Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-22492-2
Fantasy Erotica, 2008 (Reissue)
Captive Dreams was first published by Ellora’s Cave back in 2002, and later it was reissued by Berkley in trade paperback format in 2006. This is the mass market paperback reissue of the same book, with no revision made from what I can see here. But hey, you get a new epilogue of about one page in this new edition, so you can’t really say that you are not getting your money’s worth, can you?
Celeste and Corrine Carson are sisters who make a very comfortable living writing, from what I see here, bad bodice-rippers featuring alpha males who see date rape as an entitlement. While these women are clearly sexually frustrated creatures wishing to be stuffed at all ends by their fantasy heroes, I’m sure we readers are not supposed to imagine that the actual authors are in any way like these two, oh no. Angela Knight is not Celeste, so we should not imagine that Ms Knight wears sexy see-through lingerie while she is writing in order to feel “sexy” and get in the mood during her love scenes.
The prologue is a bit of a tease, though. We have Celeste, dressed like a harem girl, urging her sister Corrine to wear something sexier so that they can discuss the sexy scenes in their books. I have read stories with such set-up before, only those stories are classified as erotica and those sisters end up doing things to each other that are considered illegal. Of course, the Carson sisters don’t do that, so I hope you guys aren’t led by Celeste’s urging of Corrine to wear something sexier and show it off in front of her will lead to, er, wherever you think that scene will lead to.
Instead, the two sisters are kidnapped by their principal characters who will come up with all kinds of reasons to ravish each heroine left and right in both ends. Don’t worry, this is not rape because those heroines are actually gagging for more. Diane Whiteside drags Corrine, the so-called uglier sister, into the story Bound by the Dragon while Angela Knight drags Celeste into Bound by the Dream. Don’t ask me how the story can proceed if the author is dragged into the story by their hero, which means that nobody is writing the story anymore, because… I don’t know, maybe JR Ward is right and authors really do get these amazing stories broadcast to them while they are wearing pointy hats as their antennae to the Great Storyteller in Uranus.
Reading these stories back to back, it’s like being able to tell at once which Carson sister is the dowdy one, because there is a huge disparity in the quality of the stories. Both have similarities: you really have to really enjoy sexual fantasies where the heroine is completely helpless yet enjoying the relentless sexual onslaught that she is secretly craving for. But while Ms Knight is also guilty of many cartoon moments in her story, Diane Whiteside’s story is way too much like a laughable cartoon.
For example, Mykhayl our hero is described as someone who looks like Conan the Barbarian but with the accent of Sean Connery. I can’t help picturing the hilarious Cro-Magnon visage of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking like Sean Connery. Mykhayl rules a kingdom where young women do nothing but train themselves to please him sexually, because the rewards he gives them when he fails to impregnate them after a year allow these women to become hot commodities to other men.
When our Pimp Daddy hero isn’t breaking in and then whoring out the women in his kingdom, he is taking at least two women from his massive harem to bed every night. Not only that, he also has the biggest everything ever. To top it off, he manages to somehow find time to go on adventures everywhere and shag everything female that moves in his path. Then there are truly ridiculous and laughable sexual ceremonies and a most hilarious explanation about how the heroine’s amazing vagina can help the hero overcome his infertility problem.
You tell me how I can take this story seriously.
Angela Knight’s story features a futuristic equivalent of Mykhayl, Jarred Varrain, who is described as Rambo with a deranged Jack Nicholson smile on his face. I don’t even want to try to imagine how that guy looks like. Ms Knight is also guilty of having Jarred having the biggest everything and the sexual stamina of an Energizer bunny on Viagra, but at least her setting is a little less ridiculous than the cheesy adult film set-up of Ms Whiteside’s.
The two “romance” stories follow the same pattern: the hero swears to do naughty things to the heroine without her consent (she is his prisoner, remember, which means he can do whatever he wants to punish her, although “punishment” here means non-stop rogering, hmm) and she secretly shivers in delight because there is nothing like being forced to have anal sex with guys to sizzle a woman’s libido to boiling point. The only reason why these two authors do not have completely egg-covered visages from this effort is due to the absence of purple prose in the sex scenes. If I can overlook the comical and exaggeratedly lurid set-up leading to these scenes, these scenes would actually be very sensual.
As for the romance, it’s just a slapped-on “I love you!” thing after the hero and heroine manage to get off their backs long enough to solve a perfunctory mini-subplot, complete with a ridiculous epilogue that tries to convince me that these two brainless walking vibrator heroes will actually settle down with these heroines long enough to be happy.
So, you’re probably wondering whether I will recommend this book to you. Well, this is one of those books where sex is so exaggerated and portrayed in such a cartoonish context that it only needs just one tentacle rape scene to be comparable to those creepy Japanese sex cartoons. If you ask me, the only reason you should get this book is because you’re too smart to pay for the trade paperback format and you really have nothing else to read.