In many ways, Captive in the Dark is a formulaic BDSM romance novel: Dom meets submissive girl, submissive girl fights her submission, Dom carries guiIn many ways, Captive in the Dark is a formulaic BDSM romance novel: Dom meets submissive girl, submissive girl fights her submission, Dom carries guilt, they fall in love, etc. etc. But C.J. Roberts has built a lot more into her story that adds to its allure — non-consensual captivity, Stockholm Syndrome and plenty of action both in and out of the bedroom.
I enjoyed how, throughout the book, Olivia (Livvie) fights with her own inner turmoil, acknowledging that she’s a captive and maintaining that she must escape and yet acknowledging her growing feelings for Caleb as being both crazy (because he’s her captor) and somehow unstoppable. These things make the events of the book more believable to me, as I’ve studied many real-life abductions and these things do happen despite all logic to the contrary. She also has a complicated past complete with molestation and sexual repression that clouds her perspective and twists her current predicament into even more of a confusing nightmare.
Caleb, also, is a complex character. Because of his own tortured background, the reader remains somewhat conflicted throughout, much as Livvie is, as to whether he really is a “bad guy”… I mean, sure, he’s abducted an innocent girl and allegedly killed, beaten and kidnapped many others in his lifetime, but he was a victim too! Doesn’t that count for something?! Regardless, I do find Caleb’s guilt to be unbelievable at times. He is depicted as a heartless killer and human trafficker throughout most of the book, but also seems to carry around regret and guilt over not being a better person. Do serious criminals really feel this way? I really, honestly don’t know, but in my experience the sociopathic mentality that often drives this type of criminal behavior doesn’t often have the capacity to feel regret. From a BDSM perspective, I also find Caleb to be an unreliable Dominant. He’s too lenient with Livvie and while he seems unyielding in certain aspects, he is far too susceptible to her manipulations and much more tolerant of her “brattiness” than I would expect. How can you expect someone to follow your every word if you are not consistent?
I thought that the erotic nature of this book was spot on. The ebb and flow of the sexual relationship between Livvie and Caleb was quite enjoyable from the perspective of someone familiar with the BDSM lifestyle — I especially love when he ties her up and leaves her to listen to him having sex with another, and I love when he gets her drunk and “takes advantage” of her. I also love the care that Caleb develops for Livvie despite their circumstances and how he sees her as his true possession to protect and care for. There’s nothing sexier to me than a man’s utterance of “mine” while he goes after someone trying to hurt you with a loaded weapon. ;)
All in all, I thought this book was a very enjoyable read. Despite the horrifying situation, it was all at once sexy and alluring, thrilling and exasperating. Now, on to part two, Seduced in the Dark!...more
It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired enough to read nonetheless write a book review, but when I read a snippet of Kitty Thomas’ new Mafia CaptivIt’s been a while since I’ve been inspired enough to read nonetheless write a book review, but when I read a snippet of Kitty Thomas’ new Mafia Captive, I was definitely intrigued. Non-consent fantasies are few and far between, but if anyone had the ability to get them right, it’s Kitty Thomas, author of one of my favorite pieces of nonconsent fiction, Comfort Food.
Mafia Captive is a story about Faith, a shy, down-on-her-luck redhead who finds herself witness to a murder. The perpetrator, Angelo, is set to kill her for being a liability when he realizes that she is a natural redhead—just his brother Leo’s type. And so Faith gets a reprieve from certain death and is shuttled off to be a permanent captive—a slave—in Leo’s home.
Leo and Angelo are the twin brothers of an Italian mafia family on the East Coast. They are also the sexual deviants of the family, Angelo being a happily partnered gay man and Leo a sadist with a conscience and a predilection for BDSM. Leo has always wanted a slave to meet his sexual needs, but has never had the heart to make his fantasy real—until Angelo’s gift of Faith. What follows is a tortured dance. Leo must struggle and come to terms with his new possession—reconciling his desire to take a woman against her will along with his compassion for humanity and his savior complex. Faith must reconcile her desire to live with her conflicting emotions over being kept against her will by a stranger.
