“What if I’d corrupted her? What if she’d begun to like playing games too much, and the lust to play- and to win- overpowered her need for me?”
First thing first, trigger warnings for EVERYTHING. Bullying, abduction, rape, attempted rape, grey area consent, violence, child abuse, murder, drug use, drug addiction, underage sexual content, underage drinking, animal cruelty, death of a parent.
Needless to say, this book is dark and twisted and isn’t for the faint of heart. Also, I want to preface this entire review with me stating that I rate erotic romances differently than other books. That’s not saying I won’t call out problematic and toxic elements, but I won’t judge them as harshly as I would a regular romance book, SFF, or anything else. And the whole entire “revenge” theme of this book was problematic as hell, but I was addicted and couldn’t stop reading it. This is for sure a Dark Romance and has super mature themes that are intended for 18+.
Earlier this month I read Penelope Douglas’ Punk 57, and really enjoyed that story and the writing style. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to resist picking up something else by her. Corrupt is New Adult, where Punk 57 stars characters that are at eighteen, but seniors in high school, so I really enjoyed that Corrupt was older, even though we still received a lot of high school flashbacks. And, again, I’m getting too old to read about high schoolers wanting to bone, you know? So I really appreciated that Corrupt had, for the most part, characters in their early to mid twenties. Yet, those high school flashbacks have so much importance, because this entire story surrounds around one Devil’s Night in high school when all of these characters’ lives changed forever.
Our main protagonist, Rika, has lived a sheltered life where everyone makes every decision for her. Her life seems so perfect from the outside, money, powerful family, connections, honestly everything you could ask for. But after Rika’s father died, she has wanted to feel what it feels like to actually live her own life instead of just moving through it while everyone controls her every move.
Rika has grown up alongside another family, who her father was business partners with. This family has looked over here and loves her like one of their own, but they are also constantly trying to push her and their youngest son, Trevor, together. But unbeknownst to them, all Rika can ever think about is their older son, Michael.
“He was everything.My entire life, I only felt completely alive when he was close, and while I knew nothing would ever be easy with him, I also knew nothing would ever be good without him, either.”
Michael has anger issues, period. Like, that has to be said from the get go. I loved him and Rika’s angsty dynamic, but I’m not going to ignore that Michael for sure needs to get some professional help to calm his ass down. Michael is a professional basketball player, and wants to never become like his father or younger brother who only care about money and their stature. Michael is also constantly being haunted by that Devil’s Night that I mentioned above, but he is also always constantly fighting an inner battle with his feelings for Rika.
Michael also has four friends that you will hate and love at the same time. Again, they are all problematic, and their revenge mission is completely unrealistic and absolutely terrifying. Yet, I became so immersed with this mystery of what really happened that Devil’s Night that I couldn’t put this book down. It was immersive, addicting, and I completely loved it.
“Three years ago, curious little Erika Fane wanted to play with the boys, so we indulged her, and she betrayed us. There was no way we’d forget.”
The story really begins once Rika, finally wanting a life of her own, leaves every safe comfort shes knows, and moves to a new city to go to a school and maybe even start a new life. Yet, she doesn’t have any idea that she is falling right into Michael’s trap.
The bottom line is this book ticked a lot of boxes for me. Like, the sex in this is 10/10, mind blowing, amazingly good. And, not to tell you guys too much information about myself or what I like during sex with partners, but the main protagonist and me share a similar kink, so… yeah, I was feeling it.
Also, there is a bisexual female side character in this story, and I was living for it. She wasn’t treated the best, and I pretty much wanted to fight everyone who wronged her constantly, but I was so instantly in love with her. Also, there is pretty good representation in here about sex workers and how they shouldn’t feel shame from anyone, but especially not from the dudes that are paying for the sex!
This is for sure an erotic romance that hints at mystery and is filled with suspense. This story for sure pushes the limits and boundaries, and if you’re okay with that I think you will absolutely love this book, too! At this point I hope to read everything by Penelope Douglas, because she just keeps proving what a talented erotic romance writer she is.