Joint Review: Sheena and Tori
You know how it went for me.
You know what he did.
You know the fire he left inside my soul when he crushed me into a thousand tiny pieces.
Since Marcus, my life has been a blur of emptiness.
Since Marcus there has been nothing.I’m alone, my Mom is dwindling and I feel nothing but emptiness. I work long, I work hard, but why? There’s no longer anything to fight for.I know I have to face him. I know I have to go back. To fix my life, I have to break my ties to him.Seeing Marcus again will destroy me, but it’s time to finish this.
I don’t expect the bitter, twisted emotions I’ll feel when I see him again, and when I lose everything once more, because of him, the only thing on my mind is revenge.
But how do you hurt someone you still love so deeply? How can I still care for a monster? How can he still make me feel?
Our story is the most complicated of them all, it’s far from beautiful, it’s far from perfect, it’s just a twisted mess of emotion that neither of us knows how to fix.
But we will fix it. You’ll see. (Goodreads)
TORI: ‘Til Death is a two volume duology. I do not recommend reading VOL 2 without reading VOL 1 first. VOL 1 introduces our protagonists and sets up the storyline. A marriage of convenience trope that goes horribly wrong when the object of the convenience finds out and she learns why the love of her life married her. Katia fell for Marcus Tandem hook, line, and sinker. Believing her prince had come, she is shattered when she learns he married her to merely secure his ownership of the family business. When she learns the whole story behind his deplorable actions and questions him on it, he purposely causes her to leave, hoping to make her hate him while in fact he does it all out of love. Katia leaves a shattered broken woman. Marcus thought he could have it all and keep his emotions out of the mix, but he falls for Katia and when she leaves, it devastates him.
VOL 2 brings back our unlucky lovers and sets them down a harsh path of lies, pain, and revenge as Katia tries to survive on practically nothing while taking care of her sick mother. When her mother’s care becomes too much for her to handle alone, she comes back to town and is forced to interact with Marcus, reopening all her wounds. Marcus realises instantly what he lost and tries so hard to get Katia to hear him out on multiple occasions. When one of his attempts to talk to her results in her missing the chance to say goodbye to the only other person she loves, Katia hits rock bottom and like a phoenix, emerges from the ashes engulfed in the flames of revenge.
When it comes to the cray-cray, I and Sheena are soul mates. The more outrageous a couple and the situation, the more I can guarantee one of us, if not both, have read their book. Bella Jewel fills my need with her various dark erotic romances that gives readers intensely possessive alpha heroes, strong and eccentric heroines, and some serious eye rolling storylines. Bella creates the ultimate abet gorgeous douchebag hero in Til Death. Marcus is an arse. You can’t even say at least he’s honest about his intentions because he’s not. He lies, schemes, and manipulates. He wined and dined Katia with the sole intention of getting her to fall in love with him and using her to achieve his goals. The problem? He never thought he would fall victim to his own trap. I think ever, Sheena? After Vol 1 was Marcus a hero or zero for you?
SHEENA: *sings* Hey soul sister, ain’t that Mr. Mister… (In my Train voice). You have it spot on, Tori! After VOL 1, I was livid, seething. I thought Marcus was vile and beyond redemption. I didn’t champion a HEA and I wanted everyone to know! I have never walked away from a novel literally clamoring for the hero to lose his lady love and any remote chance of happiness. I wanted him burned at the stake of my choosing. I wanted him to go down in Chinatown, in short- I didn’t find him fit to pick Katia’s toenails. I sympathised with Katia and wanted her to be truly happy- sans Marcus!
But then something shifted in VOL 2. Katia transformed. And committed one of my most fiercely protected, cardinal romance novel sins. Thou shalt not lie to the hero about the existence or possibility of a child he has fathered. Marcus was an emotional tyrant and put her through the emotional wringer. He was cold and he hurt her feelings. He sent her packing with a sneer on his lips and lies in his eyes. But honey, you hide this man’s baby and I am #TeamMarcus by the next bat of my lashes! Making the decision to -don’t say villainize- devolve Katia’s characterization from heroine-with-the-broken-heart-of-gold to that of the queen bitch of retribution is what made this story feel believable. In this action, I believe Bella Jewel to have the foresight and gift that many romance authors do not possess. It would have been sooo easy to have Katia give Marcus the run around for a few chapters and then after a few encounters, and some groveling, Marcus waves his cock under Katia’s nose like smelling salts and BAM! They are back together and loving harder than ever for eternity. To be honest I was expecting this lazy resolution and ready to go on the rant to end all rants, but Jewell did the work and made this journey legit.
I also appreciated the pace of the story, each scene fueled by each lover’s angst. It was as if I were on a roller coaster, each new action ratcheting up Katia’s venomous desire to the next level. At one point she was seriously out of control and the plot felt wild and dangerous! I was ready to enter Marcus into witness protection- in my boudoir- of course. (So umm yes…with the moratorium on my distaste for his prior dastardly deeds, I began to sort of get the hots for the big jerk *bites lip). Tori, how did you feel about Katia 2.0?
TORI: It’s like we have a Vulcan mind meld going on. I’m not quite as hate fueled by the secret baby trope as you are but like you, it made my respect for her diminish. And I needed that. I needed Jewel to show me the nasty, ugly dark parts buried in Katia. I need to see she was not the perfect angel that VOL 1 lead us to believe. She embraced her fall into the abyss like an avenging Valkyrie and not only rode that crazy train but was the conductor.
