Sunday, May 14, 2023

Series Review: "The Butcher of the Bay" Duet by J. Bree

Series: The Butcher of the Bay
Author: J. Bree
Genre: New Adult Dark Romance 
Reading Order & Individual Ratings
  1. The Butcher of the Bay: Part 1 - 5 // 5 stars
  2. The Butcher of the Bay: Part 2 - 5 // 5 stars
Overall Rating - 5 // 5 stars

The Butcher of the Bay Duet is another spin-off to the Hannaford Prep series, which I recently reviewed as one of my new favorite series of all time. In the span of just a few weeks, I read nine books set in this world of Mounts Bay, including this duet. Sadly, with my finishing this duet, my time in this world is finished for now until the author releases another book or I decide to reread it all again. 

This duet is actually a prequel that follows a beloved character from the other two series: Illi. More specifically, it's the origin/love story of Illi and Odie, his wife. We meet both of this characters in the original Hannaford Prep series, and they play an even bigger role in the Queen Crow trilogy. This duet is their turn to have the spotlight. And seeing Illi turn into an absolute SIMP was everything to me. 

I will say, I was unsure if I was going to love this as much as the others. Don't get me wrong, I was excited to read about Illi but I wasn't sure if knowing the outcome was going to impact the reading experience at all. I can safely say that I underestimated just how much I would love it because this duet was stunning. 

First things first, just because it's a prequel does not mean that I knew what was all going to happen because that was absolutely not the case. Obviously I knew there would be a happily ever after at the end but I didn't realize just how much these characters fought to get there. Which brings me to my next point...this duet needs more trigger warnings than the original series (see below). It's a lot darker and a lot grittier. Basically, whereas the original series was dark and stabby, this duet amplifies it tenfold.

It makes sense. This is the story of Odie, a girl sold into slavery by her own family, and Illi, a criminal known as the Butcher of the Bay for how he leaves his targets. And it's about the lengths they'll go to to be with each other safe and sound. There's a lot of blood, there's a lot of murder, there's a lot of traumatizing shit in here. 

But there's also soft moments...the ones that show the fierce gentleness of love. Illi would do anything for Odie, and she'd do the same. Their love is fierce and passionate and stunning and wonderful. Whereas plot is a huge thing in the other books and romance is equal or less, this duet has their love story at the forefront. It's their love story for the people who have read this series and already love them. 

I read this duet in less than 24 hours. I basically binged it from the moment I started (thank you KU) and couldn't stop for anything. It was amazing and wonderful and fantastic and I loved every second, whether it was heartbreaking or steamy or fluffy or stabby. Their story moved me in such a way and I am so thankful that I decided to give it a go now rather than wait until later because it was truly wonderful. It was also quite bittersweet because even though it was a prequel happening before all the other events of the other books, it was also my last book in this world for a long time. 

Overall, absolutely loved it. Illi is one of those characters you can't help but love and Odie was absolutely phenomenal. She doesn't get as much page time in the other books so it was lovely getting to know her in her own story. I cannot wait to reread all of the Mounts Bay books in the future and revisit these characters because they truly are a special bunch to me. 

TRIGGER WARNINGS: sexual assault, sex trafficking, rape, abuse, torture, murder, dismemberment, violence, crime

Thanks for reading!

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