Series: Dark Stalker #1
Published by SMP Swerve on June 13th 2017
Buy on Amazon
This isn’t supposed to be a love story. This is not the kind of book where a girl gets swept off her feet. Where the hero is her knight in shining armor. This is a novel about ruining someone’s life. But even the simplest plans for revenge can go wrong.
I like the way he watches me, this man I don’t know. It’s something I’ll never confess to, never tell a soul. But with one look of those penetrating eyes, I feel as if he’s unwrapped me, turned me inside out, rubbed away at my trust-fund-holding, good-girl exterior until I’m raw and exposed.
He looks like he wants to destroy me. Like he wants to obliterate me and my shallow, perfect life until there’s nothing left.
And once I meet Logan, the crazy part is, I want him to.
I hate Penny Vandershall.
I hate her money and her family and her privilege. I hate her innocence and her smile and her shine. I want to annihilate her lightness and consume her with my darkness, my anger, my red-hot rage until there is nothing left of her.
I know the truth about her, the truth that will make it easy to bring her down. To ruin her for good. But through the blinding haze of my hatred, my burning need for revenge, she's starting to get to me. She looks at me in wide-eyed fear, like a girl approaching the tiger’s cage. And yet she refuses to walk away; edging closer until she can meet the beast who wants to rip her apart.
And even though I set out to ruin her, she may be the one to destroy me.
‘Stranger’ quite boldly goes where many romances don’t go, with its questionable take on love (if anyone can even call it that) and revenge that comes in the form of blackmail with sexual gratification and revelation of information as the bartering currency. The subversiveness in the blurb appealed from the start and but it did cross some boundaries into the darker aspects of sex and ‘love’ while juggling some mystery and suspense, so it’s probably not for those who prefer cute reads.
’Stranger’ is a no-holds-barred version of lust, hate and destruction, that much I get and accept and even like because of how far this actually deviates from the enemies-to-lovers trope. Robin Lovett does write—believably—about the blurred boundaries between depravity, pleasure and despair, and how freedom, no matter how fleeting, can be found in the most unexpected places with the worst kind of people. Logan and Penny, for most part, are caught in this downward spiral of hate sex and denial and I did wonder how they were both going to come out of this drama created out of their own making, let alone find that HEA.
Instead, this cycle goes on for pages without really getting to the heart of the mystery and it ultimately proved frustrating. Disclosure were slow in coming and I had questions that weren’t ever quite addressed fully even by the end of the book, all of which contributing to the stuttering pacing that did weaken the story’s overall impact for me.
Why had Penny fallen so easily to Logan’s blackmail without even thinking of asking to see factual evidence of what Logan was accusing her dead father of—before agreeing to marry him just so he could have access to her trust fund? Why didn’t she call the police which would have been a natural reaction, it seems, for most people, when she realised he was stalking her? Was Logan’s endgame really only to get Penny’s money after years of plotting, despite his saying that it as to destroy her family and her too facile? And if so, why had he waited until her father died to exact his revenge?
There is nonetheless, a thread of tension and wariness that never goes away by the end, although there is, to some extent, some depth of character that accounts for my rating of the story. Penny’s self-centered world of denial did shatter when Logan revealed his version of the reality she never could accept, though I would have liked it better if Penny had tried figuring out her own mind and emotions rather than constantly struggling and bouncing between her brother and Logan, whose aggression and dominance did seem too much for her. Yet I couldn’t help but feel Logan remained as shady as ever (his past was never really revealed) and all he seemed to be was a poor man of vengeance dressed as a beach bum, whose future was always in doubt, right up to the cliffhanger end which pretty much confirmed that the story arc was far from finished.