Gray Nolan’s biggest problem in life was the torch he carried for his closeted coach. He was just another happy-go-lucky dude, a college student and hockey player, when his ordinary existence was interrupted, and he became a human trafficking statistic.
He and seven other young men were taken aboard a luxurious yacht where they were to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Gray was beaten, shattered, and almost defeated by the time his buyer stepped out of the shadows in a swirl of his own cigarette smoke.
He was Gray’s new owner.
Darius Quinn had vowed never again to find himself in a situation like this. His days as a private military contractor were over. No more missions, no more risks, no more personal attachments. Yet, here he was, after weeks of searching, face-to-face with his broken prize.
It was time to get the knucklehead back to his family.
Quick and easy was Darius’s plan.
Then everything went sideways.
There are a few things to note before getting into the meat of this review. First, Auctioned is not a romance. I suspect that will happen more in part 2, when the story concludes. Second, while I wouldn't call the ending particularly cliffy, the story is most definitely not wrapped up. It does stop at a good point, though. And lastly, if descriptions of torture and human trafficking trigger you, you might want to stay clear. Cara Dee doesn't pull punches here. The story is graphic and there are times it is a touch hard to read. My heart hurts.
All that said -- Auctioned is some amazing writing and story telling! Cara Dee knows how to pull me in and make me keep reading, even when I'm highly uncomfortable. I've been looking forward to Gray's story since Power Play, and I knew from the sneak peak we got at the end of that book, that Gray's story would be intense - and it is, there is no question.
Human trafficking is a subject I never thought I'd read about in a romance novel, and if this book were written by any other author, I probably would not have chanced it.
There's definite attraction here, and I could see the edges of a romance by the end of Auctioned, but Gray has been through so much and it isn't quite over, yet, so we only get that glimpse. He's a strong young man in an impossible situation. Even having been though so much over the past few months, he still has a huge heart.
Darius is a bit of an enigma. We meet him in other Camassia Cove books, but we don't learn much about him. Well, turns out this man has layers and we've only scratched the surface. I'm looking forward to learning more about him as a man and his motivations for rescue missions. I have my hunches and I want to know if they are correct.
In short, Auctioned will stretch your boundaries and make you question things you may have thought you knew about yourself and your fellow humans. There really are no limits to either human generosity or human evil and we see both sides of that coin, here.
I do recommend this book, with caution -- heed the warnings. I've every confidence, however, that Cara Dee will make the journey worth it.
ARC of Auctioned was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.
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