Of the two main characters, Leo’s struggle is most interesting to me, yet I find him an unbelievable character at times. He is supposed to be a dominant sadist who wants to keep a woman as his own, yet given the opportunity, he quickly turns into a character that shows weakness, indecision and an aversion to hurting Faith. There are moments where the book attempts to show him as a callous sociopath who sees Faith only as an object, but his actions from the get-go illustrate something else entirely. Interestingly, this discord is actually not entirely unbelievable for a storyline, but it’s usually depicted as an internal struggle from the character’s perspective, whereas in Mafia Captive, the omnipresent narrator tells us one thing and then shows us something else.
This being said, I do find that I can suspend my disbelief through this hiccup and still enjoy the read. Leo still has internal struggle. He has flaws and he has redeeming qualities. He is not perfect, but he cares about Faith. While the book is technically about a non-consensual situation, Leo is not really Faith’s captor. Leo was an unsuspecting bystander who must now be Faith’s savior, and, true to form, he gives her numerous opportunities to “escape” her captivity with his care and protection.
Faith, for me, is a tough character to get a read on. I found I did not relate to her easily and did not particularly like her, but I also find myself conflicted on how I would have acted were I faced with a similar situation. I feel bad for her that her life prior to being captured was so insignificant and unpleasant that it does not weigh in much at all in her decision to succumb to her fate in captivity. We hear little about her job and even less about her friends—at a point in the book, we even stop getting those tidbits. In the end, it was incredibly easy for her to disappear from her old life without concern of a single person looking for her, and I find it hard to believe that an attractive and intelligent woman would be that socially inept. Faith, as a result, comes off as a bit pathetic and desperate, which makes it hard to care if she finds her happiness in the end.
Of course, I’m just as much a sucker for fantasy and a giant diamond as the next girl, so I must admit that I did get caught up in the whirlwind fantasy of the wealthy doctor Leo, his mansion and the couple’s whirlwind engagement/marriage (no matter how manufactured). I appreciated the devotion that Faith comes to show Leo. I appreciated the care and protection that Leo provides Faith. I am glad that they can move beyond the whole “you’re my prisoner” thing and come to love each other.
I also really loved the psychological element of Mafia Captive and the role of Stockholm Syndrome throughout the book. I appreciated Leo’s understanding that he could twist Faith’s mind to eventually come to desire things that she does not naturally gravitate toward. Psychological manipulation is a fascinating (and very real) concept to me and I love the idea of someone being made to lust after a thing that once elicited no desire.
I give Kitty Thomas props here, because it’s challenging to write a book about a non-consensual situation and still maintain the romance, but in then end, Mafia Captive just didn’t quite hit the mark for me in the non-consent realm. I found it hard to believe Faith was really a captive in a rough spot because she was almost never placed in a difficult situation. She was coddled by Leo from the start, and I found it hard to believe that she could ever truly submit to the man after he displayed such weakness and indecision with her in the beginning. I suspect that before long Faith will get smart to the fact that she can manipulate Leo, too, and then we’ll get to see in whose favor the tables turn....more
In Guilty Pleasures, Kitty Thomas’ second novel, she has once again produced a wickedly arousinThis review was originally posted at Zelda's Bookshelf.
In Guilty Pleasures, Kitty Thomas’ second novel, she has once again produced a wickedly arousing tale of nonconsensual submission that turned me on, satisfied me and left me wanting for more.
Trapped in an unsatisfying marriage, Vivian has not enjoyed sex or achieved an orgasm in years. The passion she and her husband had felt when newly married had been fleeting and long since been replaced with disgust and regret. When her husband sends her to a sex therapist out of frustration, Vivian must know in her heart that this is the end, but what she finds is only just another beginning.
Vivian’s journey to submission and slavery is an unconventional one. While her circumstances find her blackmailed, kidnapped and forced into submitting to Anton and his staff, she also discovers her latent desire to be dominated. Her discovery starts slow and is accompanied by a great deal of shame – both in dealing with disgust over her newfound desires as well as for her complicit role in her infidelity to her husband. Vivian’s internal struggle is an interesting one throughout. Most individuals discovering their submissive tendencies go through similar insecurities and upheavals, however, the fact that Vivian’s are accelerated and out of her control adds a definite element of arousing coercion to her adventure.
