Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review! Destroyed By Pepper Winters

 She has a secret.
I’m complicated. Not broken or ruined or running from a past I can’t face. Just complicated. 

I thought my life couldn’t get any more tangled in deceit and confusion. But I hadn’t met him. I hadn't realized how far I could fall or what I'd do to get free. He has a secret.

I’ve never pretended to be good or deserving. I chase who I want, do what I want, act how I want.

I didn’t have time to lust after a woman I had no right to lust after. I told myself to shut up and stay hidden. But then she tried to run. I’d tasted what she could offer me and damned if I would let her go.

One secret destroys them.

Attention - possible spoilers ahead!!

I do not want to write this review. Why, you ask? Because I don't enjoy being mean, and in this case I can't avoid it.
This book is a mess of epic proportions. I don't know what I expected, but certainly not what I got.
Let's start with the characters.

Roan Averin / Obsidian Fox.
This guy is so messed up I don't even know where to begin. Being kidnapped when he was only six years old, he was trained to be a killer. A soulless creature whose existence meant death and destruction. Now, he's left that life behind but the past can't be erased and, as much as he wants to be normal, it's just not possible.

Hazel “Zel” Hunter
Life hasn't been easy for Zel either. She grew up in foster care until the age of thirteen, when she decided that she had enough and ran away. At fifteen she got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter and struggled to make a decent living for herself and the child.

The plot.
Where to begin?
After going away from Russia, Fox (that's what he calls himself until later in the book) built a mansion in Australia that he's using as a fighting club. He's a loner and feared by everyone. The two decades spent as a killer have left a mark. He craves pain. He needs pain to keep him sane or almost sane and no one can touch him without ending up hurt or worse, dead. The torture inflicted on him during his life in Russia served to program his brain into thinking that whoever touched him had to die. He's practically a robot. No will, no feelings.
One night, he meets Hazel in his club.
She's there with her friend Clue, trying to forget for a few hours that she has a dying daughter at home. The moment she sees Fox, it's instant attraction.
Nothing wrong so far.
The thing is she doesn't know anything about him except for the fact he's the club's owner.
Fox is taken aback by his reaction to her. Never had he wanted to touch someone, be close to someone. Especially a woman. So he had to have her.
After a brief exchange and her refusing to talk to him, he threatens her with a knife and kidnaps her.
It goes downhill from here.
Fox hadn't been allowed to have sex while in Russia. It's been drilled into him that physical pleasure was forbidden and he's been severely punished the one and only time he'd given into temptation. Now, his body reacts strongly to this woman and he must have her no matter what.
Zel is confused by the attraction she feels toward this strange man. He exudes danger and she's seen the violence he's capable of when he'd beaten unconscious a man in the boxing ring, breaking several of his bones and almost killing him.
He offers her money to “f**k” her, explaining he won't take no for an answer and she won't leave the house until he says so.
Hazel is supposed to be this compassionate soul who tries to save everyone. It's a compulsion for her and she can't resist. She keeps telling Fox that she is not a whore when he offers to pay her but in the end she takes the money telling herself she does it for Clara, her daughter, for her medication. Not entirely true, though.

