This is the second book in the Royals of Forsyth University series. I reviewed the previous book here, which I absolutely loved. Big 5 stars.
I’m not sure how I feel about this book. I was extremely excited for it when I finished Lords of Pain. There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the book and I think sensitive readers (if any of them made it through Lords of Pain) should heed it. This book gets extremely dark, including a punishment scene that I stopped reading twice and took a break from because I found it beyond my personal squick threshold.
Overall, I think the book is good, but not great. The pacing is slightly off, with the first half dragging and the second half feeling slightly rushed, particularly the ending. The editing isn’t quite as tight as the first book, where I noticed almost no typos. There are a number in this book. They didn’t detract from my reading experience as a whole, but there were enough that I noticed. That added to my impression that the book was rushed.
Maybe the theme for this book is the adage (attributed to Confucius), “seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for your yourself.” There’s a ton of revenge going on in these 300 pages. (The book felt much longer than that, perhaps because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.) The heroine gets revenge on her bullies, but her whole “plan” struck a sour note with me. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the heroine’s revenge in the Rich Boys of Burberry Prep series or the heroine’s refusal to stoop in the Hannaford Prep series. There’s a point where one of the boys says the heroine has two M.O.s, run or make things worse. Unfortunately, that’s true from a plot perspective. When the heroine finally stops running and makes a stand against the boys, her revenge plan is just, frankly, stupid. There was no way the boys weren’t going to figure out it was her, and when they did, their retaliation went beyond sadistic into dehumanising. I can’t see any believable happy ending for these characters after that.
There are also some D/s undertones in this book, particularly between Tristian and the heroine, where he tries to “train” her by giving her aftercare and incentivising her submission. There’s a particularly ugly kink theory that involves “breaking” a submissive, reducing the submissive to the point where nothing but the dominant’s will matters. As this literally strips the submissive of the ability to consent, I’m very wary of this theory, and it felt like that underrode this book in a way that made me uncomfortable. Whether it was conscious or not on the part of the authors, the boys do break the heroine. It’s unclear to me if, by the end, she’s starting to take control and build herself back up. The final scene with between the heroine and the boys suggests she is, but it felt more like a submissive returning to an abusive relationship and trying to negotiate some limits on her abuse instead of the heroine reclaiming her agency. I guess the third book will tell, but I’m not nearly as excited about it as I was for this book.
Lords of Wrath is on Amazon and free to read in Kindle Unlimited here.