Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
He’s controlling, manipulative, dangerous… and I’m in love with him.

Rich and powerful, Richard is used to getting whatever he wants… and he wants me.
This isn’t a romance. It’s a dark and twisted obsession.
A game of ever-increasingly depraved acts.

Every time I fight it, he just pulls me deeper into his deception.
The slightest disobedience to his rules brings swift punishment.
My life as I knew it is gone. He now controls everything.

I’m caught in his web, the harder I struggle, the more entangled I become.
I no longer know my own mind.
He owns my body, making me crave his painful touch.
But the worst deception of all? He’s made me love him.
If I don’t break free soon, there will be no escape for me.

260 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 16, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Zoe Blake

81 books2,433 followers
Zoe Blake is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the romantic suspense saga The Cavalieri Billionaire Legacy inspired by her own heritage as well as her obsession with jewelry, travel, and the salacious gossip of history’s most infamous families.

She delights in writing Dark Romance books filled with overly possessive billionaires, taboo scenes, and unexpected twists. She usually spends her ill-gotten gains on martinis, vacations, and red lipstick.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/zoeblakebooks/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/zoeblakebooks/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@zoeblakebooks

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
786 (40%)
4 stars
522 (27%)
3 stars
370 (19%)
2 stars
169 (8%)
1 star
75 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 197 reviews
Profile Image for Coral.
1,551 reviews53 followers
June 23, 2020
I don’t think I can rate this. Really this should only be read as what NOT to look for in a partner. He’s supposed to be a hero but is actually the villain. He had so many red flags, they have to be sewn into even larger red flags. This guy makes Christian Grey look like a cinnamon roll. He’s a psychopath who takes over her life and gaslights her into believing she loves him. It’s not even sexy because she really doesn’t have the capacity to consent.
I finished it but only to confirm whether she actually put a much deserved bullet in his head.
Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
7,013 reviews835 followers
May 20, 2020
The second book in what I assume is a trilogy, Gilded Cage is an absolute head game of a story, an intensely twisted fairy tale of the poor, young girl being swept off her feet by the older, sexy, wealthy duke. But there is so much more to the story than either Lizzy or the reader knows.

In Ward, Lizzy is the star of a Victorian play. She attends a dinner with Richard, the mysterious owner of the theater and awakens to find herself trapped in a nightmare. Elizabeth is actually in Victorian England, the Ward of Richard, the Duke of Winterbourne. The play was merely a dream. A hallucination where all of the actors she remembers are actually members of the Duke’s staff in the Victorian age in which she lives. She is under the complete control of Richard, and the object of his degradation and obsession.

Now in Gilded Cage, we get more of the story. We learn that Richard and Lizzy have more of a history than either the reader, or Lizzy herself, recall. Richard’s obsession with Elizabeth began long before they even met, and the lengths he goes through to gaslight her are astonishing.

As we learn the real way in which Elizabeth and Richard met, their romance turns from desire to manipulation where Lizzy can’t trust even her own thoughts because Richard seems to have the ability to undermine and infiltrate them.

Zoe Blake truly has a gift for writing a story that is dirty, twisted, and engaging at the same time. As with Ward, this is not a romance at all. It’s a desire that warps into an unhealthy fixation. This is not the story for someone looking for sweet words and proclamations of love. It’s desperate and depraved, and frankly fascinating.

Review copy provided for a voluntary review.
Profile Image for Renee Nicole.
299 reviews190 followers
November 6, 2020

The first half of this book was a struggle as I attempted to overcome my anger at this being a ridiculous ret-con "prequel". Then I began to believe it. And now I'm feeling a lot like Lizzie, gaslighted so hard that I don't quite know what is real and what isn't.

I really wish I hated this series, but I don't.

This is the story before the story. The true beginning of Richard and Lizzie, hidden from readers in book one. It's just as vile. Just as degrading. But OH so much more infuriating than the first book. As characters asked rhetorical questions to themselves, I found myself answering them out loud as I read.

Richard: "Exhausted, she had quickly fallen to sleep after our lovemaking. Could you call the violent meeting of our bodies lovemaking?"

