It’s a brand new dark romance series from friend of all things TehBen.com: Sarah Bailey! She’s promised an even darker voyage into the realm of intense envelope pushing romance, and she’s not one to make idle threats. Let’s grab a copy, take some deep breaths all around and get right to it!
Carnage, Book One of the brand new Four Horsemen series from Sarah Bailey brings a fresh look to the seedy underbelly of London hiding in plain sight, contained within its most beautiful and accomplished people. The handsome alphas de jour are a quartet of wildly successful financial gurus known as the Four Horseman. Achieving their fortune with a ruthlessness that would make the most cruel of 19th century robber barons blush, there’s literally blood on their hands as they seek not only wealth, but to right their most severe of wrongs.
The pure narcissism to an “American Psycho” level at the beginning when meeting these men is hard to swallow, and I have to feel that it’s by design. London men in suits self-reporting as “Gods of the Financial Industry” with yet to be justified antics of pure greed and manipulation is meant to entice an emotion. The kinds of people that if you met them in real life would probably make you ill with contempt, but such is the point when beginning a new series from this author. If you take any new character wholly at their first impression, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
That said, there’s a unique twist to the opening novel that may entice dark romance veterans. The female lead, Scarlett, while certainly being taken advantage of on all sides, is not a perfect soul led to a dark world simply by being born with the wrong last name. Scarlett enters this story seemingly with bad intentions just like the men, and that’s a refreshing addition to the otherwise gang of bad-boys in suits introduction. Scarlett is starting employment as the personal assistant of one of the Horsemen, and it’s clear that manipulation and devious intentions are coming from both her and the men alike. It’s a murky intro, mind you, as by chapter 10 (and beyond for that matter), the reader still doesn’t really know what’s going on. But the variables alone of sexual tension and a fresh style of slow burn story telling are worth the confusion.
What might be less welcome to some readers are the depths that the Four Horsemen go to inform you that they are bad men with very little in the way of redeeming qualities. Violent scenes that explore limits of the macabre are used to explain the separate plane in which these men reside. It’s well written of course, but those simply wanting some tough talking doms in nice suits will be challenged out of their comfort zone whenever the hammers and plastic tarps come out. At times I caught myself grunting at my e-reader like Arthur Morgan from RDR2 saying, “I GET IT, YOU’RE MEAN,” in response to the 50th time one of them remarked non disclosure agreements and what they do to people that would violate them, but I kept telling myself there was a reason for all this. For better or worse, the reason in book one is the surprisingly intense sexual content.
The sex scenes at first read left me conflicted. If I was watching the scenes as a piece of pornography, sex with no context, the intense power exchanges would tick my Geiger counter into overdrive. But why do I not feel it as hot here with these characters at the moment of truth? Perhaps it’s because there’s intense sex before we’re given anything close to the whole picture. The Horsemen obviously have strong feelings for Scarlett, but they’ve spent so so so much time telling me they’re bad people in sickening detail, I’m feeling uncomfortable at a time I probably should be getting turned on. Scarlett seems manipulated from all sides from the start of the novel, so maybe seeing her used in such a way makes me question my instincts, whether she tells me she likes it or not. I feel the need to repeat myself: The sex is H-O-T, but at the time it’s happening, I feel a bile in my throat that’s akin to a hatred for these men. For those that would be attracted to such dangerous, dashing, broken men with a desire to free yourself through an ironic bdsm gangbang, I give it my highest recommendation. But for me, I really wanted my next piece of the puzzle.
Verdict: Carnage by Sarah Bailey is a unique new look at the darkest of dark romance stories where drug abuse, questionable consent, ultra violence, and more are presented to the reader without apology nor fully examined justification. This is the stuff of pure fantasy, and you should take it or leave it based on that. There’s no sense in looking for a common thread of identity with the common person, these people start with drug induced double penetration fucking and work up to the saucy kink of “kissing” from there. But if you know what you’re getting into and have the slightest interest in feeling the intensity of four hot psycho men and the woman they’d literally kill for, this novel is absolutely worth your time. I put a lot of trust in this author and you’d be right to do the same if you’ve read so much as a paragraph of her work. I’m horrified, uncomfortable, depressed, and in the end… more than a little turned on. To dust off an old closing for this author’s work, I’m all-in.
Special thanks to Sarah Bailey for providing an advance review copy of Carnage to TehBen.com for review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
Author’s Twitter: @sbaileyauthor
Purchase Link: Amazon