Book Title: Better When It Hurts (Stripped, #2)
Author: Skye Warren Genre: Dark Romance
Release Date: June 4, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Five years ago we lived in the same house. He was the ultimate bad boy. And my foster brother.
Now he's back. Tougher, harder, meaner. All of it aimed at me, because I was the one who sent him away. It's payback time. He wants his pound of flesh, and I am helpless to say no.
There’s a hundred ways a belt can be used to hurt me. I know them well.
I turn my head to the side, addressing him but showing deference too. It’s an instinct now. It’s survival. “What are you going to do with that?”
“I’d rather show you,” he says, approaching me, prowling around me.
I don’t want him to hit me with that belt. Not because I can’t take the pain. I know I can, because I’ve done it before. I don’t want him to hit me because I might start hating him.
“Wait,” I say.
He doesn’t wait. One hand takes my wrist. Standing behind me, he leans close. “What do you think I’ll do with this? Make your pretty skin all red? Make you cry?”
I tense, twisting my arm. It only hurts me, and I’m still held tight. “Don’t.”
“I’m going to do both of those things before we’re done here, Lola.” He pauses, loosening his grip slightly. “But I’m not going to whip you with this.”
There’s only a second where I can feel relieved before I feel him drawing my other hand behind me. It’s a mistake to relax around him. Whatever I’m thinking, he’s doing something different. However much I brace myself, it’s still going to hurt.
He wraps the soft leather around my wrists, binding them together behind my back. It pushes my breasts out in front of me. Cool air brushes over my skin, tightening my nipples.
There’s weakness in this pose, being held, being open.
And there’s strength too, the pride of being wanted, the power of desire.
“On your knees,” he says so softly I almost don’t hear him.
I don’t know what he’s thinking. Whether he sees me as an object he can use or as an enemy he can conquer. I’m a little off balance, lilting to the side as I sink to the carpet. His hands cup my arms, helping me down, guiding my gently. It feels more like worship than anger, more like kindness than cruelty.
At least until the sharp sound of his zipper rips through the air.
His voice follows. “Candy doesn’t think I’ll hurt you.”
I shiver at the foreboding underneath the words. “Yes.”
He undresses slowly, methodically, exposing rough skin and dark hair and a thick, jutting cock.
I have seen his cock before, but only in the dark, holding it in my fist while I jerked him off, shadows and motion. Now I see the skin like the dark side of a peach, almost the color of a bruise. I see the curve of a vein underneath. I see the head of his cock, fat and proud and already glistening at the tip.
I see everything clearly because the saturated late-afternoon light still streams through his window. Our hours are all backward and twisted. Where another woman would do this at midnight, would expose her shame to the moon, mine comes open at five o’clock.
“She thinks you’re safe with me because I protect the other girls.” He approaches me, his cock near my face, his eyes looking down on me. “I even protect you.”
I choke out the words. “Because only you get to touch me.”
He nods approvingly. Candy doesn’t understand, he means. I understand. He’s showing me that we’re together on this, like some perverted joint mission where I agree to be hurt. And haven’t I? I showed up here of my own free will. Maybe I do want what’s coming to me.
That is probably the best and worst word I can use to describe this story. The best word choice because this story had me from the first page and didn't let go. This book has the sexy, but don't get it twisted: this isn't a unicorn farting glitter romance. There is revenge, pain, humiliation and degradation in this story. And none of that is pretty. But that is what makes this a compelling read. Because interspersed in all that darkness are small snippets of light: sweet moments and kind words, but then there's the flipside when you get the "what could have been" moments as well.
I liked how the story was presented, with periodic flashbacks that gives you the backstory on how the characters came to be in their present situation. The chemistry was always undeniable between Lola and Blue, and they loved each other before really knowing exactly what love is. There are events that occur that will have unintended effects on both of their futures, and that is how you wind up with the present day story.
The emotions in this story are almost palpable; you can almost feel Lola's despair and resignation with her life, as much as you can sense Blue's determination and strength. Theirs is a relationship of give and take, revenge and retribution, possibly forgiveness and absolution.
Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romance.