INNER CORE (Stark #2)

Firstly, I would like to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of INNER CORE.

Secondly, I would also like to mention that this book review is totally unbiased.

Towards the end of Layers (Stark 1), Daniel reads an earth-shattering article about his most guarded private life, jumps to conclusions and accuses Haley of revealing details only she have could known. Although she denies being the culprit, he doesn’t want to listen to reason and breaks up with her. Broken hearted, she carries on with her plans to visit her parents and while there, she finds out that her brother is missing in action. When Daniel realizes he has made the biggest mistake of his life, he tries ringing her mobile which to his consternation, is disconnected. As he has a vague idea where she might be, he rings Hayley’s best friend and flat mate, Tasha. She tells him where she is, gives him her parents’ phone number and she also informs him that Hayley’s brother is missing in action in Afghanistan. By using his influences in higher places, he manages to get information about her brother’s platoon and books a flight to…

This is exactly where Inner Core kicks in. Haley can’t believe her eyes when Daniel gets out of the taxi in front of her parents’ house. Emotions run riot…I won’t tell you where, and they promise each other to be more truthful and communicative in the future. Even though you’ve met Hayley’s best friends in Layers, I must mention them again. Natasha, Ian and Haley are without a doubt, such a close-knit and self-made family, it makes one envious. Family underlined and inseparable! Tasha falls for Brad, a very dubious guy who just happens to have been one of Hayley’s ex one night stands! This makes matters more complicated because he was also an associate of Daniel. And Ian! Ian is the life of the party. Extrovert, loving and always ready to give good advice. After a night of debauchery, he is thrown out of his home by his landlady, and between him and Tasha, cajole Hayley into moving in with Daniel, something he’d been asking her to do for ages. Consequently, all Hayley’s insecurities are uncovered. I don’t want to share more of this tremendous love story because it wouldn’t be fair!

Ms. Ehrlich has not only an incredible ability of conveying the smallest detail regarding her characters’ personalities, she has been able to make us visually see their physical appearances too. Most writers in these type of romances, chose the dark haired, blue eyed boys and alpha male. Not her. Daniel is nothing but this. Strong personality, definitely, more down to earth though and with a lot of soft spots in between. I just loved his scar on his lip and the colour of his hair, everything about him. Haley is, what can I say? Outstanding, sexy, and if I was a guy, I’d say gorgeous! Inner Core is an apt title for a book that needs to be read. My personal recommendation to the author is to simply to keep up the good work. Bravo!

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Her Master’s Courtesan

Rebecca just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unbeknown to her, she was being observed by Aiden while enjoying a break with friends in the grounds where she studies the history of art. He follows her to an art exhibition, starts up a supposedly innocent conversation while she contemplates an erotic painting and asks her for her opinion. She doesn’t think twice when this attractive and well-dressed man invites her for coffee with the pretence of his ignorance regarding the art world.

Little does she know what Aiden has in store for her when she wakes up bound and chained to a bed in a cold dark room where he, the Master of Masters, is about to rip her life apart not only by torturing her physically, but also by breaking down her mind with a sadistically intricate psychology which makes her question her very existence. Converting her into a submissive slave for a more than dubious club member of a capriciously immoral men’s club which had existed for years should have been plain sailing for a man of such expertise. However; he had never envisaged Rebecca’s willpower to survive the constant mental and physical cruelty he dealt out to her. She was like no other captive he had ever trained and what had started out as a simple task, became a complex battle to dominate her. Constantly forcing her into situations of total degradation doesn’t stop her from fighting or loving him and he in turn, fights his underlying feelings for her in a perversely peculiar manner. Albeit he would never admit to himself that this woman had gained his respect, he suggests to Rebecca that instead of selling her to his highest bidder, a despot allegedly renowned for treating his slaves horrifically, they could fool the buyer by kidnapping her friend Kelsey who had long blond hair like her. She trusts him and willingly helps him do this. But when she accidently has access to her friend’s mobile and finds text messages between her friend and her first lover, she realises that she’s secretly been the laughing stock for many years. Her inquisitiveness to find a video recording of her first sexual encounter mentioned in a distasteful reunion is effective too and feeds her need for vengeance. Aiden only finds out about the video when Rebecca has a nervous attack. Although he gives her the opportunity to retaliate, it all backfires in such an unimaginable way that one is literally aghast by the outcome.

