “I’m searching for your control panel.”

I patted his back, trying—and failing—not to notice the sculpted contours of his muscles. I’d never seen Alex shirtless, but I imagined it was glorious.

Ana: “You must be a robot.”

I received a stony glare in response. See? Robot.


Ana: “You’re—you—no, I’m not!”

I sputtered, pushing him away and scrambling off him. My core pulsed.

Oh my God, what if I was? I couldn’t look, afraid I’d see a telltale wet spot on his jeans. I’d have to move to Antarctica. Build myself an ice cave and learn to speak penguin because I could never show my face in Hazelburg, DC, or any city where I could run into Alex Volkov again.


Bridget tossed a laughing glance in Booth’s direction.

Booth: “Are you all right, Booth?”

Bridget: “Yes, Your Highness.”

He grimaced when the parrot squawked,Ooh, yes! Spank me, master!”

Booth: “I am not your master. Go away.”

The parrot drew itself up and ruffled its feathers in indignation.


Ana: “This is so much better than being cooped up inside.”

I stretched my arms over my head, luxuriating in the sunshine.

Ana: “Fresh air, good food. Don’t you feel happier already?”

Alex: “No. There are children screaming everywhere, and a fly just landed in your salad.”

Damn flies. I quickly shooed it away.

Alex: “Why are we here, Ava?”

Alex’s brow pinched.

Ana: “I’m trying to help you relax, but you’re making it damn hard.”

I threw my hands in the air, pretty exasperated myself.

Ana: “You know that magical thing you did during movie night called a laugh? You did it once, you can do it again. Come on,”

I encouraged while he stared at me like I was crazy.

Ana: “You must have some warm, fuzzy feelings left inside you somewhere.”

And that was the moment a dog from a nearby party wandered over and peed on Alex’s shoes.

Phase Happiness status: Failed.


Most people thought the biggest sacrifice they could make was to die for something. They were wrong. The biggest sacrifice you could make was to live for something—to allow it to consume you and turn you into a version of yourself you didn’t recognize. Death was oblivion; life was reality, the harshest truth that had ever existed.


I hated how much I wanted her, and I hated that she wasn’t smart enough to run away from me while she still had a chance. Though let’s be honest, it was already too late. She was mine. She just didn’t know it yet. I hadn’t known it myself until I saw her in Colton’s arms and every instinct raged at me to tear her away. To claim what belonged to me.


Alex: “If you let lesser people determine your self-worth, you’ll never reach higher than their limited imagination.”

He leaned forward, his expression intense.

Alex: “You don’t have to work overtime to get people to love you, Ava. Love isn’t earned. It’s given.”


Ana: “Tell me about your happiest memory.”

Alex’s lips thinned.

Alex: “I thought this was a photo shoot, not a therapy session.”

Ana: “If it were a therapy session, I’d be charging you five hundred dollars an hour,”

Alex: “You have an inflated sense of your worth as a therapist.”

Ana: “If you can’t afford me, just say so.”

I snapped more pictures. Finally. A sign of life. The click and whir of the shutter filled the air.

Alex: “Sweetheart, I could get you with a snap of my fingers, and I wouldn’t have to shell out a single penny.”

I lowered my camera and glared at him.

Ana: “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

A tiny smirk tugged at the corner of Alex’s mouth.

Alex: “It means you want me. You wear your emotions all over your face.”

My thighs clenched, and my skin burned until I thought I’d collapse into a pile of ashes on the ground.

Ana: “Now who’s the one with an inflated sense of self-worth?”


Ana: "C’mon.”

I pulled at his wrist.

Ana: “You’re twenty-seven! That means you have to take twenty-seven shots.”

His frown deepened.

Alex: “Absolutely not.”

Ana: “It was worth a try.”

I grinned.

Ana: “Just wanted to see if you were dumb enough to do it.”

Alex: “Ava, I’m a genius.”

Ana: “A humble one too.”


Ana: “There’s something beautiful waiting for you, Alex. Whether you find it tomorrow or years from now, I hope it’ll restore your faith in life. You deserve all the beauty and light in the world.”

I meant every word. Beneath the icy shell, he was human like everyone else, and his broken heart broke mine a hundredfold.

Alex: “There you go, romanticizing me again.”

Alex didn’t move as I took another step toward him, but his eyes burned with intensity.

Alex: “It’s too late for me, Sunshine. I destroy everything beautiful that comes into my life.”

Ana: “I don’t believe that. And that wasn’t romanticizing you. This is.”

Before I could lose my nerve, I stood on tiptoes and kissed him.


Alex: “Here.”

I placed a brand-new phone—the latest model, which wasn’t available on the market yet and cost me several grand—on the counter. Her brow knit in confusion.

Alex: “Your current phone is clearly broken, since I haven’t received so much as a text from you in the past five days,”

The confusion lingered for a beat before it melted into a teasing expression, and my heart kicked like a damn Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. I made a mental note to discuss this with my doctor during my annual checkup.

Ana: “You miss me,”

My hands curled around the edge of the counter.

Alex: “I do not.”

Ana: “You showed up at my work and bought me a new phone because I didn’t text you for a few days.”

Ava’s eyes gleamed with mischief.

Ana: “I think that amounts to missing me.”


Alex: "Every inch of you belongs to me, and if you ever let another man touch you—”

My other hand closed around her throat.

Alex: “He’ll end up in pieces, and you’ll end up tied to my bed and fucked in every hole until my name is the only one you remember. Do you understand?”


It turned out my sweet, innocent lamb was actually a dirty little slut in disguise, and I’d never been happier to be wrong.


