One mistyped number became the catalyst to my hell on earth when I accidentally sent a risqué photo to the blackmail king of Silver Lake High. Now Connor Bishop holds it as a bargaining chip over my head. I’ve become his doll, at his mercy in a corrupt castle.
Better do as he says or else, or else, or else…
His thumb is on the send button every time I try to buck his command. Can I survive a private photo going viral instead of living this life of torment?
It’s not right. Maybe it’s time his castle burns down.
Secrets and favors built my throne.
Meek. Shy. Wholesome.
Thea Kennedy was picture-perfect innocence until she wasn’t. The unexpected photo is the juiciest secret to land in my lap in a while. Who knew she was hiding luscious curves under frumpy sweaters?
With one racy selfie, Thea stepped into my world, where I control the board. I’ll trap the little mouse and won’t let her escape the depraved kingdom I built.
But there are darker monsters than me lurking in the shadows. They want to take a bite out of my little mouse. I don’t like sharing what’s mine.
“You’re still not forgiven. I’m only here because you’re blackmailing me. I wouldn’t come near you otherwise.”
“You certainly were ready to come all over me before.” The glare I direct at him drops the temperature in the car by a few degrees. He blows out a slow, strained breath and grips the wheel with both hands. “Okay. Whatever. Noted.”
We ride in silence for a long stretch. The drive to school isn’t long, and I realize I’m wasting a good opportunity for the details I’m desperate for.
“So what’s our deal? Or rather, your deal that I have no choice but to accept because the alternative is…yeah, no thanks. Asshole.” I shift a little to face him better as we drive through Ridgeview, turning onto the tree-lined road that leads up to the school. “When did we get together? How did it happen?”
Connor cuts a look at me from the corner of his eye. “We’ll keep it simple so it’s easy to remember. We’ve grown up as neighbors. Got together over summer or something. You’re the girl next door, what’s not to like about that?”
I frown as he hitches a shoulder. “That’s unimaginative.”
Amusement crosses his face. “We could always use the true version: you sent me a wrong number nude and I was like aight.”
“You ass! We are not using that. And I wasn’t naked.”
“Yet. Shortly after?” Connor hums, shifting in the driver’s seat. “So gloriously naked.”
With a scandalized squeal, I swat his arm, overwhelmed by his proximity and what he’s saying. He drives me to things I never do.
He laughs. The corner of his mouth tugs up in a crooked grin as he turns the wheel with the heel of his palm, entering the student parking lot.
“You want a whirlwind romance, or something? I’m just trying to make it easy. It’s not like it’s real.”
The words slice me and I suck in a pained gasp.
It’s not real.
For as big as his SUV is, I’m suffocated by being so near to him while my emotions spiral.
Connor is my first actual boyfriend, but it’s all fake.
Veronica Eden is the author of dark new adult romances + reverse harem romances with spitfire heroines and irresistible heroes. She loves exploring complicated feelings, magical worlds, epic adventures, and the bond of characters that embrace us against the world. She has always been drawn to gruff antiheroes, clever villains, and the twisty-turns of morally gray decisions. She believes sometimes the villain should get the girl and is a sucker for a deliciously devilish antihero. Veronica Eden is the pen name of romance author Mara Townsend. When not writing, she can be found soaking up sunshine at the beach, snuggling in a pile with her untamed pack of animals (her husband, dog and cat), and surrounding herself with as many plants as she can get her hands on.
The following ratings are out of 5: Romance: 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤 Heat/Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥 Story/Plot: 👑👑👑👑👑 World building: 🏰🏰🏰🏰 Character development: 💀💀💀💀💀
The setting: The upscale neighborhood in Ridgeview where the main characters are next door neighbors and Silver Lake High School.
The Hero: Connor Bishop – Son of the Principal and the Town Councilwoman who is running for re-election. Connor is one of the two “Kings” of the school, along with Devlin from Tempting Devil (book 2). Connor wants to get out of his house and away from his broken family. In order to get out, he has become the blackmail king of the school. He has files on just about everyone and is known to use them when he doesn’t get what he wants.
The heroine: Thea Kennedy – The invisible girl. Thea grew up under the thumb of her mother who is an extremely strict, ultra conservative man-hater. Her father is largely absent since he travels for work. Thea has had self-image issues in the past due to her strict and very negative mother. When she was younger she sought attention from readers of an online blog about herself which she hid from her mother. Thea dresses in clothes a few sizes too big and bulky sweaters, but dreams of becoming more self-confident and able to stand up for herself.
The love story: In a daring move for Thea, she sends a risqué picture of herself to a guy she had a light flirtation with over the summer. However, the text goes to her neighbor Connor instead of the guy she intended. Connor is intrigued by what Thea has been hiding under her bulky clothes, but also sees it as a chance to get blackmail evidence on Thea.
Connor blackmails Thea into becoming his fake girlfriend and doesn’t believe that Thea is as good and sweet as she appears. Connor’s home life and being the blackmail king have taught him that everyone is hiding something. He has trust issues and an anger management problem. He sees a court ordered therapist for his anger. He quickly becomes very protective of Thea, despite those issues.
The multiple storylines in this book all dovetailed together to fit neatly into the romance between Connor and Thea. The romance was hot from the start, but they also grew to like each other naturally. Some of the imagery was dark in this book, but I liked that the overall theme was bright. Imagery like black hearts, crowns, crows and skulls were all mentioned. Though also things like sunshine and sunbeams.
Thea bakes whenever she feels anxious or troubled. She works out her issues while kneading dough. She wants to someday own a bakery. So Connor is often describing how she smells like sugar treats especially after she has been baking. I thought that was nice and made Thea seem all the more wholesome.
There were great supporting characters in this book and the author, Veronica Eden started setting up the background for the next book. Devlin and Blair from Tempting Devil played big roles in this book which takes place around the same time period as that story. Some of the things that happened between Devlin and Clair in Tempting Devil were told in this book from a new perspective and it was nice to get a different point of view.
Thea’s best friend Maisy Landry will be the heroine in the next book. Her and her older brother, Holden once had a friend who moved away and now he is back, but he is a huge jerk to Maisy. He is a bad boy named Fox Wilder and Connor calls him “a punk with a leather jacket, messy dark hair, and a mean glint in his eyes” and nobody really knows much about him. So that should be good.
I voluntarily read & reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts & opinions are my own.