Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:
Synopsis for A Hurt So Sweet (from Goodreads):
If you can’t beat the rich boys…
Lily Anna Oakes and I share everything.
We have the same billion-dollar name, the same designer clothes, and the same messed up problems.
But Lily Anna and I will never meet. She died years ago.
This town broke her. I’ll burn it to the ground before I let that happen to me.
In Eden Falls, I’m forced to attend a school for the elite. The Firstborns own this place and they think they own me, too. It’s not long before Dexter, Caspian, Lai, and Julian become the bane of my existence.
There are only two people I’m afraid of – my strict father, and my malevolent fiancé. Unfortunately for me, my husband-to-be is one of the Firstborns ruining my life.
Dexter Booth and I will marry on my birthday to secure our families’ bond.
Every woman in this damn town wants to be Dexter’s toy. Except me.
Dex and his Eden Falls Prep cronies have forced me to give up my body. I know my betrothed wants my mind next.
I play along… But soon, I’ll leave the beautiful jerk behind without the thing he wants most from me.
Series: Elite of Eden Falls Prep
Set in the Same Universe as the Lords of Wildwood Series
Author: Betti Rosewood
# of Parts: 4
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2019 – January 2020
Source & Format: Hidden Gems Books–eARC (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2-4)
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
When I read the synopsis, I immediately thought about Secret Heir by M J Prince which I loved for its angst, hate to love you romance, and secrets. And while I go through withdrawal for that sequel, this seemed like a great pick.
I think this series struggles a bit with its need to shock and that in turn makes it hard to pinpoint the audience. Overall, this reads like an adult erotica novel but takes place with recently graduated high schoolers. So it makes for some uncomfortable sexual scenes because of their ages. It sometimes feels like it’s kids playing grown-up.
The world itself is interesting but I don’t think it was as fleshed out as it could have been. It’s was a lot of “this is how it is” but not a why. I almost felt like I was entering a series halfway through because some things felt like they should be “assumed” by the reader. And that leads into my biggest complaint that things are intentionally left out to build the intrigue but, in turn, it just makes things feel underdeveloped.
I wanted a
little lot more to the plot. Pandora tries to rebel but her efforts weren’t all that strong and I had hoped to get more from her. The plot here is more about her entering this world and all the crappy things that happen to her because she is an outsider. The synopsis gave me the idea that she was going in with a plan for revenge but she kinda just takes everything thrown at her without pushback.
I guess I just wanted a little more cohesiveness or at least an idea of what the bigger , overall picture would be. It’s a lot of shock factor heaped into the series so it takes some time to sort through it all to understand what is really happening in this story.
There’s a lot of angst from the characters though I’m not entirely sure it is all warranted. I felt like certain things where kept vague to add intrigue and it did work because I kept reading hoping I could figure it out. But it was frustrating because you are intentionally left out of stuff. That works for twists later in the book, but only if the reader doesn’t notice they are missing key point. Again, it just made things seem underdeveloped and not thought out.
The characters themselves where also all over the place. Like I said, Pandora couldn’t seem to stay consistent in her character and her subsequent actions. I can understand that the torment she receives from the other characters would lead her to have some insecurities but I honestly felt like I was reading about a different character in every part.
It’s very twisted and I think I wanted something that was more…romantic? I wasn’t overly drawn to the connection. Dex’s past love with Lily was endearing and sweet, so I didn’t totally understand this draw to Pandora he seemed to have. Nor did I get the draw to Dex from Pandora. Add to that some scenes of dubious consent with Pandora’s other bullies and it all was just uber toxic.
Series Rating: 2/5
Volume 1 3/5 | Volume 2 2/5 | Volume 3 2.5/5 | Volume 4 3/5
I think there are better high-school-bully romances out there. But if you enjoy books that simply shock and can get some plot hole logic and inconsistencies, I think you might find this series addicting in its own way.
But truthfully, if you want a dark book with twisted characters but has a strong plot, check out anything by Ella Miles instead.
Read if You Like: high school bully trope; polyamourous relationships
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike toxic relationships
- Secret Heir by M J Prince (Dynasty Series #1)
- Savage Royals by Callie (Boys of Oak Prep Series #1)
- Pretend I’m Yours by Ella Miles