Carmen's Reviews > Colton Showdown

Colton Showdown by Marie Ferrarella
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did not like it
bookshelves: fiction, harlequin-romantic-suspense, romance, traditionally-published, she-says, german-author, published2012
Recommended to Carmen by: Romantic Times Book Review
Recommended for: No One

WARNING: SEXUAL SLAVERY

"But you would not be in danger if you didn't go with me," she pointed out.

He shrugged indifferently. "Makes no difference," he told her. "I AM going with you so there's no point talking about it."

He didn't expect her to continue trying to get him to change his mind, but he also didn't expect what happened next.

Hannah rose up on her toes and brushed the very lightest of kisses against his cheek.

On his end, if felt as if the wing of a butterfly had lightly grazed his skin.

When he looked at her quizzically, his fingers just barely brushing against his cheek, Hannah smiled at him. The smile crinkled into her vivid eyes. "You are a good man, Tate Colton."


Okay, please don't think from this opening quote that this book is sweet. I was skeeved out by this book.

Finally we are resolving the "kidnapped Amish girls who are sold into sexual slavery" plot that has been the hinge of this whole series.

However, like I've said before and I'll undoubtedly say again, sexual slavery is NOT something I want in my romance novels. And even though Tate is a "good guy" (an undercover detective) who is trying to save the kidnapped young women, I was severely skeeved out by his behavior.

He goes undercover as a millionaire looking to buy one of the women.

He looked from Hannah to the man, wondering if she even realized how breathtakingly beautiful she was. She reminded him of a rose newly in bloom.

Ew. How about this part where he gets her alone in a room and she thinks he's going to rape her?

Perhaps she could talk him out of this shameful thing he was about to do.

"Please," she implored him. "You don't want to do this." Hannah took a deep breath, willing her nerves to remain steady. She congratulated herself on speaking without allowing a telltale tremor to emerge in her voice and betray her.

Her eyes remained fixed on the stranger's. Taking another breath, she repeated the sentence, her voice sounding a little stronger this time. "You don't want to do this."

The trouble was, God help him, he did, Tate thought.... the truth of it was, since the very first time he'd seen her face on that DVD recording that had contained a virtual catalog of innocence for would-be bidders to view, he'd found himself almost hopelessly attracted to the abducted young woman.
(Emphasis mine.)

I think I'm going to be physically ill.

Then he starts kissing her, in order to exchange information with her in whispers.

Tate slipped one arm around her waist, holding Hannah against him. Inclining his head, he began to slowly kiss the nape of her neck.

He struggled to keep from immersing himself in the scent the feel, the taste, of her.

It's a part - you're just playing a part, he silently insisted as he lectured himself over and over again not to get caught up in what he was doing.

Despite everything, despite his desperate attempt to keep a tight rein on himself, Tate could feel his body responding to Hannah. Responding to the intoxicating, sweet taste of her skin against his lips.


What a fucking pervert!

Then, of course, we've got "oh, she enjoys his kisses."

But if that was the case, was she supposed to feel this in response?

And what WAS this that she was feeling?

She had no name for it, no frame of reference, other than that time the water had been too hot for her when she was bathing and it had created a corresponding, almost unbearable warmth all over her, both without and within.


Are you trying to convince me that this drugged, terrified woman who has been beaten and witnessed the rape and murder of her two friends is getting turned on right now? And Tate is also getting turned on by being confronted with this kind of scenario?!?!? >.<

I won't go into any more detail, but let me say that the rest of the book consists of

- Tate marveling at how innocent, trusting, and naïve Hannah is.

- Tate laughing at Hannah's ignorance of slang and modern English.

- Hannah making gaga eyes at Tate, instead of, you know, being frantic to be reunited with her family now that she's been rescued.

- Tate very disgustingly listening to Hannah taking a bath and thinking he should be awarded a medal of sainthood for, I don't know, not busting down the door and taking her on the bathroom floor or something?



My problems are as follows:

1.) Sexual slavery has no place in a romance novel. It's terrifying and disgusting for me to read about, it makes me very upset, and completely does the opposite of put me in a romantic mood.

2.) Virginity fetishizing. I hate it. HATE IT. All of Tate's comments about how "innocent" and "pure" Hannah is was seriously turning my stomach. Even if sexual slavery wasn't part of the equation here, I can't stand this shit, it disgusts me. Tate comes off as a huge creeper in my eyes.

3.) Hannah is just COMPLETELY FINE and eager to start a romantic and sexual relationship, even though two days ago she was in her captors' hands, chained to a bed, had watched her friends get raped and murdered, etc. etc. Completely and totally unrealistic.


Can an author pull this off?

You can definitely pull off a "rescue the young woman from sexual slavery" plot if you are a skilled author, however, the key is to NOT make it a romance novel. A great example of this is Robert B. Parker's Ceremony Ceremony (Spenser, #9) by Robert B. Parker which was an amazing book and a five-star read. Of course, Spenser, being an actual mensch (unlike Tate), has no desire to fuck his young rescue. The book is a hard-boiled mystery plot and NOT a romance plot.


Completely Ludicrous Sex Slave Ring

And the sex-slave-ring set up was COMPLETELY ludicrous and laughably stupid. For reasons I don't want to get into here because talking about sexual slavery makes me extremely upset, but let me tell you this was in NO way even close to being realistic. The whole set up was inane.

Another inane thing was the fact that near the end of the book, (view spoiler) This would never happen. It angers me a lot when police in novels are shown as complete morons.


Is there ANYTHING good you can say about the novel?

I like the cover.

Anything else?

Okay, it WAS sweet that Tate decides to pay for Hannah to go to fashion design school at the end. I think giving your woman the gift of university classes or books is a heartmelting gesture. I love education and learning! <3


How's the sex, Carmen?

Are you kidding me?!?!!?!? This book's whole concept was disgusting. I can't even... >.<

...

Tl;dr - Ugh. Even though this one the Romantic Times Book Review Harlequin Romantic Suspense Reader's Choice Award 2012, this was so icky. I mean, it could have been worse. I've read worse (trust me, you don't WANT to know...). But still, this was a terrible idea for a romance novel. It would take a very skilled author to pull this off - and it would have to be a much longer book, or some time allowances would have to be made so that Hannah could properly heal from what had happened to her before getting all "I want to marry you!" with Tate. Also, Tate would have to be a mensch and NOT be getting aroused when confronted with a drugged, terrified sex slave. That's just NOT going to endear a hero to a reader. Also, it would have been helpful if Tate himself wasn't objectifying Hannah by being all "innocence pure untouched" all the time about her. He just came off as a skeezer.

So many problems. Ugh.

ONE REAL STAR, ONE ROMANCE STAR

P.S. Not blaming Marie Ferrarella here, it's most likely not her fault that Harlequin stuck her with this. You gotta do what you gotta do. No hatred toward Ferrarella here.
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Reading Progress

July 25, 2015 – Shelved
September 14, 2015 – Started Reading
September 14, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-37 of 37 (37 new)

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message 1: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Ionson You must have prodigious willpower to have forced your eyes to read this. It's like eating glass-shard-shit-souffle.


Carmen Thank you, Daniel. It was very bad. But I hate to DNF (although I do if I have to).


message 3: by Kandice (new)

Kandice You really like that cover?


Carmen LOL I have a weakness for the new Harlequin covers (not the old ones, ew!) But the new ones. I like romantic pictures. :) <3


message 5: by Kandice (new)

Kandice My internal picture of you just doesn't go with that "like"...@-@


Carmen Kandice wrote: "My internal picture of you just doesn't go with that "like"...@-@"

LOL But why? I am a big romantic. That's why I love romance books! :) ;)


message 7: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I get that, plus the heart...I just always come up with faces in my mind and yours doesn't match. I need a new one!


Carmen LOL Okay. :) Do you imagine me a scowling, grumpy-grumpy woman? I'm more sweet and smiley and very enthusiastic about everything.


message 9: by Donna (new)

Donna Great review, Carmen. But wow, this book had everything in it we've been discussing as the worst of the worst in romance books. I don't know how you made it through this land dump of a story. Sorry, but I can't believe the MC was turned on by someone held captive. And he was supposed to be the good guy? It sounds like he was just one step away from becoming the part he was playing. Oh and btw, I have pictured you just as you described yourself now, sweet and smiley. I knew it. ;)


Carmen Oh and btw, I have pictured you just as you described yourself now, sweet and smiley. I knew it. ;)

LOL Thanks, Donna! I know I come of as foul-mouthed and angry on the Internet, but in real life I am almost too sweet and cheerful.

this land dump of a story...

Yeah, that about sums it up! I just wish they hadn't made Tate so attracted to such a drugged-up and terrified woman who was in that kind of situation. It was very vomit-inducing. They should have waited until she was safe back with her family for Tate to be making googly eyes at her and her returning his feelings. (Although I know Ferrarella was probably struggling with Harlequin's requirements on story-length and etc.)

