Embracing Darkness: A Dark Contemporary MMMM Insta-Romance (Sinful Surrender Book 1) by N. Slater

N. Slater was completely new to me author so I wasn't prepared for their first book. The only way I can described their writing style is bittersweet darkness - it has an edge and rides the fine line between gritty and gory without being too overwhelming.

From the Embracing Darkness blurb:

By far, I am the smartest in my family, however when it comes to relationships, my best attempt was a disaster. My ex-fiancĂ©’s obsession with me and my top-secret dissertation knows no bounds, not even when I slap a restraining order on his difficult ass.

He keeps promising me forever and all I want to do is hide behind the two things that have never lied to me: sugar and numbers. They’ve never failed me, never pretended to be anything different, and offer a perfect distraction from a life that has only provided me trauma.

Until three men walk into my life to complete a kitchen renovation I didn’t ask for. It wouldn’t have been so bad had I not slept with two of them yesterday and the other one hot as sin salivating over the chance to bend me over the unfinished counter.

What should have been a quick business transaction and a one-night stand finds me knees deep in a world I had no idea existed. More than just my dissertation is on the line. The connection between my ex, my work, and these men way are more tangled than I had ever anticipated.
For once in my life I’ll have to trust more than just numbers and sugars.

I’ll have to trust the three men who have vowed to keep me safe from a world I don’t understand.
It helps that I’m falling in love with all three of them but will the universe let me be that greedy or will this little tidbit of happiness be ripped from me too?

This is an 18+ Dark Contemporary MMMM Insta-Romance made for mature audiences. CW can be found in the Author's Note. It is the first installment in the Sinful Surrender series and does end on a mild cliffhanger.

GaleM's review:

I finished the book and wish I hadn't because now I have to wait the next one to see what happens to our quad. I was looking for exactly this kind of balance between the sweet and the bitter in a fictional world.The cliffhanger is mild and has a happy for now vibe. The story itself had the perfect bite of angst and dark to make it an irresistible page- turner. I loved the combination between crime elements, suspense and complex relationship development. 

Rhys is a mathematician on a genius level and his whole life is digits. Deep in the world of formulas and sequences, he feels secure and comfortable. The only other blanket of comfort he's got when the social anxiety threatens to overwhelm him in a crippling wave was his neighbour and friend with benefits - Gianni. That's it...until Gianni moved away and this action destroyed one of his security anchors. The heart of the story was centered around Rhys while he worked on a top secret project and fought a losing battle with his ex fiancĂ© - Owen - to get him out of his life. On surface level everything looked simple - he's got a restraining order; it should have been easy to get rid of off him but somehow the more he tried to extract himself from his abusive past, the more the ropes of the nightmare tightened around him. It was heartbreaking to watch his struggles and tries to understand why his world was crumbling around him, why the darkness was closing in. 

If there was one good thing in all the descending chaos, it was that Gianni - his sure rock - came back and gave the best cuddles and a precious feeling of safety. Because not only had Owen, his ex and the bane of his existence, turned into a crazed stalker, but Rhys had an escalating problem with his family. In this moment of extreme need, they offered him no support or understanding with one single exception- his brother. But in Rhys' world, nothing is one layered and Gianni is a package deal - he has partners and is in something of an open relationship. Having Gianni back, brought 2 other protectors for Rhys.

The three men - Gianni, Valentine and Dmitri - added a tangible touch of raw eroticism to the story, but also the intimacy, protection, care and love that Rhys so desperately needed in his lonely life. He finally felt what it truly meant to belong and be part of a group. The only downside? This was no ordinary group and they were no ordinary heroes - high paid mercenaries for hire, they were the darkness incarnate. Once again Rhys had to take a dangerous leap of blind trust and hope that this time the choice was the right one. 

The second half of the book was filled with unexpected revelations - hard truths, lies uncovered, surprising connections - all mixed into a tense temporary finale.

Embracing Darkness is currently available as an e-book and paperback and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited Subscription