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Book Review: Captain Series, by Scarlet Blackwell

The Captain's Man The Captain's Beloved

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Book 1: The Captain’s Man

The captain always goes down with his ship…

Josh is left heartbroken and lacking self-esteem when his partner leaves him for another man. He has to take a two-week Mediterranean cruise on his own and it’s a good job his crazy neighbors, Erik and Freddie, are there to take him in hand and make him realize his true potential.

There’s another man who recognizes Josh’s obvious worth, too—the guy in charge of the ship, Captain Kane Kessler. A six-feet-two Adonis with a body just made for sin.

But Josh doesn’t want a fling and flings are what Kane specializes in when he’s working. Nevertheless, the two instantly collide—a meeting of like minds and desperate bodies. While Josh tries to come to terms with the fact that he will be another notch on the captain’s bedpost at the end of the holiday, Kane begins to realize two weeks might not be enough to get everything he needs from Josh…

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of auto-fellatio and voyeurism/exhibitionism.

Book 2: The Captain’s Beloved

A summer fling just wasn’t enough for Kane…

It’s been four months since Josh Addison fell for Kane Kessler, the captain of his vacation cruise liner. He never thought to set eyes on him again but Kane’s come all the way to Anchorage to see him.

For Kane this is a casual hookup during his downtime. He wants to prevent his heart getting involved at all costs. But Josh, hopelessly in love, has different ideas…

Reader Advisory: This book contains public sex, voyeurism, ménage and sex with food. This book is best read in sequence as a sequel to The Captain’s Man.

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Book 1: The Captain’s Man

Book – The Captain’s Man ( #1)

Author – Scarlet Blackwell

Star rating – ★★★☆☆

No. of Pages – 99

Movie Potential – ★★★☆☆

Ease of reading – easy to read and understand

Would I read it again – Possibly

*There may be spoilers ahead.*

To start with, I want to say that I really enjoyed this. I wanted to give it a solid 4.5 stars, but there were a few instances that really spoiled the story for me and that’s why it’s so low and why I’ve marked the spoiler before I get started. I don’t usually like to give spoilers, but this one is necessary.

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PLOT

The idea of a passenger falling for the cruise ship Captain really appeals to me. The way it’s written and the way Josh deals with everything that happens is great and realistic. He reacts as most normal people would, which is nice to see.

The ‘romance’ of the story is more like lust-at-first-sight, rather than anything truly romantic. The ‘relationship’ is mostly about sex, but there are a few moments when you can really see chemistry between them. Because of that, there are a lot of sex scenes and this is where my main problem lies – I don’t mind rough sex or kink, both of which are included in small doses, but I have a hard time dealing with the kind of consent that isn’t thought about. The characters never take the time to ask if anything is acceptable; there are no boundaries. When one says no (Josh tries to throw Kane out in their first encounter, but he won’t go; and Josh rims Kane when he isn’t sure and doesn’t officially consent) the other one tends to push him into it regardless. That’s bordering the consent line far too closely for my liking. Kane has even pushed and shoved Josh in anger, in an over-reaction to situations.

Then, the full star removed, comes from the following issue – the engine room. This is nothing less than rape. That’s NOT romantic. Saying it’s one of Josh’s fantasies doesn’t negate the fact that Kane doesn’t know that and Josh clearly said no, more than once. Kane went ahead with it anyway and, in my book, that is rape. I don’t care if he changed his mind afterwards or if he was playing coy. No means no and neither of these characters really respect that. Kane even scolds Josh for asking to have sex without a condom, when they run out. They’re total strangers and I’m on Kane’s side with this, but it doesn’t change the fact that Josh almost went ahead without one anyway.

The relationship between Kane and Josh is as much love and hate, as my relationship with this book is. There is a lot of temper tantrums, misunderstandings and overreactions on both parts. There’s chemistry, but no romance and no build up. These are all the reasons that I love and hate the story.

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CHARACTERS

I really liked Josh, who was a bit depressed and negative, because of the circumstances. He’d been with a guy for 5 years, who he thought was coming on the cruise ship with him, until his partner took off with a new man. Now he’s on the cruise alone and you can really feel how rotten he feels about this sudden twist his life has taken.

Erik and Freddie, his neighbours, who he meets on the cruise, are amazing. They’re fabulous and scandalous in the most brilliant way. They are the light to Josh’s darkness. I really love their dynamic and how they offer Josh a little sunshine, as they take him on as their pet project.

Despite the book being called “The Captain’s Man”, the actual Captain, Kane, is actually barely in the story. He’s one of the main characters, but his POV’s are few and far between and kind of pointless. I really don’t see why his POV’s are included, because they don’t tell us anything we don’t already see from Josh’s POV.

Kane is also one of my least favourite characters. About 50% of the time I hated him and the rest of the time I really loved him. He could be tender and romantic, but he was also arrogant, rude and violent more often than I’d have liked. Josh put up with it sometimes and encouraged it at others.

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OVERALL

I read this in one sitting, because I really enjoyed the story and the characters. However, I can’t give it the 4.5 stars that it deserves. I removed 1 star because of the dub-con and the rape scene. I took another half star off for the lack of romance. There was chemistry, sure, but it’s a raging, need-to-get-you-into-bed chemistry; nothing to justify the three little words Josh utters after only a fortnight.

The story ends with a HFN, but I don’t see a bright, shiny future ahead.

For me, I’d have much preferred this story to end with John giving into to the allure of Erik and Freddie, to end with a poly-MMM HEA, rather than to let Kane get his way. He’s such an arrogant, egoist character that I really, really hope he will improve in the next book.

