KING’S CAPTIVE by Amber Bardan

kings-captive

Oh hey, miss me? Long time no post, I know, but I thought I’d get back on the Palate Cleansing review train with an unusual – for me, at least – take on the contemporary romance genre…

Now I’m not one to judge (well, hmmm). To each their own and so forth, and I don’t know, maybe it’s that whole ‘enjoying my personal liberties, striving for equality’ kind of thing, but I’ve never been drawn to the subgenre of romantic fiction that involves women being held captive. Not my cuppa, not my personal peccadillo, not a hugely attractive notion for me. However, I heard tell that King’s Captive was a bit different, and so my interest was duly piqued. But it is worth noting that I have nowt to compare it to – maybe the ‘women held captive’ genre is subverting expectations like Bardan’s intriguing narrative does all over the place, and I’ve been missing out? Let me know.

It’s difficult to review King’s Captive without ruining the well constructed drip-feed of the story that Bardan has put together, but suffice it to say, things here aren’t quite as they seem. We meet narrator Sarah when she has been held captive on a super-swanky island by tattoo’ed arms smuggler and natty dresser Julius King for three years. Her family were also deep in the organised crime game, so she’s used to brawny guys with guns. She and Julius have a strange, strained, sexually tense relationship in which he denies her freedom, but otherwise treats her with an odd type of reverence and respect. As their attraction boils over, we get treated to some fairly sexy, though thankfully not too icky, power struggles and carnal encounters. But Sarah is constantly resisting and hoping for a means of escape.

While Sarah as a character is well drawn and compelling, perhaps inevitably given the context, there are times when the book is surely testing that ‘for the love of feminism’ mark, particularly with her hopes of being rescued by a fabled badass guy (whose nickname is ‘The Pirate’ * snicker *). Yet, with admirable skill, Bardan carefully feeds us curious readers with information about how Sarah came to find herself in this stifling situation, and if there wasn’t quite Kaiser Soze levels of mind-blowing narrative unravelling, there were a few ‘well whaddaya know?’ moments, to be sure. Though one major criticism I have is that Sarah keeps describing how she is “tasting Julius’ breath” (in various metaphors and literal descriptions). Which is, like, kind of unpleasant, no? Just me? Unless he has incredibly fresh and minty breath at all times, and even then. Weird. Aaaanyhoo…

If you’re looking for a thriller-esque romance with some clever and mysterious storytelling and some sexy interludes, I’d free your mind (heh) and take a chance on this one. You may well find yourself captivated up until the very last pages. (Oof.)

Cringe Factor                                   2.5/5

Is it Hot in Here?                              3/5

For the Love of Feminism!              2.5/5

Overall Tasty Goodness                   3.5/5

Amazon Link: King’s Captive on Amazon.co.uk

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