Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:
Dark Desires Series
Synopsis for Beautiful Liar (Formerly Porn Star) (from Goodreads):
People call me many things: CEO, billionaire, bastard. Q.
I love women. I love sex. I love money. I love hot, wild nights with no promise of a future, because a future is one thing I don’t have. I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.
Nobody plans for a life like this. Some of us just end up here.
They call me Lucky, though luck has never been on my side. Before I met Q, my life was a big, twisted mess. Never enough money, never anyone to trust. No way out. With Q, the shame and fear disappear. Instead I feel pure pleasure, and that’s something I’ve never had before. But if what I’ve just learned is true, we’d better enjoy every second together while we can…before our time runs out.
Series: I Series or Dark Desires
Author: Zara Cox
# of Books: 3 (Beautiful Liar, Black Sheep, Arrogant Bastard)
Please Note: Beautiful Liar was previously published as I, Porn Star; and Porn Star
There is a novella #2.5 Wicked SOB
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Arrogant Bastard is to be published is to be published in August 2017
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Dark, BDSM, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high | Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!
**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
Ok, I’m not going to lie: the title drew me in. I was browsing through my blog reader when Karine @ Bookshelf Dreaming‘s Release Day Blitz for I, Porn Star (what the book was first published as) popped up. Curious, I clicked on it wanting to know more about the story for a book titled “Porn Star”.
Now, depending on what title’s summary you read (“I, Porn Star” vs “Porn Star” and lately “Beautiful Liar”), the synopses differ but the stories are all the same. My first impression of I, Porn Star was that this is a book about two people falling in love while making a series of porn videos. My first impression of Porn Star was about the same, only there was this added element of suspense with the line:
“I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.”
Hook, line and sinker.
What I Liked:
–It’s A Dark Read–
It’s been a while since I’ve read a great “dark” romance. It’s hard to totally describe what I mean here but I’ll try.
Some dark romances take things that little bit too far in the hopes they’ll achieve shock factor. I often find these attempts make things seem over the top or almost cheesy. Part of the problem is the use of one-dimensional characters that the reader only knows surface stuff about.
However, where Porn Star succeeds is in its character development. These are complex characters–Quinn in particular is extremely layered–and it shows throughout the novel. So it makes their actions seem polished and expected. I didn’t feel like anything was out of character nor did I feel like they were changing their minds on a dime for unnecessary dramatic effect.
I really liked how things came out of left field here sometimes; meaning there were a lot of great twists that surprised me. There were aspects of each character’s life that are kept secret until the last minute and they really amp up the story and shock you. It’s been a long time since a book surprised me in that respect.
What I Didn’t Like:
–Too Many Pages–
This is by no means a fast read. There are a lot of pages to get through and it makes the story lag a bit. This book could have easily been 50 pages shorter in my opinion. It just took longer than expected to get to the good stuff (ie the romance and the “mystery”) and I was losing interest just after the halfway point.
I feel like too much time was spent in the exposition. While I appreciate the time taken to get to know the characters and understand their motives, I just wanted to dive into the grittiness of it all. I wanted to start to uncover Quinn’s big plan sooner rather than later. And I also wanted what is described in the synopsis (ie their filming of videos) to happen much sooner than 50% of the way through. Not that I wanted the sex scenes (which were tamer than I expected btw); rather, in the synopsis it seemed like the sex tapes were going to be a major plot point and usually those points are introduced around the 20% mark. I mean, that’s why I am likely reading the book in the first place–that is what’s advertised.
I’m starting to dislike this insta-connection more so than insta-love. Yes, there is a difference for me even if they do seem pretty synonymous.
Despite the longer exposition, I still didn’t see the connection between Lucky and Q all that much besides their physical attraction. Their romantic feelings seem more implied–like there is some unspoken thing drawing them together. I like things spelled out for me and I didn’t totally get that with the romance.
My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:
There is a teaser at the end of the Forever Publishing edition for the sequel Black Sheep
so I expect it will come out sometime next year. The choice of character is someone we didn’t see all that much in Porn Star but from what I glanced at in the teaser, it looks like it’ll be just as juicy drama-wise as Porn Star…
–March 9, 2017– Book #2: Black Sheep
I went into Black Sheep expecting a dark and twisted story…and that is exactly what I got!
This book excelled in everything I wanted it to. A heartbreaking romance, lots of drama and twisted secrets. It’s probably one of the darkest stories I’ve ever read and I loved that.
For me, this book was a vast improvement over its predecessor. The romance is stronger thanks to a great backstory and it tugs on your heartstrings from start to finish. It is also a source of great drama and intrigue as well. Unlike the previous novel, I found the story never truly lagged. There were great plot and dramatic twists along the way that this book was always suspenseful.
This was a highly addictive read for me and one that met every expectation!
–July 11, 2017– Book #2.5: Wicked S.O.B.
While I loved the drama of Beautiful Liar, I wasn’t totally sold on the romance. So I was eager for this novella to rectify that.
And it definitely did!
For me, I actually got to see why these two are a good match as lovers and as partners in life. Instead of focusing on the antics and drama of the previous novel, you get to watch these characters try to establish a sense of everyday normalcy. It’s all about their relationship and navigating it in a way that works for them. It really grounded these characters for me and improved my overall impression of them as a couple.
But it definitely has that spice you expect from this series. If these two weren’t talking out their relationship, they were physically exploring it.
It also has some great nostalgia to the original novel that brings everything full circle.
It’s a solid novella that has enough heat and romance to satisfy fans!
–September 25, 2018– Book #3: Arrogant Bastard
I’ve opted not to pick up this instalment in the series simply because the synopsis doesn’t interest me.
My Rating: 3/5
Porn Star 3/5 | Black Sheep 4/5 | [Wicked S.O.B.] 3.5/5 | Arrogant Bastard N/A
If you want a dark erotica romance that takes its time, this is the PERFECT novel for you. But if you want something quick and dirty, try another novel.
Read if You Like: dark romance, erotica
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM