Shattered King by Sherilee Gray
Series: Lawless Kings, #1
Released: June 27, 2017
Reviewed by Sheena
He’s after the woman who helped put him behind bars. She’s been in hiding for three years raising the son he doesn’t know about.
Holding a grudge has never felt so good.
Favorite Quote: “What are you looking at?” I turned into her, speaking against her ear. “Your mouth.” She pulled back, frowning. “Do I have something on my lips?” I shook my head. “Not yet, but you will when we get home.”
Shattered King is a hefty read with darkness in spades – which I gravitate toward like a moth to a flame, however, it reads as clumsy and unfocused with hallow characters with muddy motivations. Hunter is fresh out of prison with a huge chip on his shoulder, having served three years in prison and he blames his ex lover Lucinda for her hand in sending him to prison. Lucinda is a victim of physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of her awful step-father and is living life in virtual hiding from the man who ruined her world. She has a young son whom she wants to protect with all her heart and her only ally is her Aunt Sara who cares and covers for Lucinda as much as she can given the danger they face and the monster they hide from.
When Hunter is released, and finds out Lucinda is in town to see her ailing mother, he barrels right toward her (literally) hell bent on finding out why she betrayed him, and sent him to prison with her lies. Hunter is big, bad and mad and his actions post lock up are more than a little questionable when he finally gets his hands on Lucinda.
I got in her face. “Bitch, you must think I’m stupid.”
“You really are nothing but a heartless bitch, aren’t you?”
“Such a lovely face for such a traitorous bitch.”
Aside from a few scenes where Hunter roughs Lucinda up a little and is savagely demeaning, shooting past arse-hat land and spiraling straight into unlikable douche territory, there isn’t much to like about Hunter. Which is unfortunate because dark and broody wronged hero is such lush material, it was disappointing to see the author strip away any likable attributes from a hero profile with so much potential. Not to mention the butchering of Lucinda, a heroine who I think I was supposed to empathize with, however, she came across as lacking copious amounts of common sense, frequently making bizarre decisions that were severely counter productive to anything that slightly resembled common sense. I tend to believe that repeated bonehead character decisions exposes a weak plot development, which is exceedingly frustrating in this case. Lucida held the key to life changing, life saving information and she kept it to herself, even when telling would have been the most obvious and safest path to take. Over and over she made decisions that made things more difficult for her, her son, her aunt and everyone else within a ten-mile radius. After a while, I didn’t much care if she made it out alive, because- hello! Earth to Lucinda!
Hunter also missed the mark for the “troubled brute with the heart of gold that needed mending” shtick because as I mentioned he was a major jerk. In the way that is decidedly- unexciting. When he wasn’t berating, disrespecting and fantasizing about brutalizing Lucinda, he couldn’t keep his peen in his pants, flashing and jabbing at her every chance he could get. The story is teeming with sex, but I could barely enjoy it due to all the noise surrounding Hunter and Lucinda as a couple. They were exhausting and not even the convoluted subplots could distract me from their train wreck.
The plot meanders about, almost as if the author changed her mind here and there about what direction in which things would progress. Maybe the random turn of events were supposed to be clever twists? (Spoiler alert- they weren’t). The HEA was visible miles away, clear as a sunny day, further fueling the agitation of having to read through it all- and by it all, I totally mean slow-paced, boring, faux plot twisting exposition. Instead of picturing a HEA with this dysfunctional pair, I romanticized DNF’ing it, only to stick around long enough to see it through. Abandoning caring about their HEA, I settled for wanting to know if Hunter’s audacity and unappealing petulance held up and if Lucinda finally rallied against being a humping bag and found a clue. I’d tell you, but I figure if you decide to give Shattered King a shot, you deserve to find out for yourself that it ends just as poorly as it begins.
If you are in it for the promise of steamy sex, lucky you- there are hard cocks and glistening cores galore. But much like the characters, the love scenes were hollow and not fulfilling. Some (I) might even label them as gratuitous.
The cardinal rule with introducing, justifying and redeeming dark and lost characters…is that you have to dig in and make the reader feel something for them (investment), and then you have to do the work and actually redeem them (payoff). This does not mean a couple of flimsy paragraphs of lackluster groveling or a measly introspective thought or two. The darker you go with your hero, the more you have to do to redeem them. I love stories of redemption and I heart a dark asshole. But the proof is in the redemption and neither Hunter or Lucinda fared well in this respect.
Overall, Shattered King was a miss for me and I will not be following this series.