VELVET CRUELTY is a retelling of Snow White. January Whitehall is an innocent eighteen-year-old woman who is naive about literally everything (to the point of stupidity, really), sings and chirps and sounds like a kitten during sex, and who enjoys cooking and cleaning as a pastime. I honestly feel like this is supposed to be satire, having read this author's other books where the heroines where smart, intelligent women in STEM, so the whole thing kind of feels like the author is doing a loving parody of the dark romance genre where all the characters are just continually winking at the audience.
She's kidnapped by four dudes who have a grudge against her fiance. At first they plan on killing her, but when they find out she's a virgin, they have other plans in mind. The rest of the book kind of devolves into a competitive free-for-all where they all vie to be her first. One thing I liked was how each of the guys-- Basher/Bobby, Domenico/Doc, Eli/Elliot, and Adriano/Adri all had distinct personalities. January was so helpless and naive that it could be painful reading things from her POV; I liked the guys' POVs better; they were hilarious because of how few f***s they had to give.
This is definitely very different from the author's usual works in terms of tone. Her other books are more straightforward BDSM erotica with a light, jokey tone running through them, but this was a straightforward dark romance with dub-con and has all of the usual caveats with the genre and some additional ones (think DEN OF VIPERS but infinitely better written). It honestly speaks to the talent of the author that she was able to take such a farfetched and ridiculous premise and make me speed through it in twenty-four hours while putting the sequel down on lock. I probably would have given it five stars if January had more of a personality and dialogue that went beyond "um," "no," and "please." But even she had her moments. That scene with the Orchard completely cracked me up. Go Jan.
3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars