***** 5 ‘Captive Audience’ STARS*****

A sexy dark tightrope of deception and desire this book enthralled me with its tightly woven puzzle pieces and smart pacing.  I’d never read Amber Bardan prior, but you can be sure she’s definitely on my radar now.

“It’s like I’m sitting in front of a puzzle, and I have all the pieces – pieces I’ve been staring at for years, but I can’t work out how they slot together.”

One bloody birthday party changed the course of Sarah Mercedes’ (h) life as she knew it.  Young and somewhat sheltered this shipping heiress is the pawn in a game she wasn’t aware of and doesn’t know how to play.  She’s doing her best to tread the waters that threaten to engulf her, but sometimes your best just isn’t enough.  And the prince you’re hoping to rescue you doesn’t always wear a white hat.

“He has a weakness – there’s a chink in his armor, and it’s me.  I’m going to break through it.  Be the one to capture him.”

Julian King (H) is a man on a mission.  This mission?  Sarah Mercedes.  The beautiful young woman is entrenched deeply in his heart – she just has no idea.  Mystery and murder are synonymous with his name but few truly know the heart of this man.  Torn between showing Sarah who he was and who he is he’s sworn to keep Sarah captive until he completes his mission…no matter what the sacrifices required.

“I never know what I want more, to pull her apart piece by piece or beg her to put me back together.  Neither will be gentle.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book.  What I got was a tautly woven story of suspense, mystery, betrayal, anger, hurt, hate and love all rolled up in an intricate riddle that kept me turning the pages well into the night and early hours of the morning.  Superbly placed flashbacks dole out a trail of crumbs leading you through the maze of information and intrigue playing out in the present.  The push/pull between Julian and Sarah is a palpable longing and unwanted complication for Sarah that had me raging and submitting right along with her.  The seductive pull Julian has over Sarah juxtaposed with the push she feels for freedom – escape – had me dying for the rest of the pieces to come together revealing the truth behind all of the secrets I’d learned.  My emotions were all over the place alternating between wanting Julian to capture the heart of his captive and then Sarah to escape and find her happiness – her freedom and then hoping that just maybe she could find her escape in Julian’s arms.  The twist had my heart breaking for them both and completed the puzzle at just the right time, pulling all the pieces together and making me root for their fight to overcome the odds against them.  There were a lot of pieces in this book.  Ms. Bardan did an excellent job of pacing and plotting; I never felt lost in the story.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you, baby.”

On the surface you think this story starts as a masquerade of fantasy, the innocent princess and the king of darkness stowed on a tropical island, but once the mask starts to slip the layers and depth of the painful and heartbreaking connection between Julian and Sarah captured my attention totally investing me in their troubled and absorbing journey to Happily Ever After.  I highly recommend this tale of a mysterious King and his beloved captive and cannot wait for the next puzzle Ms. Bardan creates.

“Loved her without her understanding how or why.  Loved her when there was hope and when there was not.  Loved her even when loving meant destroying everything else.”

K’s Category: 1st date, never read author previously

Characters: M/F

Sex: Yes, descriptive


HEA: Yes

Standalone: Yes