BLOG REVIEW: Explicit Instruction by Scarlett Finn

27y.o. library research assistant never thought her usually lackluster life could change in 1 night.
By just walking into a bar in a seedy neighborhood to use a phone in order to call a cab, not heeding the firm advice of an attractive stranger Hero outside the bar warning her not to enter.
Heroine is captured by a group of depraved men in the bar,
led by grim and forbidding Hero,
and taken to a remote cabin to await instructions.
Hero seems as rough and mercenary as the other men in the cabin.
And she's shocked at herself for not being too bothered by his interest in her.
But what shocks her more
is her own unbridled response to him,
even to his crude and unmistakable possessiveness of her.
The other men find a way to get to her at some point.
Hero helps her escape
but she's brought back in.
He's not pleased to see her again.
She soon realizes the danger she's in when she sees what's inside his boss' mansion.
And Hero's reactions drive her uncertainty about how she can survive all this.

My first book by Finn & it's a dark captive-heroine romance book that stays within my dark-romance boundaries. So there's no non-consensual sex, no physical or sexual violence/violation against heroine, & 1 other major requirement of mine which I have under my SPOILERS since it might spoil the book for you. And the character development is in the positive direction, meaning neither Hero or heroine become more anti-social or darker by the end. Their romance built very quickly in such a trying circumstance. It was believable for the most part. The only parts I questioned was the perfect timing of Hero saving heroine from several attempts of other kidnappers' sexually molesting heroine. I'm just glad he did arrive there just in time. I couldn't have stomached anymore than their touching attempts. This book was dark & gritty in the sense that for most of the book heroine is imprisoned but the light & hope came from Hero's successful attempts to free her. But she'd be captured again and/or came back to help save Hero. I appreciated these moments of relief in this dark captive romance book. Hero and heroine's romance plays a central part in this book. Sure, it had its explicitly sexual moments. But their relationship was driven primarily by their emotional connection to each other that had nothing to do with Stockholm Syndrome.  Heroine made a clear point about this to ward off Hero's concerns about her attachment to him. 

Heroine may have been a captive but she didn't allow her circumstance to push her down. I liked her instropection and her realistic perspective on her situation. She chose the stronger and higher road, resisting her other captors with her wit. It was as if she developed street smarts during her time there. She would not allow herself to be broken by these men, even though she was scared & trapped. We saw her getting the better of her captors as the book developed, earning her some slaps & hits but not breaking her spirit & earning her more time from being raped.  Her constant barrage of verbals insults were like cold showers to her captors. Her tumultuous time being kidnapped improved her character. She was an average citizen who worked & lived by herself. She was a plain Jane that everybody in her wealthy overlooked.  She'd only been on her own for a year after being kicked out from her family's mansion, ekking out an independent life by barely getting by with her finances. But she made it. That year was good practice for the strengthening she'd need during her capture. She accepted her sexually submissive role with Hero.  The rough sexual play & dirty-name calling on his part were all acceptable to her.  Hero made sure she consented to everything they did in their sexual relationship. I liked the emotional equality between Hero and heroine in this book. Heroine 

As rough, tough, & cold Hero was, he was the main attraction for me in this book. He tried to resist his attachment towards heroine but failed. Time and time again. He tried to keep it only sex or scare her with rough sex but he couldn't go all the way through it. He'd surrender his attempts at emotional detachment with her fairly quickly. What was great was how heroine would go along with his resistances, trusting that Hero wouldn't succeed in truly hurting her. It was quite ironic how Mr. Mercenary didn't scare Ms. Librarian and was amazed at her trust in someone with his rough and broken history.  Hero was the kind of hero I like. An alpha-male who gets all possessive and protective of heroine when he doesn't ever act like that with anyone else & tries to resist it but ends succumbing to his protective-possessive tendency wit her because her well-being is so valuable to him. There was a part in the book that had me wringing my finger because I thought he was going to compromise her to prove his loyalty to his crime boss:

     ---------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details----------------

His boss was suspicious of Hero's involvement, wondering if he may be an undercover cop. He also wanted to get an edge on him, believing that Hero was soft on heroine. So, he ordered his men to do as they please with heroine. And he ordered Hero to have sex with his seductive assistant. This got my heart thudding a bit since the main characters having sex with another while their still together (legally or by choice) is a huge no-no for me. A wallbanger, DNF deal-breaker thing for me in my romance novels. Hero was known to have indiscriminate sex with women, including doing so for team loyalty. The good news was that heroine's rape attempts were again thwarted and Hero ended up being locked up for not obeying orders. He didn't have sex with the sexy naked assistant because he couldn't get an erection with her! He'd never had that problem before. He only wanted heroine & this other woman just would not do.  

The one thing that spoiled Hero's sexual-inclination-for-heroine only was at the end, when heroine was giving him suggestions of what he can do in the future. I did not like that heroine was ok with Hero having sex for job-purposes. She told him to just think of her if he had erection problems in the future. She was supportive of his continuing on with his undercover security-investigation work but I would rather her want to exclude having sex with other women as part of his job. I think Hero would've had no problems with that. He was sold on heroine & didn't want any other woman. He'd prove his devotion to her, going so far as compromising his life and work for her.  I think he would've found ways to still do his kind of work but without compromising for sex. Her "it's ok if you have sex with other women as long as you come back to me" comment sabotaged his efforts to show his devotion to only her. So, that's a 1-star off for her comment.

     --------------------------------------------------END SPOILERS--------------------------------------------------

Overall, Hero's actions showed his unfailing attachment to heroine, putting her welfare above his without completely botching his job. He's my kind of hero. I just wished heroine took it to heart a little bit more than she did at the end.

I recommend this book.
4-star

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