No, you stupid fuck! It's called rape. Jesus!

Lizzie: "What girl wouldn’t want a man so crazy with want for you that he kicked down a door to get to you?"

No SANE woman! For fucks sake, it was your front door he kicked down because you didn't want him to get in!

Lizzie: "At what point did it stop being sexy and kinky and started becoming just plain wrong?"

Oh, I don't know... maybe from day one, when he forced his dick all the way down your throat? Or perhaps it was when he LOCKED YOU IN A CAGE FOR TWO WEEKS? Am I taking crazy pills, here?!?

Yeah, see? I've become just as confused and perplexed as she is. It's actually kind of brilliant, from a writing standpoint. The mental abuse is so intense that it kind of rubs off on you as you read.

While this book wasn't as bad as the first in terms of physical abuse, it was still extremely rough. Practically everything is forced on her, and done in a way to be extremely painful. It's not pretty. In fact, this is probably the most horrifyingly toxic relationship between two people that I have ever read. And trust me, that is saying something.

I'll check back in once I'm done with the third and final book of this series. And after I've had a few cocktails to deal with this shit.

Profile Image for daemyra, the realm's delight.
910 reviews37 followers
July 4, 2022
Twists and turns! What a great prequel/sequel. Reminded me a bit of an even more toxic version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I usually don’t care about music for a story but Chris Isaac’s Wicked Games is the song for this couple. RTC.

***Full Review***

What a wicked game you play, to make me feel this way...

(Richard is said to look like Henry Cavill and some other actor I can't remember so please enjoy).

Gilded Cage is a unique prequel/sequel to Ward.

Zoe Blake taunts the reader, oh so you think you know how Lizzie and Richard met?

Let me just


Reading the blurbs, I was confused whether Gilded Cage was a prequel or a sequel to Ward. I don't like to read stories that tell the same events but from another POV, but luckily a GR review was able to explain what this was about without spoiling it.

I will add that Gilded Cage is a prequel in that the events in this story take place before Ward. It is also a sequel in that the first and last chapter in this story take place after the events of Ward.

Now, don't expect much in terms of forward movement but what we get in the back story is absolutely worth it.


What a wicked thing to do, to let me dream of you

In Gilded Cage, we get to know more about Lizzie and Richard. Ward was a bit of a sexfest and so is Gilded Cage. Honestly, if there was one bone I'd have to pick is to add more talking. Anytime Lizzie called Richard out on his BS, there'd be some intense sex. All wonderfully written but can we get back to more tea??

I liked the simplicity of Ward. A story about a rich guy who is obsessed with turning an independent woman into a Victorian damsel *cough* Stepford wife through sexual lobotomy. This is what I am calling Richard' brand of corporeal punishment that literally edges the line between pain and pleasure for Lizzie. I shelved both books under my shelf for Edging since both stories has the hero use pleasure to get the heroine to submit to him by focusing all her energy on pleasing him. The central focus was Lizzie's psychological descent into sexual torpor... and hopeful ascent out of the mindfog.

We don't need to know much about Richard or Lizzie. It would have been nice but we didn't need to.

But in Gilded Cage, there are little Easter eggs and peekaboos that make castaway lines in Ward much more meaningful. Like, why the fascination with Victorian age? There are some nice explanations here that deepen our understanding of Lizzie and Richard, without making it overkill.

Their relationship is still a dumpster fire that both of them don't really want to end.


Richard definitely doesn't. Because Richard is kinda insane.


He saw Lizzie reading outside one time without looking at her phone once, and knew she would be The One. He doesn't like technology. Even though he is a duke billionaire who makes his money in tech among other sectors... Yeah.

But lol bless Lizzie. She enjoyed hem hawing in this story.

She goes back and forth: I hate this! Ok but it's kind of hot how he takes control! Wait this is really bad! I want to leave! Hmm we're making out. Let me put a pin on this and circle back next week... Girl is gaslighting herself and I love that Richard thinks it's a sign of her higher intelligence.

To be fair, Richard is good at manipulating reality.

