Aaargh, a cliffhanger! This one is on me though, as I didn't read the recommendation I saw on Instagram properly. Just be aware there is one, and you can pre-order Part 2 of the two book series (Echoes of Vengeance, publication June 2022.)
Okay, now THAT's all out the way, the book. Wow. A very hot, disturbing reverse harem story, centred round Wren, who has been rescued from her horrendous, abusive family at the age of 20, by a group of four men who have made it their business to rescue people like her. As a result, Wren is selectively mute, and communicates by writing down her answers when conversing with people.
Havoc is the most approachable of the four men; a fey bundle of love and affection who also knows how to torture the cruel abusers (although we never really get to see what he or anyone else does.) He is ever so slightly annoying at times, but is offset nicely by Kodiak - the moody one, Hush - the tough but tender one, and Nix - the sexy nerd. Basically you have a perfect combo of men who compliment each other, and sometimes have sex with each other, all who have complicated emotions. They have all fallen for Wren and want to protect her. She is called Tiny Bird, Sprite, and other sweet names but I'm not sure they realise how tough she is inside.
This is said to be an Ugly Duckling retelling, but I couldn't see that particularly. Yes, Wren has scars, both internal and external, but although frail, she has a steely determination that both intrigues and enrages her rescuers.
This is truly a dark romance, with an unflinching look at the themes of sex trafficking, abuse and self-harm. Some may well be disturbed by one sex scene involving edge play with a knife, and others might not like the massive plot twist halfway through. It won't be for everyone. Books like this rarely are. Take note of the triggers and you can't say you haven't been warned.
Wren does have a strong female role model in Leigh, the cake shop owner she works for, who has also been a victim of abuse. There are also some gang references and as the story goes on, it seems that nefarious family machinations are at play.
I enjoyed reading this novel, although some turns of phrase left me squirming, eg. “My thumb splits her seam, pressing against the bundle of nerves inside...." and the word "seam," appeared enough times for me to notice it, but I loved the almost violent way of describing the tenderest of scenes and the brutal honesty of it all. It was cleverly written and I'll definitely check out the second book.
A dull-eyed girl, broken and alone, living in a world drenched in violence. Her story begins with bloodline sins, and no one to save her from the echoes of silence. Wren I haven’t spoken in four years. Not a scream, not a cry, not a whimper. I learned a long time ago—the punishment for speaking out against my tormentors isn’t a price I’m willing to pay. Not again. Forged in darkness and controlled in silence, I was caged for other’s twisted perversions. It wasn’t until four dark knights swooped in and sliced through the ropes binding me that I was finally free. They were supposed to be my saviors, but I was wrong. So. Incredibly. Wrong. The men who purchased me from my father are monsters—worse than those who haunt the shadows of my past. At first, they whispered sweet promises of freedom, but now they say I’m theirs to keep. To own. I’m nothing more than a prisoner once again. Only this time, I might not need saving. Especially when their brand of darkness soothes the shattered pieces of my poisoned soul, and sets my desire for vengeance ablaze. *Echoes of Silence is a DARK contemporary retelling of The Ugly Duckling, and 1 of 13 novels releasing in the Twisted Tales collection. It's a depraved, gritty, and raw reverse harem romance that contains scenes that may be triggering to some. Including : sexual assault, graphic violence and explicit steamy scenes. The FMC is beautifully broken, yet undeniably fierce. Her dark knights are depraved and possessive, delighting in pushing her past her breaking point. This novel comes with massive triggers, so please heed the warning. It is not suitable for readers under the age of 18.