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Publisher's Summary

A man lures a woman into the woods.

Another ruins the life of his best friend.

And yet another strings them along like puppets.

Dark men. 

They are intriguing, and charming, and powerful. 

They are changing the world. 

They are changing themselves. 

They are playing with lust, and love, and fear, and loathing. 

Addicted to each other, to their secret, to the seduction, to the sex. 

It’s a crash in the making. 

And yes, it’s on purpose. 

These men are dark. 

And this is the story of how Nova Ryan loves them.

Loving Dark Men is a seductive romantic thriller that will have you listening well past your bedtime. A stand-alone book by New York Times best-selling author, JA Huss.

©2022 JA Huss (P)2022 JA Huss

What listeners say about Loving Dark Men

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    5 out of 5 stars
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SHE'S DONE IT AGAIN.. MIND BLOWING

Wow.. wow.. wow, JA Huss has done it again, she's blown my mind with intrigue wrapped around many many plot twists in this MM, MF, MFM unconventional, unique relationship that slowly unwinds to reveal the wicked truths, the real pawns and the villaneous players. And on the Island is a Research Institute where Neuroscience Researcher Nova and her three dark, very different, men Mercer, Locke and Olsen each have a part to play in this devious and twisted love story. It's Julie's deliciously warped story to tell so no spoilers.. but be prepared this isn't any ordinary book.. oh, no no no, it's one of her very own genius masterpieces that turn you about time and time again until you finally.. finally get it. This story is brilliant and very addictive as the mystery, intrigue and manipulation of the pawn leads to uncharted waters JA Huss style. If you're one of her many many fans then you know what I'm talking about with this gifted author as you're led into her well-crafted world of high intrigue, lust-filled chemistry, hot sex, rollercoaster relationships.. and that all important ahhhhhhhhh realization when all her misshapen crazy puzzle pieces finally fit into place.

Worth a credit? A million yes'.. the storyline is mind-blowing and unique, the dual POV narration by Desiree and James is five star perfection and brings the character's past and present journey to life and there's a happy ever after ending when all the dust settles.

12 people found this helpful

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Great Audio

I consider Loving Dark Men a typical JA Huss story. By typical, I mean to expect the unexpected. I love Huss' unique writing style and plot devices. I know she will grab my attention early and hold me glued to the pages/audio with her many twists and turns to the end. In my opinion, Loving Dark Men is a dark twist on a Fantasy Island adventure with a bit of secret society and a hefty dose of erotica. Expect graphic plural relationships, which Julie knows how to write vividly.

Nova Ryanski “Ryan” is a beautiful young woman who worked her way up from trailer trash to a 4.0 neuroscience Ph.D. She is starting her new career as an intern on a prestigious research project in New Hampshire at a place known as Private Island #1. Everything about the program is cutting edge and hush-hush. She agrees to live on the island with minimal access to the outside world to protect the secrets of the research.

Michael Locke is the first person Nova meets while she is wandering around the campus. Locke is her first “dark man” and is also involved in the study, but his position is unclear throughout most of the story. The second “dark man” is Olsen, Nova’s advisor, who lives in the cottage across the sidewalk from her. Finally, there is Silas Mercer. He is the darkest of all and her boss.

The story is told from Nova and Locke’s dual points of view. It begins in the present day with Nova and her daughter on their farm. Locke is at Nova’s place for one of his regular visits. One of Nova’s dark men is Veda’s father, but Nova decides to keep the paternity a secret because she loves all three men. Through flashbacks and both characters’ POVs, we learn more about the study, their plural relationships, and the many secrets that unfold are surprising and change the way these characters look at the events in their life and how they plan their future.

Loving Dark Men is a standalone, slow-burn thriller that you must stick with for the excellent payoff. It starts with me wondering about the characters of this romantic psychological thriller until it escalates into something that puts me on the edge of my seat until I almost fall off. I enjoyed this story, but I will warn you that it is not a book for everyone. Loving Dark Men is for you if you like kink, plural relationships, and crazy, unexpected twists. I am a fan of it all.

