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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,136 ratings  ·  279 reviews
C.M. McKenna’s compelling voice has earned a devoted audience and multiple awards for her erotic fiction (as Cara McKenna.) Her page-turning literary debut, Badger, disturbs and titillates with the story of a recovering pill addict whose compulsive fascination with a Boston antihero spirals out of control.

Nearly twelve months sober, Adrian Birch feels like a nobody. B
Paperback, 513 pages
Published August 31st 2015 by Brain Mill Press
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Zvezdana I've read this as soon as it came out, so my memory may not be perfect. I don't think there are many sex scenes in there but what there is - it is…moreI've read this as soon as it came out, so my memory may not be perfect. I don't think there are many sex scenes in there but what there is - it is extremely disturbing even for mature adult, let alone a teenager.(less)

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4.5 stars. Review posted September 8, 2015.

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4.5 stars. Review posted September 8, 2015.

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The first page of Badger started off deceptively humorous, with the uterine wallflower, Adrian Birch, narrating:

My name is Adrian Birch, and I'm nobody.
Don't mind me. Carry on doing your somebody things. I'll just be over here, taking up as little space as possible. No, really. I like it this way. This is how it's always been.
The best way to explain my childhood would be to have you imagine a kid's painting. Picture a rainbow --- red, orange, yellow, green, blue purple. Add some grass if you want, a big-ass happy sun. Now add a small, muddy blob in the lower right, a toadstool or a rock. That's me. The rainbow is my sister, Amanda. You look at our family and you see the blinding, beautiful rainbow and go, "Wow, just look at that!" Then you spot the blob and say, "Oh, did your brush drip? Never mind, we'll cover that with a fridge magnet."

Rest assured that this story did a complete 180 soon enough -- from humorous to disturbing.

(view spoiler)

This fucked-up mess of a story probably needs its own category because shelving it under "erotica" doesn't really do it justice, IMO. It is...

Humorous in places.
Fascinating and shocking all at once.
Ugly. Very ugly, that is.

An emotional wreck.

"Some anonymous asshole had shot a hole through my safe place's head and skull-fucked the security right out of it."

I don't like spicy meals. However, I really do love my extra spice in my reads just fine. I also like different. And Badger is the equivalent to both, extra spiced and all the way different from my common romance novels. Badger is not romance at all and when some readers categorize this as erotica, then I tend to disagree. I know, I'm guilty as charged because I put this book on my erotica shelf also (due to the amount of sex scenes, that is). But, reading those sex scenes didn't really feel erotic, at least not to me. More often than not I felt pretty much turned off. That's actually no surprise because I'm definitely not a pain-freak and don't get off on the sick stuff that Badger is into. Honestly, some of it was downright gross.

"Are you going to make me close my eyes again when we leave here?"
Badger shrugged. "Nah. Be kinda rude to fuck you, then act like you don't get to know where I live."
Ah, chivalry.

Kudos to author Cara McKenna who wrote a really likable yet flawed heroine whose character evolved from the first to the last page of her story. Adrian actually had a happy childhood and a really nice family. A recovering pill addict, she's struggling with her life and is on the lookout for a decent job that will pay her bills. Although this proves to be difficult due to her (view spoiler) We see a woman who hesitates and doubts. But we also see a woman grow over the course of time; someone who can take it and dish it out. Someone who falls (view spoiler) Someone who acts meekly and ends up being much more courageous and decisive than she ever thought she could be.

I'd met a man, let him cleave the apathy and apology from my spine, got pushed away half-healed and taught to push in return.

With this disturbing and sad story, McKenna hits her readers where it really hurts -- right into your heart and in case you're still in fighting mood, lingering on your knees and giving your damnedest to not accept the inevitable, you can be sure that she's going to knock you on your ass by pummeling your gut again and again. Come to think of it, methinks that one has to be a pain-freak to endure this story after all.

Don't doubt me because some of this repulsive shit might be shocking the living daylights out of you. Still, I wouldn't go so far and say that she did it for the sake of horrifying her readers. Even without digging particularly deep, I could see and feel something essential: McKenna made this reading experience bearable for me because I neither could escape her haunting words nor her insistent voice which is different from what I was used to from her in the past. All the same, her deadpan humor, her wit and the thoughtful way she handles the written word beautified an otherwise very disturbing story.

"Not much. People there don't piss me off as much as I like."
"Don't say 'piss,'" Barbara cut in, still not looking up.
"People there don't urinate me off as much," Badger corrected dryly.
"Don't be smart."

Badger is a psychotic vigilante masochist who avenges littering in Boston by shooting paintballs at the ignorant perpetrators. However, decent and common characteristics like love, affection, respect or civility are a foreign concept to him. He doesn't do his "policing" out of true love for the citizens of Boston. Badger doesn't even care about them. His self-proclaimed assholery is getting a nice kick out of being selfish, and shooting paintballs at those undiscerning perpetrators is a means to living out his bottomless anger. It's a simple fact that Badger enjoys to punish, whether that's himself or littering citizens. It goes without saying that any shrink would have a complete field day with Badger.

Badger sighed. "This is all nice. Which is great if you're into 'nice,' and I'm not."
"Oh." I must have been the portrait of abject disappointment, because he laughed. He took my good hand and rubbed my knuckles.
"Listen. You're as cute as a kitten taking a shit on a moonbeam, but a crush doesn't get me hard. Kissing doesn't get me hard. Pleasure doesn't get me hard."
"What does?"
"Conflict. Pain. Takes a lot for me to feel anything. Except rage -- I'm real good at rage. But everything else…" He shrugged against the pillow, looking pensive a moment before saying, "You're a nice girl."
I sighed. "Too nice."
"Too nice to let me talk you into (view spoiler)

This being said, I didn't really get to know Badger intimately. I only got a fleeting glance at his (view spoiler) his mental disorder as a grown man that he constantly carried around with him with unapologetic honesty. His unparalleled fuck-me attitude was astounding and shocking all at once. Then again, given his background it shouldn't have come as a surprise. Yet beyond all that, he remained somewhat of a mystery to me because he was quite sparse about handing out any substantial information about himself. He wasn't the affectionate, well-mannered guy even though when he wasn't a shithead, he was actually really likable, a nice guy, when he…I wanted to write "chose to be", though that's the wrong term. I think he wasn't able to really choose. He couldn't even control it because he was so messed up mentally. Although (view spoiler)

Adrian wanted to know what happened to Badger when he was a kid. Well, she was quick to say she didn't want to know more when he started to lay it out to her…

(view spoiler)

Reading Badger made me inevitably (view spoiler) Was he ready and, more importantly, (view spoiler) I don't think so. He had a lot of antagonism and rage built-up in him. I felt pity for (view spoiler) a man who couldn't feel love or affection. A totally damaged and messed up pain-freak who heaved the term of dysfunctional on a whole new level. So while this story made me sad, I'm (view spoiler) Thus I think the story's resolution is very honest and realistic. (view spoiler) (I hope so). But all in due time.

(view spoiler)

Minor quibbles
If my word count is accurate, then the heroine made use of the annoying term um 33 times. Also, I think the story could have been tighter. 513 pages really pushed the limits, IMO.

If you think you can handle the subject matter and the story's resolution, then I'd say go for it. Really, it's all yours! Looking at Cara McKenna's top-notch writing, at the quality of this story even though it's so painful and somber, I'd say that Badger might be the very best she has written to date. I hope that McKenna is going to broaden and challenge our horizons more often in the future.

(view spoiler)

Recommended read.

Badger contains explicit and very kinky sex that will probably make you uncomfortable (I wouldn't categorize it as BDSM though). There is plenty of strong language, some violence (view spoiler) (view spoiler) however, is a subject matter that is "only" talked about not shown.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
5 Stars!!


“…we all had split personalities. We’ve got the one we actually present to the world the majority of the time. Then we have the other one, the one who unleashes terrible barrages of disgusting vitriol at the people who piss us off, only in our heads, and fucks whomever it feels like, exactly when and how it wants. In our heads. I bet we all hclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
Jennifer Kyle

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Holy smokes Badger! This book is so well written that I’m eager to try other works by this author as soon as possible. The two main characters are phenomenal, the dialogue amazing, the sex scenes unique and I seriously fell for the mysterious Badger of Boston, hook, line and sinker.


Adrian Birch is struggling to get her life back on track after a two year fall into the dark world of narcotics use. She’s trying to find a job with her blemished record and the guilt over what she had done to her sisSTARS

This is one of those books, I have no idea how to properly review. The writing, the experience, the emotions - simply put I'm inadequate, not the girl for the job, and I'm still recovering, but I will try.


What makes this one of my top reads of the year?

From the start, Badger had me captivated. Badger is an expertly written story, with a unique and original premise, and beautifully flawed characters. This thought-provoking story, was so profound, I doubt I will ever forget Badger. It's gritty and messy, it's da
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*** Raw,Gritty,Disturbing,Emotional but definitely one of my top reads this year ***

They called him the Badger because he was rabid and aggressive,black and grey

I don't even know where to start to try and review this book...I read this in just over 24hrs,it was so good I couldn't put it down.

