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The Dark Collector

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Jeffrey Kuyper was a once-in-a-generation talent and I was his muse.

Jeffrey's death shocked the art world and upended my life. His last portrait is an intimate reminder of our final weeks together. Now it's up for auction and I want it more than anything. When a cold-mannered man in a dark suit outbids me, I'll agree to anything to buy it from him--even a weekend in his bed.

102 pages, Paperback

First published November 10, 2013

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About the author

Vanessa North

44 books510 followers
Author of over a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories, Vanessa North delights in giving happy-ever-afters to characters who don’t think they deserve them. Relentless curiosity led her to take up knitting and run a few marathons “just to see if she could.” She started writing for the same reason. Her very patient husband pretends not to notice when her hobbies take over the house. Living and writing in Northwest Georgia, she finds her attempts to keep a quiet home are frequently thwarted by twin boy-children and a very, very large dog.

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5 stars
196 (28%)
4 stars
285 (41%)
3 stars
150 (22%)
2 stars
31 (4%)
1 star
19 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 206 reviews
Profile Image for Julio Genao.
Author 9 books1,988 followers
August 28, 2014
More than a moment.

Wild, fun, sexy... with dark undertones too layered to be accidental.

Creative people throw the word "muse" around a lot more often than they should—and why wouldn't they? It's their job to misunderstand things in new and exciting ways.

The muse in this short is a someone who would submit, literally and figuratively, to the will of both an artist—and that artist's biggest fan.

He is a mirror, espied by two completely different men. He is captured both by the master of the canvas and the master of the house, in two separate moments of pure... something.

One of them involves fisting—and in that, at least, the ancient Greeks would have approved.
Profile Image for Nancy.
557 reviews769 followers
November 17, 2017
Cross-posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf Inflicted

So unexpectedly beautiful.

Oliver Conklin is grieving for his lover of 5 years, who died in a car crash a year ago.

Jeffrey Kuyper was an artist and a Dom inspired by his young, submissive lover.

Now Jeffrey’s estate is up for grabs and all Oliver wants is his last painting. With just a wave of the paddle, the Dark Collector, a big fan of Jeffrey’s work, is now its owner.

He agrees to sell Oliver the painting on the condition he spend the weekend with him and do whatever he asks.

Oh, how I wanted to hate the Dark Collector. He took advantage of Oliver and disregarded his grief. It was his smile, his soft expressions and tenderness that warmed me up to him. Their sex is kinky, passionate, and so full of emotion. Oliver likes the feeling of being “owned”, but he remembers that this is nothing more than an arrangement they made.

Gradually, the Dark Collector helps Oliver find himself and find peace.

“Is that what I’m doing? Making peace? I watch myself in the mirror as I lick the last few drops away. How long has it been since I’ve cared at all about the person I see in the mirror? Can the muse exist when the artist does not? How can this stranger, whose name I don’t even know, see me if I can’t?”

This is an exquisitely written story that explores a man’s grief, love, and healing. The ending is sweet and made me cry happy tears.

*Book provided by author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lisa Henry.
Author 77 books2,060 followers
November 16, 2013
This book was not what I expected...and sometimes that's a good thing.

There is much more emotional depth here than I had anticipated.

Who is the Muse anyway? Just another piece of art for the Dark Collector to own? That's what I thought. That's what the Muse thought, too. We were both wrong. In fact, the Dark Collector wants more from the Muse than that; possibly more than the Muse has it in him to give.

The Muse has been defined for so long by how others see him. They see him how Jeffrey painted him, at once incredibly intimate yet also still only an object. The Muse's refusal to let the Dark Collector use his name is at the heart of this. He is hiding behind his own objectification. The Dark Collector can pay for his body, but that's all he'll get. He won't get what Jeffrey had.

Actually, he might get more.

Read this. Don't be put off by the BDSM. The scenes are hot, and hardcore, but they're underpinned by such wonderful emotion that it's always about more than two bodies.

This isn't a HEA, because this isn't the end of the journey. This is just the beginning. More, please.
Profile Image for Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**.
1,390 reviews652 followers
May 15, 2017

***4 Stars***

I don't know how the woman does it? She sucks you into a story in just a few paragraphs, she's got you invested in her characters in under a chapter and can give you a book packed with emotion in 100 pages.

