On the Coastal Bend of Texas, a hidden kingdom called Darkmore lies in ruins, and King Sevon Maraté is trapped. Using Sevon as a mouthpiece and a scapegoat, Lord Dominic rules from the shadows. Sevon copes with the unrelenting abuse by dressing in women’s finery and casting an image of graceful nobility. Born of royal verkolai blood and as beautiful as he is lethal, he possesses the ability to part the Veil separating his world from hundreds of others. His gift is his chance to escape, but Dominic refuses to relinquish his tool for power. Dominic forges an ambitious plan to invade the prosperous land of Priagust. Only a select few know the mythic kingdom of shifters exists. Sevon is out of options for his people’s survival, and cooperating with Dominic is his only chance.
On their foray into Priagust, Dominic’s men kidnap and interrogate a shifter named Jack. Even under torture, Jack’s loyalty to his kind never wavers. But as Jack’s knowledge about Darkmore’s king and its history unsettles Sevon, a curious bond begins to form. Despite Sevon’s mistrust, Jack is determined to tame Sevon’s wild heart and perhaps earn his freedom. As invasion looms, Sevon wonders if trusting Jack will lead him into another trap or if he should forget about chasing the sunrise and remain Dominic’s compliant prisoner.
Book – Chasing Sunrise (The Darkmore Saga #1)
Author – Lex Chase
Star rating – ★★★☆☆
No. of Pages – 280
Cover – Good
POV – 3rd person, multiple POV, omnipresent sometimes
Would I read it again – No.
Genre – LGBT, femme, cross-dressing, paranormal, fantasy, shifters
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
WARNING: trigger topics: rape, gang rape, domestic abuse, physical and emotional abuse, cannibalism
To be quite honest, this book and I didn’t get along. By the 25% mark, I thought about stopping. By 35% I knew I would stop, if I hadn’t agreed to review it. I persevered regardless, but it was hard. Most of the story was brutal and uncomfortable to read. There was a lot of talk about off-page rape, gang rape, coercion, domestic abuse, controlling behaviour and so much more.
I liked the characters of Sevon and Jack all throughout. Though Sevon did some despicable things, I could understand his motivation and that he didn’t have much choice. He was backed into a corner, with only obedience or pain as options. He chose obedience. It was highly disturbing to encounter Dominic’s POV, talking so freely about using Sevon’s blood highs (part of the culture) to keep him compliant and so high that he didn’t know he was being raped or gang raped. And that was just… There are no words to say how horrible it was to read, though none of it was explicit. It was partly how casually he accepted and gloried in what he’d done and partly disgust at how unaware Sevon was, and that Dominic knew that, they put me off.
Every time Sevon was touched, kissed or came onto Dominic, it was extremely uncomfortable to read. It made my skin crawl. His interactions with Jack were natural and nowhere near creepy.
I also found that Sevon slipped into very feminine, even childish, behaviours at times. Often, other than the sex scenes, it read as though Sevon was a female character who had been turned into a male.
I’m not sure if it was worse to know what Sevon had been through or to know and realise that Sevon had no clue. So whenever he flirted with Dominic or talked about the way the men of the palace looked at him as though they had experience with him intimately, I cringed a little more inside, knowing that he was so unaware of the truth. That those men had the intimate knowledge he was so sure they didn’t have, that when Dominic’s friends and the men of the palace made crude remarks, they were probably talking from experience. And that Sevon thought he was safe with them and the hard truth was that he was only safe until the blood high came and then Dominic used his ‘monster’ to allow them access to their King. He was made a fool, a puppet and a joke to everyone in the palace, without ever knowing it.
Mostly, this book just made my skin crawl and made me feel disgusted. The small moments where Sevon and Jack were alone together were the only redeeming parts of the story, where I didn’t feel like I wanted to vomit.
It was also really gross that humans, in this story, were used as nothing more than cattle. Kept in pens, treated like sheep and cows, they were left naked permanently, sold off and used as food.
What I really don’t get is that Sevon stepped out of the veil with Dominic dozens of times, to visit the lighthouse, to hunt etc, but he never once thought about abandoning Dominic there and returning behind the veil himself? I mean, it seems a logical step – even if it would eliminate a need for 50% of the story – because Dominic can’t manipulate the veil himself and no one else in the human world could either. He’d be stuck there and Sevon would be safe. But he never once considers it?
As this is a review copy, I’m not going to talk much about grammar/spelling issues, particularly since I never noticed any glaringly obvious ones. I would have marked them otherwise. However, the POV situation was really confusing. It began as though there would be one POV in each scene/chapter, but then became omnipresent far too frequently, throughout the book. Sometimes 2-3 chapters would go by, with only one POV, sometimes you’d barely get one page, as there were multiple characters giving their POV, on their own, as well as during other people’s scenes.
Thankfully, by the time you reach the 55-60% mark, the story begins to improve. It becomes less about Dominic and more about Sevon, as it should be. Until this point, despite the best attempts to make it about Sevon’s growth, the story really just revolved around telling us all the horrid details of how Dominic had caged Sevon and brainwashed him into who he wanted him to be.
The best characters were Sevon and Jack. As the MC’s, they were really good at being versatile, fitting into the situations they encompassed naturally. Next up, I really liked Kaltag and Bianca. They had their little mini-drama’s.
However, there were too many POV for me – Dominic, Sevon, Jack, Kaltag, Bianca and probably some more in there, too. Xo definitely had a small part and Cassandra. I think some of that could have been left out, since it wasn’t really relevant.
Overall, if I’d know the story was this dark, I wouldn’t have agreed to review it. I know when things aren’t to my taste, but there was no warning of rape, domestic abuse or anything else. Nothing prepared me for how disgusted I’d feel or that I’d never want to finish the book, because I just couldn’t endure anymore.
Kudos to the author for making the worst parts of this story off-page, but still terrifyingly impactful. I’ve read detailed horror scenes that barely make me blink. The emotional trauma this story put me through will probably relinquish any need for a re-read. This one will be staying with me for a long, long time.
Although the romance between Sevon and Jack was sweet and fiery at times, it didn’t work for me as an overall novel. Dominic was too cruel and hedonistic, Sevon was too damsel-in-distress and the sex scenes were a little rushed and brutal for my liking. There was only one ‘gentle’ love scene in the whole book, while the rest were either gross-factor events, because of Dominic, or they were rushed because Sevon and Jack had stolen that time together.
Overall, I’m left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I’ll need some truly light fluff to scrub my brain of the worst parts of this book, then I only hope I can forget being inside Dominic’s head; the creepiest creep I’ve read about in a long time.
I’m sad to say that, although I don’t know what the next book in the series is about, I won’t be reading it.