My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
I’ve been treading the thready path of dark erotic romance for a while now, yet I don’t feel reading every author out there, not knowing what kinda impact the story and it’s characters will have on me. I decided to read Jenika Snow’s His solely because the blurb interested me.
I shouldn’t have been so apprehensive about this one. I found nothing that dark in it, except for the fact that our ‘hero’, Abe, who was working as the head of the security of our heroine, Bethany’s super rich father when he decided to kidnap her to make her his.
Bethany has never wanted for things, material things to be precise. But it was real affections that she has always craved. Her parents are as rich as they’re cold, as if bloodless. Fighting with their disappointment to gain a bit of their acceptance has grown old. Bethany has long since resigned to the fact that someday she’d have to marry according to her father’s wishes, wherever his business transactions and profit lay, however it can ‘up’ the Sterling name in the eyes of the people. The same general public that Sterling and his wife look down upon. Until the day she’s kidnapped by Abe, Bethany didn’t have the courage to protest any of it. By that time, she was already engaged to an a$$hole, a young copycat of her father’s.
Abe was the mysterious figure, or so the author tried to made him look like. There weren’t enough background on him to judge anything, expect that he trained as a killer quite young. No more idea was given about his life prior to that. I’m not sure how he got hired by Sterling as his chief security guard but the moment Abe saw Bethany, he wanted her. And that sealed the deal. He planned everything very stealthily, and efficiently, the way he has been trained to eliminate a target.
Bethany never even had a clue about Abe, except that sometimes she’d find him staring at her intensely, and that his looks made her shiver with forbidden excitement and anticipation, not disgust. But she also knew she couldn’t risk an affair with him. For one, she’s not the type. And then, she can’t ruin her family’s ‘good name’. When she wakes up in a cabin hidden in the middle of a dense forest, Bethany is scared to death. Realizing who did it, she’s confused about it all. No matter what Bethany thought of Abe, this was not something that crossed her mind. Not even once.
Abe generally keeps her chained to a wall. I feel the need to mention it because from the narratives, it sounds so... inhumane? But I never felt anything like that. Bethany was never treated in any way other than a human. She had her own relatively comfy room and could move around the cabin, albeit with the chain. She was fed and treated as fairly as a twisted guy can. Abe didn’t want her to run away, yet he also wanted her to start trusting him gradually. I didn’t see anything ‘dark’ in this story per say to term it as such. Abe, though sexy, wasn’t even a true villain IMO, never really causing any knot of fear in my stomach. But I definitely won’t make the mistake of calling him ‘sweet’. Though his demonstration of it was rather strange, he loved Bethany in his own way. Or maybe because it was a novella, I never saw any glimpse of his complete loco side. Yes, the author tried to drum it throughout just how seriously f*cked up he is but those were only words. There was no action, expect for that said kidnapping, to back up the claim.
Then there were stuff that didn’t feel right. The apparent restrictive way Bethany was brought up didn’t match with the narratives of the glitzy socialite lifestyle she claimed to have had. One moment, it felt like she was living like an Amish, the next she’s talking about shopping and doing her fingernails! Her chemistry with Abe was lacking at first. Quite a lot. There was also a decided lack of twisty-dirty sex. I needed to feel the ‘animal’ in Abe that was so insane about Bethany. Unfortunately, there weren’t much of it.
What I truly liked was the last few chapters. That the author didn’t make Bethany out to be a complete pushover; be the martyr and take whatever she’s forced into. She fights Abe, tries to flee a few times, succeeding once, only to find that Abe’s ‘love’, or whatever one can term it, had been much more genuine than whatever her parents’ dished out all her life. She takes it as an eye-opener. Bethany cuts all ties with her parents, trying to build a life on her own. But she has already tasted ‘the forbidden’ that is Abe Sparrow. And the hard truth was, she craved him even more now that she’s not with him.
True to the blurb, the ending was ‘unconventional’, as in, you won’t find any traditional HEA here. But I liked whatever I saw in that relationship. Hell, I can even see them marrying some day and have a family. But that is just my take on their future.
Overall, it was alright. I liked His enough to try out some of Jenika Snow’s other books. 3.5 stars. If you want to read something seriously twisted and f*cked up, try Skye Warren’s Dark Erotica series.