Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.
Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.
WARNING: This book contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, strong language, and graphic violence.
Worldbuilding: The contemporary criminal world of sex slaves trafficking was very well build atmosphere-wise, imho. I loved the subtle yet overwhelming nature of it, the apparently smooth way it blends into everyday lives without most of us being none the wiser.
Characters: Olivia was a sweet, troubled, confused young thing, with a lot of spirit and an admirable will to survive. Caleb was everything you could hope him to be, hot, charming (as sociopaths tend to be, lol), the perfectly alpha sadist. His falling for Olivia was believable, which is not an easy thing to achieve, I think, and the hot mess of their interaction was explosively hot and entirely riveting. Their one on one was hot as all Hell times a hundred, I’d say, and a disturbing and exciting experience.
Plot: I enjoyed the psychology of everything she went through, its depiction via her feelings/thoughts. Stockholm syndrome romances, a pretty popular kind of dark romance lately, is a facet of non-con/dub-con stories I’ve been reading since probably 10 years ago – then as online fiction or fan-fic. There’s a deliciously fucked-up human nature in these stories that I’ve always found appealing as subject-matter, beyond the tinge of Schadenfreude these stories always come with, and the fulfillment of the surprisingly common sexual fantasy of having dub-con/non-con sex often coming in the kidnapping/captive scenario. Couple that with a hint of “caring sadist” and you’ve got a winner, especially when wrote well. As it often does, the story comes with the virgin trope, though properly twisted to fit the particular type of romance. There’s a side of me that dislikes the fact I enjoy these stories, a side of me that’s scandalized by how interesting I find them when well written and atmospheric enough. Particularly when the story itself goes into the actual captivity and resulting Stockholm Syndrome, it’s a tough read for some, could be triggering, and most likely shocking – even when you’re enjoying it, or more so in that case, in fact. It’s a proper mindfuck, and I am fan of that. So I enjoyed the story, dark and twisted and disturbing and immensely tense as it was.
Warning: aside the violence, the ending might trigger violent outbursts for you as a reader, lol – it’s a cliffy, because of the nature of the series. Cliffies suck, I’m sure many of us will agree, but it didn’t annoy me. Much. Lol!
Writing: First person and third person, past tense narrative, from Olivia’s and Caleb’s POV. Loved the style and the voices of both characters. While I didn’t get why Caleb’s POV was in third, when it would have worked just as well in first person, it took nothing away from my enjoyment of his side of the story.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb – impulsive buy material for mindfuck romance moods (actually how I bought it, lol!)
So, to make a long story short, this a twisted, fucked-up kind of romance, clearly Stockholm Syndrome, comes with abuse – not to be confused with BDSM where both participants are able and willing, this is actual abuse so true power imbalance, not power-play. If you’re into that kind of thing, as an evil reader – like I am, mwamama – , you’ll get your kicks from Captive in the Dark, just like I did. I’m reading #2 in the series now, Seduced in the Dark, and I’ll let you know how things went as soon as I’m done with it.