Her Master’s Courtesan (The Masters Series)
This is as dark as dark gets, my friends. Well… no. I’ve read some depraved horror fiction with some super-psychos that are probably darker than this. But when you pick up a horror/psychological thriller book, you know you’re going to experience monsters (whether they be supernatural, or human). You expect it, and you accept it as the reader because that is the “genre” you chose.
But what makes this kind of erotic “thriller” so dark is that the reader is tormented along with the heroine. For us, it’s mostly a guilty feeling, especially when we seek out, and latch on to, moments of “niceness”. Reprieve from the heartless being that forced this on us. I mean her.
Just as in this story. She was taken, stripped of all of her freedoms and choices and broken down by a sadistic man (the epitome of evil in human form). Then mentally “reformed” to suit his needs.
I cringed at his words, the muscles along my spine tightening from my disgust. I realized he was mad, completely out of touch with the reality of what he’d done. He’d taken my freedom, my choice and my life without my permission and then asked me to appreciate him for food and a roof over my head? I’d rather be starving and homeless than be touched by him or any other man in his group.
It’s mostly appalling, horrific, and disheartening. From the POV of both kidnapper and kidnappee. His mindset and lack of compassion, forcing his will (and believing he has the right to do so) on another human being that was just living her life so happily.
“I understand it is your natural instinct to want to disobey me. You’ve lived a life of privilege and freedom of choice; therefore I do not assume that you’ll easily release your hold on that freedom. However with every act of defiance comes punishment. You must understand now, that in the new life I have given you, I do not want to punish you. You are the only person who can ask for it and you do so by doggedly holding onto that which I have taken away – by holding on to the belief that you have a choice.”
And she eventually becomes so desperate for some sort of connection. He’s just so heartless at first, that even I, the “sane” reader (<— okay when I read these I wonder about my sanity ) crave some sort of relief by way of compassion and eventual gentle affection from the monster himself.
I wouldn’t allow her to invade my mind like I was invading hers. To allow another person to create any emotion inside you is the same thing as giving them power over you. I understood that part of human psychology; she, apparently, did not.
And when it comes to these “dark love stories”, we have that one thing to fall back on. The hope that maybe, despite the terrifying start, that he will somehow find his humanity (at least in part) in the process, and fix what he’s broken, and both of our (I mean their) minds can be salvaged. We’ve read fantastic books just like that, haven’t we? At times the most unforgivably depraved circumstances evolved into an amazing… er… for lack of a better term… “love story”. Healing. Forgiveness.
But when it comes to Stockholm syndrome “dark reads” such as these, an HEA is not guaranteed. At least not in the traditional sense. And sometimes, not at all. You’re taking a chance picking up a story like this. You’re taking a chance on:
- whether you can even stand a story that takes you through the mental and physical depths of hell. One that portrays a situation that is probably every woman’s worst nightmare
- the deplorable fact that we might relate to the monster himself (out of need for comfort and/or need for hope).
- the fact that this might not end well. At all, in any sense. Especially with a psychopath (sociopath?) such as this. And that if it does “end well”, in reality, that kind of “HEA” might actually be quite disturbing.
Some “dark read” HEAs might not actually fix the nightmare. But some of our dark reads start out soooo terrifying, and slowly, build into something (love?) so unconventional, and yet… provide relief.
Okay so what’s this one about?
Aiden is a hired “Master” for a super-secret group controlled by extremely wealthy and wretched men. They are paid exorbitant amounts of money to “find” women of a specific appearance, and to train her into a willing and always obedient sex slave. Aiden is highly renowned for his “Master” abilities. He takes pride in his work, and cares only for the money (and respect) that comes his way with each woman he breaks. He is unable to love, and therefore is unaffected by the pleas and cries of the women he forces himself onto.
And we get to experience him through the eyes of his latest victim, Rebecca (that, if training permits, will soon be sold to an extremely wealthy man). However if training does not go well, Aiden will have no problem disposing of her. She will never be free again.
And I will leave that “what’s it about” section at that.
Did I enjoy it? Yep, well…as much as you can enjoy something like this… and I kind of hated enjoying it. LOL!!!! I wondered (as usual) why I do this to myself. I wondered why I could possibly even RISK the chance of “connecting” to such a wretched man. I kept having to remind myself that if this was a “horror” book from my old reading days, I wouldn’t question the subject matter. In fact, those have been even gorier and more terrifying in terms of scenes and violence.
But what *squigs* me out is that “emotional/love” potential. In horror books, we just read about the torture in “scary” form, and root for the victim to escape and get back at the bad guy.
