Book Review: Hooked: A Never After Novel by Emily McIntire

About the Book:

Once Upon A Time, there was a little boy. His belly full of laughter, his life full of joy. Until one day, something changed; stripped his innocence away.

The hole inside making space for the devil to come and play. His dreams gone forever, he grew up way too fast.

An endless night of crocodiles, and watches made of glass. He grew into a villain, the taste of vengeance on his tongue. Craving to make his enemies pay for the misdeeds they had done.

Instead he found a darling girl, and refused to let her go. For what better way to make the man pay, than to steal his little shadow.

*Hooked is a full-length, complete standalone and the first in The Never After Series: A collection of fractured fairy tales where the villains get the happy ever after. This is a DARK Contemporary romance (not fantasy) featuring mature themes and content that may not be suitable for all audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

Published by NewSouth Books – Bloom Books

Released September 2022

My Thoughts:

I know, I know, not the sort of book you’re used to seeing pop up here. Let me explain…

I’m a Peter Pan fan. I like the darker undercurrent of Peter Pan, the original novel by J.M. Barrie, not the Disney version. So, I’m drawn to anything that even hints at a retelling, which is how I ended up with this one. Also, I like the cover. I probably should have looked into the book description a bit more, or even jumped onto Goodreads and read a few reviews, but I didn’t, I just requested the series and here we are. So, Hooked is not a retelling of Peter Pan, rather, it’s a dark romance/underworld crime novel that draws inspiration from the darkness of the original Peter Pan. It was enough for me to get sucked in.

We have our main character, James Barrie, aka Hook, who is basically a psychopathic criminal thug. Then we have Wendy Michaels, daughter of shady billionaire Peter Michaels, sister to Jon Michaels. Wendy gets called ‘Wendy darling’ by James (Hook) and Peter Michael’s girlfriend/assistant is named Tina-Belle. Hook calls his core gang of thugs The Lost Boys and the drugs they sell pixie-dust. Hook’s uncle, who he brutally slayed in the first page of the novel, was nicknamed Croc, and he was a fan of those ticking fob watches, which are a huge trauma trigger for Hook. You can no doubt see what I mean, with all of these familiar threads and characters. So, while the author has said specifically in the front of the novel that it isn’t a retelling, it does lean heavily on the folklore of Peter Pan. It’s actually not badly done at all. It thought it was quite clever, to be honest, in the way she’s taken the characters and themes from J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan and reworked it into this contemporary criminal underworld story.

I’m going to be upfront here, the romance in this did nothing for me. Hook and Wendy form this kind of toxic sexual relationship/trauma bond that made me really uncomfortable, and I don’t mean this in a prudish way because of all the sex scenes. I mean it in the sense that I just don’t like reading about unhealthy relationships, they do nothing for me. I know it’s fiction, but even so, it’s just not my cup of tea. There was a strong Fifty Shades vibe running through this, minus the red room, although Hook did keep Wendy chained up to a wall in a basement for a little bit there…

I have the other two novels in this series, they were sent to me as a bundle to review. I intend on reading them, just not one after the other. These are the sort of books I need to pace myself with and dip into when I’m in the mood to do so. A bit like the way one feels when they want to watch a gangster film, I suppose. The whole criminal underworld side of this story appealed to me far more than the romance, and there was enough of that holding up the story to keep me committed until the end.

Recommended for fans of dark romance.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Hooked: A Never After Novel by Emily McIntire

  1. This one has been in my TBR for a few months and I finally picked it up. I’m really glad I’m not alone in the “man, this relationship is super toxic” camp. I do like the story and the twist on characters I’m familiar with, just could have done with a more balanced approached to the romance.

    Liked by 1 person

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