And to be fair. The crux of Lizzie's dilemma isn't so much that she is confused about why she likes playing Richard's wicked sex games, but whether she can meet Richard on his level. Is it too much for her? Where is his limit? Hopefully we get a stronger Lizzie who gets Richard back in the next one.

Oh, and in one of the scenes, Lizzie and Richard dance to Wicked Games by Chris Isaac. Which is why I've been sprinkling the lyrics throughout.

Oerall, while the sex derails what would be fantastic arguments between Lizzie and Ricard, it's still hot, and we got some more backstory, so it gets a pass. Gilded Cage is sexy, dark, and twisted love to a T!

Profile Image for Serial Romance Librarian.
793 reviews183 followers
July 13, 2020
This book is NOT a romance! It’s very depraved and dark, yet I feel compelled to keep up with the story! It’s well-written, though maddening at the same time. The author has a very good imagination. She would be a VERY creative dominatrix! Gilded Cage is the the prequel to Ward but it gives us a glimpse into the future (after the Victorian simulation ruse) as well.

So there are many triggers in this book- non-con and PAIN. Lots of anal pain... ouchie! Gaslighting and basically torture... but he’s rich so there’s that. We learn in Gilded Cage that the H and h actually do have a history, it’s just that she doesn’t remember because he used an EXPERIMENTAL-STAGE DRUG ON HER THAT HASN’T BEEN THROUGH HUMAN TESTING YET!!! OMG what an irredeemable thing to do—what if she had terrible side effects that turned her into a vegetable or worse!? These things have happened. He supposedly “loves” her but he’s probably a psychopath, so can he actually feel love? Jury’s out! I will finish the series because it’s messed up, yet entertaining!

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Darlene I read WAY to many books.
3,209 reviews1,562 followers
May 17, 2020
We are back again!! If you havent read Ward (be warned very dark) then get ready for this twisted story. Now before i go on. Let me remind you i have the triggers below if you wanna know anything also my dm are open :) if you cant handle this type of dark read please skip. I have been waiting for book 2 in this series for ever. And if I'm right (could be wrong) this is pre ward (book 1). If I'm wrong dang lol. And another heads up this ends in a cliffhanger.

We got to know Richard and Lizzie in book one and it was some fucked up shit he put on Lizzie but their was secerts and twist and things happening. Now in book 2 its well prequel of their first meeting.. (not in ward) well i didnt know Richard could be more psychopath in this book.. lol and how deep he has been stalking Lizzie... like he pulled a JOE FROM YOU but way darker. but in this book we saw a tiny TINY bit of a soul in Richard tiny when it comes to protecting his Lizzie. As for Lizzie.. lord.. i feel so sorry for her she doesn't know what type of web Richard has spun around her. And she's loving each second and hating each second and can't get enough. They are playing a dangerous game.. and we got that little tease in the cliffhanger. Can't wait for book 3.

Tiny ow drama and no om drama,Angst, no cheating, Drama, sexy times, no virgins


Older/younger couple
Push away from h
Dub-con/non-con consent
Punishments/ Discipline
Semi public sex
Pain play?
Anal play/sex
Drugs (wipe her memories)
Mental abuse
No condom
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lynn Thinking out loud .
1,443 reviews60 followers
May 6, 2020
Too intense, too extreme, too toxic. All these describe Richard and Elizabeth's relationship.
There is no one better to write about this than Zoe Blake. Talk about a mindfuck. Wow!!!
I read an advanced copy of this book.
Profile Image for Y.D. Mar.
Author 63 books571 followers
June 10, 2021
I was chuckling to myself after the second or third repetition of the phrase.

I got you. I see you boo.

falls under the same realm as Iblis Affliction by Nero Seal ... and Milk And Honey by Yolanda Olson (just more romantic, that's all LOL)

The face f*cking kept me going..and Richard.

Kudos to this author. I enjoyed the ride.

*4.5/4.75 stars. i rank this book ivory on my darkness scale.*
Profile Image for Valentina.
1,030 reviews279 followers
May 17, 2020
4.5 stars
I am stumped as to how to write this review as truly this book was mystification of the highest fashion. (Yes, pun on "fashion.") I was never really sure if about the reality of what was transpiring, what was pain or pleasure.

