Publication Date: January 12, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Payback’s a bitch — or it would be for Elle.
Fifteen years ago, my sister was kidnapped. For months, she’d endured hell. Somehow, she’d survived it. Someway, she’d escaped her captors. But it hadn’t mattered. In fact, it had been like losing her twice, because six weeks after she came home, she was dead, and the man responsible was alive and well, oblivious to her fate, ignorant to what he had coming.
Fifteen years I’d been waiting for this moment, all that time, planning, preparing, readying to put things into motion. To finally make the SOB pay for what he’d done.
Killing him was too easy. Too quick. No. There was a much better way to exact revenge.
Take what he loved best.
I just didn’t realize that in the process of destroying the girl, I’d destroy myself.
“I only want your pain.”
I hadn’t understood what those words meant, not really. Not until he made me understand.
I noticed Adam the very first day he moved into my building. He was a badass on a bike in a thousand-dollar suit. When he looked at me, it was with a hunger just this side of obscene.
Our meetings were strange, accidental. Too coincidental. There was something about Adam. Something I couldn’t put my finger on.
Something I couldn’t resist.
He told me I didn’t know him. He warned me to run as far from him as I could. He was moody. Dark. I’d found it romantic. I didn’t know and wouldn’t realize until it was too late that he’d meant for me to heed his warnings. That some part of him had hoped I would run, that I would escape him.
For too many years, vengeance had fueled him. It had taught him hate. The object of that hate? My father. And me? I was the means to my father’s end. Adam would destroy my father by destroying me.
I accused him of being a monster, of being no different than those who took his sister, but even in the harshest moments, all I could see in his eyes was pain. And like a fool, all I wanted was to touch that darkness.
To make it light.
Retribution is a full-length, stand-alone Dark Romantic Suspense novel. NO Cliffhanger. Intended for mature readers.
Adam Smith has his eye on Elle Vega and not with good intentions. It’s no coincidence that they are neighbors. Adam wants revenge for the torture that his sister suffered, and he intends to make Elle pay for her father’s crimes.
The opening pulled me in and it had a great start. I liked Adam’s initial alpha presence and conniving manner. There was definitely potential. But after Elle is kidnapped, I just didn’t feel their connection or chemistry, at least not enough to understand how Elle continued to get off while undergoing his abuse. I’m not sure if it was because her character was naïve or if she simply was just too accepting of it all. Adam’s appeal also started to wane for me as he flip-flopped back and forth with his plan and became more conflicted. I know this was supposed to soften him, but he also came across as a little wishy-washy. Plus there were aspects of his characterization that felt lacking or unexplained. All in all I was just kinda of meh on their romance.
There was one reveal that I began to see coming but a few other unpredictable twists that kept the plot fresh. Despite the twisted and disturbing nature of their relationship, the story wraps up neatly in the end and includes an epilogue. Told via Adam and Elle’s alternating first person point of view, Retribution is a dark romantic suspense standalone. Fans of captive erotica will most likely enjoy.
For the sixth day this week, I watched Elle Vega walk out of the trendy café, wave good-bye to her friends, and climb into her shiny, new VW Bug. Yellow. Compliments of Daddy, no doubt. I knew for a fact she had a Mini sitting in the garage at home, too, but she wouldn’t bring that around this group. No, she had to maintain the appearance she was like them. Like her friends. She’d then take the long way to her condo in the West Village. Tiny, charming, absurdly overpriced. Perfect for the rich little bitch.
“Mr. Smith, can I get you anything else?” Mary asked, the dark circles under her eyes betraying her fatigue. She’d been serving me the same thing every day for the past six days — a double espresso and a slice of apple pie.
I took my wallet out. “No, thank you, Mary. What’s the damage?” I already knew. It’d be less than ten bucks, but I dug out a fifty-dollar bill anyway.
“Here you go,” she said, handing me the check.
I glanced at it before slipping the fifty into the little pocket folder. “That should cover it.”
“Oh, no, sir, it’s really too much.”
I closed my hand over hers to stop her from giving it back. “How’s Kyle doing, by the way? Things settle down at school?” She was a twenty year old single mom working two jobs, one of which paid below the minimum wage. Fucking ridiculous how, here in the United States of America, one of the wealthiest fucking countries in the world, we have kids like this raising their own kids, struggling to put food on the table.
She smiled, knowing she needed the money. Knowing I knew it. “Kyle’s good, and, yes, it’s going better. The bigger kids stopped teasing him, it seems. His teacher’s pretty nice, actually.”
I smiled back at her. “Good. I’m glad to hear it,” I said, standing. “Oh, one more thing.” I took a business card out of my wallet and handed it to her. “I’ll be going out of town for a while, but if you ever need anything, don’t be a stranger.” She was a good kid. Got a shit lot in life, but a good kid.
Her nose reddened and her eyes moistened. “Thanks, Mr. Smith. You’re a great guy.”
I almost chuckled, wondering if she’d think that if she knew the reason for my daily visits.
I dug the keys out of my suit pocket and went around the corner to where I’d parked my Harley. People turned to stare as I climbed on. It was only natural, I supposed, to watch a big guy in a three-piece suit, wearing shoes costing more than most made in a month, ride a fucking Harley through town. The bike was the only part of the past I brought into my present. The rest I’d return to later, when it was done.
I followed the little yellow bug from some distance away, although I didn’t need to tail her. I knew where she lived. I knew what she ate. Where she did her dry cleaning. Who she socialized with. Who she fucked — although that was surprisingly infrequent. I knew the contents of her underwear drawer. Knew what kind of vibrator she liked and how often she used it. And, today, I’d meet Elle Vega face-to-face. I’d introduce myself as her new neighbor, and I’d steal her life, just like they’d stolen mine.