I also hardly think Hannah's in the right mental space here to be making decisions about loving someone, especially someone who just rescued her from a situation like that.

And I wish it hadn't been such a turn-on to Tate that she was "innocent, pure, trusting" etc. - because you're right, it reminds the reader too much of the rich men who are actually buying these girls/women. Yuck.

I know Ferrarella was trying hard, but it was all rubbing me the wrong way.


message 11: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I started watching a show about the same time we "met" and I have always seen one of the characters faces as I "talk" to you. https://www.google.com/search?q=Er%C3... <----Her


Carmen Oh, wow, she's super-pretty! Go on and keep imagining me JUST LIKE THAT. LOL I'm super-flattered.


message 13: by Kandice (new)

Kandice LOL I'm glad! The character she plays is tough and NOT a romantic and I have the actress confused with the character I am certain, but that YOU in my head. :)


Carmen Well, that's great! Just keep on imagining me like that! *flips hair* Wow, I am so pretty! :) (LOL)


message 15: by Kandice (new)

Kandice And tough! Don't forget that.


message 16: by Carmen (last edited Sep 14, 2015 06:53PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Carmen Grrrr... I am so tough! :) ;) I like being this fierce!


message 17: by Eric (new)

Eric Plume Great review, Carmen!

With regard to the male lead's attraction to Hannah...I think I know what the author was going for, but I can see why she failed because plenty of romance authors do fail this point.

As a guy I can say; no matter what the situation, you do notice a hot chick's hotness. But when its inappropriate to notice, you also feel bad and uncomfortable about noticing and do your best not to think about sex. As in, you notice the hotness but you don't wonder about what it would be like to get jiggy with her...because in some situations you shouldn't think that way.

A guy in that situation (if he's a mensch) will feel the discomfort and notice the hotness...but he'll be thinking about the situation the way most folks would think about a root canal, which is "oh please can this be over now? I'd like to get back to the non-sucky part of my life".

Romance authors just can't seem to grasp this. Yes, guys (even good guys) notice attractive women even in situations where said attractive woman is vulnerable. But the good guy doesn't think about taking advantage. He notices the hotness and it stops there. A decent guy just gets uncomfortable with situations like what this book describes. From the quotes you've posted, Tate comes off like a pervert trying to self-justify, not a decent guy in a bad situation trying to avoid crossing moral lines.


message 18: by Carmen (last edited Sep 14, 2015 07:14PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Carmen Eric:

I feel like I've done Tate and injustice. He does feel bad about googling ogling Hannah.

But he still skeeved me out. Mainly due to his focus on her innocence, and that bathtub scene, and... I don't know. Even if it's realistic that he's lusting after some terrified drugged-up Amish woman 12 years his junior, it just rubbed me the wrong way.

But he DOES feel like shit about it and tries his best (well, maybe not his best) to stay honorable.

Is it out of left field for me to believe that a man shouldn't be aroused when confronted with a terrified young woman who is drugged and begging him not to rape her? I'm honestly asking here. I mean, I can't think of a bigger turn-off for me in romantic fiction. I've read some erotica that has tried to go this route, and even though I give erotica a really, really wide margin of error (I'm even more forgiving of erotica than I am of romance), I just can't with this. It literally makes me feel sick to my stomach, with no exaggeration here.

Thoughts? I would honestly be interested in a man's opinion. I don't want to be slamming Tate for no reason here, or speaking out of a place of ignorance. I mean, I'm aware men get erections even when they don't want to.

Although it's fair to note that this was written by a female author and aimed at a female audience.


message 19: by Joe (new)

Joe Valdez I've been trying to think of something good to say about Harlequin Romance for two minutes now and finally gave up.


message 20: by Carmen (last edited Sep 14, 2015 07:38PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Carmen LOL That's understandable, guapo. Although I've read a few Blaze and a few Historical that were stellar: You know I always talk about the kissing in Wicked Nights, and Michelle Willingham's Viking Duology is very stimulating. :) ;) However, I do feel like I have to wade through 50 bad books to get to one good one.


message 21: by Kandice (new)

Kandice Joe wrote: "I've been trying to think of something good to say about Harlequin Romance for two minutes now and finally gave up."

My man, Joe!


message 22: by Donna (new)

Donna Carmen wrote: "Oh and btw, I have pictured you just as you described yourself now, sweet and smiley. I knew it. ;)

LOL Thanks, Donna! I know I come of as foul-mouthed and angry on the Internet, but in real lif..."


