FUCK YES. I'm SO happy with this read. Book #1 was a dark horse coming out of the gate to surprise me with its dark writing magic and this one is continuing the winning streak. I was worried but the author came through for me.
It's so rare that I feel like that these days.
C.M. Stunich is going strong with this narrative. I'm totally on board. It has all the fun and sensuality of a more edgy, dark tale of bullying and revenge without crossing over into that line where it's like "there's no way in hell that's forgivable." The progression is delightfully paced and we're keeping things interesting the whole way through.
I also am completely digging the addition of Windsor to the group and I like the direction that the author is taking with Zack; Marnye's relationship with him is realistic and complex and I like it. We're still seeing things be relatively slow burn with the development of attraction and feelings and there's a good complexity to everything that's just wonderful.
Marnye remains a great heroine. She's not a saint but she has standards and complexity and I like it. Despite all the ways everything could've gone terrible for her character, she's standing tall.
Overall I'm just really, really impressed that the author has the sense to write this sort of story without veering a hard left off the narrow path into the abyss. So many authors have tried to write a story like this and it's sunk to a place where it can never crawl out of for the sake of shock horror and drama. As bad as the characters are, the motivations and actions are complex enough that it's more in the grey than the black, so I don't feel disgusted by what's happening. The story also isn't unnecessarily crass or soul-sucking; there's enough goodness to counteract the worst moments. It also doesn't have the same level of disbelief that a lot of other stories in this vein try to push; you can see a rich, private academy behave like this and do these sorts of things.
I'm absolutely pumped for book #3. On the author's facebook she mentioned it being a strong possibility that it'll be done and released before the end of April and if she can release it that fast I'll be stoked, but I'll still be here even if it's released in May or June.