The direction Jewel took made me fist pump. Sorry, but I love a hero or heroine who takes it to the ultimate extreme and then a step further when their heart is broken. I do love me some revenge. Jewel did a fantastic job of cataloging Katia’s descent into madness with her family bemoaning her actions in the background like a Greek chorus. The FEELZ. OMG. My heart went out to her even as I slowly backed away just in case she decided to flip on me. I have to say while my feelings changed towards Marcus as we are given deeper insight to his thoughts and feelings, I didn’t feel a bit sorry for him when he found out just how much of the Kool-aid Katia drank. He made his bed, now he has to lie in it. *z snap*
The pace is steady and the use of alternative viewpoints helps to keep the reader in both their minds. The conflicts build slowly, heightening the sense of danger and angst. I adored Katia’s family. Her brothers and best friend were hilarious and offered a reprieve from the darkness of the storyline.I liked that her father doesn’t try to excuse away what happened in the past.
Now let’s talk about what everyone wants to hear about…the sex. Oh boy, you’d better grab something and hold on tight because the ride gets bumpy. No matter how incompatible Katia and Marcus are as a couple, they have no issues in the bedroom. Or the shower, a back alley, up against various walls. Lots of angry sex.
My back is slammed against the wall and Marcus doesn’t move his lips from mine. He kisses me until I’m gasping for air. His hands are in my locks, tugging, and his body is crushed against mine, his erection pressing into my belly. Then his hands are wrenching free of my hair and going down to the hem of my dress.
We’re in a frenzy; emotion is gone. There is nothing but raw lust, a lust that is dangerous for the both of us. My head swims from alcohol and emotion. I can’t think straight, not when his lips are on mine, not when his hands are everywhere. He jerks my dress up and finds my panties, tearing them off as if they are no more than a flimsy piece of material.
Then he’s jerking his pants down, freeing his cock. What’s happening? What am I doing? My thoughts are taken from me when he thrusts upwards, filling me in one fluid stroke. My head falls back and I scream. Thrilling, sensational agony rips through my body and I arch, trying to ease it, trying to get more—I don’t know which. Marcus places a hand on the wall beside my head and the other firmly under my ass, and he fucks me.
He fucks me like this is our last day on earth and I’m the only reason he’s fought.
He fucks me like I matter.
He fucks me like I’m his lifeline and he can’t survive without me.
I come shamelessly hard and fast, gripping his suit, running my fingernails desperately over the fabric. He growls low and deep, and fucks me so hard I feel the brick wall tearing into my skin. Then he’s coming too, hard and fast, rasping my name.
I close my eyes, shame filling me.
What have I done?
Ummm…Is it hot in here or what?
So…what were we talking about again? Oh yes, the S.E.X. It’s nasty, dirty, raw, and angry. What say you, Sheena? Was the sex up to par for you?
SHEENA: The sex was up to par. I had high expectations as Jewell is no slouch in the book booty department and I am more than pleased with the love scenes. Nothing felt too gratuitous (not that I’m likely to complain, heh) and the only thing that left me wanting was a scene with Katia’s brother, Ford…I like Ford. Me wants more and I liked what little we saw of his..dalliance. Marcus is a beast in the sack and he hits allll the right notes with me. He is dominant and passionate and well…damn near feral which makes the times where he makes love to Katia- that much more stimulating. Let’s just say I have bookmarked a scene or two….or three…especially that one time against the wall *wiggles eyebrows.* Tori, you mention their oil/water compatibility as a couple. In VOL 1 we saw Katia admit to herself that they really only connected between the sheets. Sex was one area where they had a common ground and mutual pull toward one another. Seeing them transcend that level of intimacy was rewarding. Marcus grew to love and respect and care for Katia and when her fury abated, she was left with a man who had literally been reborn-for her. Lucky chick has her man in and out of the bedroom now!
Till Death VOL 2 was a dramatic, smart and sexy conclusion to the story of Katia and Marcus. I do admit I am left with a few questions regarding just how socio-economically…changed Marcus became in the end, but nothing significant enough to sway my appreciation for this novel.
I give it a solid A-.
What say you Tori?
TORI: The highs and lows they experience in here only serves to strengthen the bonds that developed between them in VOL 1. Sometimes you have to break it in order to fix it and make it stronger. Marcus learns to love and put someone else’s needs before his while Katia learns to place a higher value on herself and not settle for less than what she deserves.
I too was a little confused about exactly what Marcus did to ‘reinvent’ himself. Did he keep nothing? What did he do at his new job? Also why he felt he had to keep Katia in the dark about it. In her mind, he had left her again. *sob* I also wish we could have divulged a little more in Marcus’s feelings for Katia beyond him saying-’I broke her. I want her back.’ Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wanted to know WHY he wanted her back. I wanted him to say the words.
Regardless, Til Death Vol 2 was a wild out of control roller coaster ride that hit all my high and low points. Jewel promised us a dramatic pain filled love story and more than delivered.
I give this a solid B+.
Sheena’s Favorite Quote:
“Sorry, you fucked my boss, I fucked your brother. It’s only fair right?”
Tori’s Favorite Quotes:
“How the hell have I been living in darkness while you’ve been dancing in light?”