Author: David Ellis
Cover Artist: Tenth Street Press
Publisher: Tenth Street Press
Amazon: Buy Link Captive
Genre: Contemporary, BDSM, Suspense
Length: 211 pages
Rating: 1.5 star out of 5
A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: A good premise, but inconsistent writing and unbelievable characters made for a difficult read.
With a twist that literally takes your breath away!
Just a few days away from their civil ceremony, Hugo and Ben’s lives couldn’t be more perfect. Hugo is a talented assistant curator at a local art museum, while Ben is a successful advertising executive. Everyone views them as the ‘dream couple’ – with the exception of Ben’s snooty, disapproving mother.
Their long awaited honeymoon vacation to South Africa had finally arrived and it had become everything they’d hoped for. Then on their last day, the two handsome men find themselves lured by adventurous sexual fantasies – surrendering to the temptation of extramarital affairs. Unfortunately for Ben, it costs him his freedom.
Torn apart by a kidnapping, an abductor that wants payment beyond the usual monetary ransom, Hugo’s world is turned upside down as he tries all he can to locate his man.
Slowly, he becomes exposed to a world of crime and BDSM tucked beneath the murky shadows of beautiful Cape Town. But with the help of new friends, Hugo has the strength to remain hopeful and optimistic that he’ll soon see Ben again.
The story of Hugo and Ben will have you continuously guessing as it takes you down the most unexpected paths. This book is a journey of love and heartbreak, with a twist that will literally take your breath away. Be prepared to become ensnared in a mysterious web of intrigue as one man’s search for his husband leads to self-discovery and tragedy.
Let’s start with the warnings. Some readers might find some of the scenes in this book disturbing. If you don’t want to read about cheating, rape, kidnapping, torture, or murder, you should not read this book. You also shouldn’t read this book if you are in the mood for a romance. Captive is erotic and does center around the relationship between Hugo and Ben, but I would not call it a romance.
I’ve probably lost the majority of potential readers with that first paragraph, so I’m going to assume the people still reading are open to the possibility of reading a book like this. I don’t want anyone to walk away thinking that I gave Captive a low rating because I only review romances. Obviously, I read a lot of them, but my love for reading began with suspense and thrillers. I would even say psychological thrillers are a favorite of mine. I’m not a proponent of murder, cheating, or rape in real life, but I have no issues reading about any of them in fiction. I generally enjoy books which are too dark and disturbing for most readers. The lack of focus on a romance had nothing to do with my rating. I actually thought the premise of the book was very good. I took issue with the characters, their reactions, and their conversations.
I liked Hugo and Ben when I first met them. At first glance they seemed to be the perfect, idyllic couple, but that illusion was quickly corrected as their reality set in. They were a normal couple under a lot of stress and dealing with their own problems. I was enjoying them right up until the time Hugo noticed Ben was missing. It was at that point where I started feeling Hugo’s reactions were unnatural. I found his actions in the hours and days following Ben’s abduction to be unbelievably strange, and therefore lost any connection I had going with him. His lack of emotion was probably the biggest downfall in my opinion. I wanted to experience the horror of Ben’s situation, but it was conveyed with too much cold detachment when seen from his point of view. I understand why Ben was portrayed in such a way, I just wish Hugo had brought forth some of the emotional anguish the situation called for.
The side characters didn’t fare much better with me. I think that in real life most people are a mixture of both good and bad. My issue with the characters was that they came off as being either extremely bad (Ben’s parents) or extremely good (Hugo’s mom). They were too one-dimensional. If they had been more developed, they might have had more depth and been more balanced. That would have gone a long way to making them more believable for me.
Another thing which seemed odd to me was that just about every man involved in the investigation of Ben’s kidnapping was gay by the end of the book. I felt like I had been thrown into a fantasy world where everyone was gay. I’m not opposed to gay fantasy worlds, but I do like them to be somewhat believable. To make matters worse, you would think insta-love is a communicable disease with how often it happened for them.
The conversations between characters were another problem. I was constantly being pulled out of the story because of them. They came across as being disjointed and stilted. I absolutely could not see real people speaking to each other like that.
When I combined all of that together, I came to the conclusion that it was the writing style I had the hardest time getting over because it made the overall flow of the story too awkward. The initial premise was good, but my issues with the writing style were quick to overshadow that. I wanted to feel invested in the story and have some connection with the characters, but I never got there. I’m sorry to say it, but this was a very disappointing read for me.