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Book Review: The Dark King

I reviewed this book which was provided for free by the publisher. However, I do not receive any compensation for reviews. All book reviews are My personal and subjective opinion.

When I saw the endorsement from Helen Hardt, I knew The Dark King had to be good. I'm always skeptical when erotica is compared to Fifty Shades, as that series is problematic on a number of levels, but the premise of The Dark King intrigued me.

For Bryn Meara, a free trip to the exclusive and ultra-luxe Nightfall hotel and casino in Vegas should’ve been the perfect way to escape the debris of her crumbling career. But waking up from a martini-and-lust-fueled night to find herself married to Caiden Verran, the reclusive billionaire who owns the hotel and most of the city, isn’t the jackpot one would think. It seems her dark and sexy new husband is actual royalty―the fae king of the Night Court―and there’s an entire world beneath the veil of Vegas.

Whether light or shadow, the fae are a far cry from fairy tales, and now they’ve made Bryn a pawn in their dark games for power. And Caiden is the most dangerous of all―an intoxicating cocktail of sin and raw, insatiable hunger. She should run. But every night of passion pulls Bryn deeper into his strange and sinister world, until she’s no longer certain she wants to leave…even if she could.

Gina Maxwell has combined an interesting mix of fantasy genres: fae, royalty, shapeshifters, blood feuds, and magic all deliciously dripping with sex and set in a convincingly constructed world. Fantasy is my genre of choice and merging that with the erotic makes it catnip for this sex kitten! My usual hesitation with erotica is that it tends to be treated as "less than" literature with subpar writing, missing or convoluted plot, heavy on tropes, repeated phrases, and static characters. I was pleased to find my pet peeves absent from this novel!

The Dark King has a wonderful range of characters, all of which experience development and growth at some point during the story. Additionally, the complex cast has surprising connections and convincing backstories increasing their believability as people. The interaction between characters was absolutely charming and the balance of sex, mystery, and humor changed frequently enough to continually keep me engaged. For a person as busy as I, engaging my mind long enough to suspend disbelief and lose time is a feat! I was curious as to what would happen next, laughed along with the characters at inside jokes, and was captivated by the sexual tension between Bryn and Caiden.

Repetitive sex scenes and parroted phrases are typical pitfalls in smut, but The Dark King adeptly avoids both. Each erotic scene was more salacious than the last with increasing levels of intimacy, kink, and palpable heat between the participants. Power exchange is expertly displayed from a dominant and submissive perspective, making it a delicious read for either proclivity. Maxwell has a firm grip on her use of words and paints a vivid picture for the reader to put them squarely in the character's mindset, which is supremely fun for those who enjoy bratting but despise consequences.

I was engrossed in The Dark King till the very end, which felt somewhat sudden but had a hilarious twist that leaves it open for a sequel (Gina Maxwell promises The Rebel King will be released March 2023). My only criticism of The Dark King is that it drew parallels to Beauty and the Beast in a way that took me out of the story at times. Despite that, I still found The Dark King highly enjoyable and am looking forward to the next installment in the Deviant Kings series.

You can buy The Dark King here.

About the Author

Gina L. Maxwell is a multi-bestselling author living in the upper Midwest, despite her scathing hatred of snow and cold weather. As a lifelong romance novel addict, she began writing as an alternate way of enjoying the romance stories she loves to read.

Her debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, hit both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists in less than four weeks, and also hit the #1 spot internationally, ahead of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. #ProudDay (´⌣`ʃƪ)

When she’s not reading, writing, or spending way too much on her paper planner and office supply obsessions, she loves hanging out with her high-school-sweetheart hubby and their adult kids, while dreaming about her someday-move to someplace tropical.


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