Gilded Cage follows the main characters' meeting for the first time (or not) and the events that forge their relationship. Toxic? Loving? Who knows. What I learned was that they were inexplicably drawn to each other. What I discovered was that Richard, the hero, sought immeasurable control of and was wildly obsessed with his little bird, Elizabeth, the heroine, using whatever means necessary to be with her, compel her.

In this book, more of Richard's life was revealed, his place in society, his thoughts, his habits, and the truth of his behavior, with a significant number of passages told from his point of view. Gilded Cage was in some ways a prequel to Ward, but in others it was the sequel. Whatever order, it left me a little disquieted, questioning what I had read, what was the reality. Despite that, more of the truth is disclosed in this plot line. However, careful and close attention must be paid to the story as you never know what valuable nuggets are being left that you will later will reflect upon in answer to "What the heck just happen?"

I loved the metaphors in the story, the illusion of floating when you run downhill only to realize you weren't flying at all. Perception vs. reality. Or is it? I loved the romanticism in the book -- the nod to Romeo and Juliet, the period pieces, costumes, decor, jewelry; the events described as to carve such visual imagery as to be there, hear the sounds, feel the energy, imbue the smells, straight out of a film.

I enjoyed this story, romantic with charms of former times, chivalrous, obsessive. It was obvious the author did a great deal of research for the visual details. My only contention is that I wished for a little more loving treatment. I understand the reason behind some love sessions, often punishment, maybe abuse. Did the heroine love them or not? I understand their purpose and that they suited the storyline and the characters' behaviors, but they felt a bit unbalanced toward abuse, at times painful to read (which may have been the intent). Still, the author was able to make me feel the obsessive hero redeemable and believe in their love, however they lived it. I still loved this book and will fly toward the next one. An excellent read.
Profile Image for romancebookslut.
25 reviews
June 23, 2021
The fack did I just read?! This actually made me sad. Note tot he author: you can’t make him torture her and then let him do something that she, somehow through that pain, likes. Like, you can’t fuck someone with GINGER root things and then fuck her and say she came. Cause that’s bullshit, you can’t actually COME while your fucking ass is burning like hell. It’s physically impossible. You can’t abuse someone in a book that is just torture and then just write that she like it. So thank you, Zoe Blake, for this peek in your mind. I will never ever look into anything yours again.
Also: he locked her up in a facking bird cage?! You gotta be shitting me💩
Also if you’re trying to justify anything he said or did, remember: you don’t know anything about him. We have no background whatsoever. He just like hearing her scream. That’s all that is said, and apparently there is nothing more to know.
He is a martyr, but it’s okay cause he LOVES her and that is basta.
Oh please, don’t even get me started on the fact that they LOVE each other. Please. *snort*
And if you’re thinking about reading book three, don’t. It doesn’t make any sense. He only looks like more of a psycho than he already does. What the fuck is his deal with games?!!
Profile Image for Michelle.
552 reviews42 followers
May 7, 2020
Gilded Cage - prequel to Ward is toxic, twisted and oh so very enchanting.

Richard & Elizabeth have a love like no other, it's brutal, controlling, toxic and the games are never fair, because the winner is always the same - or is it?

If you have read Ward your mind will still be spinning, in Gilded Cage we get to see how it all started or maybe this is just the start of another mind game!

Elizabeth loves her Duke regardless of the poisonous blood that runs through his veins because Richard has no barriers and will take and protect what is his.

These violent delights, have violent ends.

Highly recommended read for lovers of dark romance, that gift precious jewels and kinky butt plugs!
1 review1 follower
June 19, 2020

The story was ok. The ending was quite horrible. There is too many unanswered questions. Too many unforgivable acts happened for love to be the outcome.
Profile Image for Anna.
78 reviews
August 10, 2020
Too much abuse (even for me)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Olgz.
800 reviews5 followers
January 23, 2023
A Villain Remains a Villain!

