My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
When I saw the news of an upcoming new release by Skye Warren, I immediately got exited. I knew I was going to read Prisoner just from the blurb, and was super happy when Ms. Warren contacted me about it. I couldn’t wait to get inside the wild mind of the Prisoner and his captive!
Abby is a student of English Literature who just got this assignment; to teach a course to a class of prisoners, in a prison and encourage them to learn. To write stories about their lives that can be made into an online journal of sorts, edited by her. Abby, for obvious reasons, didn’t like going to a prison to do a course but she took the challenge anyway when it was presented as such. Little did she know that on the first day she’d meet someone who’d change her life forever; Grayson Kane, whose intensely piercing glance did it for Abby. She was ensnared as if he knew her all her dirty secrets, knew who she really was inside.
Abby has a ‘past’ that has eaten her up. She literally grew up alone, being neglected by her drug addict mother. She has her own dark voids to deal with, things that she seen or heard, but doesn’t want to remember. She hates cramped places, and she likes to be alone. Mostly. When she starts taking the classes, Grayson was not on her student list. But that was rectified soon as one day, he walks in with the other prisoners as a late entry. Abby’s mind begins to whirl, heart starts to race. She wants to avoid Grayson, which proves to be very difficult, seeing how he’d stare at her all through the class, and not only because she’s the course instructor. The attraction went deeper than the fact that Grayson is really easy to look upon; tall, muscular and handsome. Then there was this connection, as if he knows her mind, knows what she’s thinking, that slight smile of mockery as if he has read all her forbidden thoughts about him. The fact that the attraction is very much mutual, even though they talk very little as Grayson is not the most talkative of her students.
Things change on the last day of Abby’s course when a prison break takes place, courtesy of Grayson’s guys. Abby had a premonition but couldn’t put a finger to exactly what. And before she knew it, she becomes the prisoner to the handsome criminal! Abby feels completely shattered, undoubtedly afraid. It was apparent that the beautifully put short piece Grayson wrote was some kinda code for his buddies to get him outta here. Brilliant, but equally disturbing for Abby since she had no clue. She was just so glad to have a piece of his mind, knowing he’s can actually write something good when he’s concentrating.
Abby is angry and hurt, but most importantly she just feels betrayed... used for a criminal’s selfish purpose. But what can one expect when one’s dealing with a criminal? Was she wrong to read those signs between them, the looks they shared? Did she read it all wrong then?
For that, you have to read Grayson’s part of the story. The narrative has the alternative chapters of Grayson and Abby telling their side of the story which I thought was amazing. I don’t remember previously reading a book written by multiple authors, and I can tell you that the storyline flowed so seamlessly, you can’t tell apart. When you read Grayson’s voice, you get an idea of how much an obsession Abby had become to him ever since he saw her. And that the kidnapping was deliberate, that even if he couldn’t take her captive, he would’ve stalked her, found her somehow no matter what.
Grayson’s ‘past’, the reason why he became a criminal, at first, is kinda hazy. But as the story unfolds, we get to learn exactly why. Grayson, who also didn’t have a stellar childhood, was kidnapped when he was very young and kept with a couple of other boys similar or close to his age. The trauma of 6 years worth of abuse changes a man in more ways than one. Grayson and his buddies such as Stone, Nate, Calder etc. had no help since the man who was a part of that trafficking ring was the Governor; a pedophile in secret, who gets by putting on the mask of a family man with a noble heart in front of the world. No one knew what Grayson and his buddies went through, until one day, they were just old enough and strong enough to act on it. It was gruesome but they were free. The Governor, unsurprisingly, slipped past their clutches. The only good thing came this experience was their ‘brotherhood’. Six/seven men who promise to stick by each-other no matter what, their ultimate goal, to strive for revenge. To hunt down both the Governor and his trafficking ring.