Talent, people.....Vanessa North has talent oozing out of her creative mind and onto her keyboard.

I wasn't sure what I was in for when I picked up this little novella, but what I got was a full bodied story about grief, re-discovering yourself, finding your own identity, healing your heart and letting it find new love.

Oliver spent five years of his life as Jeffrey's muse, and now that Jeffrey's gone, he's drifting through life having lost his sense of self. Jeffrey was his teacher, his idol, his lover, his partner and his Dom. The last piece of Jeffrey that he has is up for auction, and Oliver will do anything to make it his.

When "the Dark Collector," as Oliver has named him, outbids Oliver for Jeffrey's portrait, they strike up a deal that Oliver will spend a weekend with him....completely at his command.

"What's your name?"

"You can call me, Sir."

What Oliver thinks is a simple transaction, his body for Jeffrey's portrait, turns into a weekend of so much more.

How long has it been since I've cared at all about the person I see in the mirror? Can the muse exist when the artist does not? How can this stranger, whose name I don't even know, see me if I can't?

Even though the novella is entirely from Oliver's POV, you don't feel detached from "the Dark Collector" (don't worry, he has a name). It's easy to see through his actions that he genuinely cares for Oliver. And once he realizes that Oliver is still grieving, that care only grows.

He's stuck his hands deep into parts of me I didn't want free - they belonged to Jeffrey - and he's shaking them loose, one by one, and giving them back to me.

The BDSM element is light in actions, but the story is heavy with the emotion that comes from surrendering yourself for someone else's pleasure. Oliver craves the need to please, to be used, to belong to someone...and it's through those emotions that the BDSM theme in this story shines.

Vanessa North has proved, yet again, that page count means nothing when it comes to delivering a well developed story.
Profile Image for Gigi.
2,156 reviews1,050 followers
February 1, 2016
Re-read in January 2016
Loved this all over again! Hurt/healing/comfort, red-hot sex and a perfect ending. It was even better the second time around!

Original review:
Love love love! M/M romance enthusiasts who enjoy mild BDSM, this is a MUST read. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

I'm still swooning.
Profile Image for Deborah.
3,351 reviews433 followers
October 24, 2016

So much more than I expected.

Oliver Conklin was twenty years old when he started modelling for Jeffrey Kuyper, he became the artists muse and lover and fell deeply in love with him, they had five amazing years together before a car accident took Jeffrey's life and left Oliver a shadow of his former self and for a year he's been alone grieving and now Jeffrey's last painting is up for sale and Oliver needs that painting, he's sold his car and liquidated his savings, it means that much to him but he gets out bid by the Dark Collector, a dark handsome man who realises the value of an artists last work.
Oliver really needs that painting and will do anything to get it and so a deal is struck. One weekend, a full weekend for the painting.
This is a short book at 103 pages yet it felt so much longer, there's so much here, so many emotions and so much sex and even though I'd read some great reviews I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this book.

Profile Image for Jennifer☠Pher☠.
2,735 reviews230 followers
January 31, 2016
I feel like I read that in one breath. I don't feel like I even needed to breathe. I just needed to not move unless I was turning the pages.

This is not my kind of book. Not my kink. Not a world I understand or even try to.

I loved every single page of this.

I have said it before and it must be said again, Vanessa some how can write a book that is completely out of my comfort zone but make me feel comfortable. She can make me relate. She can make me care and like. It is astounding to me.

So, I think I told Mish I'd read this Sunday evening but for some reason instead I read it Sunday morning. Sorry Mish!!! Horrible Buddy Reader that I am.

This was fabulous.
Buddy Read with Mish, even though I am the worst Buddy Reader on the planet, luckily she's read it twice already, I am sure she will be fine with or without me.

You know it is time to read a book when during a conversation with the author she looks at you kind of funny. Vanessa couldn't believe I hadn't read it yet. Sorry it took me so long love!
Profile Image for Ariana  (mostly offline).
1,366 reviews39 followers
October 18, 2016
Now, that hit me straight in the centre of my heart.

