I am Damien Stark. Do you want to see inside my head?
Careful what you wish for.
Damien, an all-new full-length novel in the wildly popular Stark Saga,
from New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner is available now!
In this latest book following the lives of Damien and Nikki Stark, Damien does a lot of soul searching in the aftermath of previous events, his guilt bringing back disturbing and distressing memories of his past. Still the cutthroat businesses man, hearing everything from his point of view, gaining an insight into his thoughts, gives him an air of vulnerability not seen before. His mental torment and distress at not being able to protect his family bleeds from the pages and is almost too much to bear. As it is, it’s well written but just as a personal preference, I would have liked for Damien’s story to have been told in the first person rather than the third.
Ever the voice of reason, I wasn’t sure that this time Nikki was going to be able to convince Damien that he was not to blame for the actions of others. There is so much passion and love between these two. They are soulmates, they are each other’s strength and it was good to see a slight role reversal when it came to the support they gave each other. Whilst I’m not sure I would be finding comfort in quite the same way these two do under the same circumstances, it’s clear that their sexual connection is how they help one another to take back the control when they feel it slipping away. Although, I felt they were slightly more conventional than we’ve seen from this couple in the past, the love scenes were, nevertheless, hot and sensual.
As the story progressed, it picked up pace and turned from heartbreaking to heart stopping when the family’s plans of getting back to normal following Anne’s kidnapping are derailed. It’s all hands on deck when events take a sinister turn and Damien once again fears he will lose everything that matters to him. I won’t go into details so as not to spoil the story but, the suspense, together with the twists and turns, were my favourite parts of the book. There’s plenty of suspects and finger pointing when no one knows quite who to trust.
Damien can be read as a stand-alone but I believe readers would be better invested in the story after having first read The Stark trilogy, followed by Anchor Me and Lost With Me.
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
I am Damien Stark. From the outside, I have a perfect life. A billionaire with a beautiful family. But if you could see inside my head, you’d know I’m as f-ed up as a person can be. Now more than ever.
I’m driven, relentless, and successful, but all of that means nothing without my wife and daughters. They’re my entire world, and I failed them. Now I can barely look at them without drowning in an abyss of self-recrimination.
Only one thing keeps me sane—losing myself in my wife’s silken caresses where I can pour all my pain into the one thing I know I can give her. Pleasure.
But the threats against my family are real, and I won’t let anything happen to them ever again. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep them safe—pay any price, embrace any darkness. They are mine.
I am Damien Stark. Do you want to see inside my head? Careful what you wish for.
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He started to lash out. To pound his fist against the door frame. But he pulled back, not wanting to wake Nikki or the two little angels curled up next to her in their bed. His wife. His precious little girls.
As much as he loved Nikki, he hadn’t truly understood how full his heart could be until he’d held Lara in his arms for the first time. And though he hadn’t expected it was possible, his heart had expanded even more when he watched Anne’s birth two years ago and saw her draw that first breath.
Every day, his daughters looked up at him with wide, guileless eyes. And every day, he felt that punch in the gut. A fear that he couldn’t live up to the trust he saw there. That somehow, someway, he would fail them. Not in the way his own father had failed him. But in some other, fundamental way.
And that’s exactly what happened.
He thought of Rory, that fucker who’d taken his child. Of Nikki, broken and huddled in the closet with a blade, blood streaming down her fair skin, cutting for the first time in years. The first time since he’d demanded that she come to him—to him—when she needed the blade.
So many times, she’d done exactly that. Gone to him when the burden of the world had been too much to bear. When she needed the pain to find her way back. And he’d always been there for her, his need as potent as hers. Because he had to be the one to take her there. To slide down with her into that sweet place where sensual pleasure crossed over into pain. Where need and desire meshed, merging into euphoria. Where they could both cling to that one small measure of control in a world that was spinning off its axis.
How many times had they saved each other? Their needs meshing as perfectly as their desire?
How many times had he held her close as they fought their demons together? And yet this time—when the worst parts of hell had swallowed them whole—she hadn’t come to him. Instead, she’d put a razor-sharp length of stainless steel against her own flesh, and she’d drawn her own blood for the first time in years.
All because he’d failed her. Because it was his mistakes that spawned the demons.
Because for the first time in their relationship she hadn’t trusted him to save her. And why should she, when he’d already failed so spectacularly?
He thought of that. Of the scars on her legs. Of the fresh wound that mocked him still.
He thought—and his stomach twisted with pain and self-loathing.
Mostly, he thought of Anne. His precious girl, who’d been alone and scared for days.
They’d gotten Anne back. They’d talked about Damien’s choices. The risks he’d taken to find their daughter and her kidnapper. They’d worked it out, and they were back on keel. And he knew in his gut that Nikki was strong enough to survive the whole ordeal.
But that didn’t change the simple, basic truth.
Roughly, he massaged his palms over his face, then looked again at his girls, curled up together, safe and asleep.
For now, at least.
But for the first time in a long time, Damien felt as if the shadows that had plagued his past had returned to haunt him, bringing harsh recriminations and fresh dangers.
He squared his shoulders, steeling himself. He was strong. More than that, he had resources. He had means. And he damn well had the determination to keep those encroaching horrors at bay.
Most of all, he had a life—a family—worth fighting for.
He was fucking Damien Stark.
He’d failed once.
He wouldn’t fail again.
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About J. Kenner
Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over one hundred novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) tha
t have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornere
d the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A six time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy) and in 2017 for Wicked Dirty in the same category. Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development as a television show.
Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.
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