I know…this one isn’t on the list, but I wasn’t into the thriller I was reading (hopefully that will change and I can finish it, because it’s well-written), and this really appealed to me. Annika Martin and Skye Warren team up to write this dark romance. And yes, it’s dark. I was first tuned into this book when I posted a blitz for the second in the series, Hostage (one-clicked before I finished Prisoner).
Martin and Warren do not pussy-foot around the hard stuff in this intro to a new series, and the book is all the better for it. Frequently, I find that “dark” romances are tortured pasts that lead to BDSM. This is not that book. This is a tortured past being played out again and again. Prisoner is vengeance and lust and fear and self-loathing and compulsion. It is the story of a man who has had his humanity stripped away, and he finds a link back to that humanity in an unlikely place.
The characters have a wealth of depth. Abby is not everything she appears to be, and not only does this shock Grayson and his crew, but it shocks her a little, too. The slow leaking of Abby’s past combined with the tortured drive of Grayson’s present makes for a very tension-filled relationship. Abby first appeals to Grayson because she appears to be innocent, but over and over you get snippets that she might not be as lily-white as Grayson thinks she is. The snippets of humor had the editor/linguist in me rolling. When talking back includes correcting his grammar…and the fact that he finds it hot…well…let’s just say that those parts of the story fulfilled some long-hidden need in me to have SOMEBODY see my quirks as attractive. However, once you add into that the closeness of the crew and their distrust of outsiders, what appears to be a happy ending goes a little sideways. It really seemed like they’d get a fairly easy happily ever after. Don’t be fooled. With a quick twist to the gut, Warren and Martin send you spiraling for another 30 or so pages.
Overall, this book is a solid read, playing with your mind and delving into the psychology of both MCs, which is what truly makes a dark romance good, in my opinion. However, I really think that it could have been a little darker. As tortured as Grayson is in the beginning, the end was kind of coated in fairytale glitter. I hope that future books in the series do a better job of maintaining the delicious darkness that Prisoner opened with.