Review: The Skull Crusher (Skull #2) by Penelope Sky

Title: The Skull Crusher
Author:  Penelope Sky
Publisher/Year:  Penelope Sky 5/7/19
Length:  187 Pages
Series:  Skull #2

Overview

Balto stole me from Lucian without raising a finger.

I thought I would finally be free, finally get my life back.

But Balto has other plans for me. Now I’m his prisoner. He’ll keep me and enjoy me as long as he wants.

Until Lucian gives him back the Skull Diamond.

I never want to return to Lucian again, not after being with a man like Balto. The only chance I have is to become more valuable than that diamond, to have Balto want me enough not to trade me back to Lucian.

But can I ever compete with a diamond worth billions?

My Thoughts

Oh how this story gets more and more complicated as we go. We were lulled into a false sense of security here thinking that Balto cared about Cassini, yet that wasn’t the case. She’s just a pawn in this game now that he knows who she’s married to, and as such, she’s a slave, a prisoner in an entirely different cage. One that seems like it could be better, if and only if Cassini is able to make herself the most valuable thing in the world.

The bulk of our story lies around this idea that Cassini is now in another hell, and she doesn’t know what to believe, she doesn’t know how safe she is and for how long, and she doesn’t know what to do with the fact that she trusted a man who seemed to care for her, seemed to want to protect her but really just wanted to use her.

The power and arrogance that Balto has is something that comes out on every page in this second installment. He’s confident that he can keep himself protected and safe, confident that he can remain the leader of the Skull Kings, confident that he can make Cassini do whatever he wants, because he’s so confident that she wants it. What he underestimates though is that Cassini is one of the strongest women out there and what he wants isn’t going to matter for long. He quickly finds that she has the control because she has what he wants. The sexuality and allure that no other woman has.

We spend much of this story wondering how Cassini will get her freedom back and remain happy. She needs to feel safe and wanted, and loved (liked even) and when she thought that she was getting that with Balto, she learned that she was wrong. What our author does here in the way that the story is written is that she keeps us on our toes. Whatever preconceived notions that we had of Balto and his organization, they are often flipped and changed around.

As is usually the case in this genre, in addition to a story that gives us so much torment, war, fighting and concern over trust, we also continue to get some of the deepest romance and engagement. We see that there’s so much more connection and desire between our mains and that’s partially because of raw animal connection but also partly due to the insanity that they live in.

When about 2/3 of the way through, Lucian reappears, learning that Balto and Cassini were having an affair before everything went down, war is declared. He’s on the hunt and he won’t compromise at all until he gets his wife back. Balto’s not about to let that happen, and we see the sheer terror that Cassini has at the prospect, but we know that there’s an inevitability here to see that a trade will happen soon. Because Cassini is a prisoner, once Balto gets what he’s after, she’s worth nothing to him. And that’s where we end this second book.

Balto agrees to a trade, and we know that Lucian is out for the maximum pain and punishment since he feels that not only was he betrayed by his wife, he’s been humiliated beyond recognition. Cassini overhears the planned trade, knows that there’s nothing left for her to do but resign herself to a painful death and then….end book.

Case and Dirk as quickly becoming favorites of mine in the story, as is Heath. What’s nice is that the brothers, the family in this series are not only supporting characters but characters that keep us grounded and emotionally bound. There’s a different bit at stake for them as they look at what Balto and Cassini are playing at, and to see how that dynamic is written into the story takes us to another level.

I’m left wondering what’s going to happen. Who’s going to die first and who will be responsible. What will have to be lost for anyone to find happiness and will a diamond, a skull diamond be at the center of it all forever. So, now i actually have to wait a bit since book 3 isn’t out until June, so i’ve got a lot of time to ponder. Enjoy!

Review: The Skull King (Skull #1) by Penelope Sky

Title: The Skull King
Author:  Penelope Sky
Publisher/Year:  Penelope Sky 4/2/19
Length:   182 Pages
Series:  Skull #1

Overview

My husband is cruel, ruthless, and despicable.

I hate him with every fiber of my being.

The only reason I haven’t killed him or tried to run away is because of the promise I made. I sold myself to save someone I loved…and this is the price I have to pay.