What I loved most about Guilty Pleasures is the element of force and nonconsent. Of course, as is clearly stated in Thomas’ disclaimer at the beginning of the book, it is a work of fiction and she does not endorse or condone any activities done to an individual without his or her consent. But, from the perspective of an active submissive who has fantasized about kidnapping, captivity and torture from a very young age, reading a book about just that is quite titillating. But Guilty Pleasures is less about evil people doing bad things than it is a tale of undeniable sexual allure. It is the equivalent of forcing someone to take a sip of the best hot chocolate in the world (oh, the torture) and then luring them in with a “you know you like hot chocolate… why don’t you follow me into my lair where you can have all the hot chocolate your heart desires?” Who could resist?
That being said, to truly appreciate Guilty Pleasures, I think that it is important that the reader suspend their moral outrage over the aspect of nonconsent and simply submit, as does Vivian, to their feelings — to submit to the hedonistic pleasure of sex and arousal that Vivian finds in the house, to submit to being out of control along with Vivian as she proceeds in her journey.
Aside from the aspects of nonconsent (more an element of titillating fantasy than horror) and the glamorized reprisal of Kitty’s “mansion of kink,” Kitty Thomas has done an especially good job at making Vivian’s adventures and the characters in them believable and realistic, even to an audience well-versed in kink. Vivian is lost and confused as one would expect a sheltered housewife to be under these extraordinary circumstances. Her reactions and emotions are very real. Her responses to captivity, pain, seduction, arousal… all are very believable. My favorite metaphor in the book is the repeated reference to Vivian’s banshee – her superego self – freaking out inside her head. At the risk of sounding schizophrenic, I also often refer to my own superego as if it’s an entity unto itself… one that, much like Vivian, I have my own struggles to calm and control.
In addition to this, Vivian’s husband comes off as just the right mixture of helpless, aloof and irritated over the situation with his estranged wife, and the treatment that Vivian and the other submissives in the house receive from the various dominants is also very believable. Specifically, Anton, Lindsay and Gabe are the perfect combination of heartless bastard and sensitive romantic that, at least for me, is the recipe for the perfect dominant.
All in all, I found Guilty Pleasures to be a great and titillating read. I enjoyed Vivian’s ride to submission and am hopeful that Kitty Thomas’ decides to keep the story alive so that we can learn more about Vivian’s life with her new Master. ...more
“A Classic Story Eclipsed by Contemporary BDSM Erotica”
The Plot: The Story of O, originally Histoire d’O, is a classic novel that elicited quite a stir“A Classic Story Eclipsed by Contemporary BDSM Erotica”
The Plot: The Story of O, originally Histoire d’O, is a classic novel that elicited quite a stir (not to mention obscenity charges against its publisher) when it was originally published in 1954. The author, Anne Desclos, writing under the pen name Pauline Réage, wrote the story as a series of love letters in response to her lover, who challenged that a woman could not write erotic literature similar to that of the Marquis de Sade. In fact, Desclos did not even publicly admit to being the author until several decades later, shortly before her death.
Desclos had written the tale of O. O is taken by her lover without her consent to a chateau in France called Roissy, where she is stripped of her clothing and her self and trained to be a sexual slave to any man who is trained in the ways of Roissy — complete with regular beatings and a mandate to make herself available to any Roissy affiliate upon command. She is released from Roissy weeks later with another view on life — one complete without undergarments and an iron ring so that she can be recognized by Roissy affiliates anywhere she goes.
But O’s lover, René, is not done with her yet. He decides to give O to his more dominant half-brother, Sir Stephen, where she is to become Stephen’s personal slave. Initially, Stephen is a cold stranger compared to René. He uses and abuses O as a detached owner, putting her through beatings and sexual escapades with little love or concern. But even Stephen begins to develop feelings for O and René eventually fades into the background.
In the end, O finds herself at the mercy of a sado-masochistic cycle of dominance and submission from which she discovers she has no desire to escape.
