Title: Wrath (Sinful Secrets #4)
Author: Ella James writing as Ellis James
Heat: 3 Flames
Rating: 4 Hearts
Synopsis via GoodReads:
It’s true, I’m keeping secrets.
But I just found out one of his…
My new stepbrother is insufferable.
You’d think it wouldn’t matter since I won’t be here for long, but this guy gets under my skin like no one ever has. All-American, baby-faced, blue-eyed band dork and star soccer player. Everything about him is the picture of perfection—unlike me.
I don’t think Do Gooder knows I’m starting senior year late. And he definitely doesn’t know why. I’ve got secrets I’m taking with me to the grave.
Everyone thinks I moved to my dad’s small town to play varsity football, but I’ve got other plans, and DG’s trying to thwart them all. He’s making my life worse than it already is. Having him around is a damn plague. But I can fight back.
I found out a little secret about Mr. Perfect. He plays for the “other” team. That ball bat he’s got stuffed into his gray sweatpants—it swings “that” way. The best part about this twisted game is when I find out it gets hard for me.
The Do Gooder…he wants me. I don’t know why. But I know how to make him pay.
Review: This is a VERY long book, slightly over 700 pages, yet I read it in a day. I think it could’ve possibly been shortened a bit, but overall I felt that it was well written. This is a book of pure angst. There’s some sweetness, instances that made me smile and warmed my heart, but they are limited. I have read a few books with this subject matter, but I think this is probably one of the better ones. It’s a heartbreaking journey as we follow Ezra through a few heartbreaking years of pain at the hands of his abusers and what those years have done to him mentally. The trauma he endured is horrific, and does indeed merit a trigger warning.
That said, this one did not affect me as greatly as Where There’s a Will did. That’s not to say one was better than the other, just that my reactions to them were different. I’m not sure why. Writing style maybe? It wasn’t as evocative. It’s not any less traumatic. They are similar in theme. It did pull some tears from me, but I was not destroyed. And given the things I read, I should have been. I don’t feel as gutted after finishing it. Not as invested. Which makes me feel … I don’t know. Wrong somehow given the content. It was heartbreaking and emotional. I deprived myself of sleep to finish it, yet it did not drain me as other books have in the past. Does that make sense?
That’s not to say this book isn’t good, because it is. I still loved it, but I’m trying to explain why I did not give it a 5 star rating.
This begins as an bully romance/enemy to lovers story. Ezra is in a bad place mentally when he moves to the small town in Alabama, and punishes Josh, his stepbrother, for it. For his seemingly perfect life that he is painfully jealous of, so much so, that devises a cruel plan to ‘break him.’
He knows it’s wrong, and while he initially drives great pleasure from it, after an event happens he can’t do it anymore. He’s never hated Josh, not really, he just projected his own self-hatred onto him. Ezra struggles with his self-worth throughout the book.
Only assholes act like this to other people. Only fucking dickheads treat the person they like most in the world this way.
While this part may feel long, in the scope of the book, it’s only about 20% at most due to it’s length. They give in and fall for each other and it was a beautiful thing to see.
If you’re a fan of the hurt/comfort genre, this is your book. Fairly evenly split between both (maybe leaning more toward hurt if I had to pick) throughout the book. Josh becomes Ezra’s safety net, more or less. His protector.
“Look at me, Ez. Look at my face.” He shuts his eyes. “Tell me this much: Who fucked up before me? Who fucked around with you and made you feel like loving you was hard work?”
There’s also some obsession here, their relationship isn’t exactly healthy either. There’s a lot of codependency. Their love for each other is all-consuming. While unhealthy, it did make for some good reading too. The sex became somewhat repetitive over the course of 700 pages. Not because there was too much of it, but because it didn’t vary much in style.
But, there are some beautiful and tender moments throughout this book during their times together. It’s a long journey of pain and eventually, the beginnings of healing, for both men.
While this is marketed as a stepbrother, somewhat taboo romance, there is actually very little of that written. It’s not really played up in the book much at all. If you’re looking for that aspect in the writing, you will be disappointed. What there is, is angst and hurt/comfort, homophobia (both internalized & external), themes of abuse (including what I would consider noncon – description of past abuse), suicide, substance abuse, and addiction. In spades.
There is some drama about two-thirds of the way through that was frustrating. I’m not going to go into details because I don’t want to spoil anything. The consequence of it covers a good portion of the book.
There is healing though, and hope. They do get their HEA in the end. It was well worth the read, but I don’t know that I would do it again in the end.
This title is part of the Kindle Unlimited library. Purchase Link | Amazon