Survival by Jay Marie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Horrifying and disturbing, but good
Disclaimer: I do not consider this a romance, not even a dark romance, so if that is what you are looking for you might want to skip this one. (EDIT: the author describes this series as a “dark erotic thriller,” and is very clear that it is not a dark romance.)
That said, I have to say this book is really good. And by “really good” I mean the story moves right along without lulls, the dialogue is good, I don’t recall any grammatical errors, and the author does a great job with believable characters and interactions. This book also successfully made me feel. Granted it made me feel incredibly sad and uncomfortable. It made me feel sick. It made me feel hatred and frustration. But, the point is that it made me feel something.
I have no idea where this series is going to end up at this point, and that is exciting. I don’t see how Darren could possibly redeem himself for everything he’s done, so I have to imagine that an HEA is off the table, but who knows what the author has in store.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly why I hate Darren so much, and why I don’t see how he could be redeemed when Tony Rawlings (in Consequences by Aleatha Romig) did a lot of similar stuff, and (according to me) was redeemed. I also felt that Mateo Morelli of the Morelli series by Sam Mariano was redeemed. And Carter Cross from Merciless by Willow Winters. What is different here? All of those men were completely heinous to the women with whom they were obsessed, but all of them were redeemed.
Well, first of all, Darren is exponentially worse than the latter two, and I would say also worse than Tony Rawlings. But more importantly, those men mistreated their women as part of a game or a revenge, and eventually became more traditional in their treatment of said women once feelings developed. The “nice” was the real them, and the “cruel” was a temporary necessity (to them, anyway). With Darren it seems that the cruel streak IS the real him. As Jaden points out, she could behave perfectly every minute of every day but he would still hurt her. Because he wants to. Because he gets off on it. And he doesn’t just hurt her a little bit- he hurts her pretty severely. He violently rapes her nonstop through this book and the preceding book. I don’t consider these spoilers since they happened in the first book of this series, which anyone looking to read this second book would presumably have read.
This is why I don’t consider this a romance, and why I don’t see Darren being able to redeem himself. He is too damaged. He is too cruel. Even if somehow he redeemed himself, and Jaden somehow forgave him, she could never be happy with him because he has to pepper his tender moments with violent beatings. And no one wants to be violently beaten, or beaten at all.
So, again, this book made me sick. It made me sad. It made me angry. It made me hope that some kind of truly horrific end befalls Darren, preferably where he would lose all of his power and control (prison, perhaps) and have to live out his days with the knowledge that Jaden is out there somewhere living a happy life with another man. Now THAT would be a happy ending to me.
So, all in all, this series is so far really good as long as you understand that it is a very violent, very upsetting story that is NOT a romance. Seriously. It is not a romance.
If you are okay with that, then you should definitely read this series because it is really good so far. And, while it isn’t yet complete, I have read that the author is now done with book #4 (this is book #2), and it is anticipated to be released this year, possibly in the next few months.
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Survival by Jay Marie