Review: Captive in the Dark by CJ Roberts


Wow. Just. Wow.

I honestly didn’t expect to like this book.
I definitely didn’t expect to like this book this much.

I don’t read a lot of dark, messed up shit. I generally don’t like it, but this was something else. This book was incredible.

As the blurb states, this is a book about a girl called Livvy who gets kidnapped and trained as a sex slave by a guy called Caleb. Over the course of the story we get to know Caleb’s mind and motivations as well as suffer through Livvy’s experiences over her three week hell as Caleb’s “property”.

Anyone who has read my review of Hush, Hush will know that I have a serious problem with authors who “romanticize” abuse in anyway. I can see readers having that same problem with this book. But CJ Roberts doesn’t portray the sex trade as anything less than horrifying. Even Caleb, who had understandable motives for what he’s doing, is accurately represented as the monster he is. We do get a background on his character, and I did find myself sympathizing with his plight, but it was very clear that he made his choices. In his own words:

“This isn’t a romance. You’re not a damsel in distress and I’m not the handsome prince come to save you.”

I never saw him as the “love interest” and thankfully, neither did Livvy. Throughout the book she never gives up; she never stops trying to fight him. Yes, she suffers from Stockholm Syndrome and disturbing fantasies that she doesn’t understand, but she always ends up at the same conclusion: she is a slave to a monster and she has to escape him.

The inclusion of Livvy’s sexual and romantic fantasies concerning Caleb are probably subject to some controversy. In CJ Roberts’ own words:

“I think people would be surprised by how many messages I receive from people who have suffered abuse, thanking me for writing this type of work. For some, it helps them explore deep-seeded fantasies they are too scared to admit to and explore. The sexual fantasies of former abuse victims is not something always understood by mainstream society.”

I agree with what she said. Fantasies involving an abuser are not a pleasant thought to entertain. Not for me, and certainly not for anyone who has been through something like that. But it’s the truth. It’s gritty and it’s real and it’s something I praise CJ Roberts for being brave enough to explore.

At the end of the day it’s not a fairy tale. This is not pure fiction, it is an honest account of the kind of thing that happens in this world that so many of us blissfully ignore. It is not always so black and white; abuse victims don’t only suffer physical and psychological abuse from their captors but have to live with the feelings and memories for the rest of their lives. Feelings of confusion, feelings of guilt, feelings that they brought it on themselves. And yes, sometimes even disturbing fantasies that are brought on from the trauma. It is near impossible for an abuse victim to truly open up to someone about their feelings. How could it be? How could anyone understand their plight when they don’t even understand it themselves? It doesn’t make it any easier when there are so many cases of people saying “they asked for it by the way they dressed” or “if you have an orgasm during rape then it’s not rape”. Or how about that idiot Todd Akin and his whole “legitimate rape” theory?! (seriously, what a dick)

I can’t praise CJ Roberts highly enough for confidently writing about such a controversial and difficult subject and doing it so well. I now have high standards for the sequel and hope it doesn’t disappoint.


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