I'm not sure what I expected but there seemed to be such a 'dark' aura around this book. And there is a lot of sadness because Oliver has not dealt with the grief of losing Jeffrey although it's been a year. He locked it all deep inside him and feels so lost, so alone, and so bare of an identity it's almost suffocating him.
Oliver knows he can't let that picture go, that picture that's so special because it is Jeffrey's last and because it delves into the depths of a very personal moment. He is prepared to do anything to get it back and giving his body is all he's got left.
And the tall dark stranger, the one he calls 'the dark collector' in his mind, is happy enough with the exchange. A weekend of David doing whatever he asks and the picture will be his.

And yes, all of this sounds somber and downhearted, but then the man who asks Oliver to call him 'sir' happens. And what unfolds is beautiful. Because this man who's supposedly using Oliver's body as payment slowly rips away the barriers of pain and grief he has built around himself for so many months. He shows Oliver that he is more than the muse to an artist, that he still is Oliver, the man underneath, even if Oliver is reluctant to let this happen.

"Can the muse exist when the artist does not? ... How can this stranger whose name I don't even know, see me if I can't?"

"But I'm wary now, because the man who put them there didn't do it to claim me. More like the opposite, and that scares the holy fuck out of me. He's stuck his hands deep into parts of me I didn't want free - they belonged to Jeffrey and he's shaking them loose, one by one and giving them back to me."

I was genuinely moved to tears how 'Sir' (he does have a name, but that's part of the story, so I can't say more than that) brings Oliver back 'to the living'so gently, with so much understanding and sensitivity, and so much love. And as for the end - what can I say - tissues were needed.

It is amazing how much Vanessa North has been able to put into this shortish novella. It is rich with emotion and character development. And the title - wow. How clever was that!

I LOVED this and I wanted more. Please don't be put off by the mention of BDSM. It is there (nothing too serious, I assure you), but the way it is written we can see that it's a positive, even cleansing force for Oliver.

HIGHLY recommended.

Profile Image for Otila.
364 reviews29 followers
May 15, 2014
"...it's holy-fucking-hell-hot."


It's also sweet and much more emotional than I expected. I really liked it, I just wish it were longer. I'm greedy like that.
Profile Image for Baba  .
859 reviews3,836 followers
February 24, 2014
2 stars.

The premise did sound very good and I sure as heck am a huge sucker for erotic or romance books that incorporate an art theme. The story and its characters, however, fell flat as a wooden board. The Dark Collector failed to engage me emotionally and the somewhat kinky sex was clinical, monotonic and boring. Besides, less is more. I would have preferred longer sex scenes instead of all those numerous fast f@cks and BJs. I was glad it was so short otherwise I would have DNFd it.

You know whenever a fictional (M/M) character is throwing the endearment pet around, I can't help and remember an outstanding book and its unforgettable hero.

The Dark Collector:

"Oh, God, pet, you make me so crazy."

And then we have an excellent Master who's so much more charismatic and intriguing...

“Everything you hold in your arms is yours, pet,” Marcus murmured. “Everything.”

“I was here, pet. I was always here. Even if you told me you needed me just for an hour, for this, I would have been there.”

“You take care of me, pet. Just by breathing and existing, you take care of me in ways you can’t imagine.”

Marcus closed those green eyes, then turned his face to the mattress. "Thomas…I can't. Do this. God, just do it, or I'm going to break. Hold me together, pet."

I think it's natural that I think about Marcus whenever I hear that endearment and I must say The Dark Collector can't hold a candle to Marcus Aurelius Stanton.

Profile Image for Isabel.
562 reviews103 followers
February 1, 2014
This book is fabulous! Beautiful story, very intense and hot! If it was longer would be perfect... It would be really fantastic if we could read more about Oliver, aka Muse, and Henry, The Dark Collector, and the possible beginning of a relationship!

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I want more Oliver & Henry... please!
Profile Image for Christelle.
808 reviews
October 23, 2016
Woah : this story really took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting so much emotion and hope.

Oliver is lost without his former lover and will do anything he can just to own a painting done of him by his ex-lover. Even spending a week-end being the submissive to the one who bought that painting, But then, he gets more than a painting, so much more !!

For such a quick read, I was stunned to find hotness mixed with so much feelings and a way to get back to life and love.
860 reviews231 followers
June 5, 2014

4.5 stars

I loved this book!!!! The only thing keeping it from being a 5-star read for me was that I wish it were longer!