To keep trying to liken Richard to Mr. Darcy is insulting to Mr. Darcy. Mr Darcy was not a psychopath. He was a rude arrogant snob yes but he never kidnapped and he never sexually assaulted a female while brainwashing her. For me everything is horrible but the attempt at brainwashing is the worst of Richard's atrocities. That part is what puts him slam dunk into psycho territory.
In the first book we are told Elizabeth met Richard at the theatre she worked during a play he sponsored and produced. In this installment no the story has changed they met prior to the theatre production. I have a feeling this is meant to try redeem the irredeemable Richard. I see that the idea is to portray the 1st sexual acts between Elizabeth and Richard as consensual and while she was of sound mind and body and this will negate the outrage for the atrocities in the 1st book. Also it is revealed that Elizabeth indeed grew to love Richard during the two weeks they knew each other so the suggestion is that because she loves him his abhorrent treatment of her is understandable to a degree🤷🏾‍♀️😳
I like dark romance but I like it more when villains are not justified a villain is a villain and the author must own their character the only way to Redeem a villain is not by explaining away their atrocities it is by showing that they actually decide to turn a new leaf and become a better person.
FYI there was lots of noise and traffic in London pre-20th century too it was just horses and carriages rather than cars and buses.
Profile Image for Nothing Like A Great Book.
268 reviews3 followers
August 25, 2020
I didn't enjoy this second book in the series, at all. It was hard to finish it, and after 50% I couldn't wait to do just that. Get to the end.

The author told us ad nauseam how fragile, LITTLE, small, TINY and so on, the 5' 8" Lizzie was. I got sick of it. Her 'tiny hands'?! 🙄 Gimme a break. At 5' 8"she'd be anything but TINY. Why do writers have to stick physical descriptions of their characters down readers, throats? 🤮 Every GREAT story I've ever read, describes the characters in a very minimal way, if at all. A great writer leaves those details for us, the READER, to 'fill in'. That's why we have an imagination; it should be encouraged to run wild when reading fiction. Great writers/writing does exactly that. It actually p*ssed me off after a while.

Both this book and the first, Ward, ended with the obsessive and self absorbed Duke, saying he was going to marry his Ward, Lizzie. So was their any resolution or HEA or epilogue for this or Ward? Nope. And I haven't the energy to even try to read the 3rd installment, Toxic. There was loads of crazy sex in this book, as there was in Ward, but more crazy still. I love a great sex scene but there's none here. All coldness; no heat or passion. Just craziness for crazy's sake.

I didn't like any of the characters in the two books, Ward and Gilded Cage. And wouldn't recommend reading the books, BUT they are at least FREE to read with Kindle Unlimited. The writing isn't the worst I've ever read hence the 2*'s.
2,672 reviews14 followers
May 17, 2020
Ok my mind is blown no way did this happen but guess what it did and It is twisted beyond anything you could imagine.

Richard is intense to the highest level and god help the person who crosses him and what is his he's rich, dangerous and loves his games just pure twisted torture and Elizabeth is loving the attention until it's one more new game.

This will blow your mind and make you think beyond anything you've ever read it is perfection with characters that will demand your full attention or else.
2 reviews3 followers
May 4, 2020
Omg... seeing how they were in the beginning before ward puts somethings into perspective. He was obsessed with her from the beginning. The love the way they are both in love and obsessed wth each other. The medicine was a twist I was not expecting. The ending shocked me a little and I'm wondering how he got revenge on those people and how he gets her to agree and what happened to the woman who hit Lizzie? I can't wait for Toxic
Profile Image for C.P. Mandara.
Author 37 books526 followers
October 15, 2020

So, I'm going to start by saying that I was left on a really high cliffhanger in the last book (think Everest) and I was chomping at the bit to find out what happened. All I wanted to do was get straight in and figure out if Lizzie did as she'd threatened.

Did Ms Blake allow me to do this? No. Hell no. She took me back months to where the story all began. Then I got dragged on a very angsty and exciting journey and I loved every single, beautiful second.

Oh, I had so much fun with this. I adored the evil, manipulating duke, and wondering how the heroine could ever possibly hope to get out of clutches (and come on, would she really want to?) The sex is earth shatteringly dark and depraved, and Richard can be very creative.

