Book Review: First Debt by Pepper Winters

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Me too, Ron. Me too. This is how I feel in the sea of 5-star reviews that this book has. Don’t get me wrong… I loved the writing style. This was my first experience with Pepper Winters, and I’ll definitely be coming back for more. Her prose, while some consider it too purple or flowery, had this melodic flow to me that just… worked. Loved it.

It was the plot that kind of fucked me up here, along with the ridiculous idea that this could be classified as romance or erotic romance. Erotica, yes. Fucked up erotica. Spoiler alert: there is no romance between the two main characters, just lust. Which is fine. I’m down for that as long as the story is also fantastic, but I just… The debt collection process stressed me out. I remember reading that Nila as destined to die, and I had to reread it several times over to make sure I’d actually read it right.

Jethro isn’t a traditional Hero at this point. Maybe he will soften up in the future books, but he was basically cruel from day one. Cruel and pervy and kind of a huge asshole. Nila didn’t rub me much better, mind you. Her big sanctimonious speeches once she was actually at the manor about not being owed or whatever made me roll my eyes. Like. Just shut up and save your energy for escape.

Now that I know this is more of a Criminal Minds episode than a romance, I’ll go into the other books in the series with that mindset. I kept waiting for Jethro to realize he felt some remorse… or just felt anything other than cruelty and vileness and sheer assholery, but alas, I was left waiting. Obviously his “offer” for freedom at the end of the book was a crock of shit, because, let’s be honest, Nila is going to be found in 30 seconds.


Seriously. Anyone who thinks this is a cliff-hanger type ending… I think it’s pretty apparent what’s going to happen. I mean, she’s naked, hasn’t eaten in two days, and was just sexually assaulted by like 27 men, including the Hero and his dad. Yeah. Her chances of success seem suuuuuuper high.

I think this type of story brings into question the “if he wasn’t hot, would this be the same story” type of issue that arises with a lot of abusive characters. I see heaps of fawning and 5-star ratings, but if Jethro was just an average or less-than-average creep, would he be received as a sexy, dark, angsty, brooding villain still? I don’t really have any thoughts on it, but I’m interested in seeing people’s opinions.

Anyway. Winters is a very talented writer, and I fully intend on reading more of her stuff. Her book made me feel something… Stress, anxiety, anger… That’s always a good sign.

Check it out on Goodreads for more reviews and purchase links!

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