Corrupt by Penelope Douglas is the second romance novel by this author I’ve read.
And as well as in Punk 57, Douglas has created a relationship that is “borderline” abusive. It is my understanding this is usually categorized as a dark romance, and I agree.
Since I’ve read one book by this author before I can now say with certainty that Douglas is phenomenal in world-building and developing a plot. I think the plot and the setting of this book are amazing. I haven’t read anything similar before, and the fact that it is so well written only enhances my enjoyment. The story follows Erica and Michael. They are both from a small wealthy community and have been in each other’s lives since they were children. Erica has always been fascinated and in love with Michel, but he has ignored her. And then some shit went down which ended up with Michael’s three friends in jail. Michale and his friends were very respected in their town and have been named the Four Horsemen. And as their biblical namesakes, they wreaked havoc. One night a year, the Devil’s Night, they would put on their masks and run around town doing petty crimes. It all seems a lot like the movie Purge, but PG-13 (even though the shit they pull is certainly R rated).
Using a dual timeline, Douglas tells the story of the Horsemen and Erica in the present. The Horsemen are now out of jail and they are ready for revenge, and for reasons unknown to us, they have decided to take their revenge on her.
Due to a dual point of view, we know how Erica feels about Michael and the others and how she remembers the Devil’s Night that changed their lives, but we also get a glimpse into Michael’s thoughts and doubts about their plans.
I want to start this shitshow of a review by saying I don’t like Michael at all. From page one I knew he was going to be a needy, whiny little piece of shit. The whole bad-boy, I-am-untouchable, I-don’t-have feelings front is so 2015. We get it, you are so macho and strong and you need no woman. Wow. Grow the fuck up, boy. He constantly has these episodes of self-reflection where he tries to justify his current and future behaviour towards Erica. And it gets annoying since it happens in almost every chapter from his point of view. And it is always the same. I can’t live without her. I can’t lose her. Will she love me after I ruin her life. I no longer want to ruin her life. But she ruined my life. Shut the fuck up. No one cares. If you are so in love with her, why don’t you just ask her: „Hey, did you destroy my life and the life of my best friends?“ That’s it. One sentence. But, our dumbass simply can’t form sentences apparently and/or doesn’t have to capability to have the complicated mental process called thinking.
Moving on, as much as I am an elitist and love secret societies and cult-like friend groups it always cracks me up how they call themselves. I mean… the Four Horsemen? It is cool, I admit, but so cringy. How do these boys in romance books make everyone (including newspaper and adults) call them that?
The members of the Horsemen are my enemy Michael, Kai, Will and Damon. As always, one is more gentle and moral than the others, one is diplomatic, one is annoying (Michael, if you needed a hint) and one is deeply disturbed. This is a well-known cliche and I have nothing against it. I just wanted to point it out.
This doesn’t happen often, but I didn’t root for our main couple at all. I myself have a tendency towards enjoying twisted relationships, but what Michael did to Erica was in my mind unforgivable.
“She’s a lot smarter than I thought she was.”
He constantly manipulated her, gaslighted her, he didn’t respect her wishes at all (even the most minuscule things that had nothing to do with him)… not to mention that he made her have sex with him all the time. She didn’t always verbalize that she didn’t want to, but it was clear from her reaction. He simply manipulated her into saying yes. Once time he literally said, and I quote: “Promise you’ll never say no to me. Promise you’ll never keep yourself from me.” What? Did I read that right? Did I, perhaps, lose the capability to understand words and this is simply a misunderstanding? Nah… he said it. And he meant it.
So, can you blame me for not rooting for them? I felt so angry when it was clear that Erica didn’t want to talk to him and he just manipulated and forces his way to her (not to mention that they always ended up fucking). Sometimes she would avoid him and his phone calls because she knew that if he came she wouldn’t be able to say no! You know what that means? One word: abuse.
I really wanted Erica to end up with Kai… he was nice to her. And by nice, I mean that after the air was cleared between them he didn’t act like a complete dick to her. Isn’t that sad?
Michael was very controlling (so sexy, I know…). The pinnacle of his control over her was when he „proposed“ to her. And by proposed to her I mean that he simply put a ring n her finger and told her that from then on they would live together and spend almost all the time together.
„It means that I’m going to do my best to piss you off every chance I get. Because there’s nothing hotter than when you’re mad. And then I’m going to do my best to remind you of how nice I am so that you can’t stop thinking about me when we’re not together.“
Very romantic, am I right? Something every girl wished a boy would do for her… Ugh. I am so grossed out.
Just a little disclaimer: I am not against people being a kinky and doing problematic shit when it is consensual! But, if it starts happening all the time. If it becomes an everyday thing and not a sexual act, that is a sign you should run and seek help!
Let’s chill-out a little bit… I wanted to talk about the fact that every character in both books I’ve read by Douglas seems to be emo! They always listen to those emo, semi-goth and screamo bands that were popular in 2012. It actually gives the book a bit of a fanfiction or a Wattpad vibe. This isn’t something negative, I just find it amusing.
I thought a bit about it and I’ve decided to continue on with this series since I did like Kai and Will more than Michael and I think their stories could be better than this one (by better, I mean less problematic). I’m not yet sure how I feel about Damon. I don’t hate him. I am excited to read Kai’s story next!
And now I want to end this shitshow of a review by saying once more that I don’t like Michael at all.