This is a book review for Consequences by Aleatha Romig, available here:
1* – did not finish
I went into this book with high expectations. It had been recommended by a couple of people in my book group and when I looked it up, it had a high star rating. I think that’s probably why I persisted with it for so long. I was sure that it would get better at some stage, convinced that so many people couldn’t be wrong, but it didn’t and I gave up at just over 70% in.
The premise of the book sounds good – man abducts, brutally rapes and beats his prisoner and then ends up having feelings for her. Psychologically it could have been an immensely fascinating read. I’ve always been curious about Stockholm Syndrome and the relationship between the two of them could have been intense and extraordinary to explore.
The premise couldn’t have been further from what we actually got. This book fell down on so many counts:
Considering the subject matter was so dark and visceral, it was almost as if the author was too scared or shy to actually really go there. Instead you had things hinted at, so you never really understood the depth or horror or, on some occasions, what had actually even happened. Everything was glossed over with ambiguous statements or left out entirely. There were some sections that left me wondering how old the author was when she wrote this, because at times it feels like she must be young. Some of the writing feels immature, which is weird because at other times it comes across completely differently.
It was too long and there wasn’t really any story. It did get really boring after a while. It reads a little bit like a reality TV show, following around the rich and famous on their daily business. I had thought it would be about the relationship, but actually that’s settled maybe 30% in and the rest of it is Tony Rawlings being an abusive d*** and Claire forgiving him everything and staring after him with loveydovey eyes.
And that’s where this story completely falls down – the characters are just too unbelievable.
Tony is slightly more believable than the others, but that’s probably because we don’t spend very much of the book hearing the narrative from his point of view and even then there are plot holes. He tells Claire he’s sold her things and gives her the necklace her grandmother left, but she is somehow under the impression later on in the book that he doesn’t know where she lived. He’s even more one dimensional than Christian Grey – he admits to having control issues, but there’s nothing in him that’s vulnerable or likeable.
The house staff just make no sense at all. Catherine, the housekeeper, professes to be fond of Claire but is happy to sit by and watch her getting beaten and raped, but still tries to tell her that Tony is a good man.
The narrative is mostly Claire and it’s just bizarre. I don’t know what the author was aiming for. It’s not a D/S relationship in any sense. On the face of it, it’s abusive, but even then it’s not right.
There’s no descent, no psychological break. She goes on a lot about “compartmentalising” but one of the biggest psychological factors in domestic abuse is that you don’t really understand what’s happening to you on any conscious level until it’s too late or you’re on the outside. In this case, Tony was doing brutal things and Claire wasn’t having what I would consider any kind of appropriate response. A prime example is the time she does something insignificant that he perceives to be wrong and he beats her into a coma. She’s in hospital for six weeks and then in recovery for a couple of months, after which she professes to love him and they get married. I’m sorry, but it’s just crazy. If she was that aware of what was being done to her, she should have left at any of the occasions she was away from his sphere of control.
I just found the whole thing too disturbing and uncomfortable to carry on reading. I strongly felt that it was romanticising abduction and rape and that’s not something I want to read. I give the author the benefit of the doubt – maybe in the 30 odd percent I didn’t read, Claire extricates herself from the situation, but frankly she was too vapid and 1 dimensional for me to care enough to find out. I doubt it though – there are several more books in the series.
There are a couple of good things about the book. I didn’t notice many spelling mistakes, which was good. Indeed, the author does actually use some beautiful language in places. I smiled at the description of the “polychromatic trees”. It was nice to see rare words like that. I also liked the quotes at the beginning of each chapter.
Overall these weren’t enough to redeem the book. I’m sorry, but it’s 1* from me.