Title: Comfort Food
Author: Kitty Thomas
Genre: Dark erotica
Pages: Hardback, 186
"Emily Vargas is has been taken captive. As part of his conditioning methods, her captor refuses to speak to her, knowing how much she craves human contact.
"He's far too beautiful to be a monster. Her attraction to him and his lack of violence has her walking a fine line at the edge of sanity."
~ Jacket copy
Thoughts: While I have read some dark erotica, this book is the first of its kind. The BDSM world is pretty unknown to me. Aside from the fairly vanilla stuff we see on TVs or movies, this book does not pull any punches and pushes the audience into it.
After a speaking engagement, Emily wakes up to find herself chained to a chair in the dark. She soon learns that she has been kidnapped and is being held captive by a man who refuses to speak to her. Over the first half of the book, he teaches her to fully rely on him in a master/slave relationship. Her various actions will either be her punishment or her reward. He controls her every move, food, action, and even release. While spending her time in captivity wishing for freedom, when he finally lets her go, she discovers how deep his training has been ingrained.
I did find this book engaging; however, it was extremely disturbing. When Emily makes comments about a dog/animal being conditioned for certain responses, I felt myself being revolted by the book. However, it was an interesting look at human nature. Even though I would like to delude myself into thinking that I'm unbreakable, this book dares ask us "At what cost." When we are confronted with our life, what will we be willing to submit to in order to survive? Thomas does a really good job exploring that mentality. I also appreciated how she was able to show Emily's response to her freedom. In some ways, it helps the audience understand Stockholm Syndrome.
The first person POV lends well to this novel. It puts the audience fully into Emily's head. By being in her head, we have a greater ability to fully be sympathetic to her as a character. It also fleshes her out. Having the sexual encounters with the Master in third person was a wonderful touch. It was an extremely clever way to show Emily distancing herself from the situation. It made even more sense when she was talking to Dr. Blake.
The one thing I disliked is how the jacket copy tells the audience her name. I felt it was a good way to fully understand how dehumanized her was. To finally learn her name felt as strange and foreign to the audience and the character.
I would not recommend this book to many people. The master/slave relationship between Emily and the Master is not a safe-word type of story. It is not for everybody and will upset most. If you're into dark erotica, this book is well written and an engaging read.
Currently: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Current Pages: 939