on Dec. 10, 2011 :
If you want to read a book that takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride; simultaneously shocks and awes you, then this is it.
In “Captive in the Dark”, author CJ Roberts gives us a good look at the world of pleasure slaves and their trainers. A world devoid of love or mercy; a world of traitors and revenge where only the fearless and powerful has a chance of surviving.
All Livvie ever wanted was for her mother to love her, for her dreams of the handsome angel who rescued her from an evil pursuer on the street to come true; and ultimately for a pair of loving arms to hold her. She is a victim, but a victim who will fight back long after the reader thinks she is broken and crushed into absolute submission. I found Livvie’s character to be a breath of fresh air. So often female characters are portrayed as needy, clingy and weak, but she was exactly the opposite. Despite the horrendous physical and emotional torture she suffered, she remained strong, courageous and displayed a maturity beyond her years.
“I want you to get up.” He stretched out his hand toward me. Weary, I stared at it for what seemed a long time, thinking of the damage waiting to be done by that hand. His calm and my fear hung between us in a thick and heavy coil. He was going to hurt me, something in me knew it. That certainty nearly numbed me. Searching to work my way into his good graces, I reached out tentatively, waiting for the snake to strike. I touched his out-stretched hand, wanting to recoil and shrink back. But I didn’t. He smiled. It was a smile that struck me instantly as both beautiful and evil. (excerpt)
Caleb on the other hand does not know or understand what love is. A victim of circumstance himself, he chose power, revenge and an impossible debt to a friend, to be his final escape from victimhood. But, can he ever completely escape being a victim? Could love, the one thing he does not know or understand, make him a victim again?
Having said this, I think CJ Roberts created the most realistic characters I have ever come across in a book. She allows her characters to grow along with the story; developing as well as revealing depths to their personalities, hidden beneath layers of hurt and disillusionment.
"My life was a joke, to him, to my mother, to those asshole bikers! A cruel, heartbreaking joke and I was more than ready for the punch line. Ready for my life, the joke, to be over.” (excerpt)
As the story alternates between the third person point of view of Caleb, and Livvie's first person point of view, the reader gets a very close look at the true thoughts and feelings of both. This highly effective style of writing serves to bring the reader deeper into the story, making it a truly unforgettable, emotional experience. The story is written with an intensity which will leave you numb; dreading and cursing the cruelty of the slave trainer and crying your heart out with, and for Livvie….. and yes – sometimes even for Caleb.
Extreme betrayal plays a key role in this book. Livvie's love for her mother betrayed; and Caleb - all too aware of the ever present possibility of betrayal by his friend Rafiq, his thug helpers and even Livvie.
"I let him. I was always seeking shelter in the people who hurt me the most. My mother. My father. Caleb. Like a battered dog begging for love from a malicious master." (excerpt)
I truly admire the author for maintaining such a high level of emotional intensity and stomach churning tension throughout the book. Her insight into human weaknesses and raw emotions is astonishing! Yet, in spite of all this horror and cruelty, there are some heartrendingly beautiful and touching moments in the story.
I give this book a rating of 5 stars - and will be waiting with breathless anticipation for the story to continue in the next book. Author CJ Roberts is definitely on her way up!
(As this book deals with the subject of pleasure slaves and kidnapping in a very real way, there are scenes and subject matter which might offend sensitive readers and thus is not suitable for readers below the age of eighteen. It contains scenes of severe cruelty, deviant sexual practices and violence which, although realistic, may offend sensitive readers.) (Ellen Fritz)
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)
Shira Anthony (writing as Sarah Alexander)
on Oct. 6, 2011 :
C.J. Roberts' debut novel is a dark and sexy tale of the relationship between captive and captor. Well-written, with an alternating perspective, we get to peer inside of the minds of both Olivia, the young captive and Caleb, the tortured man who feels compelled to "train" her for sexual slavery.
Note: I read this book as a beta, before publication, so the final, published version may differ slightly.
MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW:
Caleb's life has been anything but easy. Sold into slavery as a young child, sexually abused and treated like a dog (literally), he knows nothing but the dark underworld in which he grew up. He wants nothing more than vengeance upon the man who destroyed his life, and the unsuspecting, naive Olivia is the tool for that revenge.
Olivia hasn't had such an easy time of it herself. She comes from a family that has its own share of darkness and she is trying to pull herself out of that darkness by going to school. But when Caleb kidnaps her and takes her to Mexico to "train" her in how to be a pleasure slave, she fights back at first, all the while drawn to the enigmatic man who holds her captive.
Make no mistake about it - this is a dark universe Ms. Roberts has created. And yet, within that darkness lies light, or at least the possibility of it. Although the novel does not resolve completely the relationship between Olivia and Caleb, it poses some interesting questions which I look forward to seeing resolved in the planned sequel.
Ms. Roberts' writing is clean and engaging, and the shifting perspectives in the work are intriguing and not distracting to the reader. I enjoyed seeing what made Caleb tick the most, and how Olivia begins to get under his skin in a way that none of the other women he has trained before ever have. Seeing Olivia's growth from naive girl to a woman with a sense of her fate was also an appealing progression. Erotic, yes, but with an appealing darkness that will make you shiver at times and look for the light.
(reviewed the day of purchase)