Finally, the narrators are superb. I loved this story when I read it, but the audio is a whole new experience. I love how Desiree Ketchum and James Cavenaugh's performances add so much to the characters, the events, and the suspense. They are excellent.

6 people found this helpful

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Just One More Chapter

Another stellar 5 star read from J A Huss! So many twists and turns and surprises in this one. Just exactly what I’ve come to expect from her books. Eleven chapters in and I still had no idea what was going on. From the beginning I struggled with the narrators. But I got past it and by the halfway point I was really enjoying these narrators. Chapter 17 oh my goodness! There’s so much going on! I’m going to have to listen again to get it all. I was so confused right up to the last three chapters and then it just all came together and gelled very nicely. Will definitely listen again and recommend to everyone!

4 people found this helpful

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Wow! Complex & Thought-Provoking Yet Dark & Dirty.

This Story Goes Down The Rabbit Hole & Keeps You Guessing. Mercer, Locke, Olsen, & Nova Are Caught Up In An Elite World Where Old Money Buys Anything.


This story largely takes place on Private Island #1 in Meredith Bay, New Hampshire. The ninety-two-acre island houses a research facility run by the Institute. The Institute is a secretive organization operated by the uber-elite, and its motivations are questionable. The organization conducts R&D on world-changing pharmaceuticals. For fifteen years, they have been conducting human trials on the island. Subjects are given the opportunity to live out a fantasy, and the drug being tested allows that memory to become real in the subject’s mind. It has the ability to alter perception. In the wrong hands, it has the ability to change the world. FDA approval is close, and Nova’s role is historic.

Nova Ryanzski, roughly in her late twenties, has just finished presenting her dissertation. She is now a behavioral and systems neuroscientist, though she hardly feels prepared to commence her professional career. She is a little nervous to start her one-year contract to work for the Institute, but she is honored to have been selected for the prestigious position. For a girl raised in a trailer park, it is a fairy tale. She won’t complain about her childhood, though. They might have been poor, but she had two loving parents growing up. Her best friend since middle school lived there, too. She and Travis were inseparable, but they had just been friends. Nova developed a bit of a reputation in high school, but it was Travis that she finally gave her innocence to right before leaving for college. Years of dedication to academics have finally paid off and led her to the first day of her new job.

Silas Mercer, thirty-seven, is the face of the trials. His dark good looks and expensive suits exude power and control. He likes rules and doesn’t care for intimacy. He is cold and calculating. For Mercer, life is a game. If you don’t play, you can’t win. He enjoys provoking others then sitting back to observe their reactions. He lives in a grand home and runs everything on the island. He personally recruited Nova Ryan, and if all works as planned, their work together will soon lead to a breakthrough. Years of research and trials are about to finally pay off.

Michael Locke, thirty-seven, loves life on the island. He helps to recruit new participants for their ongoing trials, travelling across the country in search of candidates. Although his original commitment is largely done, he is allowed to remain living on the island as long as he continues to work under Mercer, with whom he lives. They have been best friends for many years, but they are also more. Their relationship is complicated, to say the least. They each see other people, but at the end of the day, they choose one another. That is part of the complicated game they play. Locke also fools around occasionally with Olsen, but mostly they share women together. They have been friends for seven years now, and they typically attend Institute recruitment weekends together. Mercer and Olsen are not friends, but since there is never any jealousy, it all works out.

Olsen, thirty-ish, has been on the island for seven years. Unlike Mercer and Olsen, he was not born to privilege. His childhood in West Virginia was not a happy one. The island presented an incredible opportunity for someone like him, but he cannot wait to leave. Unlike his friend Locke, Olsen plans to leave the moment his contract expires. He worries about Locke, though, who seems stuck in an abusive relationship.

This is Locke and Nova’s story, but their twisted tale involves the myriad of relationships they share with Mercer and Olsen. Their story finally ends with a happy ending.

