Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark #1) by Pepper WintersTears of Tess by Pepper Winters
Published August 2013
Series: Monsters in the Dark #1
Genres: Dark Romance, Romantic Suspense
Format: ARC

Note: I was granted an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my rating or the content of my review.

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Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility.

For their two year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a romantic trip to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and soul-connecting sex set the mood for a wonderful holiday. With a full heart, and looking forward to a passion filled week, Tess is on top of the world.

But lusty paradise is shattered. Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror.

Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter. But no matter her strength, it can’t save her from the horror of being sold.

Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined, or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

While on a holiday with her boyfriend in Mexico, Tess Snow got kidnapped by human traffickers who branded and mishandled her, only to sell her to her new master, Q. Mercer aka Q. Q is a monster holding Tess captive in his huge mansion in France. She can move around freely, but isn’t allowed to leave the premises.

Even though she is devastated by her situation and fearing that her boyfriend of two years might aswell be dead, Tess has made a promise to herself that she would not break and withstand all of her sick master’s requests. Yet, while she should hate Q for holding her prisoner, she can’t help feeling aroused whenever he is around and that might as well have something to do with her secret fantasies of rough sex and submission. And she can’t help wanting to uncover all of her master’s secrets…

This book used to flood my Goodreads update a few months back and was recommended to me by many. I really don’t know why it took me so long to read it, but now that it’s over, I can’t help but want more. Tears of Tess is one masterpiece of Erotic Suspense in the style of Killing Sarai and Pins and Needles. It definitely kept me on edge from front to back. However, if you are sensitive to BDSM-content or even non-consensual sex, then you better skip this one: it is very graphic and very raw.

I really enjoyed the storyline as much as the writing, and was impressed by the research done for this book, making it a psycho-thriller full of mind games and sick twists. Psychologically speaking, the characters are very complex and therefore seem quite real. Also, this book is set in France for the most part, and while I was moaning about authors doing bad language research (when reviewing Karine Halle’s Love in English), Pepper Winters must have had a young french native at hand to help her out: the French phrases are perfectly fine, and do not feel like they are from a different century – well done, because it makes this book even more real. And last but not least, the steamy scenes in this book are hot as fudge, and dripping with anticipation.

The only thing that confused me a bit was definitely around Tess. When she is with Brax, she is this obedient little girl that hangs onto his every word (and thus leading her to forego all her needs and dreams), but once captive, she is full of spunk and won’t let her captors break her – it felt like two completely different personalities. And then, when she keeps changing her mind between craving Q and hating him… it really get confusing, but suspenseful as hell!

Tess says she is in no way “Stockholmy”, and if Q had been anything like the people who kidnapped and branded her, that statement might have been true. But I do believe that with Q, she had no choice but to develop this Stockholm Syndrome due to the fact that Q made her live her fantasies, all the while keeping her safe.

In the end, Tears of Tess is a lot about accepting sexual preferences, especially more deviant preferences such as BDSM and re-enacting more violent, rape-like scenes. It is so ingrained in people’s minds that this is something bad, inappropriate… something that sick people do. Yet this book shows that there are two types of people: the ones who hurt without the other person’s consent (rape), and the ones who know their preferences and seek out like-minded and consenting people. And having these preferences (whether it is hurting someone or enduring the pain) is in no way sick if it is managed, controlled and of course, consensual.

So all I can say is wow, this was a huge mindfork, extremely thrilling and lightyears away from the Dom/Sub BDSM wannabees that are 50 Shades and Crossfire. I can’t help but jump onto the next book, and onto another series by the same author!!!


Detailed Rating
5 Stars
4 Stars
5 Stars
All the feels
5 Stars
Overall: five-stars