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FAVOURITE QUOTE

There was Josh’s problem. Being grateful to a man like Kane for throwing crumbs from his table. He didn’t want to feel grateful. He wanted to feel like an equal, a man desired for who he was, not as someone to pass the time. His lack of self-esteem had ruined last night. Never again would he tangle with someone as stunning as Kane. He needed to stick to what he knew.

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Book 2: The Captain’s Beloved

Book – The Captain’s Beloved (Captain #2)

Author – Scarlet Blackwell

Star rating – ★★☆☆☆

No. of Pages – 153

Movie Potential – ★☆☆☆☆

Ease of reading – easy to follow, but frustrating

Would I read it again – No.

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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Warning: (from the author): This book contains small ménage scene, exhibitionism, spanking and dubious use of cucumbers.

Warning: (from me): This book also contains a rape fantasy, 3-some, 4-some and low kink, calling partner slut and whore.

(small ménage scene is an understatement)

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PLOT

To be honest, this story really made me angry. Book 1 wasn’t a shining star, but everything that I loved about that is what is missing from book 2. Basically, The Captain’s Beloved was all sex and no plot. There was no attempt at any plot except whether Josh and Kane’s constant sexual experiences would result in a relationship or not, while there was at least a hint of a plot in book 1.

The story was lost in amongst all the explicit sex. It’s basically about Josh and Kane screwing around and arguing whenever and as often as they can, until they break and confess to being ‘in love’, even when there’s nothing to justify the feeling. This book is NOT a romance. It’s a one-handed read, with a sliver of plot thrown in. And that’s not what I signed up for. The romance is non existent and would have been the one thing to save this story, if it was more present. Instead, it’s just a bunch of hot, quick sex and the main characters being delusional enough to believe it means anything.

The Inferno scene was hard to picture, because the transitions between positions wasn’t clear. There were times when I had no idea what they were supposed to be doing, because one minute they’d been on a sofa and the next it sounded as though they were moving into positions that were truly impossible on that sofa.

The sex was at least once every chapter, if not more often, and used as a solution to every problem. The arguments were overreacting and unbelievable, while there’s never any real conversation about feelings that isn’t interrupted by or pushed aside for sex. There wasn’t one sex scene that was fade to black and even just hinted at. I mean, by the 30% mark, I could tell when sex was coming from the direction the conversation took, so I began skimming the sex scenes from here on out, which left me with very little story left to actually read. I got sick of the sex really quickly.

I have no problem with kink in stories, as I’ve read some super heavy ones with BDSM and all sorts. But there is one thing I don’t like, that I avoid like a plague – one partner calling the other a slut and a whore. Both of which Kane does to Josh, without ever once asking if that’s something he likes. Which is a typical theme of this series – no one ever asks for consent before trying something new, that no two strangers would actually go through with, without discussing it first. Example: the dub/con in both books, the no-condom incident from book 1 and the name calling.

The stuff they do in the bath, all mouths and fingers, sounds disgusting when you know Josh was lying up to his neck in scented bubbles, but there’s never any mention of trying to brush them away or douse them with some water. The cucumber incident was also gross. I’ve never read food play in this way before, but this one taught me that I don’t like it.

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CHARACTER

Kane is just as arrogant as before, as sexually brutal and uses sex as a solution to everything. I still don’t like him, despite the moments of ‘tenderness’ that are sprinkled throughout. Yes, there are times when he is gentle and considerate, but those are few and far between and they don’t gel with the character we were introduced to in book 1. He’s more childish and peevish than ever. When things get uncomfortable, he turns into a mean, spiteful jerk who is hard to like, as a main character.

Josh is a little more pathetic and love sick, but that fits with his personality and is completely understandable. A lot of reviews have labelled Josh needy, which he is a bit, but this story makes it more obvious why. He was a doormat to Drew, who never understood or supported him, and is lost without someone to give him direction. But, what I see is him growing in confidence and learning to stick up for himself now that he’s met Kane.

For me, Josh is the best thing about this series, followed closely by Erik and Freddie. If Kane wasn’t a main character, I’d be much happier. He’s just not a likeable person, but he’s used as a reason to make Josh more sexually adventurous and provoke these multiple exploits.

I was really pleased to see Erik and Freddie back. They had an equal part in this story as they did in book 1, so that was really nice. But, I was disappointed to see that Freddie had this potential story arc that was completely ignored. I would have liked some form of resolution about it.

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OVERALL

There was too much sex and not enough plot. The writing was a little more erratic than before (though, as this is an ARC the formatting issues may change). POV were mixed, without the usual separation between Kane and Josh’s.

I have to say that this author isn’t for me. I like plot to come first and be 90% of the story, not the sex. This book was the complete opposite and a let down, after the enjoyable equality of book 1. Unless these two books are the anomaly, I won’t be reading any more of Blackwell’s work.

At the end of this book, all I had were questions. Where was the romance? Where’s the spark and fire outside the bedroom? Arguing isn’t spark and romance; not the way these characters do it.

This story just didn’t have enough depth for me. It was all sex and no substance. Great foundation, but lazy plotting. Both books could easily have been merged into one if you removed the mountain of unnecessary sex scenes from book 2, that cluttered and hid the plot. Book 1 had so much potential that I wanted to love this one. Now, I wish I hadn’t read it. This story ruined the greatness of book 1 for me and has left me really disappointed and sad that these characters have been led to such an end. If there are more books in this series – even if it’s Freddie and Erik – I won’t be reading them. I can’t bear to take the chance on it and have these great characters ruined by a plot that doesn’t do them justice. And that makes me really sad.

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