Badger is a vigilante bicyclist in Boston and he first meets Adrian when she has been knocked down by a driver that he avenges for his action.
She becomes obsessed with meeting him and puts into motion a plan to do just that.
There follows a k***
Lo Bookfrantic
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lo Bookfrantic by: Jennifer Kyle
5 ★★★★★ Emotional &Unforgettable Stars

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Standalone
POV:First Person - Female


“He was very human behind all the animal mannerisms. Very human and very, very screwed up.” Adrian


This book gawd…This book was just amazing, beautifully written and it broke me till the point that every time I think about it my heart breaks and tears falls all over again and I honestly have no idea if I would ever get oclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
Christine Wallflower & Dark Romance Junkie

"I felt as if I was standing next to a celebrity, an angel, my grubby cut-rate Christ."

Well then! I honestly wasn't expecting this book to take the direction it took when I started reading it. I mean, what should I have expected when all I new going in was that the "hero" was a vigilante and the heroine a recovering addict? I ad visions of an obsessive relationship (mainly from the hero...sorry I can't help myself) ensuing, some smutty scenes and wait for it an epic romance! Shoot me, I'm a romantic So obviou
Read 2015
Re-read Jun/2019

****** 6 Stars ******

I am a re-readerphobe. The idea of being disenchanted with a story which I once loved scares the shit out of me, but what to do at a dead end, when the slump doesn't bloody let you go?
So, phew!!!! As brilliant as the first time.

Badger is a breath of fresh air in our same old same old book world.

The story:
Poignant, gritty, overwhelming, moving, intense, twisted, heartbreaking, unique, compelling and real.


The characters:
Isaac (aka Badger) andreal.
Rachel Reads Ravenously
3.5 stars

"I bet we all had a Badger in us, an impulse to hurt and punish."

This is a book that I think will stay with me a while. Why not a higher rating? I liked this book, I really did. But the subject matter is not really for me. On top of that, I really would not consider this a romance in any way because not once did I root for these characters to end up together. I did consider giving this a 4 due to the amazing and compelling writing style this author has, but ultimately this book le
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Standalone
POV: First Person - Female

Adrian Birch was struggling to keep her life on track. As a recovering addict, her path to redemption was not an easy one. As (bad) luck had it, she got injured in hit and run incident. But she did not stay a victim long when she was avenged by The Badger.

Some saw him as a hero, while others akin him to a terrorist. The Badger took matters into his own hand, patrolling Boston and punishing offending citizen with his own brand of street justice. The mysterious hoodeFemale
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't even know what to say about this master-fucking-piece. It made me smile. It made me cry. It made me heartbroken. But I wouldn't trade even a single micro-second of pain I felt while reading this. This book was poetry. It was everything I want in a book and nothing I ever get to read. It was magical - a unicorn among other earthly books these days.

Alexis Hall
So I read this book.

And now I am broken.

It was like a shot of tequila on an empty stomach. Getting me drunk then making me sick.

I think it might be the ugliest thing I have ever read.

May I some day possess the smallest fraction of its courage and honesty.

I will write a proper review. But ... right now. I just can't.

PS - You should read this.

(oh shit - meant to say, I edit for BMP so ... bias or whatever)


Attempt at more useful reviewing:

Okay, so I feel I need to say something actually useful about this book for anyone who may actually want to read it.

What BADGER is about, and where it wil
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites

** 5++ “better to f*ck up your OWN life” STARS **

I was apparently still the kind of girl who’d get on her knees and let someone f*ck her mouth in exchange for her drug of choice. My drug was nearly six feet tall now, clad in a striped jacket instead of an orange bottle.

But it still didn’t love me back.

That hadn’t changed.



This book gave me multiple orgasms...and that's (sadly) a very rare occasion for me.

*cough cough*

Allison ❤️Will Never Conquer Her TBR❤️
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Allison ❤️Will Never Conquer Her TBR❤️ by: Saffron
Shelves: best-of-2015
5 Literary GENIUS Stars!

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Every now and than I’ll read a book and have this inner monologue raging within my head. Sometimes the monologue is good, sometimes it’s not so good. With Badger it went something like this- "Holy shit on a popsicle stick- this is so refreshing, so poignant, so deep yet I know, in the end it’s gonna gut me! Prepare for book hangoverWith
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars


... “My name is Adrian Birch, and I'm nobody.”

