Characters I couldn't give two cents about.
No plot. No real story.
Complete mismatch on genre labeling.
Why the everloving heck was this even published?
I have 99 ways to write this review, but a ten page rant won't be one of them. However, I do bring snark (and some images), so fair warning.
I'll open the floor for discussion of this book with a openly-admitted bias: I've never read the Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer. I've been interested in the series for ages, just never came around to it. Some of my friends and fellow readers really like this series, others did not - I was always on the fence about it. The series crossed my radar again when I heard a news story saying that the author planned to write an adult spinoff of her YA paranormal series. At first I didn't have the whole story, and I thought "Interesting idea, that could go well considering the fanbase could grow with the series."
But then I realized it would be an adult erotic spinoff.
Oh. Uhh. Hmm.
"Is that really such a good idea?"
"I hear it's not!"
"Do you really know?"
"I don't know!"
"Do you know?"
"Do you know...?"***
***shameless Revolutionary Girl Utena reference
On a serious note, it made me more curious as to how the author would build upon the world she'd established in the Nightshade series, apart from the controversy surrounding the announcement. Maybe have the story cross appeal in adult urban fantasy successfully with erotic touches.
Sadly, this was not what happened and NOT a good idea. Not even under a penname. This is actually the first time that reading a sequel series has actually turned me off ever reading the initial series it was based upon. If the poor, convoluted writing in this book is any indication, count me out.
"Captive" felt like a YA story - with thin development of conflict, juvenile presentations and depictions of character, and little to no worldbuilding - alongside graphic depictions of sexy times just thrown in willy nilly. The two leading characters, who are supposed to be 20 somethings, feel little more like characters who act like teenagers in some fated prophecy plot that makes no sense. You're kind of thrown into this story from the get go without any explanations as to what the terms mean, such as Guardians or Keepers, or what have you - and I'll admit I was very confused. Not to mention put off.
But that's far from the only offense this book had. Confusion can usually lead to clarity later on, so I followed it despite being completely lost.
I almost wonder if this was the plotline to some A.U. "Beauty in the Beast" fanfic where the heroine ends up getting captured after breaking into the Beast's castle to find out clues as to what's there. The Beast (who really isn't a beast, he's actually quite handsome and sexually able, supposedly) is a prisoner in his own castle for his own protection against "the Enemy". The Beast finds the heroine tied naked to his bed, offered up from her capture by a succubus and incubus, so that the Beast might proceed to rape her.
But the Beast - being the gentleman he is - does not rape her. He unties her, is attracted to her, tries to get to know her, but she's not having it.
But then the Beast's like "So, as long as you're my prisoner and I can't let you go or negotiate your release with the demons who actually work for me, I'll have you do some challenges to pass the time. Like find my favorite book out of a whole library stack that I give you no clues as to what they might be." (She ends up finding the favorite book in a place where she isn't supposed to be and he catches her in the act.)
Or "Partake in some swordfighting with me as another challenge and make an odd Princess Bride reference that I don't understand to pass the time."
As if that isn't confusing and odd enough, said heroine falls in love with her captor and they engage in sexy times! But the problem? She's a virgin. She knows she's a virgin, she even tried to lose her virginity near the beginning of the novel to some dude who's in her infiltrating party because, lo and behold, her infiltration of the castle of their sworn enemies might lead her to DIE and the heroine does not want to "die a virgin" (but she doesn't engage because she'd rather die "honest" than lose her virginity to someone she wasn't ready to give it too. I can respect her decision to keep her virginity, but I did not like the way this was portrayed at all.)
But the issue rears its head again when heroine reveals her virginity in the middle of said sexy times to the Beast, who storms out of the room.
But they end up making up, but the succubus isn't happy about the Beast frolicking with the heroine, so she confronts heroine while heroine is self-pleasuring while thinking about the Beast. And that leads into some really awkward homoerotic subtext between the evil female succubus and the heroine.
And by awkward, I mean really awkward. Multiple occasions of awkward, where I think it's actually supposed to be evil clashes and moments of peril for the heroine.
Anyway, heroine realizes that the reason she's been called to infiltrate the castle in the first place (because this reason wasn't given from the get go - you have no idea why this group happens upon the castle - or chateau in the actual book - except to investigate it).
She's supposed to *free* the Beast. So she enlists the help of a servant girl and they proceed to jailbreak. They escape, and the heroine finds her group again, but the group realizes that the Beast is *the enemy* and capture him and servant girl, to detain them for suspicion.
But the heroine's like "Oh no, they might be a part of our sworn enemies but the servant girl's nice, and OMG - the prince is not evil at all - I LOVE him."
The beast gets confronted and confesses his love for the heroine too, and everything is magically okay, because it seems that according to some age old prophecy, their love child is supposed to be their group's saving grace, so the Beast gets freed. For now, they live happily ever after.
What do I think of this particular turn (and collection) of events?
Please spare yourselves.
Overall score: 0.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Dutton Adult.