Sun
Jul 12 2015 9:30am

First Look: Charlotte Stein’s Never Loved (July 21, 2015)

Charlotte Stein
Never Loved (Dark Obsession #1)
Loveswept / July 21, 2015 / $3.99 digital

Perfect for fans of Katy Evans, 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.

Once again it’s time to break out the fangirl pom-poms as Charlotte Stein has a new release out that is more in line with her edgier New Adullt tone found in Sheltered. Never Loved begs the question, what if you could go for what you want despite how dangerous someone told you something was or what if you could be that edgier, cooler persona without facing any consequences? This is the feat, Beatrix, the heroine of Never Loved has to take on.

I will state that this read is a polarizing work, not due to content but probably due to where the heroine’s headspace is at. On the one hand, Beatrix is a college student and for all intents and purposes, an adult. On the other hand, Beatrix is naïve, her father was a dick and now that she’s free, she has to figure out to do with her newfound freedom. In addition, there is a sense of familial obligations in her drug-addicted brother. Some might argue a stronger heroine would cut family ties and move on with her life, but when facing a big scary world, sometimes we cling to the only familiarity that we have left. In fact, Beatrix’s brother is actually the catalyst for her transformation. Her searching for him leads her to Serge, with a sweet haircut, a motorcycle and all the badness you’d want out of a bad boy.

The difference between Sheltered and Never Loved is that in Sheltered, the heroine was living in the midst of a tumultuous family situation. Here we have Beatrix trying to navigate the aftereffects of her family situation in the best ways possible. Sometimes it takes another person to bring you out of your shell and that is what Serge does for Beatrix, he doesn’t fix her, he can’t, the damage is already done. What Serge as a hero does, is show Beatrix the world, even with the rough edges he lives around (spoiler: he’s an underground fighter) make the world a beautiful place.

My favorite scene in the entire book doesn’t revolve around sex or a pithy thing the hero or heroine says, but an action. Beatrix cuts her hair and it is one of the most symbolic scenes in a Stein book that I have read. In order to embrace the new joie de vivre spirit she’s found from stepping outside her small world, Beatrix lets Serge style her hair in a similar fashion to his. Not only is it badass that she’s basically embracing a mohawk like style (from a reader who has always wanted a Mohawk and could never pull it off) but also she embraces the style in her own way. The post-haircut Beatrix doesn’t start acting like Serge and losing herself in her hero’s identity but instead embraces it. She styles her hair to go with her existing pieces of clothing and looks, but there is something cathartic in the way Stein writes the scene. It’s as though Beatrix by shearing her hair, is saying goodbye to the past.

This is a more serious book than the usual Stein fare which contains the awkward meet-cute and some sort of great adorable rambling from either the hero or the heroine. Never Loved is if anything, a risk for Stein as it’s not light and sexy, but a little bit edgy with a heroine who is emotionally needy. As a result, it is in my Top 10 reads so far of 2015. Love it or hate it, this book will do what writing is meant to do, make you feel, but my hope is that you’ll love Never Loved as much as I loved reading it.

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Never Loved by Charlotte Stein, available July 21, 2015: 

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Sahara Hoshi reviews for Wicked Lil Pixie and is a lifelong reader of romance. Favorite genres include new adult, paranormal romance, contemporary romance and erotica.

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1 comment
Kareni
1. Kareni
The book sounds fascinating! Thanks for the review.
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