Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pretty Stolen Dolls by Ker Dukey

🎃 Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers Halloween 2017 Reading Challenge for the category of: a romance involving murder 🎃

This is one of those books that tries to be many things and ends up failing at all of them, simultaneously. Part police procedural, part dark erotica, PRETTY STOLEN DOLLS aspires to be CAPTIVE IN THE DARK and KISS THE GIRLS, but it's got too much romance to be a straight up thriller and it's too disturbing to be a romance. Also, all of you saying that "Benny" is hot... umm, wtf. It never ceases to amaze me how much creepiness people are willing to tolerate from "heroes"/love interests as long as they have abs...

Jade was kidnapped when she was a young teenager by this doll-making serial killer named "Benny." Benny kept her and her sister in cells, along with other girls, which he liked to dress and put makeup on. Jade was the only one he never dressed up. He kept her naked, and filthy, in a cell, where he repeatedly subjected her to sexual assault. During these moments, his abs are sometimes mentioned, and we get to hear about how attractive he is. The first time it happened, it seemed to come out of nowhere! Ugh.

Eight years later, Jade is a cop and - through some incredible and gross oversight on the part of her superiors - is handling the Benny case while looking for her sister. Too bad she has zero sense and by her own admission is using confirmation bias to treat every missing persons case as a possible link to Benny. She's so determined that she'll ignore direct orders from above and even resort to a bit of vigilante justice, because what's abusing the justice system if it means absolving your personal demons? The stupid was strong in this one. I literally couldn't suspend my disbelief at all. Pretty sure that if you have a personal stake in a police case, you're not supposed to be anywhere near it.

"Benny" is pretty creepy and elements of the relationship between him and Jade is done pretty well. Her PTSD is evident, and permeates her waking and dreaming hours, especially when she's getting intimate with someone else. The problem is that I didn't understand the need for Jade to have not one, but two romantic partners (Bo and Dillon). Neither of them were very interesting and the sex scenes were gross (not gross as in disturbing, but gross as in badly written). Do we really need to know how "big" Dillon is - multiple times? Dillon also struck me as an insensitive mackerel. He pursues a relationship with his colleague with very aggressive sexual overtures that border (or probably are) workplace harassment despite knowing that she's damaged. That's not cool, dude.

I did think that a lot of the disturbing stuff in here was done for shock horror. It felt pointless, just thrown in there for lolz, and reminded me of some of those pulp horror novels from the 70s where it become a gore-off between authors to see who could write the most sex-packed, f'd up material. When I looked up the second author on this book, K. Webster, some of the over-the-top-ness made sense. Apparently she's notorious for those kinds of literary stunts. I've never heard of Ker Dukey before this book, so I don't know what her writing is like when it's removed from Webster's, but yeah, the last act of the book really escalates, and it's not really foreshadowed at all - so be forewarned.

Also - that cliffhanger ends mid-scene, so if you're sticking with this book, as I did, expecting some sort of resolution, brace yourself for disappointment. This is a blatant "TBC..."-type ending that cuts off abruptly right as Benny and Jade are about to meet once more. I guess I was hoping to see Jade get some sort of closure after seeing bad stuff happen to her for almost 200+ pages.


I can't recommend this book. It isn't very good and I've read other books in this genre (THE COLLECTOR, THE BUTTERFLY COLLECTOR, THE KILLING MOON, SKIN AND BLOND) that were so much better. Give this one a miss and read any of those instead.

1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars

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