5 star book review for A Pound of Flesh, Sophie Jackson’s debut, contemporary romance novel—available at bookstores and retailers today! Also, enter to win one of two paperbacks up for grabs.
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I readily admit that I’m a book-nerd. Few things make me happier than coming across a book so good that I can’t put it down. I’m sure fellow book lovers will agree. But once in awhile, I come across a special gem—a novel phenomenal enough to make me wish that I could quit my real life job (at least for a few days) and while away the hours hunkered down in the world the author has created.
Trust me, A Pound of Flesh by Sophie Jackson is this book. By the end of the prologue, I was already so emotional…already heartbroken, anxious, yet very very excited. And let me assure you, the remainder of the book took my expectations and knocked them out of the park. Sophie has created something outstanding with an evocative plot and engaging characters that’s also well-written and brilliantly edited. A Pound of Flesh is easily the best book I’ve read this year. It deserves ALL the stars and I’m thrilled to tell you why.
When Kat Lane is nine years old, she witnessed her father’s brutal murder and very narrowly escaped being killed herself. 16 years later, the trauma of that terrible night remains with her. One of the very last conversations she has with her father is about the importance of community service and giving back. Kat has always loved books and teaching, so she makes a promise to channel those passions into helping those less fortunate. Even now, this is her pound of flesh. For Kat, the best way to honor her father and face her fears is to take a job as a prison tutor at Arthur Kill Correctional Facility.
In the course of her duties, Kat meets Wes Carter, an inmate and one of her students. Though, there’s some initial antagonism, Kat and Carter eventually bond over a shared love of literature. Interestingly, Carter knows all about repaying debts…in fact, his current stint in Kill is also his pound of flesh. Kat is totally committed to helping Carter and both enjoy their tutoring sessions. However, when romantic feelings start to develop, both realize the ethical dilemma and the potential threat to Kat’s career and Carter’s parole prospects. Yet, the more we learn about Kat and Carter, we see that the attraction between them is way more significant than either could have imagined.
First, I adore Kat: she’s so intelligent, fierce, and fearless. Her determination to honor her father’s memory, despite pushback from family and friends, is a perfect example of Kat’s fortitude. She has such a generous spirit, but make no mistake, Kat isn’t a pushover. She’s 100% willing to lay down the law in and out of the classroom, and no one knows this better than Carter. He is thoroughly an alpha male—tall, stacked, badass, and dominant. Carter has a very strong personality and doesn’t like to be challenged. But there’s something about Kat that makes him want to let his guard down. When he does, we see that Carter is bright, charming, sensitive, and a passionate friend…very much like Kat, herself.
The mutual attraction between these two is clearly forbidden, and at first, they do try to deny it. But really, is it possible to resist fate?
C: “I really, really, really want to kiss you right now…I know I shouldn’t, and I don’t ususally kiss, but fuck. I want to. I want to find out what your top lip tastes like. And then compare it to the bottom. I’m desperate to know if your tongue tastes of peaches…Would it be so bad?”
…Everything in Kat’s body was surging toward the man in front of her. Her core purred, her pupils dilated, and her heart beat wildly. She knew they were about to cross a line—a huge, dangerous line that had her career written all over it.
K: “Carter. We can’t do this.”
C: “I know…Just one taste. Just one. That’s all I want.”
C: “Tell me what you want me. I need to hear that. You have no fucking idea.”
K: “I want you.”
Before she could say another word, Carter grabbed her face and crushed his mouth to hers, letting the delicious burn of her confession seep into his bones, into his soul. Her hands were immediately on his neck, tugging and pulling him closer while their tongues were pushing from his mouth in hers…The kiss was hot, hungry, and wet.
Just a taste…a sexy, delicious, delectable taste. *UNF*
Little by little Kat and Carter test the waters, but there’s still reason to be concerned. Kat, especially, gets A LOT of pushback from her mother and best friends. But after she learns something about Carter, something that reaffirms their connection and transcends any misgivings, they both take the plunge. It’s ardent, all-encompassing, and HOT HOT HOT:
She was a fucking vision. She moved over him, in control, greedy, dominating, and hard, leaving him breathless. He’d never seen her this way before. There was something in her eyes, a passion, that made his heart race and his hips jerk, and when their mouths slid together, it grew hotter and more powerful. The fervor with which she fucked him pulled every conceivable emotion to the surface. She was letting go in a way he’d never seen, wild and unashamed. It was magnificent…
Both Kat and Wes have been through so much; their courage, resilience, and inner strength impel us to wish them every happiness, though we know the journey to that end will be rife with obstacles. With that said, watching these two battle their demons (past and present) and eventually find comfort in each other is a deliciously angsty treat.
If I’m to offer any critique, I would say, at times, keeping track of time in the novel can be difficult. The story seems to pick up sometime in the summer, and we have holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas as markers. But the timing of Kat and Carter’s relationship and significant plot developments is sometimes hard to follow.
Overall, A Pound of Flesh is an elegantly written, irresistible story of love lost and love found, redemption, the lengths people will go to keep a promise and repay a debt, and conflict that can emerge when these elements come into rapid contact.
I recommend this to those who enjoy contemporary romance/forbidden romance with a punk-ass leading man who has a soft-spot for the fiery leading lady he loves.
Congrats Sophie on a fantastic debut novel and I can’t wait to read the remainder of this series!
But wait, I have even more great news! Thanks to Sophie and Gallery Books’ generosity, WSN will be giving away TWO (!!!!!!) paperbacks of A Pound of Flesh! Follow the Rafflecopter instructions below to enter the giveaway and two winners will be selected (U.S. ONLY):
Many thanks to the author and publisher for an advance copy.