Hostage by Annika Martin and Skye Warren (Criminals & Captive #2)
Released: January 27, 2018
Dark Romantic Suspense
Reviewed by Mandi
Back in 2014, I read Prisoner by Annika Martin and Skye Warren (currently free) and it stretched my boundaries. It made me feel a little uncertain, as there is one scene where the hero drugs the heroine and then they have sex. I liked the characters, and the dark world they created – I think I gave it a B. The romance wasn’t as romancy as I would have liked.
Now, these two have added another book to this world – with a new hero and heroine – and I loved it. Two things I want to mention before I get into the review. The heroine is sixteen when she is kidnapped by the hero. I believe they kiss when she is this age. When she is seventeen they fool around a little, and she is over 18 by the time they have sex. Also, while not told in detail, there is sexual abuse to young boys mentioned in this book.
Brooke lives a fantasy, princess life from everyone looking in on her from the outside. She lives in a big house, wears designer clothes and has parents who entertain only the elite of society. But on the inside, Brooke is falling apart. Her father’s company is losing money, her mother puts a ton of stress on Brooke to keep up appearances. She hates her life.
During her lavish sixteenth birthday party, she hears a noise outside the front of her house and discovers a man horribly beating up another man (a guest at her party). She yells at him to stop, and finds herself kidnapped, along with the bloody beaten man. The man who kidnaps her is our hero, Stone.
Stone was taken when he was nine years old and for five years kept in a basement along with several other young boys. Unspeakable sexual abuse, physical abuse, and torture took place. Finally, Stone found a way to escape and got all the other boys out. This changed them forever, most not even having a family to go home to. So they became their own family. In present day, they all live together in a compound type place, they have money and they have one common goal – to get vengeance on the men who abused them. Stone is their leader, and he has been methodically hunting and killing the men that imprisoned them. And now he has another in his van….and a girl. He doesn’t know why he kidnapped the girl, but he figures he will kill her too.
“I’m gonna get out and deal with this guy. If you move out of this seat, I’ll kill you. And if, by some miracle, you manage to get away, I’m going to kill everybody you called on this phone in the last month. Can you guess how? I’ll give you a hint. A meat hook is involved.”
But after driving around with her, and seeing what she is made of, Stone can’t kill her
It wasn’t the stuff about Girl Scouts that got me, or the way she ate the fries, or the way she struggled to stay alive once she knew what I was doing. It was her desperation to be found with her clothes on. Fighting for that last bit of dignity, even when she was losing everything. That’s what spoke to me.
You always hang on to what you can.
You never let them take everything. Some people don’t get that.
He lets her go. One year later, he takes her again. This time Brooke is more intrigued by this man, than scared. Although still big and scary, instead of threats, he wants to protect her. And Brooke ever so slowly starts to realize that what’s inside of Stone is stark loneliness and devastating pain. They share phone calls, they share secret visits. She starts to slowly pull that darkness out of him, and I loved when he finally lets his walls down and lets Brooke inside. For as dark and gritty and violent Stone is, there is a very romantic moment when Brooke refuses to let him blow her off and makes him realize that she cares for him.
Let me note that this scene is towards the end of the book, years after they first met.
“What are you doing?” he rasps out. He grabs my wrists.
“Let me go!” I hiss. I shake him off.
He lets me go—more out of surprise than anything, I think.
I run my hands over the scars and the crisscrosses that mottle his chest. Some of them old. I lean in to kiss the largest, most angry of the white lines. He called them ugly. They’re anything but.
He shudders. “…the fuck?”
“I love this one,” I say and kiss it again.
“I love this one, too.” I kiss another.
“I love this one very much.” I press a kiss to a scar over his heart, press my face to his heart. I feel him trembling, shaking.
Brooke’s journey from being absolutely terrified, to falling in love with Stone is done so well. I loved all of Stone’s “brothers” and the bond they share with one another. There are big secrets about Brooke’s family that are revealed throughout the book, and I like how it all ends.
When presented with a hero who murders someone in the first chapter, you are never quite sure how you will end up actually rooting for this guy. But these two authors made it work for me. And they give us a really nice romance. It’s a dark and violent book, but worth the journey.