Carmen, you come across as outspoken, not foul mouthed and angry. :) And as for the MC being turned on by someone currently being held captive, on video or in person, I don't feel this belongs in a romance story, even if it were something true to life, a situation that a guy would feel remorse over. I see it like this--people shouldn't say everything that comes into their heads, true or not. And writers shouldn't write everything that occurs to them, true or not. It's a matter of what's appropriate for the situation.


message 23: by Eric (new)

Eric Plume Carmen wrote: "Eric:

I feel like I've done Tate and injustice. He does feel bad about googling ogling Hannah.

But he still skeeved me out. Mainly due to his focus on her innocence, and that bathtub scene, and..."


When it comes to men and hot women in peril, the answer is a massive "it depends". Mostly it depends on how participatory she is/can be.

As an example, I'd comfortably say that 99 - 99.99999% of men who came upon a totally gorgeous and naked yet unconscious woman would not think much about sex. Rather, they'd go "HOLY SHIT!" cover her up, call the cops, make sure she's okay, et cetera.

Yeah, some tiny part of their brain might say "wow, nice rack" or whatever, but in the context of a story's narrative that's not even worth mentioning.

Which leads me to the big misunderstanding about men and sex and temptation I see. When men are looking at a woman and wanting to boink her, the basic thought is NOT "Oh, I want to get my dick in". It's this:

"Y'know, if one thing led to another just now, that'd be awesome."

Notice how in that second one the woman in question would have to participate - one thing can't lead to another thing without some back-and-forth. That's what guys are thinking. But, if there's no ability for the woman to start that back-and-forth, sexual thoughts for a man get much smaller...the more she can't participate, the less a guy thinks about sex with her and the more he thinks about other things.

Again, a guy who happens upon an unconscious naked woman (however gorgeous she might be) isn't gonna be thinking about sex - if anything, he's going to be alarmed. If a naked strange woman wanders out of nowhere and tries to start something up, likewise he's gonna be alarmed...probably thinking about sex a little more than he would in option A, but like as not he'd still say "no". Or maybe even "who the hell are you get off me!!" :)

Now in a situation like Tate and Hannah's, yeah...the guy is going to be thinking about sex because A: the girl is hot, B: she's part of the process (according to the quotes you shared she does hit on him some), C: he can secure her 'consent' by buying her (which is immoral by some standards but hey, morality is an abstract concept, temptation isn't) and D: they have extended contact with one another - believe it or not, emotional connections matter to men as much as they do to women. Some people are just assholes.

So yeah. He'd be tempted. But most decent guys would feel bad about getting tempted in the situation put forth in this book, and they'd spend more time feeling bad than they would thinking dirty thoughts. They also would not fetishize the girl's innocence...if anything, that'd make a decent guy feel worse about having sexual thoughts, especially considering Hannah's situation.

That help at all?


message 24: by Carmen (last edited Sep 14, 2015 08:33PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Carmen Carmen, you come across as outspoken, not foul mouthed and angry. :) And as for the MC being turned on by someone currently being held captive, on video or in person, I don't feel this belongs in a romance story, even if it were something true to life, a situation that a guy would feel remorse over. I see it like this--people shouldn't say everything that comes into their heads, true or not. And writers shouldn't write everything that occurs to them, true or not. It's a matter of what's appropriate for the situation.

LOL Thanks, Donna!

Yes, I agree about what is appropriate to the situation. Even if it's theoretically true that a good man would be sexually aroused in this situation (I'm doubtful, but okay) I think considering that this is a romance aimed a female audience, you wouldn't want your hero to come off as a skeever. I really can't stress enough how much this kind of thing turns me off, and I'm sure I'm not the only female who feels that way. So... you make a good point.


message 25: by Carmen (last edited Sep 14, 2015 08:38PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Carmen Eric wrote:

Eric, this helps very much.

1.) Which leads me to the big misunderstanding about men and sex and temptation I see. When men are looking at a woman and wanting to boink her, the basic thought is NOT "Oh, I want to get my dick in". It's this:

"Y'know, if one thing led to another just now, that'd be awesome."


That is very relieving and also completely absent from most romances. o.O

2.) Again, a guy who happens upon an unconscious naked woman (however gorgeous she might be) isn't gonna be thinking about sex - if anything, he's going to be alarmed. If a naked strange woman wanders out of nowhere and tries to start something up, likewise he's gonna be alarmed...probably thinking about sex a little more than he would in option A, but like as not he'd still say "no". Or maybe even "who the hell are you get off me!!" :)

I already knew this!!! :D So happy to hear that I'm right from an outside and male source. :D

3.) They also would not fetishize the girl's innocence...if anything, that'd make a decent guy feel worse about having sexual thoughts, especially considering Hannah's situation.