Zelda’s Take: Reading The Story of O was a strange experience for me. In some regard, reading the book is a bit of a right of passage in the world of BDSM literature. Many people have admitted that it was reading The Story of O (or watching the documentary) that set them on their own path to discovering their kinky preferences For me, I discovered BDSM erotica after having discovered my kink, so in a way I am playing catch up with the psychological and emotional mindfuck that can be BDSM erotica. Because of this, The Story of O may have been less meaningful to me, or less life-altering, than it has been for others.
Throughout, I couldn’t help but feel that The Story of O was a bit elementary and shallow as compared to other more recently written novels I’ve read. Sure, perhaps it was the progenitor of those novels, but I just couldn’t get over some striking disappointments.
Most notably, I had great difficulty connecting with the characters, most of which are virtually devoid of emotion throughout. O barely reacts at all to her situation. When René first captures her and carts her off to Roissy, she does not exhibit fear, confusion or anger as one would expect. Despite the fact that René gave her no indication of his desires previous to this point, she is not surprised either. Every step of the way, O takes her situation in stride, as if simply her love for René alone is enough to make everything okay for her. She even admits to liking what he puts her through, but we see no character development that even makes this pleasure believable. She loves René and is willing to submit to him in any way he sees fit. In fact, this love for René is pretty much the only strong emotion we get from O throughout the entire story.
René, himself, is a shell of a character as well, although admittedly one with slightly more intrigue than that of O. What brings René to Roissy in the first place? What is his deal? Why does he willingly subject O to Roissy and then discard her without, seemingly, a second thought? Why is René fearful of going further with O? There are so many questions that go unanswered about René that it’s more of a frustration than anything else.
Sir Stephen is another enigma. We know that he is a strong dominant and that he likely does develop true feelings for O. He is also a sadist to the extreme, forcing O to accept his irons and brand, and then, depending on which translation you read, apparently tires of her and ditches her in the end regardless.
I couldn’t help but read the story and get irritated with O for being so weak and vapid, at René for being so manipulative and empty, at Sir Stephen for not caring more. In the end, my reaction to the story is probably driven by the fact that participating in BDSM and power exchange is very much an act of love for me — both on the receiving end, as well as on the giving end. The fact that neither René nor Stephen ever exhibit true caring or concern for O or her well-being is endlessly frustrating for me. And the fact that O hangs on to René despite his obvious mistreatment of her breaks my heart. For me, the return for an individual’s total submission is to know that the dominant has the submissive’s best interests in mind. I felt that René and Stephen could not have cared less about O, as evidenced by their treating and playing her like a vapid fuck-toy without a care for maintaining or nurturing her psyche.
Now, if you are a voyeuristic reader looking for a step-by-step, how-to illustration of sadism and the domination of a woman, The Story of O will satisfy. The techniques used at Roissy and by Stephen and René are textbook D/s-M/s, complete with psychological, emotional and physical domination and ownership. The story is made even more colorful by its somewhat Victorian feel, with complex undergarments and makeup, and the pomp and circumstance of a society far removed from our modern, 21st century world. It is remarkable for being revolutionary for its time — giving the world a glimpse into a lifestyle unheard of by most, and opening many individuals’ eyes to their own repressed or hidden desires.
But, for me, the fascination that O’s world inspires was not nearly enough to keep it afloat. In the end, The Story of O is simply a story about nonconsensual slavery without the safeword of love or tenderness to pull it from the depths of despair. It is simply a story about the hapless shell of a victim of two sadists who have their way with women without reason aside from the gratification of their own selfish desires — a tragic, shallow tale of cruelty as illustrated in the context of BDSM.
I gave The Story of O a 3-book rating and do recommend reading it, but only as a method of better understanding the origin and progression of BDSM erotica in the past half a century in order to gain a greater appreciation of more contemporary titles.
The Plot: Anders comes from a large and lively Danish family. He’s an active dominant in the local BDSM scene, bu“Intimate, Compelling and Disturbing”
The Plot: Anders comes from a large and lively Danish family. He’s an active dominant in the local BDSM scene, but his past relationships just haven’t quite fit the bill. He is tired of playing games, of role-playing at D/s with only half-hearted submissives.
From a very young age, Maia has had unusual fantasies. As a small child, she would play at being kept in a cage and dreamt longingly of being forced to submit to her captor. As she grew older, “normal” relationships — even normal D/s relationships — never seemed to quite meet her needs. She was often out of place in social settings — a loner lurking as a “shadow” on the periphery.