I was sitting alone in a bar when the most handsome man walked inside. Striking blue eyes, cheekbones as sharp as glass, and a muscular body fit for a war. He was gorgeous. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. When he bought me a drink, I didn’t say no. I’d been unfulfilled for so long, and I wanted a real man for the night. My husband had his affairs so why couldn’t I?

I noticed the peculiar ring on his right hand, a diamond carved into a skull. If only I’d known what that meant, I would have known who this man was.

The Skull King.

A man more cruel and ruthless than my own husband.

My Thoughts

I love the world that our author Penelope Sky has introduced us to in all of the series that i’ve read so far. It’s a dark world of illegal ‘stuff’ in the heart of Italy, but those that we should fear the most are the ones that we truly want to love the most as well.

In this story – we get to learn more about a group that we heard a bit about in the Banker series. The Skull Kings have their leader, and that is Balto – our leading man. A guy who’s forced his way to the top of the food chain, has control of the entire country and all illegal activity that goes on, and what he wants he gets. He’s a man of his word, and when someone crosses that, he’s out for blood.

That’s where Cassini comes into play – because she gave up her freedom to save someone that she thought was worth saving and in return, he betrayed her, and she was stuck in a marriage to a man who was so intolerable, that her day to day life was too much for her to survive.

Similar to the chemistry that we saw in the Banker, the heat between Balto and Cassini when their paths cross for the first time, it’s explosive and it’s just a matter of time before we see how it plays out for them.

There’s so much tension throughout this story – we see how badly Cassini wants to find happiness in her life but that comes at a price, and without having to risk everything and everyone one, she knows that the future is bleak. Balto on the other hand is beyond confident, feeling that he’s untouchable that he’s willing to risk quiet a bit to get what he wants. Lucien, Cassini’s husband and the man that crossed Balto in the worst way is at the core to everyone’s unhappiness and has the ability to make things better. yet he’s selfish and won’t consider anything.

The way that this story plays out is that we see the push and pull of doing what’s right by reputation v. living the life that everyone wants. The theme of being true to your word is really the bottom line factor – and we see what happens to those who keep their word and those who don’t.

I feel like there’s a lot that we don’t get into in this story, and that makes me wonder if we’ll get more in the following installments or if there will be spin off series. Case and Dirk, Cassini’s brothers have their family business but they also have an underground business as well. I’m curious about their stories and what that means to Cassini’s future. We get teased but ntohing concrete.

We also meet Heath, Balto’s identical twin, and he starts to play a bigger role in this book but we don’t really scratch the surface much more on this one.

Where we are left off is at a point where we were just about to sigh and relax, but that’s not possible and freedom is impossible. One man takes what belongs to another when resolutions aren’t made and that means that we see hearts broken, relationships broken, and there’s a whole new smell of fear in the air.

Also, in true Penelope Sky form, it’s not just fear in the air but the smell of lust and sex. There’s a chemistry between our main characters that’s hot and they don’t even try to contain it. Cassini knows what she wants, and owns it with her strength. Balto is a man that doesn’t apologize ever, and when he sees that there’s an obstacle to get what he wants, he plows through.

I’m curious to see how this plays out because i really want to see how hard and mean Balto is but i want something better for Cassini. Lucien I can do without honestly, so i’m excited to read on to see how this plays out. Enjoy!

Review: The Tyrant (The Banker #3) by Penelope Sky

Title: The Tyrant
Author:  Penelope Sky
Publisher/Year:  Penelope Sky 3/19/19
Length:   205 Pages
Series:  Banker #3

Overview

I’ve fallen in love with Cato, and I’m not afraid to say it.

He doesn’t need to say it back. I know how he feels.

Even if he doesn’t have the balls to admit it.

Our daughter will be here soon, and our lives will change forever.

Will Cato let go of the past? Let go of the promise he made to execute me?

Or should I have never come back?

My Thoughts

Oh what a crazy roller coaster we are still on with these two. They are in sooo deep with each other yet both so uncompromising with their beliefs and needs. We were left off on such a cliff last time around that it’s no surprise that this third and final installment has the same and more.

We know that their relationship is true, and real, even if Cato is afraid to admit it. Siena, being the strong woman that she is, she doesn’t need to hear the words since she experiences the protection and love every day. So throughout her pregnancy, when she’s not feeling the best, when she’s not feeling sexy, Cato is right there to make her feel loved.

