[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you’ve read any of my past reviews or follow me on social media, you know by now that I am a big fraidycat when it comes to reading angst. Any hint of uncertainty and emotional agony in the summary is usually enough to send me running in the other direction. But, as with most things, there are always exceptions, and the Monster in His Eyes series is certainly one of mine! I enjoyed the first book so much–Karissa and Naz are insane together. Even at the end of MiHE, where they’re clearly angry at one another, there’s still passionate, intense, impractical love. And Torture to Her Soul, explores that love, especially when Karissa and Naz have no reason to trust one another.
I was desperate to get my hands on this book, and–like with most J.M. Darhower stories–once I started, I couldn’t stop. The angst and drama are so perfectly evocative! TtHS is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I give it 5 stars!
We begin TtHS with Naz telling us a secret: even though he’s a haunted man, cloaked in darkness and weariness, Naz has always been afraid of the dark. This is probably why he clings to Karissa–she’s his light. And even though it makes no sense for him to want her, even though he swore to wipe out the Rita family and Ray (a man who has been a father to him) demands her death, Naz can’t let her go. With that Karissa doesn’t make things easy for him. She’s angry, resentful of all the lies and secrets, and desperate to save her mother from Naz’s vengeance. But Karissa can’t deny that she wants to save Naz too. They love each other, it’s undeniable, but can that love ever be enough to overcome the darkness and hurt?
I adore the fact that TtHS is from Naz’s POV. I love being able to hear from him and understand his motivations. What I perceive in MiHE as brutality is really fear. Naz has been full of rage and seeking revenge for so long, and his only solace from that ugliness comes from the least likely source, Karissa. So, he tries for her, and even though Naz knows Karissa would be better off without him, he’ll try his damndest to keep her.
But I also love that Karissa doesn’t give into Naz right away. She doesn’t hide her fury or bitterness. It’s an intense combination of rage and lust that eventually explodes in a wickedly HOT way:
“I’m going to fuck it all out of you, every bit of it.”
I pull out and thrust right back in, eliciting another cry.
“I’m going to fuck you until you beg me to stop.”
Another thrust. Another cry.
“And then I’m still not going to stop, not until you say the word to make me.”
I pull back to look at her as I thrust again, deeper than before. Her breath hitches.
“I’m not going to stop until you say it…until you mean it.”
She stares at me, stubbornly, defiantly…silently. It’s a battle of wills, one she’ll never win. I’ll fuck her until my heart gives out.
I KNOW. MERCY. But, Karissa is a very willing participant:
N: “You like it when I’m rough with you. Because you still trust me to take care of you. You trust me to be careful with you. Because you still care about me. You love me.”
K: “I do. God help me, I love you.”
And yes, this is how they show love. Naz can also be so, incredibly sweet, but only for Karissa! There are certain scenes that completely disarm me:
“I love every inch of you. Every part of your body that makes you nervous gives me pleasure. I see no flaws, nothing for you to be ashamed of or humiliated over…nothing you should hide from me. I’ve seen it all, and I love it. You’re beautiful, baby…Baby, baby, baby…”
“I’ll give her anything. I’ll tear my fucking chest open with my bare hands, rip out my heart and hand it to her, if that’s what she needs. All she has to do is tell me. All she has to do is ask. She could bark out a million demands, and I would work myself to the death making them all happen.”
And he will! He’ll take her to Italy, pay her tuition, introduce her to his family…but truthfully, the one thing that Karissa wants, Naz does not or cannot give her. And the consequences of that decision nearly kill them both.
If I can be completely honest, the end of TtHS is a big surprise. There’s violence and death, but there’s also reconciliation and fervent love.
Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to author for the opportunity to read this book!