Title: Prisoner (Criminals & Captives, #1)
Release Date: October 23 2014
Genre: Dark Erotic Romance
He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell.
But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think.
And you might crave him more than your next breath.
You know you've found an amazing book when as soon as you put it down you have an uncontrollable urge to pick it back up. Prisoner is an intense and chilling, yet emotional, ride from beginning to end.
Prim and proper Abigail meets the dangerous and sexy Greyson when she’s assigned to teach a memoir writing class for prison inmates. The books and glasses Abigail hides behind are no match for Grayson. She is drawn to the Prisoner’s visceral and commanding nature. Grayson radiates control and dominance; as much as Abigail fights it and tries to run from it, she can’t. She’s pulled in to Grayson’s dangerous and cold world without choice. But, sometimes something bad can make you feel so good.
I flew through this book. It is definitely a “just one more chapter” kind of book. Being so caught up in the story and desperate to find out what happens next resulted in a late night or two for me.
I am seriously blown away and beyond impressed with this intelligent and phenomenal writing. The writing here certainly sets the tone. The story comes alive with a vivid, descriptive, and intoxicating style that pulls you right into the world of Grayson and Abigail. I was captivated by the writing just as much as the story itself. Skye Warren and Annika Martin have a way of making the most inconsequential and mundane things interesting. Prisoner is told in dual POV with transitions that are wonderful.
The build up of anticipation and tension is frustratingly delicious. It's almost electrical and hangs in the air like a storm cloud. The force which is Grayson emanates from the pages. He’s hard and unfeeling, numb to regret and sympathy. The way in which he is described and written brings him to life in a way that is all too real. Grayson is a person you know you shouldn't be attracted to but you can't help it. I was surprised at how fast Grayson could snap back to the calculating and cold thug when he needed to. The relationship that builds between Grayson and Abigail is unconventional but absolutely perfect. The authors really injected a healthy dose of reality into this one.
Prisoner is a thrilling and engrossing read that will leave you desperate and feverishly flipping pages to find out what happens next. I highly recommend this if you’re looking for something absolutely engrossing and just plain great. It’s sexy, hot, a bit dark, and fascinating. Prisoner will keep your heart beating fast with anticipation and forbidden attraction to one of the most off limits men around – a Prisoner.
(And who says books aren’t sexy????)
Heavy bars close behind me with a clang. I feel the sound in my bones. A series of mechanical clicks hint at an elaborate security mechanism beneath the black iron plating. I knew this would happen—had anticipated and dreaded it—but my breathing quickens with the knowledge that I am well and truly trapped.
“Can I help you?”
I whirl to face the administrative window where a heavyset woman in a security guard uniform stares at her screen.
“Hi,” I say, pasting on a smile. “My name is Abigail Winslow, and I’m here to—”
“Two forms of identification.”
“Oh, well, I already filled out the paperwork at the front desk. And showed them my IDs.”
“This isn’t the front desk, Ms. Winslow. This is the east-wing desk, and I need to see two forms of identification.”
“Right.” I dig through my bag for my driver’s license and passport.
She accepts them without looking up, then hands me a clipboard with a stack of papers just like the ones I’d already filled out.
I’ve been dreading this day for weeks, wishing I’d been assigned any other project but this one. You’d think I was being sent here for a crime. My professor—the one who’d forced me into this—warned me that prisoners were not always receptive to outsiders. Apparently nobody here is.
I complete each form, arrange the pages neatly on the clipboard, and bring them back up to the window. The guard accepts them and gives back my IDs…still without looking at me.
My hands clench and unclench, clench and unclench while the guard eyes my paperwork.
Seconds pass. Or are they minutes? The damp chill of the place seeps in through my cardigan and leaves me shivering.
Leaning forward, I read the name tag of the guard. “Ms. Breck. Do you know what the next steps are?”
“You can have a seat. I have work to do now, and then I’ll escort you back.”
“Oh, okay.” I glance at the bars I just came through, then the open hallway opposite. “Actually, if you just point me in the direction of the library, I’m sure I can—”
Thunk. The woman’s hand hits the desk. I jump. Her dark eyes are faintly accusing, and I wish we could go back to no eye contact. How did I manage to make an enemy in two minutes?
“Ms. Winslow,” she says, her voice patronizing.
“You can call me Abby,” I whisper.
