Title: Pretty When You Cry
Series: Stripped #3
Author: Skye Warren
Release Date: 20th October, 2015
Genre: Dark Romance
Cover Design by: Book Beautiful
Cover Photograph by: Sara Eirew
“Dark, perverse, and unbearably erotic, Pretty When You Cry is Skye Warren at her gritty best.”
~ Anna Zaires, USA Today bestselling author of Twist Me
A new dark romance novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderlust and Prisoner…
I came from a place of dirt floors and holy scriptures. They told me the world outside was full of sin, and the first night I escape, I find out it’s true. Ivan saves me, but he does more than that. He takes me. He makes me his own girl.
My conditioning runs too deep. Ivan sees what I am.
That’s the thing about showing a mouse to a cat. He wants to play. And it’s terrifying, even for me. Because the only thing darker than my past is his.
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Author’s Note: Pretty When You Cry is a STANDALONE dark romance novel set in the dark, sexy Stripped series world. Not intended for those uncomfortable with the subject matter or under eighteen.
The bed is the largest one I’ve ever seen, but somehow too small for two people. Too small if one of the people is Ivan. He’s physically large and, more than that, terrifying. What will he do to me? I can’t fight him. God, I’m not sure I want to try. Home.
In the end I push back the heavy blankets, almost as thick as my sleeping pallet in Harmony Hills, and climb onto the bed. The pillow is perfectly soft, so clean, and I let myself drift away. I’m floating on a cloud, plush and high up.
I dream in those moments. I dream about color and light. I dream about the sky.
There is a deep voice from above and all around me, telling me to get on my knees. Commanding me to pray. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever skipped bedtime prayers. The first time I haven’t begged for salvation. I’m not going to beg, not ever again.
The hand on my face doesn’t feel angry. It isn’t a slap for my insolence. It strokes down my temple and cups my cheek. My eyes flutter open. Ivan.
His hand falls away.
“Candace,” he says in the same deep voice of my dream.
And there’s a look in his eyes, the same look Leader Allen gives Mama. The same look he started giving me. That look is the reason Mama sent me away.
“You’ll stay here,” he says softly. “I don’t want you to dance, but you can stay.”
The allure of it beats through me, a heart of its own, thumping away to a dream that isn’t mine. Safety. Home. I want those things, but I want freedom more. I want the flash of lights and of skin. I want the power those women had onstage.
Ivan wants to put me in a cage, but what I really want is to fly.
“Okay,” I lie, because one sin becomes many. Leader Allen taught me that, and he was right. I’ll convince Ivan, though. One day I’ll dance on that stage, and Ivan will watch me.
One day he’ll teach me everything there is to know.
The praise washes over me, undeserved and darkly pleasurable, a stroke along my spine. It feels good, but I know what it is. A trap. A chain around my ankle to keep me on the ground. In this moment, it locks me so tight that I’d accept anything he did to me. If he were to touch me the way the woman with the kind eyes meant. The way Leader Allen touches Mama during prayer.
Ivan leans down, and I hold my breath. Large hands take hold of the blanket, lift slightly. I feel everything between us—anticipation and denial, lust and fear corded together. We feel them together, breathe them in through the air, pulse them with each beat of our hearts. It’s a kind of knowledge, this feeling, connecting a thousand nerve points to the core of my body. This is what he meant by teaching me. This and so much more.
Then he pulls the blanket higher, tucking it around me. “Good night,” he says, eyes glittering in the dark.
He is silver and light, made even brighter by the shadows behind him. It’s strange, the disappointment I feel that he isn’t going to touch me. He isn’t going to teach me. Not tonight. “Good night,” I whisper back.
Then he’s gone, shutting the door against the dark, locking me in. And I slide away into sleep, without dreams, without color, with only the shameless black of contentedness, knowing I am safe for the night.
By Sharon Thérèse Nuttall
Bizarre. Dark. Divergent. This is the recipe for the first book I read in this series and yes, not only can it be read as a standalone, it is also perfectly categorised as such. Why? Well, how many times have we all read a book in a series which we haven’t started from the beginning and had trouble getting our heads around names and places? So to my delight, I sailed through this book without any confusion. However, it wasn’t without its heart-stopping moments. I was forewarned that the story might not be to my liking. Far from it! The protagonists’ pasts in a plot which had its twists and turns kept me on the edge at all times.
Quote: Ivan ~ “Where did you touch yourself?”
Candace ~ “No, don’t …. don’t make me tell you.”
