Stay, by Emily Goodwin

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Grade: C+

Doing it at: 74%

Catnip: Kidnapping, Accidental Pregnancy, Secret Love

Shame Scale:  I felt really awful reading this.

Fantasy Cast: I can’t fantasy cast this book. I wouldn’t want to think of anyone in the same position as the characters.

Book Description:

**Trigger Warning: This book is dark and is not suitable for readers easily offended by realistic tellings of human trafficking, those that do not wish to read about hard topics, or readers under the age of 18. If you want a feel-good, sexy read, this is NOT the book for you. Stay does not fit neatly into one genre. It’s part erotica, part dark romance, and part suspense thriller. It is a dark, gritty, and harrowing tale about finding love in the darkest of places. Read at your own risk. **

I felt like I was walking to the end of a plank precariously hanging over shark-infested water. When I jumped, sharp teeth would rip into me and the cold water would steal my breath away. The monsters would take everything from me, leaving me shivering and naked in the water. The only difference was that tonight I would be pulled from the icy darkness and forced to do it again. There would be no release from death, only pain.”

Home after her first year of college, Adeline Miller is looking forward to a stress free summer filled with reading, working on her blog, and spending time with friends. But all that changes in an instant when she is witness to something terrible, something she wasn’t supposed to see.

Beaten, drugged, kidnapped.

Adeline Miller is ripped from her innocent and carefree life and thrust into darkness, into a world full of pain and horror. As a sex slave, she is forced to do horrible things, and have horrible things done to her. One of her captors has a past as dark as the world she is now living in. Will getting close to him mean freedom? Or will he pull her deeper into the shadows?

*Stay is a bit of a departure from the fluffy stuff we normally read on Mybookshame, and while it wasn’t our kink, we know it might be your kink. The ladies who read and blog here firmly believe in “I Like what I Like!” as a rallying cry. 

This book was a tough read. And I don’t mean it was tough to read like Grey has been for many. The plot deals with human trafficking, a very real and very terrifying thing. Our lead character, Adeline, has an ideal life. She’s only 19. She’s an avid reader and blogger (much like some other girls we know). She lives at home with her parents and little sister. Then one day she decides to attend a Pride Parade with a couple of friends, sees something in an alley that she shouldn’t have, and just like that, is kidnapped. Poof.

The two men that kidnap her are Zane and Jackson. She is thrown in a car trunk, driven to an unknown location, then locked in a closet located in a basement with no food or water. She is brutally hit over and over again along the way. After she’s been in the closet for a while, she hears voices. They belong to two other girls. Although they are also in the basement, locked up, they ignore her pleas for help.

Eventually she is dragged upstairs to meet Nate, the brains of the operation. He laments on the fact that Zane smacked her around too hard and that she’ll need time to heal. This is when the panic Adeline is feeling kicks into high gear. Heal for what exactly? She makes an escape attempt, and is easily subdued by Zane, who is already showing his sadistic side. He drags her back down in to the basement, tries to rape her and is stopped by a quick knee to the stomach. At this point in the book I was questioning my reading choice here. The writing itself is good, but the subject matter is difficult to say the least.

Before meeting her basement roommates, she snoops around and discovers only sleazy clothes in the dressers and essentially nothing else. This is just further evidence to back up what she already fears. Then she meets Lily, Phoebe and Rochelle and there is no more guesswork involved. They divulge all the details of their lives, and now hers, while she listens in horror. The only escape is death, and that almost seems better.

Adeline is put to work, and her first “job” is described in horrific detail. Thankfully, it is only the first one that’s detailed. From this point on, Adeline is raped repeatedly by various men and tossed back in the basement after. Jackson is the one in charge of feeding the girls and doing their laundry, as well as several tasks upstairs in the pristine farmhouse. Adeline begins to notice small things about Jackson that clue her in that he may be suffering the same fate. He frequently is bruised and beaten, and is very timid around Zane and Nate. My brain started screaming “Stockholm Syndrome” but it is revealed that he is also owned by Nate.

It’s easy to see the plot being driven by Adeline’s unfaltering faith in humanity and her need to escape. Her and Jackson end up sharing more than just slavery in the end. But honestly, this book was brutal. The subject matter is heavy and dark. PEOPLE are sold and traded. It’s stomach-turning. I would not recommend this unless you are prepared. There is a mostly happy ending, and Adeline is a vigilant hero who is desperate to escape and see her family again. There is a companion novel told through Jackson’s POV, but I’m not sure I want to venture any further into this genre.