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ALC was given by Libro.fm & Tantor Audio in exchange for an honest review.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Aquaphobia, drowning, trauma, PTSD/flashbacks/night terrors, anxiety/panic attacks, child abuse, loss of loved ones, mentions of divorce, murder, mention of suicide, mentions of drug addiction, mention of overdose, stalking, harassment, assault, physical violence, alcoholism, scene of emesis, scenes of gaslighting & manipulation, mentions of cheating & adultery, kidnapping, scene of hostage situation, implications of torture, coitus (sex), swearing
“You are the light to my dark, Sunshine,” he said in a raw voice. His lips brushed against mine as he spoke. “Without you, I’m lost.”
*takes a big sip of beverage* Well this was an unexpected read and even more unexpected of how much I enjoyed this book, altogether. While I did have a ebook copy, I decided to take a chance on the audiobook and I’m so glad I did. The voice narrators were perfect for this book. While I don’t think I could choose what I loved most about this read, I hope this review will speak for itself on how I feel about this read. BUT – Before we begin, reader, know that the title of this book is a little deceptive and I put emphasis on this book being very true to the dark romance genre.
We follow Alex Volkov and Ava Chen, two polar opposites of each other. Ava Chen chooses to approach life with smiles and love despite the cruel, dark past that haunts her dreams. While Alex Volkov might as well be an ice king. Barely anything seems to provoke emotion from him. When one day Ava is stranded in the the rain, her brother, Josh sends his best friend to help his little sister out. Only… Ava wasn’t expecting tall, mysterious, and stoic Alex to pick her up. Things only escalate from there as Josh leaves for his internship and forces Alex to look after Ava while he’s away. But many shadows from both their past are lingering, creeping closer in the present, and will put these two to the test, in more ways than one.
Okay, I’m just going to jump right into the good bits. That’s right, I’m talking about the steamy, goodie goods of intercourse! Look, if you went into this book expecting constant, wall banging, steamy hotness almost every other chapter or perhaps you were expecting more from of those steamy moments… Well, I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but this is mostly vanilla steaminess despite the constant implied kinky-ness thrown around. This is probably the issue I had the most with this book. It’s not the fact the steamy scenes played more to the vanilla scene, but it was the fact that it was implied Alex really liked to “go there” in the bedroom, but we never really see that, at all. Also, I want to point out that Alex’s choice for calling women bad names during sex wasn’t my cup of tea. I think if that’s your kink then you’ll enjoy it, but for me personally, my blood boiled and it didn’t do it for me. However, the steamy scenes are still good despite these two issues. If I had to give it a steamy rating out of ten, it’s probably sitting at a five or a six for me. It’s not the best, but it’s not terrible. Just a fun, steamy time and nothing too wow worthy.
“She felt like heaven to my hell, the closest I’d ever get to salvation, and yet I still wanted to drag her into the depths of Hades with me.”
However, despite my issues with the steamy scenes, the chemistry and sexual tension between was absolutely delicious. Throw in the banter that constantly played between them, oh, it’s a fantastic time! I think the author did a really fantastic job at creating a slow build between Ava and Alex, and the way they both slowly unraveled, descending into lust for one another was so good to watch unfold. Typically, slow burns can be hit or miss for me, but I think the way the author did the slow burning between these two characters really played to the book’s advantage, for my personal reading taste.
As always, whenever I find this representation, I always want to vocalize and address it. Trauma and PTSD representation is always, always something I point out whenever it’s present in a book. Beautifully done, absolutely beautifully done. Whether the author has personally experienced trauma/PTSD or knows someone who has, the way it’s portrayed in this book not only feels so real, so vivid, but a lot of scenes Ava would have with her night terrors felt very similar to the experience I have with myself with my own PTSD. So I just really wanted to put this in here as a little appreciation for the author and how well written, and respectfully done this representation was handled.
“You want the world to think you have no heart when in reality, you have a multilayered one: a heart of gold encased in a heart of ice. And the one thing all hearts of gold have in common? They crave love.”
While there were many things I loved, there were other things that bothered me aside from the more intimate parts. One of the issues being able to call two of the twists early. While I won’t go into which twists these were, it was a bit of a disappointment being able to pin-point these twists early. However, I also chalk this up to my own personal life experiences that allow me to see these things coming from a mile away.
My other biggest issue was the way a lot of the ending was handled. After the big conflict, I had a lot of issues with the lack of communication between Ava and Alex, and a lot of the repetitive stalker themes that were being thrown in at the end. All of it rubbed me the wrong for so many reasons and it almost felt like a double-standard. In the beginning Ava is dealing with stalking and harassment from an ex (which are bad, they escalate to physical conflict), but yet the stalker themes in the last 25% of the book are okay and fine due to it being in the name of love. It just left really weird feelings with me especially as someone who dealt with stalking in the past.
Overall, I really did enjoy my time reading this book especially the grumpy/sunshine pairing. Three stars is not a bad rating and this feels like a true three star read for me. There were a lot of things that I loved, but there was also a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way, and some dark things from Ava’s side of things that hit very close to home for me that have me feeling a little rough. But this is a still good read and I think if you’re a lover of dark romances then definitely give this book a chance. I just want to encourage readers to look at content/trigger warnings before you decide to dive in.
2 thoughts on “Twisted Love (Twisted, 1) by Ana Huang”
Oooh, this is on my top priority TBR so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it overall, even if it wasn’t a perfect read! It’s one of those books I’m going into with middling expectations – I generally assume a lot of the romance books that are super popular on booktok won’t be my exact cup of tea, but that they’ll be a fun binge read if nothing else, if that makes sense?! 😂 Amazing review as always, love!
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Haha it’s funny you mention booktok and having influence! Before I decided to start the audiobook, I checked out a few reviews and a lot of people said they shouldn’t have trusted booktok lmao 😂
I definitely recommend going in with mild hopes. And I say that because it’s not a very sexy, steamy book. It has those romance elements, but it definitely caters to the contemporary side of things just as much as building the romance.
But overall it’s was a good read for me. I finished it in two days and I’m still trying to figure how that happened lol 😂Also, that totally makes sense. It’s like with overly hyped, popular books for me. I always assume it’ll be an ‘okay’ read. So I completely understand.
I’m excited for you to pick this up though! Curious minds want to hear your thoughts. It’s me. I’m curious minds lol 🤣