When an exchange in an online chatroom brings the two together, it seems as if they each may have found their match in life. But will Anders’ desire to own someone, to make someone his slave, his “human chattel,” be too much for Maia to handle? Or will Maia’s need and desire to be wholly owned overcome the odds and endure?
Zelda’s Take: As She’s Told is at once a fascinating and disturbing glimpse into what becomes an absolute, one-sided, total power exchange. I found the book wholly captivating and, despite it’s length, had a really hard time putting it down.
I truly felt for Maia. I felt for her as a social outcast and as someone who desires something so totally beyond the mainstream that it is hard for her to even admit to herself that it’s what she truly wants. Not to mention to hope to ever actually find someone to give her what she wants. I connected with her very much in this way, but despite this, Maia repeatedly surprises and shocks me throughout the book. I found myself continually surprised at how committed she was to becoming a slave, no matter the extremity of the situations Anders presented her. She jumps in with both feet almost immediately and remains unwavering in her resolve to submit to Anders desires throughout — definitely a stronger woman than I. She endures unbelievable pain and humiliation, isolation and subjugation at Anders hands. In Maia’s mind, it truly is about relinquishing her self, wholly and without reservation, about overcoming her own mind; she is no longer a thinking person or soul, but rather a tool, a body existing solely to perform tasks, reduced to base, animalistic functions.
This concept just blows my mind in general. It makes me sad for Maia. She’s a beautiful, intelligent person who has great value to society, yet she is essentially committing psychological suicide when she turns herself over to Anders. And it makes me really dislike Anders for being so sadistic that he essentially snuffs the life out of Maia in the process of owning her, and doesn’t bat an eyelash over it. But it is, after all, what she wants, and to each his or her own. It just seems so tragic to me.
I was saddened that Anders acknowledges that he enjoys conversing with Maia and that she provides great insights to help him attain his goals outside their relationship, yet he is satisfied with forcing her to silence for eight long weeks, driving Maia to a point where she has difficulty conversing at all once back in the real world. I was disturbed that Anders intentionally kept Maia at such a state of arousal without ever allowing her to obtain release, that she is literally driven crazy with need to a point of shamelessly humping anything and everything in sight as would a dog. I was especially bothered by the point when Anders begins to bring other people into their relationship, and forces Maia to service his female friends, despite the fact that the females treat Maia horribly and she has an obvious distaste for female domination. In the end, of all the crazy mindplay in this book, this seems to me to be the true turning point for their relationship — the point where Anders has truly dominated Maia — because he has controlled her to the point where she learns to perform even in a situation that is markedly against the grain of her moral and personal fiber.
Tragedy and depravity aside, the M/s relationship that develops between Anders and Maia is beautiful, sexy and strangely alluring. As with many of my recent reviews, the sexual interplay in this book is not for the faint of heart or BDSM-averse reader, but damn, there are some really great scenes. And the contraptions! Oh. My. God. The devices that Anders creates for Maia are enough to make any bondage fanatic go totally weak in the knees — Anneke Jacob’s imagination here is truly remarkable.
Surprisingly, the only thing about this book that I felt was a bit gratuitous and out of place (verging on annoying at times) is the constant political thread of homelessness and insufficient public housing in the world. I gather that it is a subplot to add depth and nuance to Anders’ character, but it tended toward preachy and really didn’t make sense to me as something that moved the story along.
All in all, however, Jacob’s writing throughout is solid and complex; the emotional connection she inspires is striking. Definitely worth the effort. ...more
“A Roller Coaster of a Non-Traditional Love Story”
The Plot: This is the story of Nell, a Harvard-educated professional submissive. Nell’s down on her“A Roller Coaster of a Non-Traditional Love Story”
The Plot: This is the story of Nell, a Harvard-educated professional submissive. Nell’s down on her luck, and when she finds herself blacklisted in the BDSM community and unable to find a job due to the manipulative ploys of sadistic celebrity, Jeremy Gray, she finds that she has nowhere to turn but to his unusual job offer to be his “comfort object” (i.e., sexual slave).
