Sometimes I like to do the book equivalent of dumpster-diving and just root around in the Kindle store, looking for the most decadent, over-the-top, flaming hot mess (emphasis on the "hot") I can find, because I'm a trash queen, and when I'm not working 9-5, I enjoy lording over my vast kingdom of garbage reads.
I read the first book in this Endgame series just over a month ago. It's called THE PAWN, and it's about a barely legal girl who auctions off her virginity to pay off her father's debts after he gets in legal trouble for scamming his former business associates. It had the uncomfortable, "can't-look-away" feel of a 70s exploitation film, but I liked it in spite of my feminist principles. Yes, fetishization of virginity is gross, and the dudes who are into that are usually either a) patriarchal twats who feel a fond nostalgia for the good old days when "the wimmens" knew their place and/or b) insecure man-boys who like the idea of a "blank slate" that won't be judging his sexual performance (or lack of it).
THE KNIGHT picks up where THE PAWN left off, after Gabriel, the hot purchaser of said virginity, cruelly dumps Avery before their thirty days are up claiming that he doesn't want her now that she's no longer a virgin. When we see her in this book, she's living in a slummy apartment in a bad part of town and visiting her father in the nursing home she can't afford (that's conveniently being paid for by Gabriel, for reasons she can't even begin to understand). Given that Avery was such a strong character in this book, I was not digging the "woe is me" vibe, particularly when she's so quick to jump back into his arms the moment he appears, despite all the disgusting, serial killer-esque things he says about her hymen to goad her (he likes her hymen blood and the idea of fucking her "wound" made him hard? Um, gross x a million and BRB, calling the police) and the way he treated her at the end of book one. He doesn't even really have to grovel and that made me mad.
Usually in books like these, I like to see some character development. Tarryn Fisher's Love Me with Lies series was also very trashy, but the way the characters develop over the series is complex and interesting and makes up for some of the moments where I had to suspend my disbelief. With THE KNIGHT, it kind of felt like a reprise of the previous book where Gabriel treats Avery like a sex doll in between threatening her and treating her like crap, and Avery accepts it as her due. There are some new plot points, like her family's house being put up for auction and her scrambling to find the funds to purchase it, the discovery of her late mother's journal (which suggests that her mother had a tawdry past to rival even her own), and some more angst and secrecy about Gabriel's own dark past.
I found THE KNIGHT equal parts amusing and annoying. The sex scenes weren't as good and there wasn't as much tension. I thought Gabriel became a super-creep in this book, particularly the part where he rationalized his abuse of the sex slaves his father kept (if he wasn't mean enough to them and they got killed as a result of not being sufficiently intimidated, he would have felt guilty - lol, spare me you misogynistic fool). I also found it very annoying how Avery felt the need to remind us, the readers, about her virginity auction every other page - like we'd forget or something. It only added to the weird exploitation movie feel, like it was so important that we remembered how Avery sold her virginity for money and how excited this made Gabriel feel. I can stomach a lot but this was gross.
I'm still giving this 2.5 stars because I did make it to the end and I'm curious enough that I'd finish the series if I managed to find the final book on the cheap, but please keep in mind that this book series is also problematic in many ways and may not be a good fit for readers who have triggers about romanticizing slavery/indentured servitude or how sexual inexperience is handled in fiction.
2.5 out of 5 stars