Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Okay, okay. So romance. It’s one of those things where there is something for everyone. If you love that delicious smut, you’ll find it. If you want a romance with some greater message, written with the most beautiful of prose, you can find it. It doesn’t matter what you’re in to, everyone’s kink can be found in romancelandia.
I think one of the tropes that romance readers sometimes struggle to accept is bully romance. I’ve seen romance authors post out on Facebook, curious over people’s interest in it. I responded to such an author with my answer: bully romance is delicious because the alpha-hole who is doing the bullying is usually brought to his knees in a way that is more profound than your average romance hero. At least, that’s the reason I adore bully romance, even when I’m cringing over the behavior of the hero towards the heroine.
J.L. Beck and C. Hallman have brought us the zenith of bully romance with the third book in their series of standalones, Hurting You. The first two books in this series, Hating You and Breaking You, were the quintessential bully romance books. Both incorporate heroes who despise their heroines, but they can’t resist them. Your heart can’t help but weep for their treatment of the heroines. It’s abusive, yet the inner torture of the heroes who need those heroines in their lives is more delicious than the gravity of the abuse poured out on the heroines. One minute, you cringe, while in the next minute, your figurative lenses are fogged up by the steam between the hero and heroine. It’s this odd, but entertaining cycle.
Enter Beck’s and Hallman’s newest book, Hurting You. To say that these two authors raised their game is an understatement. In this book, there are two very alpha, very masculine heroes who have committed a crime. Unfortunately, our heroine comes upon them as they are preparing to dispose of the crime scene, and they decide to threaten her life and possess her. Unlike the heroes in the first two books, these guys are ruthless and overpowering, not to mention that there are two of them. This story borders dubious consent. Yet, Beck and Hallman toe the line carefully, showing us the heroine’s interest in the treatment of her heroes.
As is the case with the first two books in this series, this is one steamy romance. Hurting You is $exy and deliciously forbidden-feeling. There are moments when you feel uncomfortable because Easton and Cameron can be awful to Stella, the heroine. This is a heroine who must journey towards self-confidence. It takes most of the story for her to achieve her heroic superstrength, but for much of the story, there is a distinctive push and pull between her and the guys. In my opinion, they are greater bullies than Parker or Warren, the heroes from the first two books.
Hurting You is also MFM romance, so Beck and Hallman have added to the usual bully trope. This adds another layer of steam to the book. I love reading this type of romance because it seems so improbable in real life. Yet Beck and Hallman write it so well that you almost wish you could be Stella in the story (well, almost).
Overall, Hurting You is just good plain torturous fun. It finds its happy ending. In order to get there, though, you have to grit your teeth a bit and accept that Stella can fall for Easton and Cameron. If you’re into the pleasure of dark bully romance with some MFM on the side, then Hurting You is DEFINITELY your book. It sure was mine!
In love and romance,