I usually do not write reviews the second I finish a book. I try to let some time, let the story sink in and gain some perspective. But you know what? I don't want this shit sinking in. I would like to forget this book ASAP so I need to go ahead and get this review off my chest.
I honestly don't think that there is a valid way to give this book a star rating. This book could be between 1 and 5 stars depending entirely upon where your gag reflex is located. So you can look at the rating I will eventually choose but in this case, the actual review is far more important.
First, I think I should explain something about the timing of me reading this book. This is the second kidnap/human trafficking book I read in the past couple of days. Timing is important because this is an extremely taboo subject matter that goes to the very hear of darkness in the human soul. Reading two books in a row on this topic might have an impact on my own gag reflex and how I was able to cope with this book.
Second, Pepper Winters' writing is insanely good. Winters' is writing on an entirely different level than a good 90% of "romance" writers. Her use of the English language is compelling and intriguing. The words this author uses make the book an experience, the imagery is so precise she makes the real world fall away and transports you into the story. The problem is that the story is utterly horrifying. I've read a lot of dark romance, this installment in this series (which is the first of a 5 part series) is not just dark, it's bleak, desolate, hopeless, __________ (insert other word that means you need several hugs when you are done with this book). I read Pepper Winters' Monsters In The Dark Series and some of the Debt Inheritance series. In my opinion this is more.....brutal than the other Winters' books I've read.
I don't know if you can tell from the synopsis but the story in this installment is fairly simple. Pim is kidnapped at the age of 16, sold into slavery to a perverted sick "human" being. After being sold, Pim is tortured in every despicable way you can imagine for years. The only solace for me is that most of the abuse is not described in great detail. It was a small solace because there is still a lot of abuse which is described and it is so ugly, I had to skim over some of the pages just to get through it. The thing about this book that elevates it above just gratuitous violence and abuse is the two main characters- Pim and Elder. Pim is either really brave or just a complete idiot, I still don't know. Elder is either a hero or a monster, don't know the answer to that either. What I do know is that the way that these two communicate with one another and the complexities between them are some of the most interesting descriptions of two characters I have ever read. That's all I can really tell you about the plot without spoilers.
Should you read this book? Maybe. Pepper Winters offers a warning at the beginning of the book, READ THE WARNING, BELIEVE THE WARNING. Don't expect any reprieve from ugliness in this book. Maybe it is coming down the road in the series, but don't look for it here. If you feel like you want to read this book AFTER you read Winters' warning and this review, you've been duly warned. For that reason, i decided to give this book 5 stars. Winters' is honest with her readers about what this is. If you decide to read the book anyway, I assume you can handle all of that darkness and despair and engage in the superior writing and character interactions in this book. If that is you, good luck to you. I need a fucking drink.
**ARC provided by TRSoR Promotions**