I enjoyed fucking from the back more than the average man—there was a sense of removal that came with it, which was why it was my position of choice—but I’d wanted to see her. To watch the way she reacted to each shift in movement, to see her face when she fell apart and screamed my name. And that was when I realized I was well and truly fucked.

Alex: “You’re right, sweetheart,”

I said, dropping my forehead to hers with a resigned sigh. So. Fucked.

Alex: “But the rules don’t apply to you.”


Alex: “I love watching you come apart.”

His hands gripped my hips possessively.

Alex: “Only for me, Sunshine. Never forget that.”

Ana: “What would you do if I did?”

I’d meant it as a tease, but Alex’s eyes glittered with danger as his fingers dug into my flesh.

Alex: “You’d have a man’s murder on your hands. Is that what you want?”

He grazed my skin with his nose before he sank his teeth into the side of my neck—punishing and marking me at the same time. Pain and pleasure burst through me.

Ana: “Careful,”

I breathed.

Ana: “Or you’ll ruin your reputation for unfeeling sex.”

Alex: “No one else will see me this way. Only you.”


Alex gripped my chin and brought my gaze to his.

Alex: “What did I tell you? You’re mine, Sunshine. You’re never touching another man unless you want him six feet in the ground. So yes, we’re fucking exclusive.”

Was it bad that his words turned me on so much? Probably, but I didn’t care.


Ana: “So is that what we are?”

I gasped when he slid his rapidly hardening cock along my already wet slit.

Ana: “Fuck buddies?”

Alex: “Among other things.”

He fished a condom from our dwindling supply—he’d had to run out yesterday for a box—and pinned my wrists above my head before thrusting into me.

Alex: “You want to fuck, we fuck. You want to date, we date. You want to call me your boyfriend, I’ll call you my girlfriend. But for now, let me take care of that needy little pussy of yours, hmm?”


Ana: “Do you realize these are the first photos we have of the two of us?”

I waved the Polaroids in triumph.

Ana: “If you don’t hang them in your living room, I’ll be offended.”

Alex: “I don’t know. You don’t match my decor,”

he said in a bland tone.


I grasped her chin and angled her face toward mine.

Alex: “Tell me who or what I need to kill. What happened at your father’s house?”

Ana: “I told you, nothing. It was just the lake.”

Ava eked out a wobbly smile.

Ana: “You can’t kill a lake.”

Alex: “I’ll drain every fucking lake and ocean in the world if I have to.”


Alex: “You are the light to my dark, Sunshine,”

he said in a raw voice. His lips brushed against mine as he spoke.

Alex: “Without you, I’m lost.”


Something inside me broke, and I was no longer only crying for my shattered heart but for the girl I used to be—the one who’d believed in light and love and the goodness of the world. That girl was gone.


Bridget: "Like I said, I despise what you did to her, but I also believe you love her—even if you’re too stubborn or stupid to see it—”

Alex: “I have an IQ of 160,”

I said, insulted.

Bridget: “Intellectual intelligence doesn’t equal emotional intelligence. And do not interrupt a princess. It’s terrible etiquette."


I wondered if other people felt conflicting emotions like this every day. If so, I almost felt sorry for them. It was a pain in the fucking ass.


Ana: “You’ve ruined everything I once thought was beautiful. Sunshine. Love. Even freakin’ red velvet cake, because it reminds me of you. And when I think of you—”

A sob ripped from my throat.

Ana: “I think of every good memory we had and how they’re now tainted by the fact that you were using me the whole time. I think of how stupid I was for falling for you and how you must’ve laughed at me when I told you I loved you. And I think of all those times you warned me about being too softhearted, but I ignored you because I believed the world was an inherently good place. Well, congratulations.”

I brushed the tears from my cheeks, but they fell too fast for me to make much of a dent. Thank God most of my classmates had already left and the surrounding street was empty.

Ana: “That was the one truth you spoke. I was too softhearted, and the world is not the place I thought it was. It’s cruel and it’s vicious, and there’s no place for soft hearts.”

Alex: “Sun—Ava, no.”

Alex reached for me, but I instinctively recoiled. Hurt filled his face. His hand curled into a fist that he stuffed back in his pocket, and the tendons in his neck stretched taut. I detected a tiny tremble in his shoulders as he spoke.

Alex: “That was what I believed because I’d never known anything else, but you showed me there is beauty in the world. I see it every time I look at you or see you smile or hear you laugh. You believe the best of people, and that’s a strength, not a weakness. Don’t let anyone, least of all me, take that away from you.”

His eyes burned into mine, bright with pain.

Alex: “You told me once there was something beautiful waiting for me, something that would restore my faith in life. I’ve found it. It’s you.”


Ana: “Leave me alone.”

Alex’s chest heaved like he couldn’t get enough air into his lungs.

Alex: “I can’t do that, sweetheart. I’ll wait however long it takes, but I’ll never be okay with a world in which you’re alone.”


Alex: “I never claimed to be Prince Charming, and my love isn’t a fairy-tale type of love. I’m a fucked-up person with fucked-up morals. I won’t write you poems or serenade you beneath the moonlight. But you are the only woman I have eyes for. Your enemies are my enemies, your friends are my friends, and if you wanted, I would burn down the world for you.”


Ana: “Alex?”

Alex: “Yes, Sunshine?”

Ana: “I love you.”

His face softened.

Alex: “I love you too.”

His lips brushed over mine before he whispered,

Alex: “But don’t think that’ll save you from the spanking you’re getting once we’re back in the cabin.”


 

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