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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

Haunting Adeline (Cat & Mouse #1) | Review

Rating - ⭐⭐

"The Manipulator

I can manipulate the emotions of anyone who lets me.

I will make you hurt, make you cry, make you laugh and sigh.

But my words don't affect him. Especially not when I plead for him to leave.

He's always there, watching and waiting.

And I can never look away.

Not when I want him to come closer.

The Shadow

I didn't mean to fall in love.

But now that I have, I can't stay away.

I'm mesmerized by her smile, by her eyes, and the way she moves.

The way she undresses...

I'll keep watching and waiting. Until I can make her mine.

And once she is, I'll never let her go.

Not even when she begs me to."


Haunting Adeline is the first book in Cat and Mouse, a dark romance series by H.D. Carlton.

I knew, I fully knew, going into this that this wasn't going to be for me, but I naturally had to give it a shot. I have seen this making its rounds on TikTok, and many people seemed to really like this despite, or in spite, of its darker themes. Now, I am no stranger to reading about toxic romances, so I wasn't too worried even though both Goodreads and the book itself provided ample warning that the book was intense.

Somehow, though, I ended up disliking the book not because of the triggering content as I expected, but ended up dislking the book nonetheless. I don't know if it was because I thought the story was going to be a lot darker than it actually was (not that that is a cause for celebration), or I have just read worse (or both), but my reading journey did not go as I expected it to. It wasn't a good one though, not by a long shot, so let's get into some details.




I don't care for much spice in my books so, needless to say, I was dying a bit on the inside from the dialogue in this. The way Adeline and Zade talked to each other was honestly very cringey, at least to me, and it made me question several times if people actually talked like that. Here is an example of some of the most immaculate writing I have ever read - "I stare at my phone like it's a mousetrap with a big ass block of cheese in it. Gourmet smoked gouda f*cking cheese, to be precise...I f*cking love gouda cheese, goddammit." Just absolute perfection.




Let me start off by mentioning that this book was almost 600 pages long...600! This book did not need to be that long, especially since it is part of a series. A ton of content could have been cut from this book and the only difference it would have made was that it would have been slightly easier to read. It also took forever to actually get somewhere in the plot. But I digress a bit, let us get back to the plot.

Haunting Adeline follows multiple storylines in a sense. We mainly follow Adeline, an indie author who finds herself struggling with her attraction to the dangerous man who is fixated on her, i.e. her stalker. As I said earlier, I am no stranger to toxic romances, but this wasn't it. Not because of the trigger warnings and the odd grey area when it comes to consent, but with how Adeline handled Zade as a whole. I will get more into this in the character section, but their romance wasn't interesting at all, if you can even call it a romance. They had zero chemistry, and more than once did I find myself questioning what on earth Zade saw in Adeline.

Moving on to the subplots, the first subplot follows Adeline trying to figure out the mystery behind her great-grandmother's death. While this subplot was more or less the same story as Adeline's just told through the perspective of journal entries, this part of the book didn't end up adding much to the narrative, or anything at all really in the end. If it was focused on more, or written better in general, it could have been interesting but, in the end, all this managed to do was take up unnecessary space. What it also did was add another layer to the story that made absolutely no sense, that being the paranormal. I love a good paranormal story but that had no business being here.

Onto the final subplot, and the one that had the most potential. Zade is the founder ad frontrunner behind an organization that aims to stop sex trafficking and save women and girls who were kidnapped by traffickers through less than legal means. This honestly could have made for an interesting subplot since it gave the book some semblance of an actual story and created a lot of tense momenets. This, though, was pushed to the side in favour of focusing on Adeline and Zade, which I get is the point of the book but we could have gotten something much better. This could be covered more in the next book, but for now, it was just wasted potential in a book that could have needed it.




A dual POV means two times the fun in this case. I am joking, of course, as we get a way too intimate look into both Adeline and Zade which, well, I could have done without either frankly. Let's start with Adeline, shall we?

Her character put me in a bit of a weird position because you are supposed to feel bad for her given that she is quite literally being stalked, but she ended up annoying me so much as a person that I didn't care at all for her or about her. In all honesty, I did actually like her at first because I found her to be witty, but the further I got into the story the less I liked her. The second she started to actually interact with Zade all common sense went out the window for her. She kept doing things to provoke Zade and did not put nearly enough effort into protecting herself. She would constantly go out and get drunk, and then she would threaten and taunt him, which in turn would end up putting other people in danger because of her careless actions.

Oddly enough, because of her I thought that Zade was somehow a better character, even though he made no sense. Yes, of course, you're not supposed to like the stalker (or are you?), but even he was less annoying than Adeline. All except for one thing, of course. Zade, while being a dangerous man, has fairly good intentions for every woman but Adeline. Saving people who were trafficked and hunting down the ones responsible, sounds like the makings of a good man with slightly skewed morals right? Well, that is highly contradicted when he begins to stalk Adeline. Apparently, she is the exception that blows his entire backstory and motivations out of the water. Funnily enough, this is addressed in the book but still makes no sense. You cannot talk about the burdens you face and the horrors you saw as someone in your position, and then proceed to stalk someone.

So we have a character who is just plain annoying, and another whose motivations are contradictory, sounds like the making of a wonderful romance. If you couldn't have guessed so far, the romance wasn't good. That's all I have left really to say.




I will admit, by the time I got to the end of the book, I did want to know what happened next if only to get even the smallest bit of satisfaction and reward for going through what I just did. But there is no way I am putting myself through reading the second book.

I get that there is clearly a big audience for stuff like this, but oof, this wasn't good. Again, it was not because of the trigger warnings and questionable content, it was about the quality of the book itself. The story was drawn out and bland, with the only interesting parts about the plot being pushed into the background in favour of a questionable romance between two characters who had the chemistry of a piece of bland toast.

One thing I took away from this book is that I should stay far away from toxic romances, or at least straight ones. Again, I have read toxic romances before, but somehow mlm or BL manhwas and webcomics know how to do it right. Sure it doesn't change the fact that it is still toxic, but I would gladly read that any day over something like this because those stories still somehow manage to make you care for the character and enjoy the story. Not this though, nope, this just managed to annoy me.

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