I was sorry not to read Irrevocable first, but it's been really worth it to be able to read the second part, BEND, DON'T BREAK, by Skye Callahan. Thanks to the author's preface, I got to know that this novel is half what happened in the previous part, and half what secrets James had and his own view of what transpired beyond Rose's experience.
Of course, the brutal impact of the training and humiliation she suffered at the Retreat was subdued as the scenes weren't explained in full colour, but in small and detached details. I appreciated that because it would have been too much for me. Even though I'm very curious about dark topics, I'm not usually keen on the bleaker descriptions.
James recalls with lots of regret what he was forced to do while working his agenda. He became a monster to prevent worse monstrosities from happening. I understand his position, I appreciate his sacrifice and the daunting weight it has now on his soul.
In between the stark and guilty memories of his deeds in the Retreat, we follow the investigation of the current state of the trafficking operation. How the girls are coping, if the real culprits are down for good, and all the while James is trying to find out who to go back to being a good man and come back from his soul-altering lifestyle.
I really liked the struggle James goes through with his inner demons. He tries to stay away from Rose because he's afraid to taint her any further, but it's a losing battle that I loved witnessing. Although I understand how they feel drawn to each other, I'd have preferred a much more climactic reacquaintance. Despite the fact that he had a pretty good reason for masquerading as an evil man, he still hurt Rose badly and she should have shown more anger at him. Retaliation is good sometimes!
Nevertheless, the author does a great job of the intricacies of reconciling both kind of lives, starting a healthy relationship after such breaking connection at the Retreat, and accepting that it would be a part of them forever. They take to investigating all the leads to solve the ongoing mystery. There's danger, hidden threats, steamy scenes, and betrayal. The story is well written and thought-out. Not thrilling, but real, dark, with an ending full of action, retribution and acceptance of the need of some darkness in ourselves.
Favourite quotes:Nothing took my mind off Rose long enough to make any sense of the rest of the world.If I didn't let change happen, I would suffocate in my own skin.
Bend don't Break
Genre: Dark Erotic Romance
Available November 18, 2014
I thought I was done.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her as the bullet tore through me, leaving me with nothing but the hope that I had done enough to save her. The darkness tried to engulf me—to brand me as its own and drag me to my fate.
Waking to see her tear-stained face above me was enough to make my heart stutter. I was alive and free from that place—but not from the toll it had taken on my mind and body.
My story should have ended, but one woman kept standing in the way of that. The only way I could have her was to find a way to put the darkness to rest.
Enjoy an Excerpt
“She’s fine,” Dr. Combs assured me. “But I don’t think it would be in the best interest for either of you to see each other. You put yourself in a dangerous situation with her.”
Put myself? Last I checked I wasn’t the one to drag her into the Retreat. “I kept her alive and slightly less broken than she would have otherwise been.”
“The two of you adapted to a horrible situation, found comfort in each other—”
I didn’t want to hear it.
I wondered if the captor could get it, too. Was I even the captor? It seemed like I’d lost control of the situation long ago.
But I’d still been the one to beat her, rape her, bend her will.
Just like she’d bent mine.
I wanted her back so bad I couldn’t breathe. The more we talked about it, the worse it got. The harsh reality of it all forced me to face the possibility that I had to walk away if I wanted to do what was in her best interest.
“How long until I can talk to Trent?” I tried again, drawing back a modicum of control by changing the course of the conversation.
Dr. Combs sighed and snapped her portfolio closed. “If it’ll get you to talk, I’ll make the arrangements on one condition.”
I’d already sold my soul, there weren’t many more concessions I had left to give.
“I need to know you’re not going to try to reach out to Rose—or anyone else.”
Did that mean there was a chance she’d see me? Or was Dr. Combs convinced I’d stalk and abduct her anyway? That was quite a laughable possibility, but some sick-as-fuck part of me considered it.
Want to read Ten Fun Facts?
I love cars, and I write most of my books while watching Top Gear. I’d prefer the sound of an Aston Martin over any music sound track.
I once based a character in a story on my husband, and the character died. He never lets me live it down, but don’t bother trying to figure it out, I never released that book.
I’m not terribly good at being girly–I don’t wear makeup, only own 4 pairs of shoes, and I’ve never had a manicure.
I learned to handle a gun before I learned long division.
While most of the people in my graduate research classes were buried in books, I was glued to the TV researching the evolving portrayal of “Indianness”.
I have a phobia of crickets.
Yuengling is my weakness.
I have penguin stuff everywhere--even a penguin snuggie because I couldn’t resist.
I enjoy long walks in the cemetery.
- Nearly everyone in my family has seen a ghost in the hallway in the house I grew up in, and I was told by a Bigfoot expert that the sounds I used to hear outside my bedroom at night were likely the cries of Bigfoot.
Here is where it all began...
Sometimes when you can’t go back, the only way out is to descend into the darkness.
When I woke in that place, I just wanted to survive. But survival came at a cost, for which they demanded my will and body.
With pain came acceptance. Fully-dependent on the man who claimed me, I learned to appreciate what I had-life and relative safety.
I watched him spill blood and tend my injuries. With betrayal came a revelation.
The only way out was to bring them all down or die trying.
ABOUT THE MASTERMIND
Skye Callahan was born and raised in rural Ohio and has had an insatiable love of reading and writing since she was young. Thanks to the encouragement of teachers, family, and friends, she has found her passion in immersing herself in the imaginary worlds of the characters who live in her head.
Most of her early stories were paranormal, and although the paranormal world still has a special place in her imagination, her interest in BDSM and dark romance has led her to expand her writing endeavors.
Before she began writing full-time, she earned a M.A. in Public History and worked for a non-profit business consulting center. When she’s not indulging the voices in her head, she’s enjoying life with her husband and two ferrets.
Contact Skye Callahan
CURIOUS ABOUT OTHER WORKS BY THE AUTHOR?
Bound and UnbrokenGenre: BDSM Romance
Lena is about to discover pleasure in the things she can’t control.
To get even with her roommate for dragging her to a sports bar on a Friday night, Lena begins flirting with the handsome stranger who sits at the bar next to her. Their anonymous conversation leads to a shared cab ride, but Lena’s conscience puts a damper on the evening—leaving the near-fling to become a memory. Until she finds him roaming the halls of the school where she teaches.
Will she submit to his desires?
Eric’s only reason for returning to his hometown is to care for his recently orphaned nephew. He knew the return would involve dredging up his past with family and friends, but he didn't expect a lone girl to capture his interest and offer an escape within his new life.
Will his binds be enough to keep her?
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Kaylyn Anderson's fascination with abandoned places and dark creatures kindled her work as a paranormal investigator. But when dreams begin to distort reality, she questions what is real and pulls away from everyone she trusts. The opportunity to investigate the Teague Hotel--a long-abandoned landmark that has always piqued her curiosity--provides a chance to redeem herself. Unraveling the hotel's secrets won't be easy, but Kaylyn soon finds herself the target of a dark entity that has been trapped in the building for decades.
If Kaylyn stands any chance of defeating the spirit, she'll have to accept that her fears are real and convince fellow investigators that she hasn't lost her mind.
Beyond the Divide
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Despite unanswered questions about the nameless entity that tried to steal her life, Kaylyn returns to the only kind of normal life she knows and takes on a new paranormal case.
After investing everything they have in a farm, an unsuspecting family discovers that their problems run much deeper than the poor upkeep of the house and land. Can Kaylyn and the other investigators uncover what's behind the growing malicious activity? And how will they all deal with new warnings from beyond the divide?
It was an interesting read, book buddies. Have you read anything by this author?