Blog Tour Review: NEVER LOVED (Dark Obsession #1) by Charlotte Stein

Perfect for fans of Abbi Glines, the first novel in the Dark Obsession series tells the story of a beautiful wallflower who falls for a chiseled street fighter—and learns just how dangerous love can be.

Beatrix Becker spent most of her life under the thumb of her controlling, abusive father. And now that she’s free and attending her dream college, she has no idea how to act like the normal crowd: partying, going on dates, even having a conversation. Then she meets Serge Sorensen. Big and surly with a whole host of riotous tattoos, Serge is supposed to scare the hell out of her. But beneath his harsh exterior, Beatrix discovers a kindred spirit who knows what it’s like to be a misfit. Most exhilarating—and terrifying—is what he does for a living: illegal street fighting.

There’s nothing like the rush Serge gets from the intense athleticism and brutal glory of combat—though his chemistry with Beatrix comes close. Slowly at first, he introduces her to his world, where he lives by instinct, passion, and desire. He even helps her out with her equally traumatized brother. But when Serge gets in too deep with the wrong people, he ends up paying in blood. And suddenly, just as Beatrix has been drawn into Serge’s perfectly sculpted arms, she’s thrown once and for all into the fight of his life.

I'm a big fan of Charlotte Stein and the darker, all-consuming edge which she brings to her romances. Much like her other novels that I've read. NEVER LOVED is told from the heroine's perspective which allows you to have a nice, deep look at the quirky and often neurotic mind of her heroine. Beatrix had an absolutely awful childhood, being locked in the basement and emotionally abused by a controlling father whose rules were rigorous and ever-changing. All she wants is to learn how to be normal and blend in with everyone else at her college, but when her brother is in trouble, she finds herself drawn to the most remarkable and different man she's ever met.

Serge is motorcycle-riding giant of a man, with tattoos, a mohawk and a fighter's body that do a whole lot of talking. People usually look at him and run the other way, and although Beatrix runs at first, it's for a whole different reason. She has never felt the spark and heat for a man that she does for Serge and because of the taunts she's lived with, she doesn't think a corduroy-wearing girl like her could ever be his type. But Serge has a protective streak a mile long and, much like Beatrix, just can't help being drawn to her and seeking her out.

Both Serge and Beatrix have a ton of scars and traumas that they're trying to overcome and don't necessarily have the best opinion of their own self-worth. It's with each other that they find who they really want to be and are both made so much stronger and happier by their connection. Although as a reader it takes a little time to really connect with Beatrix's neurotic thought pattern, once you do the connection to the emotions and struggles in the book are so much deeper for it. I loved how amazed and turned on Serge gets by witnessing Beatrix's overwhelming attraction to him and her lack of fear. Serge is so concerned with making sure Bea doesn't feel rushed and that she isn't afraid of his violent side, and that concern makes him all the sexier.

Speaking of sexy, the way the heat builds in this book is intense and extremely satisfying. Although there's a good amount of plain-speaking dirty talk, there's such a profound level of eroticism throughout the novel as well. It's as if, because Beatrix and Serge are experiencing this kind of connection for the first time, the smallest details catch their attention, making the sex all the more passionate. The emotional bubble in which they spend the novel serves as a pressure cooker for all that delicious heat. Just the descriptions of Serge's body...I've never climbed a tree but I'd like to take a shot at that Redwood.

NEVER LOVED brings to the table all of my favorite things about Charlotte Stein's writing - quirky, neurotic, scarred characters, intensely hot sex, and a dark, mysterious edge. Though it took a little time for me to become fully immersed in Bea's mind and the ending seemed a bit abrupt, I thoroughly enjoyed her characters and their struggle to figure out who they really are despite how others see them. This wallflower/street-fighter combo is everything and I really hope to see more of it. I can't wait for the next book in the series and will most likely be rereading this one in a couple of months. If tattooed bikers with big hearts and sexy mouths are your thing (duh) and if you like a heroine who's quirky and a bit emotionally scarred, NEVER LOVED belongs on your TBR pile.

Disclaimer: I received this book free in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own.

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Charlotte Stein has written over thirty short stories, novellas and novels, including entries in The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance and Best New Erotica 10. Her latest work, Run To You, was recently a DABWAHA finalist. When not writing deeply emotional and intensely sexy books, she can be found eating jelly turtles, watching terrible sitcoms and occasionally lusting after hunks. 

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