They have crossed the bridge where things are just for optics – just so that Cato feels like he’s doing what he needs to do in order to keep his reputation intact. Bates still has an unbelievable amount of hatred and distrust in Siena, and it’s through this story that we continue to have hope that it can change.

The underlying themes here though are protection, trust, loyalty and love. We know the demise of Siena’s family and how that really puts fear and concern in every moment of her life, especially now as she’s got the baby to worry about. She was a target once and her baby will become even more of one after birth. The question that we constantly ask ourselves here though is who will come to her rescue when the time is needed, and….is she the one that needs rescuing.

Bates actually becomes a character that you want to root for. that you want to know more about because our author begins to write him in more, begins to give him much more of an active role, and not just in the business itself. Sets us up for his spinoff series which i’m sure is in the making!

Bates prompts Cato to take action that we truly thought we were past. He wants Siena to pay for what happened at the beginning of things and when Cato is convinced to go through with the need to kill her, even for optics, that’s when you have to wonder where the story took a wrong turn. Thankfully Cato has morals and love, but Bates at this point is still questionable, and when shots are fired, and Siena is shot in the head….well all bets are off.

That’s the other roller coaster that we have in this story. Bates is a wild card. With Siena, with Cato. I have to wonder honestly if he’s got some other motivation here and wants the entire business because he’s not just ambitious but he’s greedy. That’s something that i hold onto throughout much of this story.

Then there’s the unknown that we have here. Bates seems to think that Damien and Micah are plotting something since their businesses have gone dark, and Cato is so into his relationship and family that hes’ not seeing what’s right in front of his nose. When catastrophe hits, someone gets kidnapped, someone has a rogue idea for a rescue, and many people die, go to the brink of death….this is where we see the story start to take a new turn.

Even when we think that this may be the beginning of the closure that we need, there are still a good 60 pages or so to go, so we know that it can’t be it. What we learn is that there’s never closure, there’s never compromise and there’s never an opportunity to settle down and resolve things. Comfort and predictability are impossible in this lifestyle and we see that as the story comes to a close. Anything that you hoped for, wished for throughout the first two books becomes up in the air, and we’re left with an ending that’s not exactly playing out as you’d expect.

What this does, this flow of the story – it makes you so engrossed that you have to read on. I started this book yesterday and honestly, when i should have gone to sleep, i couldn’t put it down. I had to continue reading to see how it played out. To see how the intense chemistry that we came to love in books one and two play out in the finale. Where we had grit and raunch before, we have romance and compassion. But that’s not how this story was designed from inception so that’s not something that could lead to a happy ending right? Read it…you’ll appreciate it…and then tell me what you think. Enjoy!

Review: The Dictator (The Banker #2) by Penelope Sky

Title: The Dictator
Author:  Penelope Sky
Publisher/Year:  Penelope Sky 2/19/19
Length:   196 Pages
Series:  Banker #2

Overview

The only reason I’m still alive is because of the baby growing inside me.

My baby saved my life.

Now I’m a prisoner inside Cato’s fortress. He’s pissed at me, livid every time he looks at me. He refuses to sleep with me because now I’m the enemy.

But I miss him…and he misses me.

I only slept with Cato to save my father, but now he means something to me. I care about him, and I know he cares about me. 

Can I earn his forgiveness? Can I earn his trust?

But even if I do, will he shoot me anyway?

My Thoughts

I have to say that i’m completely sucked into this series now – it’s intense still – even as we get into book 2 and while you think that there may be some resolutions, we’re left off on yet another cliff where we don’t know the direction the future will take.

As you’ll remember, at the end of the first book, Cato learns the truth about what Siena was there for – that she was playing him to get her father back. When she realizes that she can’t go through with turning him over to anyone, it’s still too late and she’s about to lose everything. Or will she?

Just like the summary says, thankfully, she thinks she’s pregnant. And when she’s forced to take a test, thankfully it comes back positive. The anger that Cato has is diminished slightly because while he’s hard and has this pact to never have a family, he actually wants this baby so that he can prove that he’s not his father. It’s a stay of life for Siena for the next nine months, and being the stubborn and strong woman that she is, she seems to think that it’s also an opportunity to make Cato realize that there’s still something real and that she made the decision at the last moment to save his life as well.