A slight smile. Not a nice one. “Ms. Winslow, what do you think we do here?”
The question is clearly rhetorical. I press my lips together to keep from making things worse.
“The Kingman Correctional Facility houses over five thousand convicted criminals. My job is to keep it that way. Do we understand each other?”
Heat floods my cheeks. The last thing I want to do is make her job harder. “Right. Of course.” I shamble back, landing hard on the metal folding chair. It wobbles a little before the rubber feet stop my slide.
I understand the woman’s point. She has to keep the prisoners in and everyone else out, and keep people like me safe.
I reach down and pull a book from my bag. I never leave home without one, even when I go to classes or run errands. Even when I was young and my mother used to take me on her rounds.
I would hide in the backseat with my nose in the book, pretending I didn’t see the shady people who came to her window when we stopped.
A little green light above the barred doors flashes on and there’s an ominous buzz. Somebody’s coming through, and I doubt it will be a library volunteer. I slide down.
Pretend to be invisible.
It’s no use. I peer over the top edge as a prisoner saunters through the door, and my pulse slams in my throat double time.
He’s flanked by two guards—escorted by them, I guess you’d say. But they seem more like an entourage than anything. Power vibrates around him like a threat.
Read, read, read. Don’t look.
The prisoner is half a foot taller than the guards, but he seems to tower over them by more than that. Maybe it’s his broad shoulders or just something about the way he stands, or his imperiously high cheekbones. The dark stubble across his cheeks looks so rough and unforgiving I can feel it against my palm; it contrasts wildly with the plushness of his lips. His short brown hair is mussed. There’s one scar through his eyebrow that somehow adds to his perfection.
The little group approaches the window. I can barely breathe.
“ID number 85359,” one of the guards says, and I understand that he’s referring to the prisoner. That’s who he is. Not John Smith or William Brown or whatever his name is. He’s been reduced to a number. The woman at the desk runs through a series of questions. It’s a procedure for checking him out of solitary.
The prisoner faces sideways, spine straight, the corner of his mouth tilted up as if he’s slightly amused. Then it clicks, what else is so different about him: no visible tattoos. Tough guys like this, they’re always inked up—it’s a kind of armor, a kind of fuck you. This guy has none of it, though he’s far from pristine; white scars mar the rough skin of his hands and especially his forearms, a latticework of pain and violence, a flag proclaiming the kind of underworld he came from.
The feel of brutality that hangs about him is compelling and…somehow beautiful.
I drink him in from behind my book—it’s my mask, my protective shield. But then the strangest thing happens: he cocks his head. It’s just a slight shift, but I feel his attention on me deep in my belly. I’ve been discovered. Caught by searchlights. Exposed.
My heart beats frantically.
I want him to look away. He fills up too much space. It’s as if he breathes enough oxygen for twelve men, leaving no air for me at all. Maybe if we were in the library and he needed help finding a book or looking something up, then I wouldn’t mind the weight of his gaze.
No. Not even there. He’s too much.
Two sets of bars on the gate. Handcuffs. Two guards.
What do they think he would do if there were only one set of bars, one guard?
My blood races as the guards draw him away from the window and toward the inner door, toward where I sit. His heat pierces the chill around me as he nears. His deep brown eyes never once meet mine, but I have the sense of him looming over me as he passes, like a tree with a massive canopy. He continues on, two hundred pounds of masculine danger wrapped in all that beauty.
Even in chains, he seems vibrant, wild and free, a force of nature—it makes me feel like I’m the one in prison. Safe. Small. Carefully locked down.
How would it feel to be that free?
“Ms. Winslow. Ms. Winslow.”
I jump, surprised to hear that the woman has been calling my name. “I’m sorry,” I say as a strange sensation tickles the back of my neck.
The woman stands and begins pulling on her jacket. “I’ll take you to the library now.”
“Oh, that’s great.”
That shivery sensation gets stronger. Against my better judgment, I look down the hallway where the guards and the prisoner are walking off as one—a column of orange flanked by two thinner, shorter posts.
The prisoner glances over his shoulder. His mocking brown gaze searches me out, pins me with a subtle threat. Though it isn’t his eyes that scare me. It’s his lips—those beautiful, generous lips forming words that make my blood race.
No sound comes out, but I feel as though he’s whispered my name right into my ear. Then he turns and strolls off.