This is what pissed me off.
Fox wants a month of her life. She has to stay there this entire time and do whatever he says.
I understand lust. Hell, I understand seeing a man and feeling instant attraction. Nothing wrong with that. But this woman has a DYING daughter at home. The only other person in their lives is her friend, Clue. How can you accept to spend an entire month away from your dying child? She needs the money but what about taking care of her daughter? She relies on Clue but the other woman has strange jobs. Sometimes she's out during the day, other times at night. What about Clara? Who's going to take care of her?
Hazel thinks she can sneak out for a while some days but deep down she knows it's going to be impossible. She feels that Fox is someone you don't screw around with. Even so, her lust for him and her desire to “save” him makes it impossible for her to say no. And how in the name of God can you feel compassion for a man who kidnaps you by pressing a knife into your back?
And more over, how can you still want a man when he explains to you that if you touch him you die? Yes. That's right.
Oh, but our Zel can't resist the compulsion to try to save him. And so, she agrees. One moth with him being his willing sex toy in exchange of two hundred thousand dollars.
They seal the deal with a kiss. And Fox nearly kills her. The moment she touched him, she found herself flat on her back with Fox choking her.
But that's not all. She forgives him because it was her fault. She touched him when he said not to. And, listen to this - she sees how sorry and hurt he is for attacking her.
For Christ's sake!!
The man almost killed her and she's still drooling after him. This is not lust, this is insanity.
Anyway, she doesn't run away. She calls her friend letting her know she'll be away for a month and to take care of her daughter. Just like that.
So the game begins.
Roane/Fox doesn't sleep during the night. He hates the dark even if he surrounds himself with black.
Black clothes, black furniture, black walls...etc..
Since he doesn't trust himself not to kill her and her not to touch him, he forges a chain that she'll have to wear permanently so he can tie her up during sex.
No, he's not into kinky sex. It's the only way to keep her alive.
I get it that he's not sane and he can't help himself but she has no regard for her life nor does she care what will happen to the daughter she claims to love so much.
As long as she allows lust to dictate her actions in my book she's a bad mother. I have a child and I'll do anything for him. Yes, I would have sold myself too if I would've been in her place, hoping the money would give my child a chance to life. BUT. I would not throw away my life just because I feel attracted to a man and my compassion tells me I can save him from whatever hell he's trapped in. Not when said man almost choked her and, a few hours after that bound her and raped her. No.
There are other ways. Always.
She runs, understanding she won't be able to return his sanity but she comes back.
She does it telling herself she's strong enough. She's not. As soon as she gets close to him, she finds herself in the same situation and this time she remains alive only because she stabs him and the momentary distraction allows her to get away.
You tell me if this is normal behavior.
The guy can't be touched without him killing whoever touches him, he has flashbacks when he thinks he's back in Russia being tortured and killing people and all the time he hears his trainer in his head ordering him to kill and destroy. He's violent beyond belief and this woman keeps coming back for more not caring what happens to her. And it's not about money or saving her daughter anymore. It's about her being in lust and having this stupid idea that she can break him from his past and save him.
She even allows him near her daughter after her friend Clue brings her by the house and she meets Roan. And why? Because she thinks her daughter can save him being a compassionate soul herself. And Roan manages not to kill her then and there when she touches him.
By this point I wanted to choke Zel to death myself. What the hell is wrong with this woman? Is it possible to put lust above everything else? Even your own child's safety?
She thinks she can stop him if he tries to harm Clara but she's wrong. So wrong! And she has the proof when he has a relapse and goes for the child's throat.
But he stops just shy of killing her and he's sorry so that makes it okay. No reason for her to take her child and run like hell. Clara HAS to save Roan. She's his only hope. <<cue the eye roll>>
Then Roan proceeds to tell an eight year old girl how he became a killer, how he's been tortured and how he exterminated his entire family. Not to mentions the other children he's slain. All with the blessing of Clara's mom and because she's so “mature” for her age and “understands” everything. That is sick. And wrong. On so many levels! And the way Pepper described the child is not normal. She acts and talks like an adult. She might be mature for her age but she's still an eight year old for God's sake.
Did I mention that Zel accepted to live in his house with her daughter? How stupid is that? She thinks keeping Clara close to Roan helps keep him calm and bring him back from the past. Right after he chokes her, of course. Apparently that's his favorite killing method. Thank God she didn't put knives or other weapons into the story. It would have been a bloodbath with him going psycho killer all the time.
Anyway, I think I've ranted enough. I hated this book. I'm sorry but it's the truth. While I loved Tears of Tess and Quintessentially Q, I was so disappointed by Destroyed. And the writing style was lacking also.
Let me give you an advice. It doesn't matter how compassionate you are. You can't always fix someone, especially a violent person. Do not even try. And never let your feelings cloud your judgment.
And then, there's the way he just “heals” in the end. Twenty years of physical and psychological torture and the instinct to kill cannot be wiped away just like that. It is impossible. It can't happen no matter how you look at it. To even contemplate that is wrong and dangerous. What do you think is most likely to happen when you force a trained killer, with an aversion to being touched, to hold an infant? Do you think he'll cuddle him or break his neck?  Just.. no.
I understand Roan's condition and I understand his desire to be loved, and to have someone who cares close to him, to be normal. But I blame Zel for the choices she makes. She allows passion and lust to dictate her actions, putting herself and her daughter, and later on, the children she has with Roan in danger. This is not how it's done. Pepper created a fairytale where the tormented hero finds redemption in the end thanks to the heroine's patience and determination. This doesn't always happen in real life, if at all. Not with persons having the same issues that Roan has. If a guy tries to choke you to death it doesn't matter how sorry he is afterward. You'll still be dead or almost dead. And submitting a child to such behavior is completely inadmissible.
Some might find this book romantic. I find it profoundly disturbing and it amazes me to see all those 5 star ratings. And don't tell me that Tears of Tess and Quintessentially Q are the same. That is another story. There is violence but not the kind you find here.
I can't grant it more than 1 star and hope Pepper will never write something like this ever again. Or, at least she'll create a heroin more like Tess if she prefers the dark type.

Do I recommend this book? NO. I can't. But this doesn't mean I won't read any more of Pepper's novels. She's a great writer even if I think she screwed up this time.

Happy Reading!


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