“My name is Adrian Birch, and I used to be nobody. An apologist, a coward. Then I met a madman on a bicycle and I lost my mind, lost my way, got my heart broken and my head rewired, and woke from a nightmare of my own design, fear gone like an ex-lover I’d never spread my legs for again.”

This storclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars...

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I totally get the high ratings, and I'm tempted to give 4 stars just because the writing and subject matter was done so well, but I gotta go with my gut. I liked this one, but I wasn't in like with it.

It's very possible that my mindset was just not in the right place when I decided to tackle it. I'm always on board whenever anyone says the magic word: dark. But this book was a
Hulya Kara Yuksel
This book brought some of my bad memories to me... Damn it.

I'll write my review later or not. I'm not sure yet... 💔💔💔

***6 (yep, 6 because 5 is not enough) STARS***


Is there a word beyond 'exceptional' that I can use? I need it. I'm reaching for it. But I literally just finished reading the book and I'm so much in awe of it I just can't. I'm completely at a loss for words. I'm blown away.

Honestly, just…

***6 (yep, 6 because 5 is not enough) STARS***


Is there a word beyond 'exceptional' that I can use? I need it. I'm reaching for it. But I literally just finished reading the book and I'm so much in awe of it I just can't. I'm completely at a loss for words. I'm blown away.

Honestly, just…

It is brutally honest, unforgiving, unsettling, deeply thought provoking and poignant.

The plot and storyline are astonishingly brilliant and profound.

The voice is cynical and darkly compelling.

THIS BOOK NEEDS TO BE READ! Adrian and The Badger's story needs to be experience!!

It is honestly nothing like I’ve ever read before. I don’t even know what genre to put it on. It throws the rule book away and writes one all of its own. Romance? Nope, it’s so much more than that. Neo-noir? Maybe. But one thing is for sure, no matter what I say, nothing will prepare you from the flawlessly fucked-up story.

Ok so in paper it seems like the same subject written about countless times. A completely damaged man and a woman trying to rebuild her life find themselves drawn to each other. But the author takes this subject that surpasses the predecessors. It’s like a breath of fresh air.

But I’m not gonna lie, it was a tough read. I really, really struggled reading some of the scenes or parts about the Badger’s past. It will push you away from comfort zones. You will be tested morally. You will be provoked. You will feel extreme emotions. But all of that are worth it. 

Why? Because Cara McKenna written it so beautifully. The imagery is so vivid, gritty and raw. It commands you to read beyond words, to feel and see and ponder. She created two characters that are flawed and complex. Those two go through a beautifully tragic and deeply intense journey. It’s one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever come across. Hands fucking down, MY BEST READ THIS YEAR!!

I have to warn you though, you need tissues for this one. It's so damn painful. I was literally a mess at the end of it. My heart actually still aches just thinking about it. I just

But it will hurt so good. I mean I felt like my heart had been bruised and yet I loved the book so much.

Because yes, it's morose, so dark and disturbing but it has an injection of sarcasm and irony courtesy of the heroine’s voice, that makes it dryly humorous and engrossing. You can't helped be immersed with the story.

It's perfect. It's perfect in every image and line. Cara McKenna is such a master of language and story-telling. I could’t praise this book enough. So yes I’m imploring you, please please read this very unique story. Though I’ll be honest, I still don’t know how to move on from it. It will surely stay with me for a very long time.

For more reviews, book news and updates:
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TITLE: Badger
AUTHOR: C.M. McKenna
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: August 31st 2015


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Sooooo this is totally left field to what I've recently been reading but now and then you have to throw in some grit, some dark and some tears..

Ok here's the thing with this book I didn't find it at all dark or gritty, I didn't shed one tear until near the end then they leaked like a sieve, and I did find The Badger to be one sick Mother F*cker, through no fault of his own, he'2015
Nikki ღ Navareus


Wow. Just fucking WOW! I'm totally blown away. I have read a few stories by McKenna, and even though I have loved what I have read from her, I had no idea she was capable of a story like this one. I went into this story blind, as I think everybody should. I started it at bedtime and I read until 1:30 a.m. when I absolutely had to go to bed because I was getting up in a couple of hours later. I didn't want to even pick this up again until I could actually finish reading through

Yet another BR with my favourite and you can read his thoughts over here.

Something I just said to AJH:

I haven't stopped crying since chapter 35. I feel wrecked and devastated and lost but so very glad that I read it.

I was moved to feel that way because Badger is brutal, harsh, uncompromising, unforgiving, upsetting, distressing, compelling.

It is so beautifully ugly.

