I haven’t read all of Kitty Thomas’s books yet, but I’m already a HUGE fan. There’s a certain addictive quality to her writing and her dark tales that ensure I will read every single Kitty book out of her repertoire (and the sooner, the better). I just can’t get enough. Plus!! She’s one of “my firsts” (see my review for Comfort Food – I had never read anything like that before and was torn as to what I was feeling). It was my first super-dark-read with a side of questionable romantic connection and unnerving emotion, and I was… bonding with the monster!!? I was experiencing Stockholm Syndrome via a book! GAH!!! I couldn’t believe it (and yet I was titillated!)
While I love my alternative lifestyle reads (safe, sane and consensual), Kitty takes the “lifestyle” right out of my comfort zone. Out of pretty much… anyone’s comfort zone. She’s like… the BDSM/Stockholm syndrome psychological thriller queen.
I love reading many genres, from a great potential romance to a terrifying horror story. And when I’m in the mood for it, I also enjoy a strange, scary mix of the two. In books! Always and only in fictional books… where I remain safe on this side of the pages, and yet can indulge in the fear of the initial situation, the strange comfort in that taboo connection and the hope of healing.
Sometimes Kitty gives us that. And sometimes, she shocks us right to the very end. Often it’s a mix of the two. And it’s kind of… fun. Definitely hard to put down (no matter what your mind insists upon). Her books are a guilty pleasure of the extreme kind.
So you can bet I was SUPER-stoked when this book was released. The title says it all! You know I love my “illicit criminal bad-boy” books. And we’ve totally enjoyed a bunch of those “have to kidnap you since you saw too much” books. Mix that in with Kitty’s version of this kind of storytelling and I was on the edge of my seat from the get-go.
“There was a witness. She’s your type. Redhead. Slender. Big green eyes. I don’t know what it is with you and Irish b%#ches, but she’s perfect for you. You can have what you wanted. All you have to do is come collect her.”
There was a long pause where Faith heard indiscernible shouting on the other side of the phone.
“Calm the f#@k down. Look, what you do with her once you get her is up to you. But if you don’t take her, she’s dead.”
Eeeeep!! Possibly a reprieve from being killed but at what cost?
It was good, and not near as dark as her others. A gentler shock-value book. A gentler monster. Er… well. Gentle in tone and and demeanor…
“I can’t let you go, and I won’t be able to resist taking you. But I’ll be good to you if you let me, Faith. Are you going to let me?”
… until his needs came to the forefront. Yikes!!!!! (and OUCH!! How could anyone handle that!???)
So what’s it about?
Faith is witness to a mob hit and her only saving grace is that the mobster about to “get rid of the problem”, realizes she might be the perfect fit to his twin brother. Her pretty looks are just his twin brother’s type, and instead of killing her, he decides to make a gift of her. Either way, her life is gone, and his brother feels obligated to save her, and… titillated at the potential pretty “slave” presented to him. While he appears to be the more gentle, “moral” one of the family, he struggles with personal demons and very specific needs that morally, he would never seek out on his own. Sure, he “plays” with subs, but his need is darker and getting harder to resist. But with such an option presented to him (take her or she dies) well… this is what we get to explore. Their journey.
From his perspective (his demons that haunt him, and his dark need that controls a large part of who he is vs. his moral values)…
His fantasies meant nothing in light of the very human being he was ruining with them.
… and from hers (her tragic past, the strength and determination that got her to where she was, to losing it all – including her own right to choose, in one horrendous moment of being at the wrong place at the wrong time).
Did every man in the world just want to hit and take advantage of her?
And I enjoyed it. Especially the first half. Her reactions and thought processes seemed wholeheartedly authentic. While she acknowledged her captor’s physical beauty, she was terrified of him and remained that way no matter what he said.
Faith remained quiet, unable to bring herself to look into his eyes. She was afraid if she did, she’d see the devil trying to drag her to hell.
No matter how he tried to ease her, with his beautiful mansion, and her comfortable surroundings and his incredible care of her (he even got her cat and her “stuff” for her), he’d do something, or say something, and it would break all over again.
Was she a prisoner or Cinderella? Had she experienced the worst luck of her life or the best? What he was doing wasn’t okay, but here she was, surrounded by people in a nice place with a man who, despite realities she couldn’t cope with, prepared to… what? Take care of her like she was his girlfriend or wife?
“Leo…” she said, forgetting herself for a moment.
He patted the dog one last time and straightened, his face stern. “Master. Not Leo to you. Ever.”
With that pronouncement, her silly little-girl fantasy came to an abrupt and screeching halt.
Her understandable mistrust of these men, and the shock at the new life she was forced to adapt to, overruled her genuine attempts to trust him. One step forward, 4 steps back. She was a mess and I believed every moment of her fear and disgust.
If Leo would only be kind to her and give her some time, she could see herself willingly going into his arms, but that fantasy was gone.
Stockholm Syndrome took it’s time to set in, and I couldn’t put it down. I was anxious (and chagrinned) over my need to get to the “good stuff” (ack! Needing the personal connection of “loving and being loved by a the captor”?! How could I even go there!!!). But I needed it. I wanted to connect. There was a possible emotional connection on it’s way and I wanted to experience it in depth. But I knew there was a possibility that Kitty might not take us there. Some of her Masters… well. They can have difficulty loving. Owning is their version of love (I know… eeeeeep!), and sometimes their own personal demons torment them from truly letting go. Sometimes, it just is… what it has to be. Take it or leave it. Oh right. Usually, there is no “leave it” option in Kitty-world.
I almost loved it. I could have loved it. But there was something missing for me. Emotionally I was left needing more. Romantically, I felt somewhat unfulfilled.
I know, this is a forced D/s book and come on, right?! What did I expect? Can there ever be real love in a time like this? Maybe. Eventually? I’ve seen it happen… maybe even in this one. Maybe not. Either way, I’ve read some that gave me that, no matter how much my mind told me to resist. I love leaving a book such as this, bewildered by my incredible connection to the “monster”. I love delighting in the amazing healing and growth, despite the initial circumstances.
After all, even with her scariest (to me) book “Comfort Food”, at a certain part – monster or not – I absolutely felt bereft with tears and everything! I SO connected to the moment, the situation and the anguish. But I didn’t have that full-on connection, here. I’m not saying it wasn’t there, just that… for some reason, I wasn’t.
Still though, a good, fairly quick read for those that are into the kidnap, bad-guy, potential romance books. It was often exciting, scary, and painful (in more ways than one), and that’s enough to keep me reading.