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Venom and Lace is so bad it almost makes me angry.
Nova is the most infuriating character. All talk, no action; she changes her mind based on who spoke to her last. Ryzen, Cian, Juliet – they gaslight, manipulate, and straight-out lie, and she turns around and asks for more. Ignoring the truth right in front of her, Nova always makes the wrong decision and jumps head first into terrible choices like it’s her kink.
If the characters being terrible wasn’t enough to dissuade you, let’s talk about the writing. Simple and repetitive, every chapter is a slight variation on the one before. We go back and forth over the most boring details without making progress and then end on a cliffhanger that should’ve been in the middle of the book, not the end. Venom and Lace is a romance novel. It’s not epic high fantasy, a complicated family saga, or even the mafia thriller it so desperately wants to be. It doesn’t get to have a cliffhanger with no resolution and expect people to pick up another book to go around in circles with this infuriating woman again. Romance series finish with one couple and then move on to a related one in the next book. Or, in rare cases, fast forward in time to an important time/event with the same couple. You don’t get more than one book to figure out a love triangle. Especially not a crime adjacent Pride and Prejudice retelling with less appeal than Mrs Bennet’s scheming.
I should’ve given up after the third time Nova pretended to be sex-positive while judging someone else. Or the fifth time she flip-flopped on who she was going to trust. Or when her ‘very best friend’ is so naive she can’t figure out she’s being manipulated to manoeuvre her friend. Or when she tries to explain that she can’t discuss a contract with a lawyer because it’s confidential and speaking to a lawyer would break confidentiality. I honestly couldn’t make this up. No one should have made this up.
One star. I’d give negative stars if I could.