I'm a sucker for revenge-based romance novels. The love-hate dynamic just appeals so strongly to me. That's why I was so psyched to get my hands on THE DUKE'S CAPTIVE initially.
Ian Wentworth was kidnapped and held hostage in a dungeon for five weeks as a young man. Two of the three women involved in his kidnapping have met their comeuppance, with one in an insane asylum and the other dead. However the third has escaped his clutches until now. When Wentworth finds out that she is recently widowed, he decides that he will be the cause of her ruin. What he doesn't expect is how beautiful she is, and how much he wants to get his bone on. But surely that can be worked into his revenge.
Viola Bennington-Jones is an artist with secrets of her own. One of these secrets is that she is a famous erotic artist who publishes her work under a male pseudonym. She is justifiably frightened when Wentworth comes back into her life, because, as an artist and a mother, she has so much to lose. And Wentworth won't stop until he makes her feel all the fear and pain that he underwent in captivity. But how much does he really remember? And is it true?
DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN. DUN.
Okay, so this is one of those books that is heavy on the miscommunication. If Ian and Viola had stopped to hash things out for a second, this story would be redundant. But instead, THE DUKE'S CAPTIVE relies on the premise of big secrets to keep things moving. Why was Ian captured? Was he raped? Will Viola be revealed as an erotic artist? Will Ian rape her? WILL SHE BE RUINED?
THE DUKE'S CAPTIVE had so much promise...and yet, I feel as if the author was unwilling to go as dark as she should have. Every time the story started to go down the dark and bitter path of revenge, she pulled a U-ie, determined that everything stay romantic and fluffy and redemptive.
I'm sorry, but when the hero kidnaps the heroine, ties her up, and threatens to rape her a couple dozen times before giving her dub-con oral and fellatio I don't think you can go the fluffy route. Half-assing it just makes you look like a weenie with questionable taste in men. You can either go fluffy or you can go dark, but attempting to combine the two almost always yields disastrous results.
I made it to the end, but I was skimming a little for the last thirty pages. So disappointing. :(
2 out of 5 stars.