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I started reading this series last year when I finally decided to read books in the romance genre. I can’t remember exactly when I read the first book, but the final book came of the series came out on March 31, 2022. If you read Den of Vipers by K.A. Knight but found you wanted more out of it (mainly plot and better development), the Dirty Broken Savages series by Eva Ashwood is for you.
This series is currently available on Kindle Unlimited.
Books in the series:
- Kings of Chaos – 3 stars
- Queen of Anarchy – 3 stars
- Reign of Wrath – 3.25 stars
- Empire of Ruin – 3.25 stars
Thoughts on the Series
This series follows River through several different stages. She starts out wanting to get revenge on the final man who had kidnapped her and her sister when they were teenagers. There were several individuals involved, but she’s down to the final name when she comes across the Kings of Chaos (Gage, Knox, Ash, and Priest). They end up taking her to their house, after catching her killing someone behind their bar, trying to figure out if she’s going to be trouble for them.
Comparison to Den of Vipers
As I read the first book, I couldn’t help but compare the two stories together as each of the guys fits a specific role that lines up with the guys in Den of Vipers.
- Gage is Ryder, aka the leader of the group.
- Knox is Diesel, aka the assassin and torture expert that is into knife-play.
- Ash is Kenzo, aka the carefree individual who is associated with cards.
- Priest (real name Daire) is Garrett, aka the one with the traumatic previous love story that leaves them jaded.
However, River is not like Roxy. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that while the Kings of Chaos make River say at their place, she wasn’t kidnapped by them to be used as leverage/payment due to the deeds of her father like Roxy was with the Vipers. That happened before in River’s life and she’s now getting revenge against those who did that to her. So, the power dynamic is different between the Kings of Chaos with River than they were with the Vipers and Roxy. Not only that, but we see the relationship of the group evolve as the books progress alongside the plot. Versus Den of Vipers where there really was nothing of either. River throughout her time with the Kings, steps into the role of their Queen as she gains their trust and respect. Whereas, Roxy is just given that role but doesn’t play an active part in anything that happens.
Progression of the Story
As I alluded to in my comparison to Den of Vipers, there was no real plot or character development in that book which was the main thing (besides a lot of sex scenes I did not vibe with) that turned me off from that book. While the characters play similar archetypes, there’s actually a progression of relationships and plot throughout the four books. I think the latter half was better than the first half of the series, mainly as more elements came together. And there was more cohesion in the group.
Each book handled a specific plotline that all came together. It wasn’t drawn out and each book had a clear conclusion that ended the current plot before getting into the next.
- Kings of Chaos: River gets her revenge on the final member who held her and her sister captive for years. It ends with her possibly seeing her sister who she thought died all those years ago, and someone dragged out the body of the last individual she killed displaying them at a public event. At this point with the guys, she may have had sex with almost all of them but she does not trust them nor is in a true relationship with any of them.
- Queen of Anarchy: River finds out that her sister really is alive and was forced to have a son, Cody, with the son of one of their captors. The only way she’ll be freed is if Knox agrees to marry into that family thus combining the Kings’ business with a mafia-like family. While they go through with the planning for the wedding, River starts a true relationship with the guys and finally admits that she has feelings for them. Not so far as love, but she doesn’t use them as distractions anymore. So, when it comes to the wedding they attempt to free River’s sister and son from the mafia, only it doesn’t go as smoothly as they hoped as her sister gets killed during the escape.
- Reign of Wrath: River with the help of the guys take down the empire of the man who killed her sister. Their relationship continues to develop, especially between River and Priest. Up until that point they may have done stuff, but Priest still struggled with getting aroused or having sex. But as the two grow closer, he’s able to get through the trauma of his past. The group manages to dismantle the empire and kill the man responsible for killing River’s sister. They also rescue Cody and take him in. A side thing that also happens is they finally name the street dog River took in from the first book, up until this book they were calling it random names. It shows how far they’ve come as a group and how they are building something more permanent. The book ends with Alec Beckham, who we were introduced to at the end of the first book, wanting River to join their secret society and forcing her to “kill” one of the Kings.
- Empire of Ruin: Picks up immediately where the last book left off. Gage was shot by River (with his assistance) and was kicked into the river by Alec. He did not die but he was holding on by a thread when the group rescue him. The rest of the book focuses on the group taking down Alec Beckham and his secret society, so they can live in peace. We also learn that Alec was behind every bad thing that happened in River’s life (orchestrating her kidnapping and torture, as well as raping her mother resulting in her conception). And River finally realizes that she’s in love with the Kings and tells them. Something they were already all aware of, but never forced her to say or admit. Though they always were there throughout the series to help her find other outlets for her pain and suicidal thoughts.
The series end off on a positive note with a look into the future. Similar to Den of Vipers, the Kings all end up proposing to River in the epilogue. However, unlike Den of Vipers, there is no illegal wedding and the rings are actually brass knuckles. There’s also a bonus scene if you sign up for the newsletter that reveals they later have a daughter well over a year after the events of Empire of Ruin. No element of their relationships felt rushed. Even if Knox was like Diesel and claimed her as theirs, or rather ours as he carved into her back, that didn’t happen until the third book when months of development had happened between everyone.
I enjoyed this series and have read parts of each book multiple times. There are of course scenes I skip over for one reason or another (mainly the torture scenes, I don’t need to read those a second time). Would I say it’s the best series ever written? No. But would I recommend this? Yes.
Especially over Den of Vipers. While the same kinks are present: knife-play, bondage, the hunt/primal, dom/sub, exhibitionism, and voyeurism amongst the group, it was done in a way that didn’t make me cringe and want to stop reading as Den of Vipers did. So, if you liked elements of that book but were disappointed, this series might fill those holes.
Eva Ashwood is one of the few authors that I have been able to read without there being a hint of mythology, fantasy, or science fiction and still enjoy the tales. There are other books set in the same universe (Filthy Wicked Psychos a series coming later this year on a set of brothers we’re introduced to at the end of this series, and Black Rose Kisses which was a previous series who have a loose connection to River and helped during the finale of this series), and I don’t know if I’m going to read those next, but I do have them on my list to read.
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