REVIEW: Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

Posted January 24th, 2024 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Review / 8 comments


In Corrupt by Penelope Douglas , The one thing Erika “Rika” Fane has always chased is her independence. After a lifetime of being coddled by her wealthy family, she’s finally getting a taste of freedom by going away to college in Meridian City. But things get weird and outright scary when Rika moves into her apartment. Her ex-boyfriend’s older brother, Michael Crist, and his three friends–dubbed the Four Horsemen–start messing with her everywhere she goes, and she can’t figure out why. Then they let on that it stems from a sinister night three years ago. One that changed everyone’s lives. If the guys think Rika had a hand in getting three of them sent to jail, well, they’d better think again. And she’ll figure out a way to prove it to each of them before they can ruin her life any more than they’ve already done.

“Sick of my games, huh? You’ve learned to play them pretty well.”
“I’m not playing your games. You were wrong… You want to know what I’ve learned? I don’t win by playing your games. I win by making you play *mine*.”

Michael knows Rika has had a thing for him since forever. But their families, who neighbor each other in Thunder Bay, have pushed him aside while throwing his younger brother Trevor together with Rika at every chance. Michael is aware things are on the rocks between Rika and Trevor. But even with a clear path to her now, he can’t go near her. Not when she’s the reason his three best friends were sent to prison. The plan they’ve come up with is now being set into motion, with the intention of making Rika pay. Pay for the time Damon, Will, and Kai lost. Pay for the opportunities they’ll now miss out on. And pay for tarnishing their names. But there’s just one problem: Rika is the only woman who captures and holds Michael’s attention. And he’s not sure if that’s going to interfere with his plans.

‘We weren’t going to hurt her. We were going to ruin her.’

An edgy dark romantic suspense as only Penelope Douglas can write it, CORRUPT took taboo twists and turns all the way to the end, keeping me surprised and completely invested in the characters.

‘Fear wasn’t the enemy. It was the teacher.’

CW: View Spoiler »

You already know when you pick up a Penelope Douglas book that the subject matter will likely be provocative, the romance will be on the steamy–or in this case, kinky–side, and the relationships will be extremely complex. CORRUPT was no exception. Told from both the hero and the heroine’s POVs while alternating between three years ago and present day, we got to know Michael and Rika in all their flawed, privileged, messed up glory.

Talk about your morally gray characters. Whew. Michael and his three buddies, known around their hometown of Thunder Bay as the Four Horsemen, did some pretty despicable things over the years. Coming from wealthy families, they were basically untouchable. Until they eventually got caught three years ago. Michael, Kai, Will, and Damon’s belief that it was Rika who turned on them, supposedly reporting them to the police, was where the revenge plot came into play. I was honestly rather horrified and quite frustrated by their plans. And I wasn’t sure any of the guys could redeem themselves. I’m happy to say that the majority of them did come around by the end. It just took *a lot* to get to that point.

Rika was a tough heroine to figure out. At times she was naive, yet other times she had no problem matching mind games with Michael. There was always an attraction between them, but Rika was forever being pushed toward Michael’s brother Trevor–who was the same age as Rika. (Michael was three years older) It was a complicated love triangle that you could sense wasn’t going to end well. Then Douglas upped the angst factor by throwing in some issues with other characters. I was impressed that Rika stood tall, even as Michael, his buddies Damon, Will, and Kai, and some locals put her through hell, and how she stepped up for herself when there was a major plot twist toward the end–which led to a perfect finale for the book.

QOTD: Penelope Douglas typically includes music in their stories as well as a playlist. Do you read through music playlists authors include or check out any songs mentioned in their books?

Book Info:

Publication: November 7th, 2023 Re-issue| Berkley | Devil’s Night #1

Dreams might be a heart’s desire, but nightmares are its obsession in the first novel of a dark romance series from New York Times bestselling author Penelope Douglas.

Erika Fane’s boyfriend’s older brother is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than he is with her. But she saw him. She heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…

For years, Erika bit her nails, unable to look away. Now, she’s in college, but she hasn’t stopped watching him. He’s bad and the things she’s seen aren’t content to stay in her head anymore.

Because he’s finally noticed her.

But Michael Crist knows the hold he has on Rika, how much she fears him. She looks down when he enters the room and stills when he’s close. He knows she thinks only of him. When Michael’s brother leaves for the military, leaving Rika alone and unprotected, he knows the opportunity is too good to be true.

Three years ago, she put Michael’s friends in prison, and now they’re free.

Every last one of her nightmares is about to come true.



8 Responses to “REVIEW: Corrupt by Penelope Douglas”

  1. Glenda M

    Thanks for the review. I usually will read over an author’s playlist if it is included – not if I have to go find it though. As for checking out the songs? It completely depends on my mood.

  2. Sandy McMahon

    I definitely check out the play lists. I like when they include music that inspired them or inspires the story.☘️

  3. Amy R

    QOTD: Penelope Douglas typically includes music in their stories as well as a playlist. Do you read through music playlists authors include or check out any songs mentioned in their books? Yes, I look and sometimes listen to songs on the playlist

  4. Dianne Casey

    No, I don’t checkout the Playlist. I’m more interested in reading the book.

  5. psu1493

    I’ll look through the playlist and see if I recognize any of the songs. Thank you for the review.

  6. erahime

    Though I don’t really listen to the playlist, I do appreciate them in the novels and would enjoy perusing them if I feel like it. Lovely review, Team HJ!

  7. Ellen C.

    Some times I will check out the playlist. Thanks for the spoilers, I find them quite useful.