Dear Ms. Campbell:
I read your controversial debut and while I appreciated the chances you took, it didn’t inspire me to read your other books. When Captive of Sin arrived on my doorstep, I thought I would give the book a chance.
Sir Gideon Trevithick finds a woman cowering in the stable where his horse is quartered. She has clearly been beaten and when he extends his mantle of protection, she would rather be alone and in pain that accept his help. Gideon will not be gainsayed and sweeps the woman into his carriage and away from the perceived danger. He vows that he will not only protect her but he will not harm her himself.
Lady Charis Weston is one of the wealthiest women in England. Her stepbrothers are trying to force her into marriage with another man to pay off their debts. Charis refuses. She is only a few months away from gaining control over her fortune. Her stepbrothers engage in a series of small punishments which crescendo into threats of rape and of actual physical abuse. She runs away with no clear picture or plan, just an instinctive need to be away. She doesn’t trust Gideon and tries to escape several times until she realizes she is in far more danger by herself than in the hands of Gideon.
Gideon is honorable and he has no intention of laying a hand on Charis. He can’t, actually. As a result of a year long incarceration as a spy, Gideon cannot bear the touch of another human being nor can he touch someone. To do so triggers a serious PTSD response wherein he gets physically ill.
Gideon and Charis fall in love which each other although but are not able to overcome the Gideon’s aversion to touch. This theme of this story is that true love conquers all and while I would like to believe it, I felt that Gideon’s trauma was so extensive that the good loving of Charis wasn’t sufficient to cure Gideon.
I felt emotionally detached even though there were two very moving scenes in the story. I kept questioning the rapidity Gideon’s recovery from his lack of desire to be touched. I loved the idea that Charis would be proactive and that she was determined to play on his desire for her until she could break through. But the trauma of Gideon’s captivity which built over a year’s time just seemed so quickly resolved under the seductive machinations of Charis. I think I wanted to see more tentativeness on the part of Gideon; more days of seduction by Charis. I’m not sure if the story was rushed or you felt that prolonging the “cure” would be tiresome. My reaction was simply that Gideon was too damaged to merely succumb to the wiles of a pretty girl.
I also felt that Charis was wholly underdeveloped. What was her character arc? How did she grow? What was her emotional conflict?
Given the dark tone of the story, I thought the ending was a bit too kittens and rainbows for the two of them. I think that had I been more emotionally attached to both I would have enjoyed the ending more. As it was, though, I recognized this story was well written with good prose and emotionally moving from an objective perspective, but I felt that there was a barrier between myself and the characters, mostly because I doubted the redemption of Gideon from his self hatred to acceptance. B-