Wow! Complex and thought-provoking yet dark and dirty, this story goes down the rabbit hole and keeps you guessing. Mercer, Locke, Olsen, and Nova are caught up in an elite world where old money buys anything. The story has some parallels with Total Recall, an old Schwarzenegger movie. It is also drawn from the quiet but ongoing efforts in real life to perfect mind-control methods. If following this story is confusing, just imagine how confusing a real-life application could become. The story provokes thoughts of ethics, morals, corruption, and the difficulties in oversight.

There are some issues that merit mention. First, there were things I thought might be explained that were not, such as the death of Mercer’s sister. Next, there are many shifts in time, and they are not always smooth. Additionally, the games are an interesting aspect of the story, but they are never fully exposed and they seem to drift later in the story. I feel like they could have been the basis for an entirely separate story, and they could have been eliminated here. The goals did not need to be presented in the form of a game. Finally, since Nova finished her last trial, what happened to the Institute and the trial five years later remains fuzzy. One might have expected progress with another candidate by then. A sentence or two more clarification would have been helpful for detail-oriented readers.

In the end, there is so much that is unanswered that it is a little disappointing. On the other hand, the story was so captivating and the ride so rewarding, that it is forgivable. Had the story not been built upon lies, it would be a bigger sin to leave so many loose ends. Ages, intentions, true feelings – all could have been manipulated. Some is unwound, but not all. One loose end that should have been neatly clarified was Olsen’s participation in the study. There are contradictory statements, and the issue could impact his life afterward. As for ages, note that Olsen is recruited at age twenty-three and Nova at age nineteen. One or both of those ages are wrong, and it is never clarified. Similarly, Mercer and Locke are both thirty-seven, but one or both of those ages is wrong and never clarified. Since none of the facts can be trusted, their real ages are anyone’s guess.

The end leaves me feeling badly for both Mercer and Olsen. How things settled the way they did is not entirely clear. We are privy to their deepest thoughts. Moreover, it is not entirely clear how things actually did settle for them – much is left up in the air. I want to see them all find a happy ending, but as a standalone, this leaves me rather unsatisfied. In the end of the book stuff, the author mentions the possibility of something more about Mercer, and maybe Olsen. I would have preferred this to be presented more like the Taking Turns series (the original series with the first three books). If I knew this was going to be a series, I would be more satisfied.

I didn’t understand the conversation with Eliana at the end. Perhaps it is a lead-in to another book – maybe with Mercer – but the library comment was barely a suggestion. And the idea that Patricia didn’t want the final trial didn’t add up since Patricia was in fact involved in it and could have easily put an end to it herself. My only guess is that Eliana knew what was expected in the final trial and was jealous – hence the possibility of a story with Mercer and Eliana. That would certainly be incestuous since Mercer was Patricia’s pet. But that is strictly speculation, and without more information, Eliana’s comments are just confusing.

Finally, I wanted more from Locke’s POV at the end. This was his and Nova’s story, after all. I wanted to hear more about how things settled with him and Mercer. I also wanted to hear more about his life with Nova. Nova indicates that family is important to Locke, but I want to hear his feelings on the matter. I am unclear that he got his HEA because we don’t know quite how he and Mercer felt after fully crashing – nor how much was real.

This is Locke and Nova’s story, but it is just a small piece of this book. Mercer and Olsen are there at their sides, and their relationships are complex. Their plural relationships are hard to follow at first. It gets more and more twisted as the story unfolds. Eventually, despite the vague information and confusion, the characters do begin to solidify and the complexity of their relationships fades to the background. It takes some patience to get to that point, but it pays off because then the focus can shift to unwinding the nature of what takes place on the island. It feels like an accomplishment when the story finally begins to unwind. The story is smart and well-written written. The storytelling is fabulous. The plot is extremely complex. It is almost too complex, though, because there are unanswered questions. The characters are carefully crafted and three-dimensional. Unfortunately, I wanted more. I wanted to know who they are outside of the trials. I wanted to know what was true as well as what feelings and characteristics carry over. The story ended too quickly for all that. I would love an extended epilogue to give answers to the many unanswered questions and real-life closure for each of the characters. The story is told in first person. The POV alternates between Locke and Nova. I rate this book 4.5 stars.

