Review: Bad Things by Varian Krylov

Xavier makes a lot of people nervous. The rest, he flat-out scares. More than his hulking, tattooed body, it's his predator's gaze that makes people feel vulnerable, as if he had the power to read their thoughts and see their soul. For his lovers, it's Xavier's ravenous appetite for all things carnal—for the taste of flesh under his tongue and the feel of a trembling body under his control, for whispered pleas and muffled cries—that makes him dangerous. 

But recently, driven by a festering rage against the men who attacked his sister a decade ago, Xavier has developed a taste for a different kind of hunt and conquest: stalking men who do truly bad things and punishing the predators he sniffs out. The problem with vigilante justice, though, is sometimes the man in your trap is innocent. 

Carson suspects he's playing a risky game with dangerous men. But the lies are convincing, especially when they're slipped to him among hundred dollar bills. He never guessed how big and dark the secret hidden under all the lies and money could be. And he has no idea he's not the predator, but the prey, until it's too late. 

And you can't beg for mercy when there's a gag in your mouth. 

But when Carson escapes from Xavier's trap, he's forced to accept that Xavier is far from his most dangerous enemy. Xavier may even hold the key to overcoming the painful past that has kept Carson prisoner for almost two decades.

This book… I swear to all the deities… It did things to me. Nice things. Not nice things. All kinds of things.

“The humiliations and defeats, given with a primitive honesty, end not in frustration, despair or futility, but in hunger, an ecstatic devouring hunger-for more life.”

~Anais Nin

Cards on the table. Bad Things won't be for everyone. It's intense, full of angst and… it's completely fucked. Seriously. F-U-C-K-E-D. The subject matter, Xavi and Carson's relationship, the situations they find themselves in, their reactions to those situations, all completely fucked. Yet, I totes loved them. I was enchanted from the start by Xavi in Dangerously Happy. I’m fairly certain that alone cements my depravity.

Xavi is an antihero. He gets things done using unorthodox methods, but he is loyal to those he loves. He'll do anything for them which is how he winds up in this clusterfuck of a situation. His sister, Elena, was gang raped at 18 which was the catalyst for a suicide attempt and her subsequent decision to enter law enforcement. At the beginning of Bad Things she witnesses a gang rape which dregs up the past for her and Xavi. For Xavi this translates into going undercover and isn't strictly legal. He sets out to right a wrong on a human trafficking case of Elena's that got dismissed on a technicality and ends up as a bouncer at Gomorrah where he meets Carson, the bartender, along with a cadre of unsavory characters. 

Xavi is a tattoo artist and a sadist, but more than that, he's one of those people that have perfected the art of reading others. Not in that weird prescient way which is so populations in romance fiction-"the perfect dom", all-knowing, all powerful, precognitive… total bullshit. He watches, learns, looks for signals and isn't always right. Just 90th percentile. All of which makes him exceptional at the mindfuck and he mindfucks the bejesus out of Carson.

Carson is a naive, somewhat desperate young man who gets caught up in a situation that is bigger than him and through a series of events lands him in Xavi's basement naked, bound, gagged and terrified. The trouble is he's desperately, perhaps foolishly attracted to Xavi. An attraction he's denied since he was a boy thanks to some vile parents who decided to eviscerate a nine year old. The shame and humiliation that wafts off Carson feeds directly into Xavi’s sadistic nature.

Does Xavi go too far?



I'm of the opinion that the ends justify the means which isn't a popular opinion, but there you have it. I told you. Depraved. *shrugs*

I think Carson needs Xavi and all the "scary" to face himself and the demons of his past. I also think Xavi needs Carson to bring some light into all that dark and to give him someone that's his. They've both been alone for far too long. Their relationship is unconventional in both its genesis and evolution, but it is one that I’ll not soon forget.

Cuffed to the bed (because Carson still needed that, not to surrender to Xavier, but to surrender to himself), and carefully (which didn’t necessarily mean gently) palpitate his soul, find his dark, empty places, and fill them all, one-by-one.

What I like about Ms. Krylov's writing style is her uncanny ability to plumb the depths of the human psyche. She is exceptional at illustrating how complex and unpredictable humans can be. She turns her characters inside out and gives you all of them, even the distasteful and irrational. She excels at illustrating the duality of weaknesses for what they are as well as strengths and individuality. The healing but not transformative power of love seems to be a constant in her work which is something I appreciate over magic cocks.

She has the erotica gift. Damn. She does for erotica what Jake Jaxson does for adult films-shows you the beauty of it. She captures the total experience from the emotions to the enivironment in such vivid detail it becomes visceral. As you can imagine, to achieve this takes words, but I'll give latitude when the author is painting a picture this gratifying. 

“Holy Christ, the look on your face,” Xavier growled. “I want to fucking devour you. Like parents have that urge to eat their young.”

Word. <---pun intended.

This wasn’t the book I was expecting. I expected a more conventional romance between these two with more sadomasochism and traditional scening. What I got was more complex, and ultimately, more satisfying.

It’s not perfect. There are editing issues and I concede the story is not everyone’s cuppa, but it was perfect for me and probably some kindred depraved souls out there.

An  ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads

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