And brave. Brave because Badger isn't a romance and it never tries to be one. Brave because it takes a familiar trope (the male MC suffered abuse as a chil
Charlotte Stein
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite all time erotic novels. So stoked it's finally getting published!
Es Summer
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it

Badger broke my heart.
So unexpectedly.
So surprisingly easy,
The taste of heartbreak is still on my tongue,
Evidence clear on the puffiness under my eyes.

"My drug was nearly six feet tall now, clad in a striped jacket instead of an orange bottle.
But it still didn't love me back."

Heartbreak started with a hoodlum with a dark hoodie but a colorful bicycle.
The delinquent boy took revenge on people who did something wrong.
Only for paying them back.
Lise *friends don't flag*
#1 BOOK OF 2015!


WOW... so tragically beautiful, so deeply intense. Loved it!
Dec 16, 2015 added it
Shelves: dnf
It's a wrap at 27%. I can't get into this one and after searching for spoilers in reviews I'm glad I decided to stop because I'm sure I would of wanted to throw my kindle at the end and I love my kindle. lol
I'm glad so many loved this one it's just not one that grabbed me:((
Olga therebelreader
4.5 stars

It’s not for the faint of heart, it’s packed with action..and a touch of romance.Wish there was more romance, not just self hatred, and less emphasis on the whole vigilante thing.I didn’t like that I had to doubt Badger’s moral compass and his motivations. This story was a subtle and complicated narrative, a mixture of vigilante action, dark romance, disturbed and twisted perception of love and making sex, and antihero qualitites. The imagery was vivid, and the personalities were i
5 Perplexing, exciting, ill-advised, ridiculous, orgasmic STARS

"Badger's justice was impersonal and thoughtless and selfish, exactly like the crimes he avenged. He was karma on a bike. He was perfect."


Este libro es uno de los mejores que leí en todo el año.
Me gusto tanto que decidí no leer nada mas para que este fuera mi broche de oro del 2015.

Me gusto mucho la portada.En uno océano lleno de portadas con modelos guapos, fue refrescante ver una portada como esta.

La historia me trajo revuelta de emociones, me pareció una historiaportada.En
Jess-i-ca ~Sometimes a Gif Witch~
An odd, fucked up but but good book. That one scene though...UMMM NO!

Jenny - TotallybookedBlog
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing

5 are not enough stars for this book!

‘People said he was dirty and feral, an urban transient. People loved or hated him.’

There are certain books that deserve to be read in one sitting to fully appreciate and maximise that intense and incredible emotional connection you ultimately feel when you are swept away in the story and characters. To be so fully immersed in a journey so vivid – ugly yet flawless – so gritty and powerful that you travel with it as if your whole body and mind is swept up in its rapid
Gitte TotallyBookedBlog
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015

5 are not enough stars for this book!

‘People said he was dirty and feral, an urban transient. People loved or hated him.’

There are certain books that deserve to be read in one sitting to fully appreciate and maximise that intense and incredible emotional connection you ultimately feel when you are swept away in the story and characters. To be so fully immersed in a journey so vivid – ugly yet flawless – so gritty and powerful that you travel with it as if your whole body and mind is swept up in its rapid
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“I have a really nasty temper, and no restraint. I’ve basically got no impulse control, so I do whatever I feel like, the second I feel it. I’m also into really fucked-up sex.”
I blinked. “Oh.”
“Plus, since I got no impulse control, I tell girls I just met that I’m into really fucked-up sex.”
“You don’t say.”
“I’m a fucking mess,” he said, with the delivery of someone remarking about the weather, like, shrug, What can you do?
“His bike was lying against the curb, and he righted it, holding the handlebars. “What I do, I do out of hate, not humanity. Because punishing assholes gets me off—not saving victims. And actually all this . . .” He cast his gaze around us. “This isn’t doing a fucking thing for me. So if you’re not going to jump, I’d just as soon be home in bed.”
Home. Well, there was one question answered.
Face burning, I shook my head. “No, I’m not jumping.”
“Great.” He slung a leg over his crossbar. Face utterly unchanged, the Badger drew his infamous Glock from inside his hoodie, took aim, and shot me in the thigh from five feet.
“Ow, Jesus!” White paint exploded across my favorite jeans, and a bolt of exquisite pain promised a welt.
“That’s for wasting my time,” he said, replacing the pistol. “I’m too fucking tired for false alarms, so next time have the decency to jump.”
My slack mouth produced no words. I watched him glide away, silent and passive once more. As ever.
I glanced at my palm, streaked with white from where I’d grabbed my leg. Looked and felt just like when a bird shits on your hair. You pray it’s a raindrop, but it never is.
Fuck you too, Badger.
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