As for the Audio: it is well-performed and consistent with the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Holy crap

I will put a full review on Goodreads so I'll mainly talk about the narration and the one thing I love about Julie's books is she always gets the best narrators for her books. Desiree Ketchum and James Cavanaugh did an amazing job( I especially loved Nova's internal monologue that cracked me up every time) Not only was this book very well written but very well narrated. the last thing I'll say is go into the story with an open mind nothing is as it seems and that's what I love most about Julie Huss's books

3 people found this helpful

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Another steamy ride on the mind rollercoaster

Still haven’t found a book that she’s written that I don’t love! This one had me guessing up to the end. Not many authors can do that. Like maybe 2. I’m a happy camper.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazingly awesome storyline and great sex scenes!!

Didn’t loose connection with the story, there was a great balance and very smooth transitions. Characters were built up and not over done, sex scenes were very hot and happened from start to finish!!

2 people found this helpful

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Simply amazing

I'm blown away, again, by Julie's incredible writing. The narration was also fantastic. The twists and turns will leave you stunned.

1 person found this helpful

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Truly a page turner

This book proves once more to me that JA Huss is an extraordinary story teller -- I cannot imagine how she has come up with this extraordinary story line -- her imagination regarding secret societies creates a parallel universe that makes me wonder if there really is a giant hand out there pulling the strings for all of us here on earth.
The four main characters in this book really captured my heart -- as the story progressed and the good guys did bad things and the bad guys turned out to be not so bad after all, I wanted them all to find the love they needed.
This story flips back and forth thru time, so it's important to pay attention to the chapter lead in's that set the timeframe as well as the character who is narrating the story.
I love how JA shares her passion for science in this story line. The sex is plentiful and steamy -- however, the darkness (described in great detail and a key element of the story) is not the typical BDSM stuff.
I am greatly disappointed that there is no EOB essay by JA Huss at the end of this audiobook. Maybe it will turn up somewhere else, like in a podcast. I will have to check out the Kindle version and maybe find it there.
Once more I am anxious to find Julie' next novel.

1 person found this helpful

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Back and forth timelines are excessive.

The back and forth timelines are excessive and made it very hard to follow the many characters/personalities. It kind of ruined it for me. I almost stopped listening, but decided to stick it out. I think it could have retained surprises with a greatly reduced back and forth and I may have been able to enjoy.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Loves 2 Listen
  • 08-15-22

excellent

it's not easy to write a book when you're going back and forth between years and decades but Huss is a master at her craft and the way she weaves the story makes it easy to follow. this book was truly excellent, just when you think you've got it sussed out it takes you down a different path, then you're sure it's going one way only to be caught off guard again. I highly recommend listening to it, the narration was perfect and Desiree Ketchum is fast becoming one of my favourite female narrator's.

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  • C85
  • 08-05-22

Amazing!

Julie never disappoints. What a twist! I’m listening to it again right now. I loved it. Amazing!

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  • Jill Kirtley
  • 07-28-22

It’s phenomenal!

Loving Dark Men is phenomenal! The storyline is amazing with some fantastic twists you don’t see coming; and that’s how I like it! I can’t find the words to describe how I felt about this book and the characters who wove their way into my heart. I didn’t want it to end. It's a compelling read with sizzling heat and a plot to blow your mind!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-12-22

Very darl romance

At first I wondered what on earth I had started reading but persevered.

Then everything started to fit into place, with the twists and turns it involved. The ending was sad. I really wanted them all together and happy in the end. It will happen at some stage but we miss out on the when and how the group dynamics change if indeed they do. Highly recommended book.

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  • Donna White
  • 08-05-22

Wow

What a great story had everything you could possibly want and the twists and turns very unexpected