Sunday, February 9, 2014

Review - Quintessentially Q (Monsters in the Dark #2) by Pepper Winters

Release date: Dec. 11, 2013
Published by: Author
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“All my life, I battled with the knowledge I was twisted… fucked up to want something so deliciously dark—wrong on so many levels. But then slave fifty-eight entered my world. Hissing, fighting, with a core of iron, she showed me an existence where two wrongs make a right."  Tess is Q’s completely. Q is Tess’s irrevocably. But now, they must learn the boundaries of their unconventional relationship, while Tess seeks vengeance on the men who sold her. Q made a blood-oath to deliver their corpses at Tess’s feet, and that’s just what he’ll do.  He may be a monster, but he’s Tess’s monster.

This is not a sweet and mushy love story.  This is a story about determination, curbing one's monsters, and the lengths a man and woman will go to to find respite in one another.  This is a haunting, heart breaking, intense book that will leave you with your heart racing and your mind spinning.

Quintessentially Q begins right where Tears of Tess left off.  Tess and Q are trying to find a measure of comfort with one another.  Tess is not a true submissive.  Q understands this, but it only makes him want to bend her even more to his will.  Q is one of the most dominant, alpha males I have come across.  He is possessed by the need to make Tess utterly and completely his, in every way imaginable.  But the main reason that he wants Tess so badly is also the thing that infuriates him.  Early on, there is a scene where Tess takes more than Q wants to give her, and it causes a lot of soul searching for Q.  Tess puts him in a position where he's never been before.  Tess still had doubts about the depth of Q's feelings for her.  He talks a good game, but his reaction to her dominant play makes her question everything that she knows down deep inside.

Now I stood on the precipice of a dream come true - a woman who saw the real me, accepted me, and wanted a future with me - and all I could do was drown in nightmares of killing her.

As Q and Tess are coming to terms with one another, a game changer occurs.  I don't want to spoil this amazing story, but let's just say that it was incredibly difficult to finish reading this book.  Tess finds herself in a nightmarish situation.  She is forced to do horrific things that she would never do willingly.  Tess is driven to the point of breaking - her mind, her body and her spirit.  It was gut wrenching to read.  All the while that Tess is suffering, Q is out of his mind with worry.  He may be extraordinarily rich and powerful, but his money can't help him in this situation.  And this isn't even the most difficult part of the story for Q.

"You'll never be free of me.  I'll never be free of you.  It's fate who decides, and fate gave us each other."

Once Tess and Q are back to Q's French countryside estate, things go from bad to worse.  Tess has a lot of demons that she must deal with, and Q has to come to terms with the fact that what happened was not his fault, and that Tess shoulders half the blame.  My heart broke again and again for Tess and Q - more for Tess in the middle, and more for Q towards the end.  Q moves heaven and earth for Tess, and submits to something that he couldn't even put into words.  Tess suffers a lot of punishment in this book, and needs to purge herself of those memories.  Q is the vehicle for which she purges herself.  These scenes are among the most intense that I have read.  I had to continually look away from the pages to take mental breaks.  This whole book is written like a crescendo, climaxing at a point that I didn't think was possible.

We broke each other, and the only way to stay whole was to entwine ourselves, gluing the jagged parts, stitching out souls into one.

What I liked the most about this book was Q's self searching.  Q knows his monster - he understand the darkness that lives within himself.  When Tess fights her demons, Q is forced to consider the possibility that his monster might never want Tess again.  I wanted to be angry with Q, but I couldn't.  He is such a dark and damaged soul, and although he isn't the one that was literally damaged, he had to deal with a bout of mental violence that tore me up.  Q has doubts throughout this book - not about his love for Tess, but about himself and the fear that he might have to cage his inner monster for the rest of his life.  Tess gave him hope and light - she was the only person that was ever to relieve him of his loneliness and pain.  When she fades, Q's entire soul fades with her.  It gutted me.

"You stole my loneliness.  I may have given you wings, but you've become my gravity.  I'll never be free of your force."

Tess became a shell of herself.  Her love for Q never wavered; she just couldn't be the person that he needed.  Tess suffered countless atrocities and a lesser heroine would have just laid down and died.  She deals with abandonment issues and grief like I've never witnessed in a contemporary romance book.  Tess is a survivor.  The events in this book might have brought her down and nearly destroyed her soul, but she fought through it all.  When she needed help to finally put all those demons to rest, Q was there to help and saved her again.  Tess kept herself from going insane, but Q ultimately saved her soul.  

There's always light in the darkness.

Hey - folks who think Pepper didn't go dark enough in Tears of Tess, this one's for you.  This is an extremely dark and twisted book that caused so many emotions in me while I was reading it.  I loved every heartbreaking, hard-to-read page of this story and it's one that will stick with me forever.  If you aren't queasy, and you enjoy pitch black romances, this books is highly recommended from me.  You must read Tears of Tess first to understand the relationships and intricacies to this story, but you will be glad you did.  

Possessiveness snarled deep in my belly and muscles locked with anger.  I wanted to own her past, her present, her future.  I wanted to be her first and last and fucking forever.  I wanted to wipe everything from her life where I wasn't the center point of her evolution.

And a shout out to Pepper!  Book three, Twisted Together, will wrap up this story and will be released this year.  In the epilogue to Quintessentially Q, Pepper explains that Tears of Tess was originally supposed to be a stand alone book.  When she realized that there was more to Q's and Tess' story, she wrote QQ.  Understanding that she couldn't wrap up this couple in an epilogue, she decided to write a third book, much to my delight.  Where the first two books dealt with the characters dark selves, this third book will be the only one to show Q and Tess as an actual couple.  I love that Pepper wasn't rigid.  She was flexible enough, and had enough foresight, to see that one book would have never been enough.  She is doing her characters justice by wrapping this story up and not leaving an open end in her wake.  Bravo, Pepper!


Danielle Romero said...

OOO this sounds like a good one! Great review hun!

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