Epilogue (The Dark Duet Book 3)
Sidenote: If you haven’t read the first two books in the series yet, skip this review and head over to my first review. I don’t quite “spoil” anything below, but this series is best experienced each step of the way through the eyes of the two main characters. This is the “epilogue” and you shouldn’t know this part, yet. 😉 Oh, and here is the reading order.
I think… I loved this one the most. It’s hard to say for sure considering the intense addiction I had to the first two books. I’m a book adrenaline-junkie and this series had it all. The fear-factor mixed in with the crazy intense love story/stockholm syndrome aspect that is my own brand of guilty pleasure). I’m a sucker for a sexy but true “bad guy” with a touch of that “je ne sais quoi” that gives me hope for change and this series was … my perfect read.
Ohhhhh at times (so often!!) it was ugly. Horrendous, despicable and unforgivable. A true nightmare and one that had me so distraught in my need for comfort from the very man that was causing the torment. Yep. Stockholm syndrome in full effect. Via a book, no less. That’s some magic, right there. 😉
I am the man who kidnapped Livvie. I am the man who held her in a dark room for weeks. I’m the one who tied her to a bedpost and beat her. I’m the one who nearly sold her into sexual slavery. But most importantly, I am the man she loves.
She loves me. It’s quite sick, isn’t it?
Of course, there’s more to our story than can be surmised in a few short sentences, but I’m at a loss for justifying my behavior back then. I assume if you’re reading this, I don’t need to make those justifications. You’ve already made your own.
This book? It gave me a sort of… closure. It gave me downtime. It gave me the love story in spades. It gave me normal.
Heather: I love how they do normal, non-captive-y things in this one!
YES Heather!! What sweet relief. This book was the “normal” people installment. 😉 Fun, real-people things, normal people things. I guess I hadn’t grasped how completely isolated and unfamiliar he was with the “real” world. I mean, just his excitement over video games had me grinning from ear to ear, and there was so much of that. This one that allowed us to relate to them… or had THEM relating to us, despite their tragic circumstances. Despite their tragic start.
Though, even with the love and the attempt at “normal”, it still kept me on the edge of my seat. ‘Cause after all, we are dealing with Caleb here. He’s broken, and sometimes broken things seem to work just fine and can be fixed, and sometimes… they’re dangerous. Depends on where you plug ’em in. 😉 Or poke ’em. There was plenty of *zap* potential here, and I love that CJ inflected the mood of the story with some of that “eeeeeep-factor” that I’ve come to expect from her.
But “Epilogue” justified my love for Caleb. Er… I mean James. 😉 All of that “guilt” that I had while reading #1, while silently rooting for this crazy love story to bloom? Justified. And then book #2 that only solidified my need (via Livvie’s eyes) for Caleb. Sure, I may have cringed and pined and cringed and pined, questioning my own sanity for connecting to such horror, but y’all know… I loved every. single. minute of it. And I realized that I was right. It was okay (at least… “book-okay“). There was so much more to the story than what my mind was insisting on telling me. My heart was… justified.
Am I Caleb?
Am I James?
I’ve often asked myself this very thing and have always come up with a different answer. Perhaps the only truthful answer is, “I am both.”
Caleb will always be a part of me – probably the largest part. I want to be James.
The author took him from a monster to a human in the span of three books, and I believed it every step of the way. From a villain… to dare I say a hero? Okay, I may be pushing it considering he was the reason he ended up having to do the rescuing.
However, I’m coming out and saying it as it is. I love him, friends. I can’t help it. I was conditioned too, you know. By the author. Her amazing writing, and the depth and emotion in her storytelling had my attention from start to finish. No skipping, no skimming on my part. In fact, this was one of those series that had me stressing as I was nearing the end of each installment, not ready for it to be over. She tapped into every emotion. The detail, their past, the reveals, their future. Their actions and their reactions. Movie-quality. A-list actor movie quality.
