Series Title: The Dark Duet
Author: CJ Roberts
Captive in the Dark #1 The Dark Duet
Synopsis from GoodReads
Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.
Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.
Seduced in the Dark #2 The Dark Duet
Synopsis from GoodReads
What is the price of redemption?
Rescued from sexual slavery by a mysterious Pakistani officer, Caleb carries the weight of a debt that must be paid in blood. The road has been long and fraught with uncertainty, but for Caleb and Livvie, it’s all coming to an end. Can he surrender the woman he loves for the sake of vengeance? Or will he make the ultimate sacrifice?
It seemed to Caleb, the nature of human beings revolved around one empirical truth: we want what we cannot have. For Eve, it was the fruit of the forbidden tree. For Caleb, it was Livvie.
Another TFEiC author review...
It’s taken me some time to sit down and try to review the Dark Duet series...it’s one of those reads that you have to let roll around in your brain for awhile. And I’m still not sure I can wrap my brain about all I want to say about it. Other than it was phenomenal!! Oh, I did love it. It was dark, gritty, sexy, disturbing and very real. It made me laugh at times, gasp at times, cry at times...but I was so wrapped up in Caleb’s and Livvie’s lives. Ms. Roberts deftly balances all the aspects of this complicated story. What’s most impressive is that she allows us hope amid the bleakness.
We first meet Caleb as he’s watching (stalking?) Livvie. He’s driven by this need for revenge for crimes committed against himself as well as his savior. In Livvie, Caleb believes he’s found the perfect instrument for revenge against his enemy. Little does he know...
Livvie...ahh, Livvie. The irony of Caleb having picked Livvie to train as the ideal submissive is that she’s not nearly as meek as Caleb thought. In fact, she’s quite strong-willed. And it’s one of the things that eventually creates Caleb’s feelings for Livvie. I loved her pluck. She refused to crumble no matter how horrific things became. And she endured so much at Caleb’s hand...so much for him. She knew, once she realized her feelings for Caleb, that had it not been for him, she wouldn’t have ended up where she was, would not have borne such humiliation. Yet, she wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Caleb. And she saw goodness in him, believed he was redeemable...and she loved him.
Ms. Roberts takes us on quite a ride as we live through Livvie’s initial captivity and training. And she kept me entangled in the story as we watched both Caleb and Livvie change in profound ways as they journey toward redemption and love. Watching Caleb fall for Livvie and then realize his feelings (that he’s even capable of them) and fight against them was fascinating. That neither Caleb nor Livvie really believe they are worthy of love...seeing their desire to be worthy of one another kept me turning the pages.
When Caleb learns all he’s been fighting for, since he was saved from his own captivity, is a lie...that he’s been betrayed by the one person he’s trusted most of his life, I actually felt his reaction...it was that visceral. The choices he makes in regards to himself but especially in regards to Livvie...that proved to me he was worth redemption, and Livvie’s love.
And throughout her ordeal, Livvie has changed as well. She has become more confident and is determined to take control of her life and decide which direction she takes. She is not the same girl Caleb abducted and she cannot go back to her old life. The deviousness she shows in guaranteeing she doesn’t have to is impressive.
I admit to being right there with Livvie in thinking how could she love Caleb after what he’d done to her but I could see he was redeemable as well. I mean really, I'm routing for someone participating in human trafficking? Why yes, I am. It really makes one question whether we’re all victims of our circumstances...was what Caleb had done in his life excusable since he’d endured unspeakable things in his life as well? Clearly this is debatable but I think Ms. Roberts did a fine job of convincing me.
Ms. Roberts' portrayal of all the supporting cast (and it takes quite a cast for this story) combines to make the experience so much more intense. Rafiq, Caleb's savior, is devilishly skilled at his deception. Felipe, who might just have a bit of goodness, aiding Caleb but only in order to gain from the situation. And the FBI characters of Agent Reed and the social worker, Sloane both aid in the beautifully rendered switch between the past and present points of view as Livvie tells her story. (and as a sidebar, will we see Reed and Sloane in the future, Ms. Roberts?!?)
And the ending...well, no spoilers here. I didn’t see it coming. But I think it is well done...well done, indeed.
I’m sure there is so much more to say but I hope what I’ve said is at least somewhat coherent. What it boils down to is that I love the Dark Duet and highly recommend it, although it is not an easy read. Make sure you have the time to savor and absorb and contemplate it.