Review: Dirtiest Secret by J. Kenner (S.I.N. #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.

The Stark series began as a trilogy but it's now spawned a series of novellas, Stark Ever After, that share the continuing story of Damien and Nikki Stark after they get their happily-ever-after, as well as two spin-off series--Stark International, which is about Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks, and the new Stark International Novels (S.I.N.), which is about Dallas Sykes and Jane West and starts off with Dirtiest Secret. Dallas Sykes was earlier introduced to readers in the most recent Stark Ever After novella, Deepest Kiss, and now we get to know all about the King of Fuck, a title he knows all about and does nothing to dissuade people from using in relation to him. He's a very complex main character--dare I say even more complex than Damien Stark himself--and the most complicated part of the man himself is Jane West, the only woman he's ever loved but can never have. They both survived an abduction that continues to haunt both of them, but they kept their distance afterwards, until new circumstances bring them together again.

At fourteen, Dallas and Jane fell in love. At fifteen, they got together in London, only to be abducted by six individuals. After three weeks, Jane was released, but Dallas was held for an additional four weeks. With money and power at his fingertips, Dallas has made it his mission to learn who was behind that kidnapping seventeen years ago, hoping that maybe this will give him the peace that he and Jane deserve. That kidnapping changed their lives forever--with them doing their own part to gather more information when it comes to other abductions of children. The one thing they haven't done is to get together, purposely staying apart, not because of hatred or fear, but because of the desire and passion that continues to run strong through their veins. There's a reason they can't be together, a reason I can't mention in this review. It's this secret that, once you come across it in the book, makes the story an even far more intriguing read because not only do Dallas and Jane need to overcome their past but they have to deal with their present.

This series starter has a far more suspenseful feel to it compared to the original Stark books. I have yet to read the Stark International series, so I have no idea how those three books were--though they're currently on my to-be-read list--but book one for the S.I.N. trilogy has me extremely intrigued, with a love story that seems to be achingly hopeless yet you want Dallas and Jane to have their happily-ever-after, especially after everything they went through more than a decade and a half ago. They're both thirty-two, and yet they don't have that happiness, peace, and passion that they know they can only find and have with each other. But they can't be together...can they? There are options--because yes, I actually did some research and I did read a book with the main characters not pursuing a relationship for the same reason as Dallas and Jane and that was resolved satisfactorily. The book does end on a cliffhanger and many things are still left unsettled, so Hottest Mess is now one of my much-awaited reads. Dirtiest Secret gets 4.5 stars. ♥

Release Date: 19 April 2016

Date Read: 16 April 2016

Learn more about J. Kenner.

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