Contemporary Romance Erotic Thriller
I was thirteen when I was kidnapped.
Fourteen when he helped me escape.
Twenty-three before I ever saw him again.
His face is all over the news: he's a wanted man, now. Maybe my memory played tricks on me… but he looks so different. The boy who saved me years ago had a shy smile and dark, soulful eyes full of secrets.
This man has a hard jaw and a harder mouth. Lips that could never whisper sweet promises.
I knew him as a hero—my savior. I refuse to believe he could become a villain.
Then he abducts me, proving me wrong.
He tells me he's going to take me apart and put me back together again. Make me what he needs me to be: a plaything for a monster.
It's the fate I escaped when I was fourteen. And that's when I finally understand.
He was never my hero.
He's the man who's going to break me.
Georgia Mary King is abducted at the age of thirteen for several months. Her captor, Facile Adam’s, son Conway, in a surreal nature of compassion “befriends” her in captivity, protects her, and ultimately helps her escape. While Georgia spends years wondering what became of him, nine years later she finds out when he takes her captive again.
The blurb, highly intriguing, does contain an author’s note at the end acknowledging that this is dark romance. Well, it’s dark. The romance part—not so much. Be careful not to confuse torment and abuse with romance, or love with psychological damage. I also had issues with a now revised part of the original disclaimer: “I fully believe you're strong enough to experience it without any hand-holding.” This kind of reader goading that’s popping up in the romance world disguised as content warnings is not cool. It’s offensive to readers who have valid triggers, and it pits readers against each other. There’s enough division and polarizing in the real world; a genre devoted to love doesn’t need it. A little social consciousness can go a long way.
So to give my fellow readers a more helpful content warning, here goes. While the story skirts a fine line of perverse, it thankfully never crosses into outright rape. But there are multiple incidents where the heroine is threatened with rape and faces would-be rapists. There are scenes that are not consentual which I would describe as sexual abuse and/or torture. Absolutely reader discretion is advised, and this book will not be for everyone. That doesn’t make the readers who abstain weak or the readers who endure it strong. It makes one human. And I’m not even going to spoiler tag the above sentences because no one should belittle a serious issue by viewing it as a riveting plot twist like ‘will she or won’t she get raped.’
There are other real reveals in the story as it has a suspense angle. I’ll admit, some were decent while others felt underwhelming. A lot of that might fall on the lack of character development in places and required suspension of disbelief.
The opening scenes with teenage Georgia and Conway held a lot of potential for a compelling dark romance. At that point and even the initial re- abduction, the tale kept me engaged. But then some of the scenes (like the one in chapter 11) that detail her abuse took the story in a different direction. The attraction between them diminished for me, and their interactions became a turn-off. It moved the story from dark romance and into erotic thriller.
Conway had immense potential in the beginning to become a sympathetic lost dark hero, but that was chipped away at by certain scenes and his intended goal. Perhaps more chapters from his point of view and earlier on would have made the ending attempt at redemption not appear so rushed.
Georgia’s fast decent into Stockholm Syndrome was bothersome. I wasn’t sure if statements like “the hot steam made the room damn near romantic” when referring to Conway allowing her a bath after her own stench bothered her, was written as bad humor, a measure of her decent into loss with reality, or a disgusting and misguided attempt at suggesting a moving moment. This is also a woman who suffers serious self-worth and body image issues. The multiple incidents where she sees her own inner and exterior beauty through the sexual abuse that’s imposed on her was disturbing and did more to convince me how badly therapy and lack of justice had failed her rather than to root for her to have an HEA with this man. Make no mistake; she is an epitome of women presented as victims, no matter how much the characters eventually try to assert that she’s strong. When a woman feels more concern for her captor rather than her own well being, that’s not love or romance, that’s the result of emotional abuse and prolonged torment.
All in all, while the potential was there from the initial concept, the execution failed to deliver characters worth rooting for, other than rooting for them to get some serious therapy and attempt to heal themselves first and rebuild their lives. (What they suggest they are ready for after only a month is immature and irresponsible.) More development and less porn dialogue could have brought this story up another star level.
USA Today bestselling author, Nora Flite lives in SoCal where the weather is warm and she doesn't have to shovel snow--something she never grew to love in her tiny home-state of Rhode Island. All of her romances involve passionate, filthy, and slightly obsessive heroes--because those are clearly the best kind! She's always been a writer, and you'll probably have to pry her keyboard/pen/magical future writing device out of her cold, dead fingers before she'll stop.
She loves when people say hello! If you see her in the wild, walk up and start chatting.