That’s the journey that we go on in this second installment. The roller coaster of Cato hating Siena but not really hating her. wanting to punish her because he feels that he needs to in order to maintain his hard reputation, as well as dealing with the fact that Bates hates her, knew she was trouble and wants Siena dead as well. The challenge of course is that we saw through the first book that both Siena and Cato affected each other in ways that no one ever imagined possible, and that it’s not just about sex with them, that there’s a deeper connection and one that’s almost impossible to walk away from.

There are moments of hope in this book, we see that Cato compromises in some places but not in others – not in the ones that matter. We see siena come to terms with her fate and make a decision to escape and we see her life for what it could be out of captivity. Landon plays a bigger role in this story – he’s turning into the family that Siena never had and that’s exactly what she needed. We also see Giovanni, Cato’s Butler take on a new and expanded role that humanizes Cato a bit more.

We also get to spend time with Cato’s mother. All because of Bates but honestly, we should just thank him even when his intentions weren’t pure. Cato’s mom adores Siena from the moment she learns that she’s going to be a grandmother, and Siena chooses to play her cards right with the mom and gets a new ally. There’s really no positive purpose for this aside from trying to make Cato see that she’s not pure evil.

The way that Ms Sky, our author writes this story is still intensely hot and passionate. There’s still all that same dirty grit to it which makes it a must read, and a book that you can’t put down (i mean, i read it in a night and while that’s not unheard of, these days it’s rare). The way that these characters interact both in and out of bed is hot. The supplemental characters build the story so much faster and with such depth that you know that there’s more to the story than what we’re getting right now too.

The themes of honor, trust, loyalty…they are still at the forefront with the huge question mark of whether there’s room for love and if there’s even a chance for it to happen for anyone here. The baby will be loved – Siena’s making sure of it, but will that be enough? i guess that’s what we’ll learn in the finale in book 3. Can’t wait to dive into it right now. Enjoy!

Review: The Banker (Banker #1) by Penelope Sky

Title: The Banker
Author:  Penelope Sky
Publisher/Year:  Penelope Sky 1/22/19
Length:   184 Pages
Series:  Banker #1

Overview

They’ve taken my father. They’ll take me next unless I comply with their demands.

Taking down the most powerful man in Italy.

Cato Marino.

The man is accompanied by his security team everywhere he goes. His fortress in Tuscany is impenetrable. He’s the most paranoid man in the country.

And there’s no possibility I’ll be able to take him down alone.

If I want to save my father, I only have one option.

To get into Cato’s bed…and stay there. 

My Thoughts

I was looking for something to read and thankfully i saw this cover and description in my hunt because this first installment to the Banker Series was a great one. It’s so much grittier and dirtier than what i’ve been reading lately and that’s exactly what i needed.

What we have here is the introduction (at least for me) to the Italian underworld – where Siena, our main character find her quiet life that she managed to construct turned upside down. Her father has his own less than savory business, illegal in nature, with the intention to grow his territory. When that happens though, it means that he’s going to piss someone else off who’s likely just as powerful if not more, and that’s what happens. Siena had been lucky enough to break away from her father’s business, especially after her mother was killed, and she’s sucked back in when her father is kidnapped and her brother is on the run.

In order to save her father, she has to do the impossible and turn over another guy – the most powerful man in the underground. And a man that’s as powerful as he is sexy. Impossible task for sure.

As you can imagine, we get to see a story unfold that’s built on blatant distrust, but a hope for something more. Both Siena and Cato have their demons, and secrets, but they are able to see things about the other that no one else can. She sees what Cato needs – someone who’s not afraid of him. She also sees into his soul – that’s he bored and unsettled because he’s more human than anyone wants to believe. Cato in turn sees a woman who wants to maintain control, power, and who wants to be loved but who has family loyalty at the heart of everything and that causes problems.

The challenge that they face is that their relationship is completely built on lies, and those lies are going to come and bite them in the ass – someone’s going to end up dead since that’s what happens in this life, and we can only wonder if it’ll be Siena, Cato, Bates (his brother), Landon (her brother) or her father. or someone else.

Add to all that complexity some intense and dirty sex. Cato is a man who loves kink, but gives it up for Siena. Instead, we get some raunchy, nasty sex (and all of those words are being used in the most positive way – believe me). It’s so hot that you have to want to hope for the best even when you know that it’ll never be. So, we are left when someone’s being executed and everything that we wished for comes crashing down. I can’t wait to get into book 2, and i’ve just bought it so let’s get to it! Enjoy!