This book should have a label "Read me if you dare"
I'm giving this book only two stars because I'm pissed! I really wanted to give this book 4.5 stars, because if I overlook all the bull, it is brilliant and captivating story. I read it in one sitting. But...
Why an author, with such a huge amount of talent, would pull a such a nasty trick on her fans is beyond me. Her first book shows that she has it in her. So why go there?
If you've read Topping From Bellow, when you read my review, déjà vu will smack you across the face.
The story is about a woman, Carly, who is looking for answers. 15 years ago, when she was 17, she was found in a ditch, naked and beaten to a pulp, with broken bones and bleeding all over. When the farmworker found me in the field, I was lying in a newly dug hole, half-buried, as if the person who put me there was interrupted before he could finish the job. (...) My body, like a newborn's, blood-covered and naked.
She spend two weeks in a coma. When she woke up, she had no memory of who she was, how she got there and what happened to her. First 17 years of her life felt like a black hole.
She spend many years trying to remember, looking for answer, being angry at the person who did this to her and her family that never came looking for her, even though her story was in the media for quite some time after she was found.
Years went by and she kind of made peace with what happened to her and that she might never find any answers.
One day she sees an article in a news paper about a family that runs a winery, with a man's picture in it. She gets this feeling that she knows him. She doesn't remember neither how or where she met him, but she feels that he's somehow connected to what happened to her. The picture triggered a piece of memory that is trying to break through a brick wall that her trauma build. She doesn't get her memory back, but her gut is telling her that she needs to meet this man, because he might give her some answers.
And here is where I started grinding my teeth.
She arrives to this place where McGuane family lives, she meets James (suspect el número uno), Gina (suspect el número dos) and their mother (cute old thing).
Guess how she's going to get truth out of James. Yep, by doing every nasty thing he asks of her. Because that's the deal: you give me what I want and I'll give you what you want. And OMG he is dark and perverse psycho :-). But she learns very fast that she enjoys the things he does to her, even though all of his requests are so over the top. I think it would make even hardcore fans of dark erotica go "WTF?!" :-). But all of their encounters are very well written, as disturbing as they are. There is nothing romantic about their relationship. Their relationship is not about love or romance, it's about dark possession and addiction.
So, every time they get together he tells her an episode from her past. And every time he ups his game. Even though she is a willing participant in everything he does, you get this feeling of dread. First of all because she suspects that he is the one that almost killed her 15 years ago, it's hard to put trust into hands of a potential psychopath, but also because he doesn't offer her a safe word and pushes both her body and her mind to the limit. Every time it makes Carly wonder just how far he is going to go this time.
There is a lot of questions surrounding Gina's involvement in all of this, because she acts very creepy too. She has very close relationship with her brother, and very soon you start to question just how close, because you can see that nothing is off limits for those two. It's never said "out loud" that their relationship goes beyond sister and brother love, but from the way Gina acts around James makes you think that there is something more going on. It could be nothing, but it could be something very kinky and perverse :). That's when she becomes suspect number two. It's very possible that it was her who hurt Carly out of jealousy all those years ago.
The deeper you get into the story the darker and more twisted it gets when puzzle pieces starts coming together. Even though there are only two suspects it's still hard to figure out which one of them did it and what their motives were. I got to a point in the story where I started to question if there was a victim in all of this. At some point they all started acting crazy.
Author describes the scenery in a very beautiful and romantic way, and that is what gives this story even darker feel, because characters are anything but. How can monsters live in a such a beautiful place :-)?
The ending, like the whole story, was almost identical to Topping from Bellow. Different names, different places, couple of new sexual encounters, but everything else was same old. The behavior of two main characters was identical to the characters from TFB. The author did threw one major twist at the end, which was nice, but I still can't forgive the fact that she simply took and re-wrote her first book.
If you haven't read her first book you might like it, but I'm not sure you will if you have. On a positive side, I don't regret reading it, I haven't read anything quite as dark since TFB. But I think I overdosed a little on all things dark and twisted :). I need something sweet and romantic now :).