Book Review: When Nothing is All You’ve Got by Kirsty Dallas

Title: When Nothing is All You’ve Got
Author: @kirstydallas
Reviewer: Ivy @PoisonIvy70
Genre: Dystopian Romance
Length: 235 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars


“Move like the wind, protect your face, keep your eyes on the target, and don’t get dead.” 

I am the daughter of a King,

but I am no princess.
I am loathed by many,
but feared by more.
To one I was nothing,
to another I am everything.
I am a pawn in their game,
a fighter in their ring.
My name is Nada,

and this is life in the underworld.“If your heart still beats and air still fills your lungs, you get up and you keep fighting.”I am the son to good people,
But I am not a good person.
Blood stains my hands,
Murder marks my soul.
To one, I am everything,
To others, I am nothing.
I am a soldier of death,
A dark assassin in their prison.
My name is Shadow,
And this is life in the Underworld.



 A definite change of pace: Kirsty Dallas is an author I like to read because her books make me snort-laugh. Her porn star romances are funny and engaging (I can still picture Decker helicoptering….if you don’t know what I mean, check it out). Anyway, when I read the blurb for this book, I wasn’t sure how to take it. It’s about as non-funny as it gets. It’s definitely dystopian and it’s got some seriously dark and tragic moments. Yet Ms. Dallas has pulled it off – I may have cringed at times and held my breath at others, but what I couldn’t do was stop reading. I truly enjoyed my time Nada and Shadow in the Underworld.

There is the World and the Underworld: Imagine a world where “just toss them in jail and throw away the key” is law of the land. Only “jail” is deep in the bowels of the Earth and there is no time off for good behavior, just a one way ticket to hell. That is the Underworld. There’s an attempt to maintain order in chaos, and there’s one man who rules with an iron fist. His name is Kingsley and his daughter is our heroine. She is a light in the darkness, though she’d consider herself anything but light. She’s Nada.

Nada is a hella strong heroine: Nada means nothing in Spanish. To have been labeled as nothing by her father, abused, beaten down and violated in numerous ways, yet still survive is a minor miracle. That she thrives, refuses to bow down, and that she kicks the ever loving butt of every person that challenges her in the cage? Makes her phenomenal. Nada came in and I couldn’t help but feel for the girl trained to show no emotion. As for her hero? Well, Shadow can get to her, slip beneath her defenses and make her feel. Too bad he’s her father’s right hand man.

Shadow is not a cuddly alpha hero: Shadow is a man who has fought for everything he has in the Underworld. His past is slowly revealed and exactly why he ends up in the Underworld is tragic but understandable. I thought Shadow’s unwanted fascination and eventual love for Nada played out in a believable manner based on these particular characters. Which leads me to…

There are dark elements and yet…: I’m well known by my blogmates to be the fluffy bunny. Dark isn’t where I live (you hush, Yaya).  What I loved about this read is that I think there’s plenty of grittiness and darkness in the world and the violence and suffering that the characters go through [for those with triggers, there is rape, violent fights, blood and gore], but it never tipped into straight dystopian with a love story. Ms. Dallas doesn’t ignore the worldbuilding needed to frame her love story, but she never loses sight of what I love as a romance reader. I felt that Nada and Shadow’s relationship wasn’t easy but it was still a romance, and that’s not the easiest thing to do with a grittier read. I loved that balance between the darkness and hope for a better future.

Quibbles: If I have a quibble with anything, it’s that the twists weren’t big ones and easy to predict. Nada’s father is a hard man, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth to his characterization. Still, all in all, I was very satisfied with this story and I’m happy I read it.


I really enjoyed Ms. Dallas’ foray into dystopian romance. Shadow and Nada made an impression and if I get a chance to read more of this world (*hint, hint Ms. Dallas*), I would not be disappointed. If you like a darker edge to your romances, yet want them to still *be* romances, I’d recommend this.

– Ivy

*An ARC was received for an honest review.


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