Saturday, December 10, 2011

QUICK REVIEW: "Captive In The Dark" - by CJ Roberts


“CAPTIVE IN THE DARK”
by CJ Roberts

REVIEWED BY: Ellen Fritz

OVERVIEW
BOOK ONE OF THE DARK DUET:
Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.

Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.

WARNING: This book contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, strong language, and graphic violence.

REVIEW
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’S star rating: 5/5

INTERVIEW with author CHRISTIA ROBERTS

Q: HOW DID THE IDEA FOR “CAPTIVE IN THE DARK” ORIGINATE

A: I was in the military and had just arrived in Germany. I didn’t know anyone, had no vehicle, and I didn’t speak the language. I arrived on a long weekend and was stuck in a hotel room on base until Tuesday. I had come from Korea and the jet lag was unbelievable; it was 2:30 in the morning and sleep was absolutely nowhere in sight. At the time, I didn’t have an e-reader and I had read all my paperbacks that I had brought. So...I decided to write in the hopes it would make me sleepy. I wrote 3,000 words that night and it was all sex scene – guess you could tell where my head was – lol.
Anyway, when I read it in the morning, I thought: this isn’t too bad. So I wrote a little more. I wrote a little more, chapter by chapter, for years, with no intention of ever showing it to anyone except one friend. Interesting side note: those first 3,000 words never made it into the final novel.

Q: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THIS HIGHLY EMOTIONAL BOOK?

A: This story has grown with me, changing, evolving, since 2002. I wrote it one paragraph, one chapter, one damn burst of inspiration at a time. And it wasn’t until I met my future husband in 2006 that I ever intended to publish it. But once I decided, it was a whole new thing. I had a lot of work to do.
I would be absolutely remiss not mentioning Katie Ekvall and Amanda Mennie who I met online in 2009. Together, they took my writing to a whole other place. They took a piece of disjointed writing and FORCED me to make it something I wouldn’t be ashamed to put out there.

Q: WAS IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO MAINTAIN SUCH A HIGH LEVEL OF EMOTIONAL SUSPENSE WHILE WRITING “CAPTIVE IN THE DARK”?

A: I do my best writing when I’m feeling vulnerable or confused. I’m rarely at the keyboard when I’m ‘at one’. Captive in the Dark was where I went to work stuff out. I was already in a place of emotional suspense when I sat down to write. So...no. Although, because I write this way – I NEVER know where the story is going to take me. I’m along for the ride, just like you. It can make for some time-consuming editing.

Q: HOW MUCH RESEARCH WENT INTO “CAPTIVE IN THE DARK”?

A: I’ve said this before, but I am a big fan of anything taboo. Whenever I travel, I like to get into places I’m not supposed to go. At the time, I wasn’t intending to do research, but later, after the experience is a part of me, that’s exactly what it becomes.
As for the logistical stuff: I write first, whatever is in me to write. Later, I’ll go back over what I’ve written and I’ll ask myself what needs research and then I’ll go back and make changes to fit the facts. I spend several hours on research – several. But I write first, otherwise, I’ll just get stuck looking up crap on the net for days. One time I spent three days obsessed with falcon training – yeah – never even used it.

Q: WHEN MAY WE EXPECT A FOLLOW UP TO “CAPTIVE IN THE DARK”

A: My process leaves a lot to be desired, but, I am determined to have SEDUCED IN THE DARK out by September of 2012.

Q: DID YOU RECEIVE A LOT OF CRITICISM FOR THIS BOOK AND HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT?

A: You know what? I was SHOCKED by the lack of harsh criticism I’ve received so far. My brain is a strange place to be. I have a dark sense of humor and an even darker idea of what is sexy. I thought for sure, people would read my stuff and tell me I was sick or something. I was super nervous.
Lo and behold, people embraced me. They embraced Caleb and Livvie. They embraced the idea that love belongs to everyone – even if they are the last who deserve it. Because honestly, I think that’s how most of us feel – like we don’t deserve love and when we receive it, we don’t know what the hell to do with it. We mess up. We push people away, we say mean things, and we try to destroy what brings us joy because we understand the sadness much better. And still, despite all our flaws, we want nothing more than for someone to love us.

Thank you so much for this opportunity. Regardless of all the positive feedback, there is still that part of me that feels the need to explain where I’m coming from, so thank you for asking the questions.

READ MORE REVIEWS here:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12513614-captive-in-the-dark   (13 x reviews)                                                                                              

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