Best of all, she teased us by giving this evil villain a heart. Okay, perhaps a dried husk of a heart at first, sure, but it eventually came to life, and took me with it. She slowly (yet consistently) leaked his potential “goodness” onto us as we trembled in fear. We saw “one” Caleb, yet couldn’t help but experience the other.
What I loved about the series? All the thrills and jolts, and scary moments in the dark that were punctuated with moments of sweetness and light. Hope. For both Livvie AND Caleb (even despite the reality that faced them both). At times, they let their imagination take them… somewhere else. And then reality hit us all in the face when evil Caleb had to make an appearance.
But what I loved most of all? That, from this perspective, I BELIEVED his change, and his heartache because it wasn’t 100% perfect. He still had bouts of simmering rage, explosive reactions, dark urges and unhealthy thoughts. Just because he was trying to be a better person, it doesn’t mean he was healed. It doesn’t mean he will ever be completely healed.
I forced myself to smile when all I wanted to do was tell her I was through taking her sh!t. I knew I deserved it. I deserved much more than she was giving. It’s just not in my nature to let people kick me while I’m already down.
He fears his conditioning, and his upbringing might rear it’s ugly head and bring out the worst in him.
We were in dangerous territory. I knew the situation could blow up in my face, but the thrill was too strong. I couldn’t resist.
And he fears that her conditioning will keep them both from ever truly moving on (and moving on together). Both of their pasts could keep haunting them forever. Is love enough? And can she ever truly love him considering what he has put her through? He doesn’t believe himself worthy, and my heart broke over and over again for them both.
I thought finding Livvie would give me certainty, but I was learning that happiness also presents new ways to suffer. Misery, I understand. Happiness is terrifying.
In my opinion, this isn’t necessarily their “HEA”. They (and we) had to work for it from the very start of the series, and I have a feeling that there is still plenty of work to do. It’s about healing, growth, and trying to “live” again after a good chunk of their lives have been stolen from them. Not just her. Him, too.
I suspect their story is not over (for us), but only time will tell. And while this latest (last?) installment was exactly what I needed, and I will forever be grateful to the author for giving us this perspective and a forward step in my own “Captive” healing process, I could only hope to continue healing with them in their future. With a past like that, bumps in their road will be unavoidable, and I’d like to take that journey with them. If the author (and characters) are so inclined, of course. 😉
Thank you, CJ Roberts for this review copy. It was truly fantastic!!! More please? I know, I know… I keep asking for more, I’m being greedy (considering my last request after the “final” book #2). Even though you hinted that there wouldn’t be any more, lo and behold, there was!! 😀 So… ummm… again. More please?
5 stars!!!!!!! <—– FIVE!!!!
P.S. There’s even an alternate ending on the author’s website.
Just LOOK at how much we love this book!!
Maryse’s Book Blog: I. Am. Looooving CJ Robert’s “Epilogue” like crazy! Ohhhhh I especially love Caleb in this. My heart is way involved and I’ve been nervous the entire time, too. You know… ’cause it’s Caleb. And he still scares me. Eeeeeep. Okay I’m well into the 2nd half.
Erin: Lol!! He is scary, but in a oh so good way!
Jennifer: So FLIPPEN FANTASTICAL!!! Could not put it down!!!!
Lynetta: Maryse, does your head hurt when you read Dark Duet? Like my whole body draws in and my head aches. I have such a visceral reaction to those amazing books. I can’t wait to reread Epilogue. Being in Caleb’s head was fantastic!
Tiffany: I absolutely LOVED Epilogue, and I love Caleb so much !!! CJ Roberts did an amazing at showing that their HEA actually happened after a long work ! The evolution of the 2 characters is awesome, I really enjoyed it and I’m gonna miss them so much !
Maria: Agree!! Already on my reread!!! Love this series!!! Cannot say it enough!!! Loved being in Caleb’s head!! Fantastic story! Caleb and Livvie are amazing characters!! CJ Roberts is pure genius!!
Louise : I am lovig it toooooo!
