**This is a SPOILER-FREE review**
5 DARK, EMOTIONALLY MINDFUCKING STARS!!!!!!
“Some stories aren’t black and white…”
W.O.W. This series blew me away. I can barely process thought after reading this book.
CJ Roberts has written an outstanding novel with a twisted and yet beautiful love story, multi-layered, complex characters that will test the boundaries of your heart and mind, a plot that will captivate and disturb you but at the same time leave you unable to turn away, and a raw, gritty, brutal world of betrayal, revenge, honor, lust, and love. It seduced me and it sickened me. I felt emotionally drained, utterly mindfucked and yet, ultimately, somehow completely at peace. Definitely one of top favorite reads of the year.
This book is INTENSE!! It is raw, deeply disturbing and dark, and yet strangely heart warming despite my reading most of it with my heart lodged firmly in my throat. This book stripped my emotions bare. My heart ached to the point of physical pain, and my mind was toyed with to the point where I could barely trust anything I was thinking.
It is a sweeping, epic, emotional rollercoaster full of unexpected twists and turns. This is a book about the world of sex-trafficking – there are instances of abuse, rape, slavery, BDSM (for real though – no safe word, no consent, no way out). There is no way to sugar-coat that and the author never shies away from telling it exactly how it is. In many ways, I found what happened in this book more disturbing than the first one. Sometimes I would just sit there with my hand over my mouth after scenes going ‘Oh. My. God. Did I really just read that?!” …. and yet at the same time this book opened my heart and mind to things I never thought I could possibly accept.
This book starts off four months after the end of book 1, Captive in the Dark. I won’t say anything about the plot because honestly, anything I say would spoil WAY too much. Suffice it to say, that I LOVED the ending. That alone, should tell you all you need to know about it 🙂 This book has lots of perspectives and lots of timelines but primarily, we have a dual story line told through a mix of memories that fill in the blanks of events in the past 4 months, as well as a present day story line. And, just like with book 1, we have both Livvie and Caleb’s POVs as well as a new one I’ll let you find out about on your own.
The story builds. And I mean, it BUILDS. Towards the final 75% I honestly felt like I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. I just sat there with tears in my eyes watching all the pieces of this intricate, horrific, heart wrenching story come together. By the end, I was pretty much just sobbing uncontrollably. It was the perfect ending. My heart felt battered and bruised but I was just so incredibly happy.
Livvie had grown a lot in this book. I loved her in book 1, but she blew me away in book 2. Her inner strength and the depth of her understanding and compassion was absolutely beautiful. Her uncrushable spirit was what got me through reading some of the darker scenes. She saw Caleb for who he really was. And she knew what she really felt for him. She saw the man behind the monster and was perceptive, forgiving and caring enough to understand why he was the way he was.
“I wanted Caleb. I knew it was stupid. I knew he was a terrible person, who’d done terrible things. I knew he didn’t deserve me or my love. I didn’t care. During the course of our time together, I’d fall in love with my captor. I ‘d fallen in love with his smell and his taste; his smile, kindness, and yes, even his cruelty because I knew it was a part of him.
I wanted him to know. I wanted him to know everything and I wanted it to mean something to him. I wanted him to choose me and accept me. I wanted him to leave everything behind and love me.”
Caleb, Caleb, Caleb… the “monster with a heart of gold” … He is pretty much the epitome of a conflicted, deeply tortured character with possibly one of THE most horrific and heart breaking back stories I’ve ever read. He was cruel, but yet kind; brutal, and yet caring… and his journey was him finding out which side of him was more dominant – the man inside, or the monster he showed the world?
“He had told her he wasn’t her Prince Charming, but what he hasn’t said, was he wished he could be. Once upon a time, he may have been… normal. Before he had been stolen, before the beatings and the rapes and the killing – he could have been something different than what he was.”
“He didn’t like the feelings running through him…. trying to find the exact moment in which he’d lost control and fallen under the spell of the woman who was supposed to be his captive.”
There were many, MANY times when I questioned whether or not anything he could ever do could possibly redeem him in my eyes. There were times I hated him, utterly and completely, with every fiber of my being. But then his tenderness would hit my heart so deep, I knew I just couldn’t stop myself from loving him.
His journey in this book was heart breaking as he struggled between being true to his heart and being true to the intense loyalty he felt for the man that raised him. I got caught up in his struggle – at times I wanted to believe in him and he made me fall in love with his humanity – with the tender, caring, side of him that he couldn’t hide from Livvie despite his best efforts, but then the harsh, brutal switch from that to cold hearted trainer would rip my heart out and I’d spiral back into confusion, betrayal and uncertainty.
Its hard because you find yourself genuinely, honestly, full-heartedly sympathizing with someone involved in human trafficking and murder. But at the same time, you have to consider that he too was violated, for years. It was what he grew up with and the only world he knew. Nothing of what he does is out of outright cruelty. But the tricky part is that that isn’t a justification, but it still makes you question everything you are feeling. Its very thought provoking. Can there ever be redemption for violation? There is no black and white answer.
“Every time I think you’re coming around, every time I let myself hope, you crush me. You rip everything out! Sometimes I think I fucking hate you. Sometimes I know I hate you. And Still! Still, Caleb – I love you. I put my faith in you. I believe you when you say its going to be alright.”
“Live for me, Kitten. Be all those things you’d never be with me. Go to school. Meet a normal boy and fall in love. Forget me.” *SOB*
There were times when I’d swoon over how much I wanted them to find a way out of their horrible situation and just end up happily together, and then at other times, the reality of their world, of what was actually happening would just jolt into me and make me sick to my stomach. And yet… against every piece of sane judgement in my mind, I desperately, with all my freaking heart, wanted them to be together.
CJ Roberts is an absolutely BRILLIANT and phenomenally talented author. Her words just seep into your soul dragging you right into the story. They make you question everything you thought you were sure about and leave hungry for more. The writing style is captivating and enthralling, and the flow of the story is perfect. It opened my mind more than any book I’ve ever read and I know this is one of those stories that has left a mark on my heart and will not be forgotten.
If you can maintain an open mind, this is one of THOSE amazing series that will stay with you long after you close the pages of the book.
This is absolutely NOT a stand-alone. YOU MUST READ BOOK 1, CAPTIVE IN THE DARK, FIRST!!!!
** SERIES READING ORDER **