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!