As Brianna comes to terms with the realization that she is no longer a slave, she must figure out what she wants for her life. Forgetting her past isn’t an option. It is an integral part of who she is now, and it will forever shape her view of life. The one thing she knows is that she cannot imagine her life without the man who saved her, but can she be what he needs?
Stephan never imagined falling in love with the woman he rescued, but the thought of her no longer being part of his life is physically painful. The scars from her past continue to haunt her, and he is helpless to stop them. All he can do is try to help her work through the traumas of her past. Can he be everything she needs and help her move on?
The two must figure out how to navigate not only their relationship with each other, but also the outside world. A friend from Brianna’s past shows up where she least expects them, and Uncle Richard continues to enforce his well-meaning agenda to get Brianna more traditional help. As forces, both friend and foe, threaten to tear them apart, Stephan and Brianna have to navigate the turbulent waters and find what they need in each other.
Earlier this month I reviewed the first book in this series, Slave: Finding Anna Book One where Brianna and Stephan were introduced. As a young woman sold into sexual slavery by a father deep into gambling debts, Brianna had lost her sense of self, her connection with her past, any love for her father, or the ability to think past whatever her "master" was commanding her to think or do. With Stephan she began to reclaim who she was, a glimpse of the woman she could be, a new understanding of how a male/female relationship could function even outside the BDSM world that had tortured her, and to be re-introduced to some of the simple pleasures of cooking and reading.
Now we see how her rehabilitation is progressing, what Stephan must continue to do to help Brianna become an independent, vibrant and free-thinking woman, the one he sees lurking underneath her fears and the brain-washing done to her by her old sadistic "master." As a young Dom he knows both the good and the bad that the lifestyle contains. He also knows that as his attachment to Brianna grows he is himself caught in a dilemma about how to set her free, knowing that in doing so she may even decide to not only leave the old hurts and fears behind but him as well.
This is a very emotional book, one that will take the reader on Brianna's up and down emotional roller coaster. Her few steps forward, few steps backward are sometimes difficult to bear. Her learning curve is very hesitant at times. When it seems she has made great progress she will meet someone who she remembers from the horror days or who reminds her of old memories, and she retreats back into herself to a degree that one wonders if she can ever be made whole. Some reviewers have expressed an impatience or boredom with Brianna's experiences, but I found the entire book to be compelling and one that really tugged at my heart. As a helping professional in real life, I have had to work with people who are damaged and whose future ability to function wholly is very much in question. Someone who is as profoundly modified as Brianna is a true puzzle to people who don't understand the pathology--someone like Brianna's friend from the past who wanted to blame Stephan or who had no real understanding of the depth of the damage that had been done to her.
This is a story that is not easy to read but is pertinent to the contemporary social ill of sexual slavery so rampant throughout the world. There are other authors who have addressed this ill in compelling novels. Cherise Sinclair's To Command and Collar deals with the rehab of a rescued woman although that book contains far more overt BDSM practices that bring that woman back into a healthy understanding of herself. I would encourage you to do some research and to become educated about the depth and breadth of this problem. It is estimated that 75,000 individuals are abducted annually in the United States, the majority of them women, and sold into sexual slavery. This book may be truly helpful in seeing the hurts such terrible practices can cause. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
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