29 April 2015

Captive (Captive #1) by Brighton Walsh

 He’s the most dangerous man she’s ever met…and she’s falling in love with him.

Madison Frost is desperate to escape her life. Daughter of a prominent businessman, she has everything a girl could ask for. Except for a family who’s present in her life, and anyone to talk to outside the four walls of the prison she calls home. Madison dreams of one day leaving her life behind. She never thought being kidnapped is how it would happen.

Now she’s being held captive by a man who’s as frightening as he is sinfully gorgeous. Enormous, muscular, and filled with secrets, the man they call Ghost is an enigmatic mercenary, and Madison is trapped with him. She doesn’t know who hired him or why, but the more time she spends at his mercy, the more she realizes he’s not what he seems. Beneath his rough exterior lies an unexpected gentleness and a heart as broken and battered as her own.

But as Madison lets down her walls, Ghost holds tight to his, hiding secrets that could destroy everything.
Dark romance books are, in my opinion, a difficult genre to do well.  They can really go into “too much” territory when it comes to violence and that I am not a fan of.  When done well, though, they can make you sympathetic towards a character that you have every reason to hate and that is when the genre really shines.

Madison is from a wealthy family, and she seems to have it all.  But really, she’s lonely and in a gilded cage.  Her father is a workaholic, her mother is an alcoholic and Madison is at rock bottom.  Then she gets kidnapped and it changes her whole world.  She is taken to a cabin in the middle of nowhere by a man named Ghost.  He’s a professional criminal and is doing this job just for the dough, but this job turns into more than he could have anticipated.

Ghost has some surprising redeeming qualities.  He’s a criminal, sure, but kidnapping women has never been something he was willing to do…until now.  He and Madison find that they have a lot in common and what I really liked about Ghost was just how incredibly real he came across.  These kinds of books have a really tendency to go way far out into lala land when it comes to the leading men, but I found Ghost to be troubled, sure, but he’s not actually a bad guy.

I also really liked the buildup between Ghost and Madison.  It was slow and it really worked for me.  It built anticipation and overall I thought this was a fantastic read and a great addition to the captor/captive dark romance.  Give it a try! 4 stars.
As the popularity of captive-theme books have been on the rise the past few years, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Captive – a dark romance, a Stockholm syndrome romance, a romantic suspense, or a poorly executed story because the author couldn’t pick a direction. Ms. Walsh had no problem with her execution of Captive and delivered a well-written new adult romance that actually showed how two people can be trapped in similar situations despite huge disparities in their socioeconomic status. Captive is not a dark romance nor is the relationship that develops between Madison and Gage (aka Ghost) the result of Stockholm syndrome, and while there is a bit of suspense regarding who is behind Madison’s kidnapping, it is ultimately a romance.

From the outside, it looks as though Maddie leads a charmed life as the daughter of a wealthy businessman. But the reader learns almost immediately that Maddie’s life is not as perfect as it appears when she discovers her mother passed out drunk on the bathroom floor and it’s clear it’s not the first time Maddie has faced the prospect that her mother didn’t survive her night of drinking. As his corporation is more important than his family, Maddie’s father is of no help and she must call on Sylvia, their housekeeper, to help with her mother. Despite her family’s wealth, the only person in Maddie’s life that cares about her is Sylvia and she’s paid to be there, and that just made me feel sad for Maddie. I must admit that even knowing that Maddie was going to be kidnapped, I really didn’t expect it to occur so soon in the book. After all, the girl had a craptastic morning and to have her day end with being kidnapped just seemed to be too much for anyone to have to deal with. But I will say she handled it far better than I would have expected, especially when faced with the outright intimidating Ghost, particularly when she attempted to escape.

One of the things I enjoyed about Captive is that it is told from both Maddie and Gage’s points of view and having access to Gage’s inner thoughts helped a LOT because knowing that he had no interest in harming her made it easier to enjoy watching the romance unfold. Because we’re looking at a captor-captive relationship, there are no grand gestures or slow seductions that we would see in a typical romance, but rather it is the simple acts of human kindness on Gage’s part that leads the affection-starved Maddie to look beyond the tattoos, muscles, and cold eyes to the man inside – the man whose actions cause her to feel safe. I appreciated that there were no proclamations of love from either party after being together for only a few days; rather they spoke of connections, feeling safe, and feeling protected. There is a definite suspense element to the storyline as Gage refuses to tell Maddie who is behind her kidnapping but it is not the driving theme of the book and although I didn’t consider it predictable, I did have a very strong suspicion as to who the responsible party was before the reveal confirmed it. Captive is a fast-paced read with a bit of action, a bit of suspense, just the right amount of sexy fun times, and a whole lot of romance. It was a very enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the sequel, Exposed, for Riley’s story.


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