Counsellor by Celia Aaron
Published by Self-published on September 28, 2015
Genres: Psychological Thriller
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Available on KU at posting: Yes
In the heart of Louisiana, the most powerful people in the South live behind elegant gates, mossy trees, and pleasant masks. Once every ten years, the pretense falls away and a tournament is held to determine who will rule them. The Acquisition is a crucible for the Southern nobility, a love letter written to a time when barbarism was enshrined as law.
Now, Sinclair Vinemont is in the running to claim the prize. There is only one way to win, and he has the key to do it — Stella Rousseau, his Acquisition. To save her father, Stella has agreed to become Sinclair's slave for one year. Though she is at the mercy of the cold, treacherous Vinemont, Stella will not go willingly into darkness.
As Sinclair and Stella battle against each other and the clock, only one thing is certain: The Acquisition always ends in blood.
Full disclosure: This book is a dark romance with elements of slavery, violence, BDSM, and super-hot sex. It is the first of a series and ends on a cliffhanger. If you're good with these caveats, enjoy.
Not my idea of a hot date!
A dark romance is a term that sometimes makes me shudder even though it is my preferred genre. It’s combining romance with darkness in this story that made me twitchy. If I was to be wooed by courtship, my door would be slammed shut at the first mention of an Acquisition! Goodreads indicated this is my second time reading Counsellor which rang true as the story seemed familiar yet the ending didn’t. Maybe I started it and didn’t continue the first time. Such can be the way with a dark read, you have to be in the right mood to read one. Strangely curious but I digress.
I liked the story while questioning the absurd situation Stella has agreed to. Wait on…I was gobsmacked it was on the table in the first place. Should you decide to read this book, I dare say you’ll be committing to the series. The story is based around what appears to be an archaic elitist game for the deranged. Bizarre and hedonistic are other terms that come to mind. Thankfully they only gather once in this story to hold their macabre event. The meaning behind the event was lost on me—apart from breaking someone’s spirit and somehow keeping a tally of the points the spectators awarded the participants or whether it was for some other weird concept of entertainment I have no idea.
Readers are left in the dark as to why it is necessary to go through the craziness of an Acquisition in the first place. While hints are given, there is no actual explanation and I assume there’s a lot more still to be revealed for the plot and the relevance of the characters. None of the characters are an open book apart from Stella. Her vulnerability is transparent as are her feelings and observations which she openly shares including the confusion she feels towards those around her.
Sinclair is a broken antihero who is determined to see to his duty of getting Stella through the next year. I can’t say I liked him or hated him. He is far from a sweet person but it will need to be a darn good reason he is involved for me to have any appreciation for him at all. I have a feeling there is and for that reason I am reserving my judgment on him. His brother though, is another story altogether. Enough said where he is concerned, if you’ve read the book, you’ll know which brother I am referring to.
The key to enjoying this story is to go in blind. Keep in mind it is a dark and twisted tale with a cliffy at the end. Good news is the series is now complete, so there’ll be no wait if you have to know what happens next.
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