The only difference here is… that pesky, emotionally confusing “Stockholm syndrome”. And it’s that mind-boggling relationship that has me coming back for more. Why? I dunno. I guess ’cause I like the *crazy* feelings, when I read, and this is as crazy as it gets.
And many in our reading crew are right there with me!
Sally: Hi ladies, Maryse I wanted to let you know that I’m DONE!!! with Her Masters Courtesan by Lily White and THAT WAS GREAT! Disturbingly perfect! THAT my friends is a DARK F*****G READ DONE WELL!! Not the BS they pass off as “dark reads” .Definitely the darkest book I have read yet. The writing is done well which for some reason surprised me. Now I see there is a book 2 to come with 2 different people …I think it’s kind of student/teacher too ..AWESOME I’m pysched! Please consider yourself warned if you are not a dark read lover, DO NOT even attempt to read this BUT if you are it is easily ONE of the best I have read to date. When a book has me this hyped up it’s a 5 star , now off to do my less polite review LOL
Maryse: That’s the one I’m reading too!
Sally: Hold on to your hat Marysebecause Lily White takes you on one hell of a ride!
Kelly: read it and was floored. Is it wrong to love these dark one’s?
Maryse’s Book Blog: Yeah I’m only at about 20% and he’s MEAN as heck. Reminds me of Caleb in the “beginning stages” but kind of worse…Kelly, I have a guilty complex the entire time I’m reading these, wondering that same question, but they are such a THRILL!!! GAH!!! I can’t help myself. Then when I try to review ‘em, I figuratively whip myself while I do. LOL!
Kandace: Sally stop ignoring me woman! Is this a love story at all? Is there any kind of love in their story? I feel nervous about this one. Is it darker than Captive in the Dark?
Sally: YES Its that taken up a couple of notches FOR SURE!
Maryse’s Book Blog: If it’s not darker, then it’s right on par. But I can imagine yes….
Kathy: it gave me the same feel as Captive in the Dark! I actually thought it was a little darker!
Erin: 5 stars!!! Oh man I am all over it.
Johanna: Hehe I’m only on 40% it sucks monkey balls when you have to work.. I rather read the dark little gem..
Kathy: Johanna, you’re going to love it!! I did!!
Maryse: Ughhhh! He’s horrific. I can’t put it down!
Sally: Hahahaha Maryse!! I luv u…how far in are you?
Lisa: Now I will repeat what Kandace said, is it a love story at all? You can send me a private message if you dont want to ruin it for anyone. please someone???
Kristi: Maryse , I’m done. LOVED!!! What a ride!!!
Tray: I’m reading it now Sally and whew…I had to take a break to get my head straight! I’m only about 40% in. He’s getting her ready for her first “visitors”. EEEEK! I’m afraid to read this part
Sally: Ughhhh I’m feeling it in my gut all over again & that is mild compared to the rest !
Oh yes… that scene. That made me fume! ICK!!!!
Yep. I read it with gusto. However it didn’t quite hit the level of my “favorites” in this genre. I think it’s because I had his perspective at times. I had a bit too much information (then again… sometimes I don’t think even he knew what he was really feeling). But from the victim’s eyes, and her eyes only, I think this would have made for a more emotionally-rending read. I didn’t get that unavoidable urge to fall for him as I did with a few others in my dark-reading past.
The other drawback was the dialogue. Internal thoughts had me enthralled, private moments, too. But the dialogue (especially between the men) felt stuffy, pretentious and eye-rolling. The men made me wanna gag. Every. Single. Thing. About. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. UGH!!!!!!!!! GA-ROSS!!! <— (gross ).
But it did take me where no other “dark-read” has taken me before, and I was shocked!!! And appalled. And I HAD to know where it was going.
Did it end well? HA! As if I would say… that’s what makes these reads so fun!! The chance you’re taking and not knowing in any way where it’s going to lead. So all that to say:
3.5 stars? 4 stars? <— I’m leaning on 4 stars.
(Ohhh… I dunno. I’m debating between 3.5 and 4 stars. 3.5 stars ’cause I didn’t connect to the bad guy, although that’s probably a good thing, in this case. I read this one a bit at arms length, you know? I found some parts of the victim’s “connection process” somewhat fast. I wasn’t quite “there” with her, yet when things began progressing in that department. And certain physical responses, well… I guess I really just don’t get that at all. Maybe had those parts been drawn out a bit slower so that I could feel it, too? So… those were my struggles. However, it was one of the better dark-reads I’ve read lately, and a certain couple of twists were explored that intrigued me, which is why I’m thinking 4 stars).
P.S. If (when) I five-star one of these… it’s ’cause I FELL for the bad guy. Big time! If a dark-read can give me Stockholm Syndrome too, then it becomes a part of my prized book collection.