Captive by Scarlet Blackwell

Blurb: On the outs with his lover, author Gabriel Black retreats to work on a new book at his Alaskan hideaway, where he expects peace and quiet… instead Gabriel gets shock and surprise when an intruder breaks in and takes him hostage. His captor, Ethan, is far too handsome for Gabriel’s own good, and Gabriel decides that the best way to get free is to seduce his captor. The question is: Will he enjoy it too much to want to escape if Ethan gives in?

Review: Before I got this novella I looked around for Scarlet Blackwell and didn’t find much apart from her LJ, which seems to be fairly new as well. She mentions there that she writes about soulmates and also posted an excerpt for a new story called “Apathy”. I liked the excerpt and being a sucker for soulmate and for cabin stories I decided to give her a try.

It’s very hard to write about this story without giving away a major plot spoiler. I usually don’t mind mentioning spoilers, but in this case, it won’t do. If you know beforehand about it there is really no point in reading the story at all. So I’ll just write down what I thought along the way while reading.

Scarlet Blackwell throws us medias in res – I mean, really. Gabriel is burning some toast and within 30 seconds into the book Ethan is in the house. I like that. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading novellas and short stories. With short fiction there is no endless introductions, empty chatter and inconsequential “story foreplay” (if I may call it so). Here more so than in most, the action starts right away.

Ethan turns out to be a very dual character. He’s straight but obviously attracted to Gabriel. He’s brutal, but can be gentle. He’s cold-hearted, but can be caring. He’s not very sympathetic, but comforts Gabriel after the breakup with his partner. I found that strange. I thought to myself, what is wrong with this guy? Not that mixed feelings and opposing character traits are unusual, but in Ethan’s case it just didn’t make sense to me. We also don’t find out anything at all about him. Where does he come from? Why is he on the run? He’s on the news but that’s all we learn. Is he an escaped convict? Where did he escape from? What had he done? We know nothing.

Gabriel’s plan to seduce Ethan in order to get his gun backfires. The first time he enjoys it way too much to think of the gun. And Ethan seems to get a kick out of it as well. In fact for a straight guy he’s pretty intuitive when it comes to sex with another man. They both have some fun together a few times– well, it’s not perfect, Ethan still is reserved afterwards –, but Gabriel fucks everything up in the end by reaching for the gun after all. Bad move!

The sex scenes were pretty sensual and even more interesting due to the fact that Ethan seemed so ambiguous about his feelings. All the time I was wondering where on earth the soulmate thing came in. The pages to be read got less and less and no soulmate in sight. Well, the theme was there,  it got delivered fairly late in the book. I enjoyed reading the story very much but the twist about 4/5 into the book was nothing like what I expected. I must admit I felt a bit cheated. Probably I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. I was looking forward to a captor turning into lover sort of story, and I didn’t get that really.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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