ARC Review Tuesday: Soulless by Sarah J. Pepper

Once Wicked #1
Goodreads Blurb:
Our love is imperfect in the most perfect way. It is love done our way. Raw. Unconventional. Sexy as hell. Most importantly, it is honest to the core, or so I think. One little, white lie shouldn’t do so much damage. Yet, it changes me forever.

The worst part is that Declan whispered that sweet nothing out of protection. My safety is on the forefront of his mind, especially since there are others who’d hurt me simply to get at him. I never think that he would be the one to cut me so deeply. And it all starts with that first prick—the night he saved my life.


His perilous stare deepened as his grip fastened around my waist. The maniacal thoughts passing over his eyes confirmed that I wasn’t the only one who wanted all the space between us eliminated.


could hardly breathe when his gaze fell to my lips. It left me speechless. It was the very way a passing glance could leave you without words. But Declan didn’t just take a glimpse. No, he unapologetically looked me over. He


me, but didn’t say them in so many words. Yet, I heard them all the same. I heard them with each moan that echoed in the air. I felt them as he held me gently in his arms. Even if I didn’t feel the desire radiating off of him in a fury of passion, he bore that intensity in his gaze. The world around us melted away until there was on me and


Thank you to the author, Sarah J. Pepper, for gifting me with a copy of Soulless in exchange for an honest review!

I had a really hard time figuring out what I wanted to rate this book; bouncing between a 3 and a 4 star, I finally settled on 3.  Let me explain why I felt so conflicted.

1. The characters.  The characters were great in one section, but then a couple of pages later, they turned flat and 2D and were completely lifeless.  In the beginning, I loved both Declan and Piper.  They both had complex life stories behind them (which I’ll address in the next bullet) and had great inner-dialogue’s (which I’ll also discuss in a later bullet) but as I read on, they never really changed.  They were static characters to me.  The people Piper meets were okay but a lot of their dialogue and actions didn’t feel real at all and I couldn’t feel out their characters at all.  In general, they were very fuzzy and mushy, although they were interesting people.

2. The background (or lack of it).  I didn’t realize this when I was reading but this book has a prequel, apparently, that I haven’t read although I’m not sure if it’s been written and released yet.  One of the main things that marred this story for me was the complete lack of background.  To be honest, this book felt like the sequel book and I hadn’t read the first one (and I know how that feels, believe me!).  We’re told in the first halfish of the book about things that happened in the past and it seems like they’re being told from the perspective of the-author-who-wants-to-recap-so-the-audience-remembers-what-happened.  So there was a lot of confusion for me and severely hindered my ability to connect with Piper and Declan.

3.  The multiple POV’s.  This book is told from alternating POV’s of Piper and Declan.  I really appreciated this for two reasons: it allowed me to understand Piper and Declan more when I didn’t have much backstory, and because you read about the events first hand, instead of second hand (Piper isn’t present for a lot of what happens to Declan and vise versa).  This compensated a little for the lack of background.

4.  The plot and setting.  I did mostly enjoy the plot.  We get to see how Piper adjusts to becoming a demon and being initiated into a world in which she isn’t familiar.  I loved seeing how she reacted to the reality that she needs to feed off of souls if she wants to stay with Declan, the man she loves.  However, towards the end of the middle, I was really confused what the end goal was.  There was no large conflict or thing to overcome.  And then the ending came.  This is where setting comes in.  I really loved the setting of Las Vegas and it blended perfectly with the demon world, however getting into the ending scenes, everything became really blurry and I couldn’t picture anything anymore.  I was really confused what was exactly happening.

5.  The formatting.  This is something I loved so much and I wanted to make sure I mentioned it.  If you read the blurb, you’ll see that the author formatted the paragraphs in such a way that reading strictly downwards reveals the sentence: I loved him.  This occurs in the book as well except, if you’re paying attention, you’ll see it turn from love to hate which is so cool and really emphasizes Piper’s changing feelings towards her new life and subsequently, Declan.

The Final Verdict:
I was really conflicted with this book.  On one hand, I didn’t really connect much with any of the characters, there was a distinct lack of background that could be felt throughout the book, and the plot and setting blurred a bit near the ending and the end of the middle.  On the other hand, I loved the special formatting the author included, the multiple POV’s and the rounded experience they bring as well as the plot line of following Piper in her new life and seeing her work out her morals.
3 stars

I’ll update with quotes when I read the official copy!

0 thoughts on “ARC Review Tuesday: Soulless by Sarah J. Pepper”

  1. Thanks, Emily! I do too – it really helps me explain more in depth what my feelings are for each aspect and keep it organized at the same time!It's the same way with me! I try to be positive but somehow, I enjoy writing negative reviews more than positive ones. I try to find the silver lining, though 🙂


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