Ivan ~ “No, little one. You’re going to show me.”
The heroine’s submissiveness towards her ‘captor-cum-master’ in every sense of the word, made me want to pull her hair out. After reading the first few chapters, I could only imagine she had never had the option of parental refusal to acquiesce, had never known any better and for this reason, she acted the way she did. I quickly came to the conclusion that her upbringing was a religious one since young adults don’t usually ask for absolution and a character from a sect would come back to haunt her. She wants that freedom she has never had though. Poor, poor lass. When she realises what is in store for her, and with no means except for her strong survival instincts, she fights tooth and nail. Inadvertently disobeying, her punishment is outrageously harsh. And when the opportunity to escape the hellish situation she’s in arises, she doesn’t think twice. Well-knowing what the outcome would be, she still tries to protect herself but to no avail. I soon realised that my opinion of Candice was totally unfair. I fell head over heels for her. My heart broke, but…the author’s genius writing skills swing the story turn-about-face. Who is to be punished at the end of the day is an interesting dilemma as both appear to be guilt-ridden. Who can’t live with themselves? You’ll only find out by reading.
Quote: Ivan ~ “You think I give a shit a fuck about clichés ? Or the fucking law ? Do you ?”
Outwardly, the leading male character comes across as powerful, in control of his world and unquestionably concerned for those close to him. I would even go so far as saying it was if an smokescreen had been put up around him. And then the anti-hero steps in. Him. Himself. In all his crudeness. Candice brings out the worst in Ivan and it’s incomprehensible how he treats her. I thought it was hate, but on reflection…hate and love go hand in hand. Hate for an innocent who literally bends over backwards to make him happy just didn’t add up. He wants her, he can’t control his actions when he’s around her. Oh Lord, this man whose character is extremely well developed, bought out so many conflicting feelings in me. I questioned him out loud. “Why?” “Why do you do these horrible things to such a wonderful gal. You don’t deserve her, you are the reincarnation of the devil.” The metamorphosis in Candice is truly incredible and she becomes even stronger, even more forgiving if that was ever possible. And despite the fact that her heart rules her head, she’s not at all ignorant to the fact that her life is in danger. To reach a semblance of normalcy in this sad story, Ivan makes the best decision ever. And I saluted him. You have to read this story to understand the underlying causes of Ivan’s behaviour.
Quote: Ivan ~ “Do you want this, little one ? Your body says yes.”
The bedroom scenes are few and far between but when they do kick in, get ready for them! Most of them literally made my hair stand on end, some were outstandingly beautiful. If this essential detail had been overdone, it would have undoubtedly spoilt the flow of the story. What niggled me more than anything was Ivan’s insistence on the name Candace had to address him by. I never cared for it throughout the story; and he in turn, has an endearment for her which didn’t work for me either. Then again, the whole story revolves around a dominant / submissive aspect and all that this kind of relationship entails. Told in first person and in present, I will never tire of saying this feat is a difficult one. Despite the fact that I would have loved to have read Ivan’s point of view, this is Candice’s story. The development, editing and grammar is impeccable, the epilogue made to measure. I won’t hesitate to read more works of Ms Warren. Bravo!
Last word. Thank you to my sister-in arms, Rachel McEwan, for choosing the quotes.
½. Tough Love (prequel)
1. Love the Way You Lie
2. Better When It Hurts
3. Even Better
4. Pretty When You Cry
Praise for the Stripped Series:
“It’s gritty, edgy, and sexy, served to you in the well-written, absorbing style that Skye is so talented at delivering. I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the Stripped series.” – Shameless Book Club
“A jagged, layered and enthralling adventure that weaves darkness and light with precision and purpose.” – the lusty literate
“It’s dark, mysterious, sexy, and I loved every page of it! There were twists and turns that I never saw coming! I love when an author is able to keep me guessing until the very end of the book.” – Book Fancy Book Blog
“Love The Way You Lie was heartwarming, exhilarating and tantalizing with just the right tinge of darkness.” – Warhawke’s Vault
Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of dark romance. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely tender. For those new to her work, consider the bestseller Wanderlust, Prisoner or the Dark Nights series starting with Trust in Me.
“Dark, disturbing, haunting, and beautiful, Skye Warren will take you into the depths of depravity but bring you home, safe in the end.” – Kitty Thomas, author of Comfort Food
“Skye Warren is a true mistress of dark and twisted love stories.” – The Forbidden Bookshelf
“Be prepared to fall in love with one very scary monster.” – Romantic Book Affairs
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