REVIEW: Monster In His Eyes by J.M. Darhower

monster in his eyes review

Release Date: April 27, 2014
Genre: Romantic Suspense
This is Book One of Two

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This trailer really sets the tone for this book! Plus I love this song!

Rating: 3.5+ stars

“My Prince Charming turned out to be the villain of my fairy tale.”

Everything about this book caught my attention – the blurb intrigued me, the story drew me in and the characters kept me guessing. This is not a traditional romance, rather this is a book that will have you wondering when the other shoe will drop because there will always be something that keeps your guard raised. This is probably one the hardest books I’ve had to rate and review. I had a very hard time with some key parts to this book, yet at the same time I wanted to keep reading. I had to find out what Naz’s secret was. And when I did…WOW talk about having my mind blown!

In all honesty, I had a challenging time getting into this book and connecting with the characters. All that being said, there is a part of me that wonders if that was the author’s goal while writing. This book was written extremely well and very specifically. Maybe I’m looking too much into it, but I feel like there was a reason that I never fully trusted Naz and never really came to love the heroine, Karissa. The reason I think this is because by the time this book ended, and the truth was revealed, I had no idea who to like or who to root for or who to trust. My mind was a jumble and one phrase kept repeating in my head…HOLY SHITBALLS!!! J.M. Darhower did such a phenomenal job at keeping me engaged and intrigued, regardless of how I felt about the characters.

Let me start from the beginning. Karissa is an eighteen year old college freshman living in NYC (keep her age in mind). She was raised by a very protective mother and in a sense, extremely naïve about the real world. She had absolutely no idea who she was, which for most girls that age is the norm; however, the problem I think Karissa had was that she thought she knew who she was. She thought she had a grasp on life, but in reality, she had no idea. I think her college professor had her pegged when he said: “You can tell me what the man said, but you can’t seem to connect it to the real world.”

When Karissa meets Naz, her axis tilts. He stops her in her tracks and she is inexplicably drawn to him. He has “DANGER” written all over him, but he treats her like an adult, like a prized possession. I could easily see how Karissa could become caught up in all things Naz – he was an enigma.

“He’s a beast. A monster. And he looks like he wants to devour me.”

“He fucks me like he means it, like he needs it, like being inside of me is more important than anything inside of him, and every cell in my body calls out to him, craving more of it.”

Because this story was told from the heroine’s POV, it is disappointing to say that I just couldn’t connect with Karissa. She was a child who lived life in a protective bubble, never once stopping to question anything. Because of this I had a hard time believing any emotion she felt, especially what she claimed to feel about Naz. Now I’m not saying I do not think an eighteen year old can be in love, rather I’m saying I just doubted that Karissa, a girl who had a Tinker Bell poster on her dorm room, who believed in fairy tales and quoted Walt Disney, could really understand the meaning of being in love. Was that harsh? Yes and I’m fully prepared for people to disagree with me on this. But, I never once felt like Karissa truly loved Naz – she doesn’t know him nor does she know herself so how can she love him? She lusted after him, she was enamored with him and his lifestyle, and she felt safe with him. However, with the way their relationship played out, it’s hard to believe love ever existed between these two – and I felt that way even before the secrets came out.

“You still see yourself as a child, and not an adult, like you believe you’ll never grow up.”

Naz and Karissa relationship was…interesting. On the surface, it seemed like a whirlwind romance, much like other romances where the wealthy man sweeps the girl off her feet. However, there was something about their relationship that was lacking, causing me to question the believability of their “love” for one another. Naz and Karissa had a very passionate sex life – he pushed her boundaries and awoke her sexually.

“He won’t hurt me. I know it. He loves me. I remember it. But it’s hard to think, hard to submit, when you’ve got a man double your size, a beast, a fucking monster, pinning you down.”

However, they never really spoke to one another. Their relationship was filled with eating food, watching tv, having sex and silence. There were never conversations about who they were or any indication that there was MORE to their relationship. Karissa seemed fine that she had met her Prince Charming and Naz seemed content with his “new favorite toy.”

Okay let me just come out with the biggest issue I had with this book, which could be the reason why I had a hard time getting into it. The age difference was extremely hard for me to wrap my head around. In fact, I still cannot and it still bothers me, which explains why I’ve had such a hard time believing their relationship. Karissa is eighteen years old – Naz is thirty-six years old. He is technically old enough to be her father. Sigh. This is why I questioned the authenticity of their feelings for one another – yes I am judging, but I am being honest. The age gap bothered me throughout the entire book.

All that being said, I still wanted to know Naz’s secret. I knew he had one. I knew he had darkness in his eyes (the book is called MONSTER IN HIS EYES after all). I wanted to know why. So I kept reading. I honestly don’t think I would have kept reading if I didn’t have a sneaking suspicion that the author did this all on purpose. I felt like there was a reason I had some issues and that I would be rewarded if I kept reading. Whether I am right and that was the plan, I’m so glad I kept reading. It was well worth it.

By the time I hit the last 30%, I could not put this book down. The best way I can describe how I felt during this part of the book was that I questioned EVERYTHING. I had no idea what to believe, whose side I should take, nor what Karissa should do. I simultaneously agreed with her actions, but still said “Don’t do it” while she was doing them. I wanted to hate Naz, but I saw why Karissa loved him too. I just didn’t know who or what to believe after everything was revealed.

“He tore me in two – half of me still clinging to who I thought he was, while the other half is shattered by the man he turned out to be. I love him. I hate him.”

The entire book just fit together like a puzzle once everything came out, yet the characters are still stuck in a sticky situation – how do you trust one another, when they’ve each done things to break that trust? How do you hate someone you love so much? It reminded me of CONSEQUENCES in that the heroine’s feelings for the hero flip flopped back and forth, yet completely fit the circumsances.

Although I had issues with the book, I am being honest when I say I HAVE to read the sequel to this book. I need to find out what ultimately happens and what ending is in store for Naz and Karissa. There is no cliffhanger in this book, but the story is not complete. If you are looking for a book that is an unconventional romance and a hero who you both love and hate, then this is a good book to read.

*ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review*

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