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REVIEW - Vandal by Carian Cole

Vandal (Ashes & Embers Book 2) - Carian Cole, Lauren McKellar, Kari Ayasha
5 “Get Vandalized” Stars!

“Loving me will not be easy, loving me will be war. You will hold the gun and I will hand you the bullets. So breathe, and embrace the beauty of the massacre that lies ahead.” ~R. M. Drake


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Vandal is book two in Carian Cole’s Ashes & Embers series. I became a fan of this author upon reading book one in this series and discovered that she could pen a humorous and witty tale with an edge. With this second installment Carian Cole took that edginess to a whole new level and what we get is a raw, ugly, gritty, painful and gut-wrenching story. It was powerful and I was enthralled. Two individuals tied together and united by one twisted and devastating tragedy. Both are destroyed. Can they be the each other’s saviour and the one brings the other out from under the ashes?


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“I like to hurt people; I always have. I want them to feel the pain that I feel and the disappointments I’ve been forced to feel. That just seems fair to me.”


Vandal Valentine, bass player for the band Ashes & Embers and sizzling hot tattoo artist, has always been more than a little messed up. With a harsh childhood and upbringing Vandal has learned to embrace his darkness. He’s broken, self-destructive and music, pain and women seem to be his outlets of choice. He’s never been one to want commitment and has gone from one meaningless relationship or encounter to another. With trust issues and substance abuse problems, Vandal is no poster boy for the sane and well-adjusted. One devastatingly catastrophic incident sends Vandal further into a tailspin of despair.


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Tabitha Bennett is a broken shell of the woman she once was. She was once someone who lived life to the fullest, someone that liked the small things in life like cookies and ice cream. All that changed in the blink of an eye. Tabitha is now on the verge of despair, she is ravished and barely hanging on by a thread. Her happiness is now a distant memory. It all changes when a sexy, long-haired dark angel offers her something she had no idea she was looking for.

“The ties that bind us to one another may not always be visible. But they’re there like thin, transparent veins. I don’t know why, but this is one vein I don’t want to slit.”


Vandal and Tabitha essentially are parallel mirrors of one another when it comes to their agonized and tortured souls. They are both reckless in different ways and any hope they had has long disappeared into the distant mirage of what was once their lives. Vandal can’t seem to stay away from Tabitha and is drawn in by her own darkness and “sensual innocence”. She becomes this craving that he needs in his life, a wrong that he needs to make right. Tabitha and Vandal are tragically linked and if there ever was a relationship destined to fail it would most definitely be theirs. With this damaging connection between the two of them, secrets and lies, together they will embark on a sinfully dark and erotic journey that will ultimately test their limits and perhaps be the key to set them free.


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“I don’t know shit about love and romance, but I know that true submission goes far deeper than love. It gives more; it takes more. Love is fragile and can be destroyed. Submission is strong and only strengthens with time. Love leaves people weak and devastated, as she is now. Submission heals and awakens. Submission is love on fucking steroids.”

*****

“He is a drug that I cannot get enough of. A little is never enough; I always need and want more.”


Vandal takes Tabitha on this dark and enticing voyage into the world of submission. It was something they both needed. Vandal needed to control and to give back while Tabitha simply needed to let go. The BDSM elements in this story were very well done in my opinion. The exchanges between Vandal and Tabitha were powerful and all-consuming. They both did not necessarily end up where they thought they would; however, Vandal and Tabitha slowly begin to put the pieces of themselves back together.

I can’t help but be vague when it comes to this review and my interpretation of this book. It is a hauntingly beautiful story that will rip your heart to shreds and it is also one that you need to experience for yourself without any misguided interpretations and spoilers. I really did not expect Vandal to be the book that it turned out to be. After reading Storm I was expecting something more or less the same. Well, color me surprised. What Carian Cole has provided to her reader with this book is angsty torment at its best.

All in all, Vandal (and frankly the first book in this series as well) is a must read. This is a series that has taken me by surprised and I am well and truly hooked. I will patiently be awaiting Lukas, the next book in this series. Carian Cole, I do hope you write fast!

“Our love will never be pretty. It will always be tarnished by the past and we will carry those scars forever.”


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