As a successful actor, Jeremy doesn’t have the time or energy to cultivate a true relationship. He also knows that finding a girl who shares his sexual kink is not an easy task. So he does what any wealthy, kinky celebrity would do, he hires someone to meet his needs. Once Jeremy sets his sights on Nell, he knows that he has to have her — by hook or by crook — and it may just take a little of both to keep her where he wants her.
Zelda’s Take: I loved Nell’s story. She’s smart and kinky and on an unfortunate psychological roller coaster with Jeremy Gray. This is a great tale of forced submission that blurs the boundary of mutual consent. While Nell enters into a contract to work for Jeremy, she is doing so under duress. He’s taken away everything that she’s worked for — her job, professional marketability and her apartment. She has nowhere to turn but to the open hand in front of her, which just happens to belong to Jeremy. She signs Jeremy’s contract with full knowledge that she’s signing away her freedom.
This book appeals to the fantasy of pseudo-consensual sexual coercion and moral ambiguity. Jeremy forces Nell’s submission, but Nell is a professional submissive before Jeremy even comes into the picture. She is willingly employed and paid to submit to clients within the boundaries and restrictions of the BDSM club she works at, Eden. On paper, contracting with Jeremy is just an extended and more extreme form of her contract with Eden. In reality, Nell is strong-armed into the contract through Jeremy’s emotional and financial manipulation, and his actions begin to change Nell’s submissive proclivities from a professional endeavor into a lifestyle choice, something that she eventually finds she cannot live without.
Nell is on a twisted ride through Jeremy’s life — jumping from city to city, hotel room to hotel room, with no one to confide in and no one to comfort her aside from her dominating new boss and his wily sidekick. She is essentially lost in the world, isolated from home and completely at the mercy of Jeremy and his contract.
Jeremy is both physically and emotionally merciless. Morality aside, this book is packed full of really hot scenes, although not for the faint of heart or BDSM-averse reader. Jeremy pushes Nell beyond her limits on more than one occasion, and he’s creative as hell in his techniques. He beats her, tortures her, isolates her and fucks with her mind, yet provides her seemingly endless sexual pleasure and makes her beg for more — all ingredients for a happy submissive. Nell provides Jeremy a better understanding of his own nature and humanity, a warm, consistent body to return home to and talk to, a blank slate (er, body) upon which to act out his own whims and, above all, hope — hope for love, hope for a future and hope for understanding. Lo and behold, tenderness grows between them out of their mutual understanding of each other’s needs and desires and eventually blooms into a sweet and sexy interdependence that surprises them both.
The complexity and eroticism of Annabel Joseph’s writing is really enjoyable. Comfort Object is a great read and I can’t wait to pick up more of her books. ...more
The Plot: This is the story of Emily Vargas, a well-educated minor celebrity on the self-help conference circuit. Emily is kidn“Fucked Up Brilliance!”
The Plot: This is the story of Emily Vargas, a well-educated minor celebrity on the self-help conference circuit. Emily is kidnapped and held captive for six long months, subjected to endless psychological torture that eventually blurs the lines between right and wrong, moral and amoral, consent and the lack thereof.
Zelda’s Take: Oh. My. God. This book may be a record for me as to how quickly I read it and how much I couldn’t put it down. It was at once terrifying and compelling, made my skin crawl and my heart flutter, disgusted me and turned me on. It has left me completely confused and circumspect.
I feel as if I personally have spent my last months in captivity… as if I have been subject to the same psychological torment that Emily had to endure. I found myself submitting to Master along with Emily… and find myself subject to some of her mental anguishes as well. Which leaves me completely speechless. Like I’m camped outside the door of reality waiting for someone to open it and serve me some chicken noodle soup.
Seriously, though, what I found so fascinating about this novel is how smart and well-written it was. Emily was an educated female. Most females have considered at one point in their lives exactly how they would respond in a situation of distress — if there were held captive, if they would roll over and die or pull a femme-hero like in the movies and rescue themselves while castrating their captor. Throughout, I felt that Emily was no idiot. She was calculating and self-aware, thoughtful and considerate. She understood what was happening to her and what her captor was trying to do. Emily responded as I would expect myself to respond in a similar situation.