This is also a huge relief, thanks for clarifying that for me, Eric!

You rock!


Carmen And, I'd just like to say, Eric, that it's the "begging him not to rape her" part that just crushes my heart and kills any hope of romantic feelings on my part in even the least bit. This kind of stuff destroys me and then when he's getting turned on 20 seconds later and stuff I just can't help thinking that he's a skeever.

I'm fine with "begging him not to rape her" being in a book, and I'm fine with "male rescuer gets with the woman he rescued," but when these things are happening in quick succession I get skeeved beyond belief.


message 27: by Eric (new)

Eric Plume Thanks Carmen, glad I could help! :D

Here's a personal example of how this works...

Back when I worked as a bouncer, one of my co-workers got drunk after she got off-shift; her boyfriend had just dumped her and she got what is often referred to as "white-girl wasted". We tried to get her a cab but she didn't have the money for one, and since I had just gotten off shift I volunteered to drive her home.

Bad idea.

Now, the girl in question was pretty damn hot and yes, I had entertained thoughts about her. However when I volunteered to drive her home those thoughts were pretty far from my mind. It helped that she wasn't exactly at her best in that moment - again, she was slobbery drunk and that's not exactly an attractive state.

Well, long story short when I got her back to her apartment she became a handful. First she puked on herself (necessitating me helping her change her clothes) then she got bawl-her-eyes-out emotional while trying to drag me off to bed.

I'll admit it; I was tempted. But the temptation never grew beyond "y'know, in the abstract this sounds like it would be fun". Mostly I remember thinking "Oh christ lady could you stop being a problem so I can go home and get some sleep??"

I was tempted because she was hot. I didn't act on the temptation because she was staggering drunk and acting like a goober, therefore not so attractive to me. Besides, I'd said I would take care of her, so taking advantage of the situation would have been a bad idea for several reasons. Not to mention it being against my morals to do so.

So I got her out of her puke-stained clothes, put her to bed (on her side, so she wouldn't choke) locked the door behind me and left.

Sure, there were times in that situation where I had something of a boner. But mainly I remember being vastly annoyed and uncomfortable...not to mention wishing I'd let somebody else at work take that particular job on. Again, the whole thing was on balance about as pleasurable as a root canal.

So yeah. A guy might think about sex during situations like what I describe, but decent guys (and that's most of us) don't act on said thoughts. We just shove them to the back of our minds and get on with what needs doing.

* * * *

And, I'd just like to say, Eric, that it's the "begging him not to rape her" part that just crushes my heart and kills any hope of romantic feelings on my part in even the least bit. This kind of stuff destroys me and then when he's getting turned on 20 seconds later and stuff I just can't help thinking that he's a skeever.

Yeah, that really shouldn't be near any story somebody's supposed to think of as romantic...barring some HUUUGE misunderstanding early on where the characters don't know each other all that well and the guy is all "whoa, WHOA, so not on my plate right now"...yeah. Not seeing how that's really conducive to good vibes.

To use a comparison again, that's like throwing a scene of a dude getting kicked in the balls into a porn video. It just harshes the buzz of most people. :D


Carmen Eric, I love that you seem to have a story for every occasion. :D Thank you!


message 29: by Jackie (new)

Jackie  Faye HA! There you go Eric. Independent verification (without prompting) that you are indeed interesting and have stories other people would like to hear.


Carmen Oh, is that something he worries about, Jackie? o.O I can hardly imagine. :)


message 31: by Jackie (new)

Jackie  Faye I'm trying to convince him that he'd be good at vlogging, but he doesn't believe me. :P


Carmen Well, I'd definitely watch his vlogs, if that helps any. :)


message 33: by Eric (new)

Eric Plume Carmen wrote: "Well, I'd definitely watch his vlogs, if that helps any. :)"

I mumble. A lot. Seriously, I do better when I have access to a 'backspace' key...:D


message 34: by Jackie (new)

Jackie  Faye I'm uploading the test footage, so we can let other people be the judge of that.


Carmen OMGosh, you two are so funny! :) Just keep me posted!


message 36: by Sh3lly (new)

Sh3lly I hate the sex slavery/Stockholm Syndrome "romances."


Carmen Sh3lly (Not all those who wander are lost) wrote: "I hate the sex slavery/Stockholm Syndrome "romances.""

Shelly - Sorry for the late reply! GR is on the fritz, apparently!

Yes, I agree with you completely in re: Stockholm.


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