It was obvious that Grayson’s buddies would have their own stories to tell. One of the most prominent among them was Stone, older than the rest and a bit of a dunderhead too, but without a doubt very much loyal and protective of his brothers. He becomes a pain in the a$$ when Grayson finally was able to dodge the police and the Governor’s men, and brought Abby with him to their den. Stone, obviously, didn’t like it that their hiding place was now vulnerable because of a stranger. But it was a long journey for both Grayson and Abby, full of ups and downs that also defied their ‘relationship’, if you can call it one. It was true that Abby was attracted to Grayson, who returned it equally if not more. And in his own f*cked up way, he begins caring for Abby as much as he cared for his brothers... if not more. It can’t be good for a man who lives by breaking the law, yet Grayson can’t seem to let go of her. And it wasn’t even about the fact that she might talk. No, he trusted her enough to know she won’t talk. Even then, when Abby was not 100% reciprocating of his kind of affection, though they had sex. The ultimate truth was, for Grayson, Abby was the beacon of light to a very dank and dark tunnel. A feeling of the ‘normal’ he has never known, even if it was largely delusional seeing how he held her captive. Grayson could realize that Abby can’t possibly be his savior, yet he couldn’t let her go, even when he was able to contact Stone who was adamant that Abby must ‘go’, if you know what I mean. But Grayson would kill and maim anyone who hurts Abby, even if it’s one of his brothers.
This, for Grayson, didn’t change throughout the course of the story, a fact that also begins to melt Abby’s resolve. She tried to escape him more than once, tried hating him too but it seems, fate has a different kind of plan for her. For the most part of her life, Abby knew she was essentially alone but now, in the most f*cked up way, she has someone who she knows would be there for her. He’d defy anything and anyone to keep her safe. Yah, it’s not normal to think that her captor and his band of thugs are any good, but hell, Abby didn’t care anymore, because the more she got to know Grayson as a person, the clearer the man underneath became to her. It was a man that the world didn’t see or know and wouldn’t even believe in. But Abby did.
When she learns of Grayson’s abuse and how the brotherhood was formed, Abby is more than resolved to help them find the Governor. Either way, after so many days with them, everybody now thinks she’s their accomplice, so why the hell not?
The rest of the story read more like an action-packed thriller. There were moments where I was superbly annoyed at Stone’s heavy-handed way of ‘solving’ the problem, who, to him, was Abby. He never thought Abby was a good influence on Grayson since they were so into each-other. For Stone, love or any kind of tender entanglement means absolute danger. Women, so far, had ONLY one use for them, and there’s no scope for anything more. How can Grayson not get it straight? He and his brothers can’t risk it since they need all their resources at hand to survive. I could understand that part but that doesn’t mean I had to like what he did to break them apart. That misunderstanding was killing me! But I also knew that Abby and Grayson were already into each-other way deeper than the others could’ve even imagined. Abby had no one to return to (not that she wanted to anymore) and Grayson had no intentions of letting her go. He kept his promise to protect her even until the end of the story, which was absolutely spectacular IMO.
So, was Stone jealous, even if a bit, of what Grayson found in Abby? I bet he was, because I felt that in the deepest corner of his dead heart, he had the same type of craving; of possessing someone that he can call his own. Hopefully, we’d find an answer to that puzzle soon enough. But for now, they all are dedicated to finding out more about this trafficking ring and rescue the poor boys who are in a similar situation. Knowing what they experienced firsthand, I can’t blame their concentrated determination about saving these boys.
Honestly, to me, Prisoner was a beautiful love-story; definitely unconventional but also very much a guilty pleasure. I wouldn’t call it ‘dark’ because Grayson wasn’t the bada$$ criminal who’d scare the sh!t outta you; at least not when you see him with Abby. You can’t say he had no redeeming qualities. He was just so good with her, and I don’t mean only the sex. ;) My heart broke for him and the other guys when I read the snippets of their abuse. Things that f*cked up happens in reality, which makes it even more depressing.
Right now I’m eagerly waiting for the next installment of Criminals & Captives series with bated breath. 4 stars and recommended!
I received a review copy in exchange of an honest review and I'd like to thank Skye Warren for it.