It's an interesting take on obsession and where it can lead when one party has far too much money and power.

I'm utterly enthralled. Now off to read Toxic.
Profile Image for Crystal.
1,814 reviews53 followers
September 2, 2020
Maybe 4.5 stars
This series continues to be a total mindf*ck. And I love it!
Book two takes us back to (presumably) when Lizzie and Richard met, and gives us insight into his obsession. For most of this book, I wish that I had read it first, just so I didn't know what was going to come next in their relationship. If I were to recommend the series to someone (and I absolutely will!) I would tell them to read Gilded Cage before Ward even though it contradicts the series order.
Really the only other thing that bothered me was the use of 'till' instead of 'until' throughout. I know they are interchangeable, and that till is the more proper version of the word, especially outside of the States, but it grated on my nerves everytime I saw it, which seemed to be a lot.
Profile Image for Kenya Wright.
Author 105 books2,279 followers
January 12, 2021
Note: I started reading this one, thinking it was a trilogy of stand alones. Then, I finished and followed with no problem, but I guess this is a prequel to book one. . .
I bought the book because of the pretty cover. . .HOLY SHIT!!
Listen. Not my typical book, but I have so much respect for the author. Brilliant and ballsy.

There's all types of triggers here.

However, for the dark reader who can accept that stories are fantasies and not actual life lessons to a reader then. . .this could be for you.
Profile Image for Narissa.
524 reviews15 followers
December 17, 2022
This book gives dark romance a bad name. This is not a romance Richard is not morally gray. Richard is morally black. Richard is an abuser. There are not BDSM themes in this book because what happens in this book is non-consensual. Not even in a fun CNC way, just straight up horrifying terrifying abuse. As somebody who occasionally read some pretty fucked up shit and gets into it this book made me nauseous primarily because the author is also gaslighting the reader into Believing that while Lizzie is on page attempting suicide she is also happy and in love? This book is trash. And I don’t know if I’ll ever read another Zoe Blake again
Profile Image for Set.
1,566 reviews
January 11, 2022
Elizabeth is a bit naive. After five minutes of meeting a stranger that saved her life, he is like let's fuck and also I'm into punishment, naturally her response like, "oh Darcy." lol I was going along with this ridiculous story-line but then the author mentioned Haz-no-balls and Megha-liar and I was entirely turned off. Thankfully the story got better as I progressed reading and it was all good, crazy fun towards the end.
Profile Image for Raisa Greywood.
Author 45 books665 followers
May 28, 2020
I read Ward, the first in this dark, filthy tale. And I was hooked.

Then I read Gilded Cage.

This is a mind f*ck. A deliciously decadent descent into obsession. Richard and Lizzy are obsessed with each other, and I can't wait to see how Zoe ends this story. It's dark and delicious, be warned.
Profile Image for Mindy.
104 reviews3 followers
August 16, 2020
DNF @ 32%. Can’t deal with the idiocy/naivety of the heroine and found myself not caring and skimming. I would much rather continue straight from where the first book left off. I can’t force myself to continue the series :(
249 reviews
March 14, 2022
More Abuse

I don't know how the author expects her readers to like Richard. There's literally not one redeeming quality about the man. He's an abusive, narcissistic psychopath! He abuses Lizzie mentally, physically, psychologically, emotionally, and sexually. He displays every red flag of a highly abusive person that you can think of: isolates her from friends/school, etc., gaslights her, tracks her every move, including hiring people to follow her, tracking her phone, paying people in her life to spy on her, punishes her if she shows any sign of independent thought or behavior, doesn't respect her limits or boundaries, including when she says no or begs him to stop hurting her, controls what she wears, where she goes, when and what she eats, what activities she's allowed to do, and the list goes on and on! This is the most toxic relationship I've ever heard of! This sick bastard has played so many games with Lizzie's mind and physically and sexually abused her so much, exerting such extreme dominance over her that she's been essentially brainwashed into thinking his behavior is love. I hope to God anyone in an abusive relationship who reads this doesn't have their own abusive partner's actions reinforced and justified with this utter toxic bull crap!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 197 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.