Aiden plays Rebecca like a fiddle. He deceives her, he lies outrageously to her, and he makes her body hum even when he rapes her. Aiden never makes love to Rebecca. Aiden’s sadistic ways will shock and disgust you. He is a masterful sinner you will hate from the first paragraph of the first chapter to the very last. There is absolutely no reason for you to like him. He doesn’t want to be liked. He is unconventional. He is indifferent.

Rebecca is beautiful, strong and unbreakable. She has also been cleverly manipulated to such an extent that even though she tries to give him as much as she gets, it’s hard not to get angry with her when she succumbs to his manipulations. Her total submission will annoy you but since she has no choice in the matter, you will forgive her, even pray for her. When she and Kelsey are trained, their future with devil’s advocate is only a matter of time!

I thought I had read shocking books. I was wrong! This author’s debut in a genre not easily categorised as erotica as there is so much torture in it, is a dark and difficult read. Notwithstanding; there is no argument that Ms White has written a masterpiece which will be talked about for an eternity. Why you may ask? Well, simply because every miniscule detail regarding the few protagonists’ relationship has not been left out. For this reason, not only did I find this novel suffocating and difficult to read, but at times I felt a desperate need to come up for air by taking a breather.

I salute the author for a book extremely well written. However; I would like to point out to future readers that this novel is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Endurance (Heart of Stone)

I would like to point out that this review is totally unbiased.

This novella is hopefully not the last in the epic series; “Heart of Stone.” If you haven’t already read the previous books, it is highly recommended that you do as to avoid any confusion. The first being “Incineration”, the second; “Tolerance”, the third; “Resolution”, and the fourth; “Atonement.” I would also like to mention that by firstly reading “NCS Industries and then the Room 103 series.” will also guide the reader towards a solid conclusion regarding an incredibly disconcerting sequence of events leading up to Ms. Sidebottom’s last book. Truly a lot of reading but without a doubt, well worth the effort!

In the past, a roller-coaster ride of deceit, barbaric violation and broken promises seem to be against Mason and Ava’s relationship but these two beautiful souls are not only bought together because of their strong physical attraction to each other, they are also two of a kind. She helps Mason defeat his addiction to heavy drugs and other obsessions, and he, in turn, makes Ava a stronger person. Undeniable love helps them put behind a traumatic past and they make a new life for themselves and their two children in Portugal where George, Ava’s surrogate father, confident and best friend lives.

Endurance kicks in years later when Mason confesses to Ava that he has denounced their teenage son’s girlfriend’s father, Frank, to the authorities for trafficking young girls into slavery without realising his decision would put Ava’s life in jeopardy. His interference puts even more strain on an already difficult father-son relationship as not only does he blame Mason for his mother’s past suffering, he now finds out that his mother has told his father Etta is carrying his child. Etta’s parents, Frank and Vickie were supposedly good friends of the family, however; Ava had never really trusted Frank because of his criminal background and possible malevolent influence on her husband. From here on in, the plot thickens to such extremes that if I told you more, you wouldn’t bother reading it, so say no more!

The author’s vivid imagination, her way with words and ability to describe her characters’ personalities in this story revolving around an alpha male you’d wish you could meet in person, a heroin who doesn’t give in regardless of the consequences, their children, Katie and George, Vickie, you’ll just hate her! And their dearest friends, Greg, Courtney, Nate and Liv who we’ve met in previous books in this series, is beyond any doubt, outstanding. Be prepared for violent scenes that will have you biting your nails, aggressive language and hotter than hot sex.

I expected nothing less from Ms. Sidebottom. As always, brilliantly written and a well thought out plot. However; it would have been nice to know what happens to their son, George. Is he going to be the new hero in a any future books? Well, we’ll have to wait and see what the author decides to do.

Favourite passage; “You’re you Mason, fuck I have to fight damn Angel’s every morning to keep you mine.”