Getting engaged to the man of her controlling father's choosing was a given. But, as much as she should be used to it, heroine can't easily accept her fiance and her planned future.
However, being abducted & taken away from her life by her father's solemn bodyguard Hero was never part of her solution.
30-something Hero has wanted heroine since he 1st saw her a year ago.
And he just set his plans in motion to finally have her with him. Giving no hesitation to shackling her temporarily inside his hidden cabin to get her to stay with him and listen to why he thinks they are meant to be together.
His clear possessiveness of her ignites her buried attraction to him, spurring her to give in to their mutual desire.
There she realizes what she's been missing. There she realizes he might be right. But it also makes her long for what's she never had..complete freedom to do and be on her own terms. Even if it meant hurting him,
heroine aggressively springs for freedom from Hero, when opportunity comes.Where does she run to? What happens to Hero?
Now this is what I call a good dark romance. And it's a novella too (about 100 pages). Jenika Snow's books are a hit or miss for me. But this book is definitely a hit. I'm not a fan of dark romance books since they are usually focused on the pain/BDSM aspect and not the romance. Worse, they often have sadistic Heroes who either don't redeem themselves. Or the book is lacking romance. Or is too twisted to be romantic to me. The last dark romance I read traumatized me for awhile (click here for my review of that book). I've been very leery about “dark romance” since, avidly reading reviews before even considering reading 1 word of a sample. Since this is a novella & had some familiarity with Snow's writing, I braved it & read a page. Then, I couldn't put it down, glad to be finally reading a dark romance that made me sigh instead of wince in imagined pain.
Loved this obsessed alpha Hero. He was watchful but not too stalkerish since he was paid to lurk & watch as a bodyguard to heroine's father. His obsession to heroine was done in secret. No one had a clue that Hero even looked at heroine in a non-professional way. Yet, he was totally captivated by her at first sight. Admitting to love at first sight . He was so obsessively in love with her, staying celibate since he was saw her a year ago didn't seem to be a problem for him. He systematically planned his abduction of her since then, knowing of no other way to make her his. His obsession didn't feel creepy to me. It was very cave-manish & fit Hero's rough & gritty upbringing. He worked as a trained killer (trained by thugs) in the guise of a bodyguard. So, soft emotions & ordinary romantic gestures were not part of his package. He showed his love for her in the gritty way he knew how. Yet he wasn't rough with her. Demanding and controlling, yes. But not sadistic or assaultive. He gave her the physical space and time to think about the changes in her life. He didn't touch her sexually without consent. He effectively seduced her with his dirty but honest words and with accompanying actions. Although she didn't like being abducted and shackled in his cabin, heroine actually felt cared for and attended to for the first time in her life. She felt loved for herself and not for what she could do for him or others. She was touched that he knew her so well, even buying her fave bathroom products & food. He also somehow knew that she would like to be sexually dominated by him. And she let him. He cared enough to make sure it was consensual all the way. It's this combination of aloof and controlling with thoughtful and caring that I loved about this Hero. He was just the right amount of Dom, without me wanting to kick his sadistic balls.
Character growth occurred with heroine. Heroine had done well being a proper and passive young woman, fit for their upper-class social circle. Before she was abducted by Hero, she'd already began feeling dread and disquiet about her polished and well-controlled life. She didn't want to marry her fiance and had been rejecting his sexual advances. She's not a virgin but she's not one to sleep around either. She was realizing that her parents loved their high social status more than her, although she was sure they would prove they loved her in the right circumstance. But, as much as she may have wanted out, she was scared and unfamiliar about a different life. So, being taken away from that life by Hero opened her eyes to the possibilities. She wanted more, all of it, as a result. Her running away from Hero was not because she was scared of Hero and detested being with him. She actually was falling in love with him and felt safe with him. However, she couldn't trust that she wasn't falling for him because of their forced relationship. She had a taste of freedom & she wanted to explore it fully before she could decide on anything for herself. Thus, she ran away. Not from him per se. But towards freedom. And this is what happened after she clunked Hero on his head & ran away:
---------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details--------
Heroine walked for miles, all the way to her parent's house. She was dirty & dingy and had sores on her feet. She wondered how Hero fared and was surprised that he didn't come after her. Yet. When she reached her parent's mansion, she found out they were having a big gala, which brought her to:
Realization #1: her parents didn't care enough to look for her during the week she was gone (even though Hero made it look like she willingly left with a written note & he disappeared himself without giving notice).
The party showed that her parents' weren't worried or grieved at her uncharacteristic departure. It was further confirmed when her father and ex-fiance scolded her for humiliating them with her actions & her dingy appearance. Her mother was mum and remained passive, supporting her father as always. None of them asked her if she was OK, given her obvious scraggly appearance. It was all about their feelings and appearance, confirming:
Realization #2: her parents didn't love her for herself.
She realized that her parents didn't know her or care to know her. They treated her as an extension of themselves. Since she was acting unbecoming, they cut her off. Heroine packed her bags & told them she didn't want the life they planned for her. Her father threatened to cut her off financially (and he did). Her mother did nothing. Heroine walks off to the next town to live a new life. She had enough money with her to get a small apartment but she needed to work, making her realize that ...
Realization #3: she cherished being a free and responsible adult.
Starting a new life on her own was going to be difficult but she wanted it . She had a college degree but no work experience. So, she worked at a local bakery and bought a used car. She was starting low for her but it meant a lot since it was the first time she was making her own life decisions and making her own money. For 2 months, she had the freedom she never had. She was glad but not happy. In fact, she felt empty because...
Realization #4: she wanted to be with Hero.
Heroine was disappointed that Hero didn't go after her. She liked that she was no longer his captive. But she missed him and being with him. So, 2 months later, she looks at the map to find his cabin and drives over to hopefully see him. When she gets to his cabin, it was spotless with all the chains and shackles gone. And Hero wasn't there. Revisiting the place of her captivity didn't bring any bad memories. She went into his bedroom and just sat there, remembering and wishing. Then, Hero shows up and she asked him why she stayed away from her for the 2 months since she left. His answer left her in no doubt that...
Realization #5: Hero's love for her was enduring and constant.
He had always been near her. She felt like someone was watching her now and then, including on her trek to her parent's house after she ran away from him. He was there, watching her and waiting for her to come back to him willingly. He didn't interfere with her desire to live freely and to figure things out for herself. He knew that she needed it, if she was ever going to love him back and come back to him on her own accord. I loved how he patiently waited for her in a stalkerish way. He was obsessed, possessive, and protective. Yet giving and patient. <sigh>
Epilogue shows them living together in another cabin in a different town, with both reveling in their unconventional romance and life together.
Sex scenes were steamy and explicit. Some light BDSM(bondage domination sadism masochism) and back-door action. All consensual, with no one (heroine really) seeming to be in pain.
I highly recommend this book.