Maryse’s Book Blog: She is sooooo good, you guys! An amazing storyteller, and the detail in everything is just perfect. In the thoughts, the dialogue, the actions and the reactions. These characters are real. I just know it!
Jennifer: I’m reading book 2 right now. I can’t wait to start Epilogue!
Michele: Maryse, you KNOW how I feel about Caleb and CJ Roberts. I too am reading this… LOVE!!!
Ann: I’m am reading it right now!!!!!! I love him
Maryse’s Book Blog: His poooor husk.
Angelica: He is really scary but I love him too lol. I’m about to start reading Epilogue can’t wait!!
Lisa: I am downloading Epilogue today and there are parts of me that can’t wait to read it, parts that are apprehensive! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Dark Duet series, but it took a toll on my emotions for daysss!
Lynetta: That’s the way I felt too! I was so nervous/excited. This will take a toll, but it will be a good one! For the first few chapters, it’s just like reading DD–overwhelming!
Jacque: Finished it this morning…what a great sick twisted series of books!
Amy: It was amazing !!!
Angel: I had put these books off for months because of what I know they are about but when his POV came out I just went for it and OMG, I hated Caleb I mean you have to hate him right? but at the end he still scares me but I love him.
Niki: I only hope more people will read the books with an open mind. She is an amazingly talented writer and I think she deserves some more recognition!! CJ Roberts I am in awe of your talent!!! I will read ANYTHING you write…
Amanda: I need to get book 2! Ahhhh!
Caroline: read all three in two days last week and cannot stop thinking about it. I do hope there’s more .
Tracie: Caleb was perfect in this one. I loved him even more.
Ivette: I loved Caleb but I love him even more in this book. I was counting down and starting reading it the night it came out. I love the banter they have with each other. It was perfect. I can’t wait to meet her in Book Bash
Maryse’s Book Blog: I’m floating!!! I’m in a Caleb-haze and it feels wonderful. I just *wish* for just one thing more from that book… but still. I loved it as much, if not more than the first two. This book was NEEDED!
Sadie: My thoughts exactly. She definitely leaves it open for more…
Jennifer: What one thing? I’m so curious!!!
Maryse’s Book Blog: Er… something was said… I was waiting for the response. Unless I missed it.
Nikki: That is about where I am. I have missed these characters so much!
Maryse’s Book Blog: CJ is extremely talented. Eloquent writing and VERY real thoughts. I highlighted the whole freakin’ thing. It’s gonna make me choosing my favorite parts for the review that much harder.
Megan: Finished it last night…loved it!
Ashley: Reading Captive & Seduced was an experience. I got into Livvie’s head, and I totally got her view of Caleb. I understood that relationship (which is crazy b/c I’ve never had anything close to that luckily? Unluckily?) However, with Epilogue…whoa. I got in Caleb’s head, and the immense connection I felt to him already was practically cemented with this book. I now get both of them, my only regret? Wishing I could experience this all over again. **swoon**
Rebecca: Maryse you’re right. It was missed and i reread to find “it”. Also I felt like something was going to happen at any moment, the old guy? The weird coat check thing? and he used his last name out loud in public? oh and the gloves in the trash? There could be alot to work with there. Love CJ and this series.
Erica: Great read they have such a dark and twisted love story. Great angst in seduced by the dark.
Sarah: I have a wicked book hangover. Just spent the last two and a half days with Caleb and Livvie, and I’m not ready to leave them. 🙁
Ashley: I’m right there with you, Sarah! I read all three captive books this week and I now I keep starting books, but can’t get in my jive. Lesigh
Sarah: I know……I was just trying to decide what to read next, but I’m not ready to move on yet. Everything else is just going to fall flat. I think I need to read something completely different….maybe something funny.
Sadie: So hungover!!!
Johanna: Agree, Sarah!! I just finished last nigh, and I miss them already.. Im not ready to let them GO
Maryse’s Book Blog: Right there with you, Sarah. I’m trying to write the review but my brain is still in a love-fog… My words have left me. All I wanna do is cuddle Caleb.