I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.
His name is Michael Crist.
My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He’s handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.
But I noticed him.
I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.
Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.
Because he’s finally noticed me.
Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.
My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.
Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.
In my city.
The opportunity is too good to be true, as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.
We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.
*Corrupt is a STANDALONE dark romance with no cliffhanger. It is suitable for ages 18+.
This book was a wild ride but I loved every minute of it. Penelope Douglas isn’t blowing smoke by calling this the Devil’s Night series, she really delivers on everything the title insinuates. I was expecting it to be kind of cheesy and fairly disappointing but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters are compelling, the story held my interest and I generally dislike flashbacks or dual timelines of any kind but she made it work. About two-thirds of this story takes place now and the rest happened three years ago, so action switches between the time periods but it’s the transitions are seamless. It’s not confusing or clumsy and doesn’t create plot holes, which are the main reasons I’ve been disappointed by them in other books.
The POV switches between Rika and Michael, although it seems heavier on Rika but it’s a good balance. This story has everything: disillusioned rich kids, power hungry jerks, arch-enemies, creepy masks and rituals of sorts, borderline rapey guys who like to torture women, there’s a lot going on. Plus, Rika’s known Trevor her entire life, they’ve grown up together and now he’d her boyfriend but she’s been in love with his older brother for as long as she can remember. Much like the Rydeville Elite series, the story is so over-the-top that it doesn’t take me out of my comfort zone, even though some of the scenes are seriously wild.
Rika is a privileged girl who may seem like she has it all but really she’s been suffering for years, since the car accident that injured her and killed her father. Her mother has numbed the pain of her loss with pills and barely gets out of bed. She’s certainly not a parent to Rika, who spends much of her time at the Crist household, hanging out with Trevor and being doted on by his mother. Trevor has always been a part of her life so taking their relationship to the next level seemed to make sense. Unfortunately for Rika, Trevor’s a possessive ass and not nearly as good of a boyfriend as he was a fried. Being crazy in love with his older brother, Michael, certainly doesn’t help.
Michael has always ignored Rika completely and made her feel invisible. She doesn’t want to love him but she can’t help herself either and it’s frustrating. During her senior year, Michael and his friends come home from college for their typical Devil’s Night celebration and the two have a few will they/won’t they moments but ultimately, Michael tells himself she’s only sixteen and at nineteen, he knows better so nothing happens. The age gap isn’t the real issue however, it’s Michael’s inability to handle his business.
He’s the black sheep of the family and constantly butting heads with his condescending jerk of a father. Trevor’s the golden child while Michael is treated like garbage by Mr. Crist and Michael isn’t ready to stand up to his family. Being with Rika would guarantee a massive blowout, as both his father and brother deem Rika to belong to Trevor. Rather than explain his problems to Rika, he cruelly rejects her and walks away, leaving her reeling. By the morning, footage of the Devil’s Night chaos have gone public and Michael’s three best friends have been arrested.
The boys go to prison for the next three years, except Michael, and the four horseman quickly determine Rika must’ve publicized the videos out of spite after Michael rejected her. After all, she’s close to the Crist family and Michael’s the only horseman who was spared, even though the phone had incriminating videos of all four men. The friends bide their time plotting to make her pay and that day has come. They’re all free men once again and Rika has moved away from the protective enclave they all call home to attend college in the big city. She’s there alone and unprotected and has no idea that she’s in danger.
She’s in a bad position and it’s hardly a fair fight at four against one but Rika’s up to the challenge. It doesn’t take her long to realize something is going on and she doesn’t back down from a challenge. These men saw her as weak, a spoiled rich girl who does exactly as she’s told and never makes waves but they couldn’t be more wrong. Not only is Rika more than capable of defending herself, she’s great at it and she loves to play the game. The girl they marked as easy prey is going to put up one hell of a fight and this isn’t going to be easy for anyone.
This story is a true thriller that keeps you guessing and it makes for an exciting read. It’s impossible to go into much detail without spoiling some of the best parts of the plot, but this book is worth every minute. The setting, the tension, the strange relationships, the unknown and so many other things come together perfectly to keep us braced for whatever is coming next and it never disappoints. Rika discovers that fear turns her on in a major way, which adds another level of interest to the story. This is a pretty steamy read so the sexual tension is also a major driving force for the suspense aspects. Things get a little kinky, especially the MFM threesome in the sauna. You won’t get bored.
My one criticism is that Michael had three whole years to accuse Rika of turning his friends in and a five-minute conversation would have brought out the truth years ago. However, they’re teenagers, which means they’re expected to act on impulse and make bad decisions. I prefer to think of it as art imitating life rather than a plot hole because I liked it.
Some of the twists and turns were predictable while a few surprised me, but even when I was expecting them, I wasn’t disappointed. The ending felt a little rushed and I would have liked to see that stretched out a bit longer with additional action. However, I can also understand why it wasn’t drawn out. The ending covered what it needed to and anything more would have just been filler, even if it probably would’ve compelling filler that hooked me and left me wanting more. The supporting characters are fascinating and that’s critical since the other horsemen each get their own book. Of course, I’m a sucker for a series, so being able to continue with these characters thrills me.
Douglas is once again criticized by some for misogynistic characters who abuse women but there’s a lot of realism to the men she writes. Having them in the book isn’t necessarily glorifying them or their actions or in any way promoting bad behavior. The party scenes and some of the threats the guys lob at Rika aren’t uncommon for women. We run into creepy men all the time who make us feel unsafe and guys we know may even turn into them after one too many drinks at a party. I don’t understand the criticism.
The supporting characters were great and really added to the story in a lot of ways. There’s even a minor tie-in to the author’s Devil’s Night series, which was fun. There was a lot happening here but Douglas handled it beautifully. The pacing was good and the story was clear without any major plot holes. I loved the characters, the message, their journey and the ending. I loved this book and will definitely read it again in the future, as I do with all of my favorites.
I enjoyed Corrupt very much and can’t wait to read the rest of the Devil’s Night series.
Corrupt on Amazon.