This is a horrible story. This is a lovely story. I’m so conflicted about this dark and addictive novel of two halves. We start with a seventeen year old girl fooling around with her boyfriend. They’ve not had sex yet, though she wants to, but then her parents’ neighbor breaks into the house, smacks the boyfriend out cold, kidnaps our girl and repeatedly rapes her in his cabin in the woods for two weeks.
In vile, violent and humiliating ways.
As he tells her he loves her.
And makes her say she loves him.
And makes her orgasm over and over.
As he ‘prepares’ her for sale in a flesh auction.
I nearly quit reading a couple of times, but then the second part had such loveliness and light in it, I’m glad I didn’t. Let’s start with part 1 – this is all about the abduction and is a quarter of the book. The action and dialogue walked the line between rape and sexual fantasy far too closely for my taste. Gabe, the rapist and kidnapper, is described like a classic alpha – dominant, fit, attractive, in his early 40s, and with a large penis. Though there is no hero here. He’s been watching Baylee grow up, just waiting for his moment. Baylee fantasized about Gabe as a girl might with an older man in near proximity, and she wondered what it would be like if it was his hands on her, not her inexperienced boyfriend’s. Before he abducted her, of course. Then, though she was upset, the rape scenes read almost like sex scenes. It made me deeply uncomfortable.
So part two and the auction has happened. Baylee has been sold to War. An attractive 28 year old guy with mental health issues. She’s relieved that he isn’t the ‘carve em up and throw em in the river’ dude she met at the auction, but her behavior just seems downright odd after what she’s been through. When arriving at War’s house, she notices the architecture. “It’s eye catching and I’d love to see it during the day with the ocean behind it.”
Then through some weird decision making, Baylee decides to stay with War. She rolls her eyes at him. She kinda fancies him. She flirts with him. Other than a few emails to her parents, she makes no effort to contact anyone in the outside world or seek medical treatment for her no doubt damaged body.
We also get to hear from War. He’s had some event in his life which has given him OCD and psychosis, and he lives an isolated and unhappy life. His home has to be crazy clean. He counts every breath. He measures everything precisely. He’s obsessed with germs. We hear from his perspective what that’s like and how Baylee being around starts to change his crippling habits. (We had a few chapters from Gabe’s PoV in the first part, but I’m not even going there.)
War (Warren) apparently didn’t understand the auction for what it really was. He wanted companionship not a living sex doll, though in fewer than twenty four hours he wants to kiss Baylee. (Despite the horrendous germs.) He feels protective, nay obsessed with her.
But Gabe is obsessed too. And he told her that he’d come back for her. So who gets to keep our abused but oh so pretty pawn? Oh, and there’s a twist with what’s happening in the outside world which is an intriguing background mystery.
One thing I found strange in this pretty intense story was Baylee’s behavior (e.g. how she seemed mostly okay following the whole rape inconvenience.) She pretty much acted like a normal teen after meeting War. And then she said this (with my bracketed inserts): “Gabe may have been a psychotic prick (ya think?) but I sort of miss his expert touch (woah) when he wasn’t hurting me.” She thinks this as she considers how much she wants War.
Thing is, I really liked much of the second part of this book. I liked the way War’s feelings for Baylee started to help him, how her presence soothed him. I liked the way he spoke to her and the need he had for her and the things they did together. It was warm and sweet and kinda lovely. I just hated the premise. He bought her. He owns her. But it’s okay cos he’s hot and she likes him. Bloody hell.
The book ends on a cliff hanger and I almost don’t want to read on because of what I think happens next.
But I will.
Rating: B- (but with an F for the blurred lines / dubious consent warning that comes with the books – massive turn off)
Click to purchase: Amazon
This Is War, Baby
by K Webster
Release Date: February 29, 2016