Depraved by AJ Merlin

Depraved by A.J. Merlin
Series: Pleasure & Prey #1
Published by Focal Fox Press on 06/16/2022
Genres: Horror, Romance
Pages: 224
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Purchase on: Amazon// Barnes & Noble// BookBub
Add to: Goodreads // StoryGraph

Living and working on a campground with her dogs is not where Sloane Walker saw herself at twenty-seven. But then again, not a lot has gone right for her since her step-father kidnapped her at twelve years old and scarred her both physically and mentally for life. Those actions should’ve left him rotting in prison for the rest of his life, not seeing him out on good behavior and giving him free rein to track Sloane down to make ‘amends.’
But that’s not her only problem, as if she needs more than one. Her second problem comes in the form of the masked stalker that slides into her room at night and takes what he pleases, making sure Sloane enjoys every second of it. What starts as a fantasy soon becomes something inescapable for them both, and Sloane might have to face up to a very important fact about her new friend.
He’s unhinged, psychotic, and utterly obsessed with her. And while those should be very bad things, Sloane can’t help thinking that maybe they aren’t so bad at all, no matter what that might mean for her sanity or her safety in the end.
Author’s note: This is a complete standalone set in the Pleasure & Prey universe. It contains consensual kink, unhealthy relationships, and harmful situations. For a full list of content warnings, please look inside.


After finishing Brutal by AJ Merlin, I realized it wasn’t just a one off good book. I needed to go back to the first in the series and then continue on with it. That’s how I picked up Depraved by AJ Merlin, which absolutely confirmed how much I love this genre, this series, and possibly this author.

Where Brutal has a Jason-esque slasher in Wren, we meet Scream-esque slasher Virgil in Depraved. Now, I didn’t start with book 1 in this series because I didn’t think I’d care for some random guy with a dweebie name who sneaks into a girl’s apartment to have sex with her. Plus, I wasn’t sure how we’d get to Scream and not have it be a carbon copy of the movie. My worries were for nothing. The homage to Scream is subtle (apart from the mask) and added to the story and Virgil had me wrapped around his finger.

Sloane is our FMC that works at a campgrounds alongside her two dogs – one of which is a service animal to help with her PTSD. She enjoys her life, for the most part, and is doing just fine when one extremely hot camper checks in. Virgil, meanwhile, was not looking for a good time but found one any way. The way these two interact with one another is hot, but also sweet. Virgil definitely has a human and emotional side. He feels respectful and acquiesces to Sloane, despite this definitely being chock full of CNC.

Speaking of CNC, the spice was fantastic! Obviously, as this is a dark/serial killer romance, there are kinks. We’ve got some great knife play going on, along with some breath play. Of course, there’s primal play but it isn’t as strong here as it is in the next book in the series. We’ve also got some stalking, though it isn’t anything to write home about.

Depraved by AJ Merlin is a phenomenal dark/serial killer romance with intense spice and a fun story. This is absolutely recommended for folks that enjoy darker, kinkier romance with CNC, but also folks that understand this is fiction. A fictional book with fictional characters that of course will not have realistic reactions because this isn’t real life.


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