“Tears Of Tess” by Pepper Winters




 A New Adult Dark Contemporary Romance, not suitable for people sensitive to grief, slavery, and nonconsensual sex. A story about finding love in the strangest of places, a will of iron that grows from necessity, and forgiveness that may not be enough.

“My life was complete. Happy, content, everything neat and perfect.
Then it all changed.
I was sold.”

Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility.

For their two year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a romantic trip to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and soul-connecting sex set the mood for a wonderful holiday. With a full heart, and looking forward to a passion filled week, Tess is on top of the world.

But lusty paradise is shattered.

Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror.

Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter. But no matter her strength, it can’t save her from the horror of being sold.

Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined, or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

Warning: If you do not enjoy reading somewhat dark romance/erotica, this book is not for you. However, if you have not read these types of books before, and you are curious about them, I HIGHLY recommend reading Tears Of Tess! 

My review

As I think the blurb gives a good introduction to the story, I won’t add so much to it.

When I finished the book, I had to wait a bit before starting this review…I needed to gather my thoughts as they were running amok in my mind!

First of all, I LOVED THE BOOK! I loved our heroine, Tess, right from the beginning: she is passionate, strong, yet vulnerable because of her situation, and instead of breaking down, she never stops fighting. I liked the fact that she seemed so real: I mean, which 20-year-old woman would not be confused about her dark, sexual urges? Especially seeing as her very sweet boyfriend seems to not understand or share them? No wonder her self-confidence is in tatters! You sense her discontent in her relationship from the beginning:

“I wanted a new label. One that said: girlfriend who will do anything to

be tied, spanked, and fucked all over rather than adored.”

But because of her background, she thinks these thoughts are abnormal, twisted, sick. My heart literally broke for Tess in the beginning and I wanted to comfort her (well, if she was a real person, of course! 😉)

The whole scene when Tess is taken and abused by her captors made me quite nauseous – the author described everything in such vivid detail it, it almost felt as if you were there! This is when we first get to see how strong Tess really is, and she only gets stronger and stronger as the story unfolds. She refuses to be a victim:

“What did they see when they looked at me?

A feral woman who signed her own death sentence, 

or a fierce warrior who saved herself from rape?”

I very much enjoyed Tess’ journey of finding out who she really is – the pace of the story is just right, it never seems forced, just happens gradually…A big plus in my world. I liked the fact that it was not until you reach 50% of the book that you start to see how Tess’ feelings really start to change toward her captor:

“In that moment, in my fragile and broken state,

my feelings for Q changed. He morphed from monster to saviour.

He did what Brax hadn’t done in Mexico: he found me, killed for me.

He rescued me from horror and protected me from the bastards who hurt.

Q was no longer the devil.

He was my master and I belonged to him.”

Now, let me introduce you to our VERY anti-hero: Q Mercer…*sigh* It feels completely wrong to be swooning over a character such as his, but that’s Miss Winters’ force: her way with words captivates you, and her descriptions of certain situations are almost magical: they make you want to believe everything will turn out alright. But I am getting a bit ahead of myself here.

When we first see Q:

“A man in a grey chequered suit, complete with black shirt,

silver tie, and short dark hair watched from the landing. […]

Everything about him screamed ruthlessness and power.

He held himself proud and regal as if this was his castle

and I was his latest subject.”

Sinister, right?

Well, the complexities of Q are many and as you read the book, you will feel many things about this character. Q is dominant, mysterious, yet compassionate and vulnerable in his own way. The author does a fantastic job of keeping you interested in him, you yearn, like Tess does, to get to know him properly. He is quite the mystery. And I have to say that the songs the author has written herself – both in English and in French – are a big factor as to why I ended up actually loving him as much as Tess even though it, many times, felt so wrong to do so:

“He froze, nostrils flaring. We stood, silently glaring,

before he fisted my hair. “You don’t know anything, esclave.

I want this. I’ve wanted this for too damn long, and you’re wrong that it hurts.”

Chest strained in his immaculate suit as he leaned in, kissing the shell of my ear. He whispered,

“I’m not afraid of hurting you. I’m afraid of how far I’m willing to go.””

I am trying really hard not to give too much away about the story in this review, because I feel you have to read the book yourself and make up your own mind about it. I know that many probably won’t agree with my feelings…But that’s the beauty about books: you’re allowed to feel and think exactly what you want! And although the ending leaves the reader very satisfied, you’ll miss the characters immediately and instantly hope for more.

My last comment will be this: I absolutely love the fact that the epilogue is written in Q’s point of view! You truly end up getting to know him and his reactions to many things – thus, somehow getting to understand him. That’s what makes the story even more incredible to me: ending up loving a character you probably should not…Therein lies the power of Miss Winters’ storytelling.


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You can buy the book from iBooks as well.