And, yet, everyone must have their breaking point. The point where they begin to make sacrifices and compromises in their mind — the point where they begin to cross lines they never imagined would be breached. The point where rape turns into relief and force turns to blessing.
This novel, like no other, has completely captivated my mind — has stymied me in the complexity and ambiguity of psychological torture. While there is no doubt in my mind that what happened to Emily is wrong and unacceptable, I also admit that I had difficulty seeing Master as a criminal. And I cannot explain why.
In the end, we do find an unexpected, unconventional, and, if possible, sad HEA. As much as I find the conclusion disturbing, I also find it inevitable. It is the unfortunate result of a soul being stolen against its will. That’s not to say it wasn’t consensual, as in the end it was, but that Emily’s fate was driven by Master’s force. Whether willing or not at the end, Emily had no choice but to submit irrevocably to him — or die. It’s sad. And yet satisfying (as I said, FUCKED UP).
Loved this book; it will likely stick with me forever. But, obviously, it’s not for the weak of heart… or the BDSM-averse. Proceed with caution!
The Plot: Fantasy Lover, the first book in the Dark-Hunters series (almost a prequel, really, since it“Sexy Contemporary Mythology, Over-the-Top HEA”
The Plot: Fantasy Lover, the first book in the Dark-Hunters series (almost a prequel, really, since it does not actually feature any of the Dark-Hunters), is the story of Grace Alexander, a psychiatrist who just can’t seem to find a boyfriend. When her best friend, the unflappable psychic Selena, sets out to try to change that, Grace finds herself chanting incantations into an ancient book in hopes that her “fantasy lover” will come to life and fulfill her desires. Lo and behold, Grace soon finds herself with an ancient Macedonian houseguest!
Julian of Macedon is the son of Aphrodite and a heartless and unforgiving warrior who is imprisoned inside a book after having put a spell on a woman to make her fall in love with and marry him instead of her lover. Julian’s only temporary escape from his prison is when lustful females magically call him forth for single months at a time to grant them their every sexual pleasure. He is used and abused, and then cast back into his abhorred blind and motionless existence inside the book.
Even in the 21st century, Julian finds himself at the mercy of the immortal gods and goddesses that are his family as he tries to bargain and fight his way to his freedom and a return to his previous life. But, despite the call of the old world, the siren call of the gentle and caring Grace may just be enough to keep him in modern times.
Zelda’s Take: Well, I must say that I picked up this book with high hopes of vampire romance, given all the Dark-Hunters chatter that I’d been hearing. I am a sucker for hot vampires. Period.
But I was SOOOOOO disappointed with this one! There were NO vampires. Not one! And, to boot, there were a bunch of mythological characters that I just couldn’t get into. It’s funny, I’ve never been a huge fan of mythological gods and goddesses, but I love supernatural creatures — go figure. Anyways.
So Fantasy Lover, unfortunately, never got off the ground for me. In addition to the vampire withdrawal I was experiencing, I felt that the relationships and backstory were a bit weak throughout — the plot contrived. I personally had a hard time relating to Grace and Selena; their lives seem a bit too “exotic suburbia” for my tastes. Not to mention the random, crazy-stalker subplot that is thrown in to create a sense of danger and need for Julian’s protectiveness. Of all things, I think what irritated me the most was the ridiculous HEA ending — they’re free and together… ooh, now they’re rich, too! Gag me.
At this point in the review I’m supposed to turn to what I did like about the book. Well, I can say that I finished it. It was captivating enough that continued reading it to the end. Despite the fact that I’m so not interested in mythological characters, tired quickly of the sexual tease, got irritated by the fact that Julian felt sorry for himself too often (not that I wouldn’t if I’d been stuck in a book for centruries!), and hated the HEA, mommy-comes-to-the-rescue ending, I did make it to the end. Phew.
I’m told that the second book in the series is the true introduction of the Dark-Hunters, and that I will fall in love with them at that point. But, my dislike of this first book may have been enough to turn me off the entire series. I mean, my TBR pile is loaded as it is with books that I’m stoked to read — why bother torturing myself? Only time will tell whether I pick up the second. In the meantime, I think I’ll find my own fantasy lover, thank you very much. ...more