Review: “Save Riley” by Yolanda Olson

Save Riley by Yolanda OlsonA review by Vanessa.

Jaxton Whitlock wants Riley. Ever since the first day he saw her, he knew that she was the one who he could bring into his darkly twisted life, to make her want him, need him, and stay with him. And she had better not disobey or disappoint him…..

Riley is just a lonely bookstore worker with a solitary routine that she doesn’t mind sharing with no one. Yet somehow, right when she actually needs some emotional support a strange handsome stalker with a beautiful foreign accent suddenly shows up in her life. She doesn’t like his controlling attitude, but she does like his incredible body. When Jaxton abducts her, taking her from her own life and country and straight into his, she has absolutely no idea what’s in store for her. Despite her growing attraction to his beautiful body, and her increasing submission to his dominant will, she still hopes she might find a way out. But her situation might just be a bigger nightmare than she ever imagined….

As a reviewer I feel obligated to issue this warning to readers: this book is not 50 Shades of Gray, where two consenting adults make a decision to play around in the world of BDSM. This book contains scenes of explicit emotional, physical, psychological and sexual abuse forced on an unwilling victim. For abuse survivors who experience PTSD or other effects from their experiences, I would NOT recommend this book.

That being said, this book does contain some interesting aspects detailing what is essentially an emotionally inverted, darkly mangled love story between a monstrous man and what appears to be a normal healthy woman. Readers at the initial onset of the story will want to downplay Jaxton’s actions, and to possibly believe that maybe he is just a lonely, handsome, albeit sick, man who needs someone to understand him. The author even encourages this understanding of Jaxton as a character through his interaction with his hostage where he is, yes very controlling and psychologically frightening, but not physically abusive at first. Unfortunately, the reader’s understanding is quickly betrayed when it is revealed that Jaxton is in fact an imbalanced, violent, serial killing, rapist. It was somewhat implied that he was not quite as bad as all that, and the reader is unprepared for the drastic turn in their understanding of him. The distinction might seem slight but it makes the turn in the story line jarring, not enjoyably surprising.

Some readers might be able to ride the sudden wave of sick and violent tendencies as a particularly interesting and dark twist to the story line. It was certainly fascinating to see from Jaxton’s perspective how such tendencies were a state of normalcy for him; how he already saw himself as a monster, and all he wanted was to make Riley a monster as well so they could be together. From his logic, Riley’s Stockholm Syndrome-style reaction might have found a believable foothold for the reader. However, the revelation that he is far more sick and twisted than one might have initially thought, makes understanding Riley’s reaction infinitely more difficult. In addition, the author chose to write exclusively from Jaxton’s perspective in the second half of the book. That means the reader gets absolutely no insight into Riley’s feelings or thoughts. Understanding her downward spiral is guesswork at best, and the premise suddenly drops from darkly fascinating to unbelievable. Large plot holes in the timeline make the love story more difficult to appreciate as well. Time jumps forward, and there appear to have been no moments of significance within that time, leading the reader to wonder how the relationship could possibly have developed. It fizzles the enjoyment of the book, which is a real shame as there were some moments of fascinating psychosis which held large potential for the story line.


My rating: 2.5 stars/5 stars.

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