In the past I have liked a couple of Amanda Ashley’s vampire books, and I liked Hawk’s Woman, which she wrote as Madeline Baker. But I am sad to say that The Captive was a disappointment in every way.
Accepting a dare, beautiful Lady Ashlynne Myrafloures watches as the latest slave who has been captured to work in the mines of her homeland struggles against his captors. Horrified, she watches as he is brutally subdued with a controller that triggers violently powerful doses of electric shock until he is weak enough from the excruciating pain to be collared and manacled. As she goes back to her luxurious home, the memory of Number Four, as the slave is known, stays with her.
Falkon barely has time to remember the young woman who watched him from her hiding place. He has an infected wound on his leg that will probably kill him, and that would be if things turned out his way, because a lifetime of living in servitude would be a worse fate to him. He’s escaped from capture once already, but this time it truly looks like there might be no way out. His family is dead and the future seems bleak, and he begins to nurture resentment for the woman who was obviously watching him as some sort of prank.
Intrigued, Ashlynne goes all the way to the prisoners’ quarters and, appalled by the filth and squalor, finds Falkon and treats his wounds. He hates the pity in her eyes but doesn’t refuse the treatment, and as it turns out, the two will be sharing space sooner than expected. Ashlynne’s father needs a handyman/waiter/gardener around the house, so guess who is chosen? Life at Ashlynne’s home is replete with nasty exchanges where Falkon is constantly reminded of what a worthless creature he is. Later, though, the same enemy that destroyed Falkon’s homeworld attacks Ashlynne’s home and kills her family as well. Now the pair must put their differences aside and get to the space port, from where Ashlynne can travel to be with relatives and Falkon can finally be free.
Great premise, but the follow-through left a lot to be desired. Ashlynne is one of the most infuriating heroines ever. I understand she was raised in luxury, but she is spoiled and obnoxious to the extreme, treating Falkon like dirt while, of course, desiring his manly muscled body. More than anything, I couldn’t stand to read yet another scene where she, either on purpose or because she became “upset,” engages the controller and fairly electrocutes poor Falkon, over and over and over.
As for Falkon, he gets my nomination for The Hero Who’s Led By His Loins. He goes from feeling fierce hatred for Ashlynne and everything that she represents to desiring her more than life itself. During their trek to the space port he wonders why he hasn’t taken the controller from her, since she’s gone to sleep and he could have easily grabbed it. I wondered that myself. How reasonable is it that Falkon would have allowed Ashlynne to continue to control the controller? Not reasonable – at all.
The world created by the author is a confusing mix of Earth and other worlds. People eat brown rice, steamed veggies, and fresh fruit, and say both “‘Tis” and “gonna.” The result is I never really got a feel for where or when I was supposed to be. Thankfully, I was home and (finally) done with this interminable read. If you want space adventure and hot romance, try Knight of a Trillion Stars by Dara Joy instead.