I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The first and most important thing that must be said, this story is dark, murky, and deep. If you're a fan of stories dealing with the underbelly of society and dark human nature or found yourself anxiously anticipating every episode of True Detective, even when you wanted to cringe away, then this book and series is for you.
The centerpiece of this story isn't so much the characters but the Cronus Club, everything radiates from this point. In a nice normal small town America, dark and horrid details are starting to be revealed with each mysterious death of its patriarchal leaders. Notes are being left with each body that alludes to hidden and foul deeds allegedly committed by the deceased. Lana Rossi, from many miles away, reads about these murders and realizes that all she thought was ended and ran away to protect may be still be creeping under the surface and not safe. Twenty years ago Lana discovered the Cronus Club when her friend David admitted to her that his father would take him to these club meetings and share him with the rest of the members. The Cronus Club, you see, is for fathers to initiate their sons and then pass them along to each member for sexual enjoyment. This book is not for everyone and it is not easy to read but the author never sensationalizes anything and never focuses on the abuse itself but rather the emotional impact it has on the abused, family and friends of the abused, and family of the abusers. Lana decides to return to her hometown and hopefully regain some memory of a fateful night and help end the Cronus Club once and for all.
Adam is a recovering alcoholic that started his downward spiral after receiving two phone calls from Lana Rossi on the night she disappeared twenty years ago. When he sees her unexpectedly in the woods one night, he is furious and hit with the craving desire he had for her years ago. Adam and Lana are the leading couple of this particular book in the series and are the glimpse of romance in an otherwise heavily suspense, thriller, and mystery novel. They circle each other as hurts, truths, and lusts surface but the overall story arc ends up overshadowing them. The story is moved along by multiple POVs that reveal the how, why, and who is trying to eliminate, hide, or discover the elements of the Cronus Club. As Adam basically fell in love with Lana years ago when they were younger and Lana's developing love for Adam isn't flushed out enough to escape simple lust, I had a hard time becoming invested in their relationship.
The power and beauty of this story emanates from its ugliness, the Cronus Club. From the portrayal of strength, twisted desires, fragility, and vigilante justice the reader is taken on a journey they won't soon forget. Sweeter Than Sin is second in the series but I found it could be read as a standalone as there was only one or two times I felt lost at something. However, as this book reveals some answers it also leaves a lot in the shrouds. Reading the next book in the series is going to be a must if you want to know how far down the rabbit hole the citizens of this town really go.