Alice Romano is the daughter of a cruel and dangerous man. He is a criminal and a killer, and he keeps iron control over Alice’s life. She barely managed to convince him to let her go away to college, though he has guards watching her every move. Yet at the same time, her father quite clearly cares nothing about Alice. Her value to him is only how he can use her, most likely marrying her off to one of his associates. Alice dreams of her freedom, of a chance to escape her father’s world, but for now, she is laying low and trying to appear cooperative.
Kane, Phoenix, James, and Ariel are equally cruel and dangerous men, though they do all love one another. The four of them all have reason to hate Romano. He took something from each of them, whether that was a limb or a loved one, and they are merely biding their time until they can get their revenge. Their target is Alice, and they have been watching her for years, just waiting to figure out how to best use her to get back at the man they hate. As the leader among them, Kane is still deciding just what role he wants Alice to play. In the meantime, they are just observing. But when Alice is in danger, the men have to act to help her and, once they do, everything is put in motion.
Alice has grown up in a violent enough world that it isn’t a shock to find herself kidnapped by some vicious looking men. Her father has plenty of enemies and she assumes the guys are going to kill her the first chance they get. Yet, she is surprised to also find herself drawn to the men despite herself. After years of living a sheltered life, there is a part of Alice that can’t help but find that sense of danger just a bit appealing. They are hard men, men who scare her, but also men who turn her on. And when they present Alice with their plan, these four men who could easily kill her just may be a chance for Alice to regain her life.
Sins That Find Us is the first book in E.M. Lindsey’s new Madly Ever After Trilogy. This is a dark series with “heroes” that are more like villains and men who are fully prepared to kill with zero remorse. James, Kane, Phoenix, and Ariel are lovers who would do anything for one another. They are deeply committed and in love and their only allegiance is to each other. These men are also hard, dangerous, and violent. They enjoy pain, they push each other, and they punish each other for transgressions, sometimes violently. Ariel is pretty much a full on psychopath, and while the others may outwardly present as less dangerous, they would all kill without a thought. So be prepared when you pick this one up, as it is definitely dark and intense, but as always, Lindsey does such a fascinating job developing these characters that I found the story really engaging.
The guys are all so interesting together. They are violent, hard men and their relationship reflects that. But at the same time, there is clearly love here, though no real tenderness. The men pair off in various combinations throughout the story and have different relationship dynamics with their different partners. Lindsey does a nice job creating four distinct characters here, something not easy with four leads (five counting Alice), and I felt like I had a good sense of each of them.
The men have been watching Alice for years, just waiting for their chance to strike, to figure out how to best use her for their revenge. Each man has been hurt by her father and each has vowed revenge. Violently killing Alice, slowly and painfully, is never fully off the table. But over the years, they all have started to feel themselves a bit drawn to this woman whose every move they watch carefully. They have hidden cameras in Alice’s dorm room; they know everything about her. So even as James, Ariel, or Phoenix would kill Alice in a heartbeat if Kane ordered it, they also all are starting to want to keep her. So when Alice is in trouble and the men end up taking her, we get this great intensity as each man can’t quite step away, but also knows that they may yet have to kill her.
For her part, Alice is both terrified of these men, but also part of her is excited by them. She is not naive; she knows they will likely kill her. But a tiny part of Alice is drawn to the violence and danger. At the same time, she is strong and strong willed and she enjoys the chance to exercise this tiny bit of control over her destiny for one of the first times of her life. Alice is well drawn and a really fascinating character. She may be innocent in many respects, but there is a nice juxtaposition of this woman who is in over he head in many ways, but also has a strength to exert just that bit of control. The relationship among the five of them is just starting here in this first book in the series. At this point, it is mostly sex between Alice and the various men, with no real romantic connection. We get sex scenes here between Alice and some of the men, as well as between the men in various combinations, though most of the sex between the guys is closed door (though frequent). I thought that was an interesting decision, especially since the prequel with just the four of them is much more explicit (details below), but I think it sets up the foundation of them versus Alice, slowly figuring out how they all fit.
My only small issue here is that I felt like things are a little slow to get moving and a lot of time is spent on the foundation. That may be because I read the prequel and it provides a lot of background on the men and a closer look at their dynamic, so I didn’t necessarily need so much groundwork laid before getting into the main story. And speaking of the prequel, Lindsey has a short story called Misfits that features James, Kane, Phoenix, and Ariel. It is free for newsletter subscribers and there is a link in the book to get a copy. I enjoyed this story as it really gives a great feel for the four men and their dynamic. As I mentioned, it is also more explicit for the four of them and helped me have a good sense of their connection going into this main story, which gives more focus to their connection to Alice. So I’d say definitely grab it and give it a read before starting here if you can, as it is a nice way to lead into this book.
Dark romance isn’t always my thing, but I’d follow Lindsey anywhere and I’m glad I gave this series a try. I am looking forward to the next two books — which each release two weeks apart, so no waiting — and can’t wait to see how this adventure unfolds.