Screaming in the Silence - Lydia Kelly Is it crazy and twisted that I rooted for an HEA to this story? I know there is a number of you out there that did as well - a tell that Lydia Kelly hit on something with Screaming in the Silence. Kelly delivers a study in captivity, Stockholm Syndrome, moral ambiguity and atonement in this - not quite a romance, kidnapping tale.

Weary of a dark story of a captive, I was relieved to find that Kelly added interest to this unsavory theme with a couple of unexpected devices. First and foremost, Raleigh is deaf. Capable of reading lips and speaking clearly she can communicate with her captors - when they want to communicate with her. No eaves dropping on conversations, no tell tale sound to indicate if someone is behind her or even in a dark room with her, no ability to know if she should discern fear when she witnesses a fight between her captors. And to add insult to injury, her kidnappers rob her of the sense she relies on most by placing her in a dark basement. Left with touch, smell and taste, Raleigh relays a new side of fear that this reviewer had never considered. Raleigh isn’t in the dark the whole time and when faced with her captors she demonstrates her intelligence, with not only how and what she communicates to them, but in how she discerns and analyzes every detail of their reactions - from body language to facial expressions to eye contact.

The second unexpected device that sets this dark captive tale apart, is that Raleigh was a victim of an “accidental” kidnapping, meaning that kidnapping her was not premeditated by her three assailants. Her captivity was seen as a problem to them instead of the goal to a nefarious plan. This drove the plot and gave more flexibility to (some) of her captors’ moral compasses.

Now let’s discuss the most uncomfortably enjoyable part of the book: Kaden. Kaden is despicably likeable. Intelligent, cunning, conniving, violent just beneath the surface, criminal -but what stands out most? He’s charming. But he is also deranged. Or “conflicted” as Raleigh sees him.

“I was terrified of him, but at the same time wanted him to desire me."

Uh, what's that you say, Raleigh? It seems Raleigh might be a bit “conflicted” herself. Together their relationship is not right.

“Being raped wasn’t something I liked to think about, but being raped by Ray was almost an unbearable thought. What made Kaden a more agreeable rapist was what confused me."

Confused? Not me. Kaden plus Raleigh equals all kinds of examples of a sick, unhealthy, very wrong relationship that pulls you in. Don’t let any impressionable young ladies read this one. I was as cautiously charmed by Kaden as Raleigh. I knew he could say all the right things and do all the wrong things. But of course I was a comfortable voyeur to this story, safe in my logical, intelligent thought process that would never fall for Kaden’s allure - in real life.

What is Kaden’s attraction?

“I’m not a bad person, Raleigh. I’ve just done some fucked up things lately.”

I can even hear the drawl in his voice as he delivers that line so matter-of-factly. Kaden truly believes this, he makes Raleigh believe it, too. And, maybe, since this is just a book, and he is handsome and charming and so frigging likeable, just maybe, you believe it, too.

Kaden is one of those people, who came to a fork roads in life and took the wrong path. And he knows it. And he is frustrated about it. He is smarter than where he has ended up. His moral compass wants to point to north, but his actions have him headed south. He knows that had he made better choices, gone right instead of left at the fork in the road, things could have been so different for he and Raleigh. And in my humble estimation, it is due to this frustration and anger - while trying to reconcile himself with who he could have been and who he actually is, that he commit’s a vile crime against Raleigh. Does his underlying charm make up for the crime he commits against her? No. And he knows that to.

In fact, his trespass against her is so vile that he can’t even see past it - despite his best efforts. He knows he can’t redeem himself for what he did, but he knows he can atone for it. And when standing at another fork in the road of life, where if he veers left he could probably sprint to an HEA with Raleigh, he veers right and jogs to it instead.

Complaints about this book? Minor ones: the other two captors were shallowly written, slivers rather than gaps in the story - would have liked more of a background on Kaden or more about him in the last 10-15% of the book, maybe more on the search for Raleigh. Writing was certainly passable.

If you like your heroes psychologically dark and complex, and so much gray to a person’s motives that you don’t even know black and white exist, then I recommend you this book. I liked the fact that I didn’t like liking this book. It feels like a dirty little secret - making it one of the smarter captivity stories I have read.

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