Review – Tainted Love: The Complete Trilogy by RC Christiansen

TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains mature subject matter pertaining to child abduction, alcoholism, and other abuse. !8+ Reader discretion advised.

Never has a TW been so appropriate, or a title been so apt. The author wants people to know this isn’t an easy ride before they dive into this book.

Tainted Love is an uncomfortable, but compelling read. Face it, a lot of people would see couples like Vixen and Whiskey in WalMart and judge them just for their tattoos, their crude language and tough demeanour. But dig a bit deeper, and you find a couple utterly devoted to each other and their adopted children. At first, it’s easy to dismiss Whiskey (Pax) as a thug, but he’s been through stuff no one would want their children to experience. Vixen is the rich girl who seems to have it all, but with an abusive mother and an absent father, she sees Whiskey as her soulmate. Whilst he is terrified of hurting her, she is determined their unique love will save both of them. She’s a tough cookie who takes no shit, whilst he is an anti-hero in the truest sense.

I read the trilogy because I don’t think you can really not after the first book. This is about survival, mental health, facing your fears and how to deal with being demonised by a media obsessed with lurid details and finding scapegoats. It’s a well-written, unusual love story which blossomed from a terrible place and now has to fight to survive.

Vixen isn’t a saint. She isn’t there to “save” Whiskey from himself. They save each other. She gives as good as she gets, and as the story progresses you can see their bond growing, lurching from crisis to crisis and coming back stronger.

The surrounding characters are brilliant, from the abusive mum who finds redemption, if not total forgiveness, and the slippery lawyer who is a diamond when it counts. And there are Ken, Verna and Cliff, Whiskey’s only comfort when they were all abducted, who have their own story in a coming prequel.

In short, I loved this book. It was so fresh, putting a unique and uncompromising spin on the romance genre. Even though there was some tragedy, the ending was all I hoped it would be. Whiskey and Vixen are true survivors.

VIXEN:
“How angry are you, Vixen?”
Those are the words Whiskey would speak to me before he hate-fucked me when we started all this. I was abused, but he had it worse—missing-kid-on-the-side-of-a-milk-carton worse. We’re both broken, and he’s scared he’s gonna hurt me, but we’re good for each other. I know we are. We can help each other get better.

WHISKEY:
Vixen’s become my entire life, but even she can’t save me when things get too dark. That whole love-fucking thing she taught me is slipping away, too. We’re heading into Hate-fuck Hell. I don’t want to hurt her. But not even the head-shrinker I see for therapy can fix everything that’s going on now. Everything I thought I had—everything I knew about myself—is gone. What little I had is taken away from me, and I hate it. There’s no hope.

I can’t even look Vixen in the eyes anymore. As I face the people who hurt me, the world, the press, and their lawyer make me out to be a monster, so I decide I’m just going to have to show them a fucking hellhound. Vixen, the sexy badass that she is, won’t accept that and is forcing me to confront my abductors. I need her next to me and to not let me believe I’m this evil thing everyone says I am. It’s hard to face the people who made my childhood a living hell as I try to put them away, while the rest of the world judges and hates me. I’m crossed between wanting vengeance and seeking justice, which is pushing Vixen to her limit. All I really want is to clear my name. If that can happen, then maybe Vixen and I will be able to find our way back to Hate-fuck Heaven.

TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains mature subject matter pertaining to child abduction, alcoholism, and other abuse. !8+ Reader discretion advised.

Published by Lady J's Pawsome Readers

As well as reviewing books, I'm a writer of romantic suspense, MM fiction and LGBTQIA sci-fi. One of the original founders of WROTE Podcast, a medium for showcasing queer storytelling in all forms.

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