These two Vicious books – Vicious Tease and Vicious Looks – are supposedly Dark Erotica and BDSM. And yes, they were indeed a bit dark. I’m not so sure about the erotica part though. That’s obviously my personal preferences talking though. To each their own and all that.
I started out with Vicious Tease which is a very short prequel to Vicious Looks. And I was sufficiently intrigued as to go ahead with the full length (but still short) novel. Vicious Looks is the first of the series Vicious City which so far consists of four installments not counting the prequel.
Vicious Tease is told from the viewpoints of the characters Vicious (what’s with the silly names?!) and Kitty. It describes the events during a day where Vicious stalks and kidnaps Kitty. The story takes place in the dark underbelly of New York city. And even though both Kitty and Vicious are both solidly on the wrong side of the law, they’re on quite different rungs on the criminal ladder, so to speak. It’s a very well written story that absolutely peaked my interest. I wanted to know more. Both about the reasons behind the kidnapping and of course the events to follow. Great storytelling really.
Vicious Looks begins directly at the end of Vicious Tease. And for a chapter or so, I thought I would enjoy this read. But, note to self, I really should start reading the book classifications before I dive in. Dark is just not for me apparently.
Anyway. Vicious Looks is actually some great writing. The setting in the criminal sphere of NY – though naturally glamorised – is quite absorbing. Kitty is being forced to work as a Courier for the dark, brooding Vicious, but she is also repeatedly sexually abused as punishment for bad behaviour. I think I’d really like this read if it weren’t for the too one-sided and way too humiliating “erotic” scenes. Vicious and Kitty are both quite hot for the other, but mutual attraction is nowhere to be seen during these scenes that are more degrading than sexy. The characters are engaging though. They’re complex and colourful, and you get super curious to know more about them and their motivations. The bad-girl-gets-punished trope is really common in erotica. So, I guess that means that there are lots of people who’d get super excited over this read. I’m just not one of them.
Apart from the fact that this story clearly wasn’t the right fit for me. I just don’t get the deal with the absurd names. This is a contemporary story and nothing supernatural is going on. So why choose to call the sexy male character something so ridiculous? Nicknames are fine. They absolutely serve their purpose. They can even be silly or over the top. But writing from the viewpoint of someone with an absurd moniker is tricky. A character calling themselves Vicious/Cool-Cat/King/Whatever in their own mind is a bit pretentious, don’t you think?
So, to summarise. It’s terrific storytelling and great characters. Renard is clearly a very talented writer. And I’d have really liked to learn more. I actually would have continued the series if only I could have stomached the so-called erotic segments. If you prefer consent and both people getting off though, then stay clear of this one.