Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
Let me begin this review by acknowledging that I love me a darker romance with forbidden qualities. If constructed concisely, there is nothing quite more titillating as you delve into the world of forbidden cravings. With the announcement of the Black Mountain Academy series with some of my favorite authors of the darker romance variety adding to this series, I raised my hands in hallelujah at the possibilities for this series. Dani Rene’s Deviant is one of the first books for the series, and its promise of a forbidden romance between teacher and student enticed me for an ARC (for an honest review, of course). I haven’t read much of Dani Rene, and she clearly has a knack for crafting sensual, $exual moments between a dominant alpha-male and a heroine who feels a little bit broken, but only by the standards of a vanilla society. In Deviant, her heroine, Arabella is seemingly broken by the death of her father; however, Arabella is fully aware of her submissive proclivities. She is more mature than most nineteen-year-olds, so there is a believability in her characterization. While it seems that her teacher, Elian Donati, in all of his alpha-male tendencies, might take advantage of her, that is the furthest from the truth. Arabella knows who she is, and she finds her match in Elian.
This book is dirty, dark, and dynamite. At its core, Deviant is meant to titillate. It’s decidedly $exual with fiery chemistry between Arabella and Elian. When you look beyond their connection, though, the story finds troubles. For one, I struggled with the chronological sequencing of this story. There were times when I thought a day had passed between Elian and Arabella to realize it had been weeks. I found myself confused by its plotting. Additionally, there is so much happening in this story that oftentimes it makes your head spin, and it isn’t always cohesive. The various moments of the story don’t always transition well because they are distinctly different and the connections should have been made stronger. Even more, I’m not sure that I believe Elian and Arabella’s undying love for each other. I absolutely believe in their sensuality and physical connection but there is so little emotion developed between the two that the credibility of their forever love is questionable. And, man, do I have questions. For one, Elian notes Arabella’s ability to engage in debates with him, but I want to know: did he like her papers? Did he give her grades on them as she spent so much time writing them to entice him? I found so many missed opportunities for story development and connection that, for me, the story felt a little bipolar.
So why might someone want to read Deviant? Well, it has those dark romance elements with an alpha-male seeking after revenge and being thwarted. There is a seemingly nubile heroine who loves the aggressiveness of the alpha-hero’s interest in her. There is also the forbidden quality and some romantic suspense here. Plus there is a happy ending for its hero and heroine. If these are the qualities of romance that you love, you should read Dani Rene’s Deviant. Just be prepared for a story that feels uneven at times.
In love and romance,