I’ve never made it a secret that I don’t enjoy reading kink. Any D/s, BDSM, sadist/masochist type stuff just doesn’t work for me. It’s mainly because I have trouble understanding the headspace and the why’s. So, when the author gave me her book when I met her at RT and started with “I know you don’t read kink…”, I felt I had an ‘out’ and maybe didn’t have to read it (Sorry Vanessa! Ha!)

But, I wanted a short, quick read on a Sunday afternoon so I decided to give it a go.

Did I mention…I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!???!!!

I love sweet stories.

I love characters I root for.

I love when the focus is on lovers doting on each other, wanting them to be happy.

I love Oliver and Henry.

I felt Oliver’s pain and heartache and mourning so clearly. I cried with him and for him at his loss of Jeffrey, and with him, a bit of his identity. I felt his desperation at needing to have that final painting. THE EMOTION! Ugh.

But Henry…for awhile, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and for him to turn awful. But Henry…gah…he saw Oliver’s beauty…not just The Muse. And he wanted him to see himself. Damn…I’m a SUCKER for this kind of stuff.

The writing is not over-done…simple, emotional, lovely without being too prose-y.

I would never have pegged this book to make it on to my FAVORITES shelf or for me to reread it immediately after I finished it. I wouldn’t have even guessed that I’d enjoy it at all.

But, the fact is…*all together now*…I LOVED THIS BOOK!

 photo 78a31e15-a8d3-46a9-9088-cbb9656dff10_zpsd43ac4b1.jpg
Profile Image for Tina.
1,658 reviews1 follower
June 21, 2014

4,5 stars

OMG! Vanessa! You surprised me with this one! It was hot, is was wonderfully intense, and I want mooooaaar of this guys!

The sad, lonely, beautiful muse meets the man who is more than perfect for him and a dark and erotic tale of grief and healing begins, it’s gritty and sexy and full of raw emotions.

I enjoy reading kink and The Dark Collector was simply breathtaking gorgeous! I fell instantly for Oliver and Henry, the characters are well developed and left me wanting more. The writing… well, the writing is spectacular, as always when Vanessa North is the author. I was so engrossed in this that I didn’t want it to end. It’s hard to believe so much could be said in a short story but of course I'd love to see more of Henry and Oliver. Pretty please, Vanessa?

Definitely recommended as a quick fix for kink lovers. :)
Profile Image for Xing.
362 reviews239 followers
January 9, 2014
I am absolutely crap when it comes to writing reviews for short stories. I always feel like there is less room to discuss without spoiling something (and being subtle is hard enough as it is for me!). So I’ll just say this: I really liked this story. It was sensual and very gripping. There’s the right amount of introspection without feeling claustrophobic – the perfect amount of words needed to craft this story. The conflict and resolution was very tactfully done.

It definitely hit all the right spots.
Profile Image for Trio.
2,984 reviews171 followers
August 20, 2020
I think this is my fourth time reading/listening to the The Dark Collector and it just gets better every time. This story just gutted me, the insight Vanessa North has into how this young man feels is really something special. A completely intimate and heart wrenching look into this sweet young guy's loss of love, and how he finds himself again... it's just beautiful.

For the audio version, there's something about Toby Trail's imperfect reading of this one which makes it even better in audio.
Profile Image for Denise H..
2,929 reviews210 followers
August 8, 2016
*** Amazing short story that feels like a novel. *** Deeply thought-filled characters, intense feelings, sexy, erotic M/M BDSM, and a riveting plot. Jeffery, highly renown artist has passed away, his "muse" is devastated, trying to buy at auction the last painting they made together. "The Dark Collector" has come for the painting also. A deal is struck after our muse loses, but ultimately, he wins. A weekend spent with the Dark Collector, Henry, has our muse, Oliver, releasing his misery, finding his true self, and opening his mind, all through the hands of his host and Master. Loving, caring, understanding, acceptance, realizations, awakenings, are all found by Oliver under Henry's dominance.
Highly recommend ! ENJOY !!!
Profile Image for Zuzu.
1,018 reviews31 followers
October 23, 2022
One of my all-time faves.
Profile Image for MaDoReader.
1,365 reviews148 followers
Shelved as 'nope-por-una-buena-razón'
March 9, 2018
Quito reseña y rating.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 206 reviews

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