STEALING BEAUTY by Julia Sykes

STEALING BEAUTY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sykes’ (Stolen Innocence, 2019, etc.) erotic BDSM thriller tells the story of a Colombian woman kidnapped by her childhood sweetheart.

Twenty-six-year-old Valentina Sánchez never expected to see former love Adrián Rodríguez again. However, he’s returned to Bogotá to attend the wedding of his father, Vicente, the head of a Colombian drug cartel. Valentina is married to the abusive Hugo, Vicente’s second-in-command, so she has no choice but to attend—just as she had no choice in whether to marry Hugo when she was 16. She’s alarmed that Adrián is now such a “hard, frightening” man; when Hugo attempts to force himself on Valentina at the reception, Adrián beats Hugo senseless. Then Adrián hoists her over his shoulder and kidnaps her. With the help of his friend Mateo, he plans to escape with her to Panama and ultimately to California, where he thinks they’ll be beyond Vicente and Hugo’s grasp. Valentina, however, doesn’t want to be Adrián’s prisoner; she’s afraid of his attraction to power and violence. As time passes, though, she wonders whether she finds something pleasurable about being in the thrall of a man. The narration alternates between Valentina’s and Adrián’s perspectives, allowing readers to observe both her defiant fear (“I was done being a pawn. Done being an object to be traded and stolen in power exchanges between cruel men”) and his roiling, jealous desire: “Years of impotent fury had only slightly been siphoned off by breaking [Hugo’s] doughy face. But carrying his wife off…provided me with a deeper, darker pleasure.” The overall plot is formulaic for the genre, however, and offers few surprises. However, fans of Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels will likely enjoy this offering, which adds an action element—car chases, gunfights, and an instance in which Valentina is abducted and Adrián must save her. These scenes are generally well-paced, as is the rest of the novel, although some moments can be quite violent: “I let my own gun slip from my fingers, grasping the handle of my machete with both hands. I swung it down with a roar, decapitating one of the men.”

A fairly boilerplate but action-oriented erotic novella.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-79411-657-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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