Q & A with Skye Warren
Where do you find your inspiration?
In books! I actually don’t read as much dark romance as I’d like, because I don’t want to cross pollinate quite that closely. But I’m still a voracious reader. I love romantic suspense, historical romance, and more. I like finding a “what if” question in a book or movie, where I can flesh that into its own story. Or, well, sometimes there’ll be a side plot with a villain… and I wonder, how can that villain be a hero?
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Message is too strong a word, but there are certain recurring themes in my books. Redemption is a big one, trying to atone for your past failings, believing you had overcome only to be sucked back into it, fighting to better this time, stronger this time. The other recurring theme in my books is that everyone deserves to find love. That means some very dark characters walk the pages of my books.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a bit from the new material that will be in the Trust in Me/Don’t Let Go book bundle:
My stomach was growling. It always did that, because my corner was one of the darkest and most dangerous in the city. The good corners were run by girls who didn’t want to share—or by their pimps. The kind of men who picked me up terrified me, but not as much as pimps did.
The sweet tang of pot filled the air from two streets down, where some homeless guys gathered around a barrel fire. A cat cried out, sending shivers up my spine—until the sound was suddenly cut off. It was an ordinary night.
A quiet night.
Moonlight flashed off chrome and glass as a car turned the corner. It got longer as it turned—a limo.
The limo looked out of place against the crumbling, graffiti-painted concrete. I wondered if they’re lost. I hoped they didn’t stop and ask me for directions. With my luck the neighborhood matones would take the opportunity to jack them and I’d get caught in the crossfire.
The limo slid to a stop right in front of me, its engine so quiet all I could hear was the crunch of gravel.
I took a step back until I was pressed against the brick wall. My stomach grumbled, reminding me I could use the money. But this was too strange, and in my world, strange was dangerous. I would run, but that would mean turning my back. I learned early not to do that.
The car window rolled down in a smooth glide, revealing a shadowy interior.
“How much?” said a low, masculine voice from inside.
“Depends what you want,” I said, but I’m stalling. Was I really going with him? It was always a risk, getting in some asshole’s car. But this felt more intense than a ride around the block and a blowjob in an alley.
Like I might never see this street corner again.
“Everything,” he said.
Why did you choose to write dark romance?
It rather chose me… When I first began to publish I had to books written. One I had written just for myself. The other I had written with the intention to publish. I decided to self publish both of them and see what happened. The dark book outsold
What is for you the perfect book hero?
I like them intimidating. Competent. Vaguely sinister and smug. Possessive. Harsh. Cold. Hot. I like them everything that is mean and cruel, even with the heroine. And then… when he stops, when sex and intimacy and love force him to stop, the clouds part. The sun rises on grass still sticky with dew. It paints the world in orange light and long shadows, hinting at what is to come. And that’s the end of the book. Not a wedding. Not a happily ever after. The ending is hope.
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
I have most of it when I start. The characters always come first for me. They have to be “speaking” to me, not as voices per se, but where I feel their voice coming out in my writing. I usually also know the way they meet, the early plot points—and since I write romance, even if it’s dark, I know where they’re heading. However, something always surprises me in the later part of a book or during revisions, and that’s a great feeling.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
On some days, the first time I sat down to tell a story. On other days, I still don’t consider myself a writer. I’ve been an indie author since 2011, and I still have to take it a day at a time.
List three books you have recently read and would recommend.
I love to read anthologies, because no matter how much or how little time I have I can get a sexy love story. In fact, many sexy love stories. It’s also easier, I think, for authors to push the boundaries in short story format, and I love seeing what they come up with. My three recommendations are The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance, Princess Bound, and an anthology I edited, Take the Heat: Hardened Criminals on their Hottest Behavior.
Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do.
Write sweet books ;-)
About the Authors
I'm a pet wrangler, bookworm, mediocre tennis player and hairstyle failure. And yes, an author, but I promise not to spam you if you friend me!
I live just a stone's throw from the Mississippi with my husband and two beloved cats in a home full of plants, sunshine, books and cookie crumbs. By day, I'm a freelancer in the business world. In addition to being smutty Annika, I write urban fantasy under the pen name Carolyn Crane.
Skye Warren writes unapologetic erotica, including power play or erotic pain and sometimes dubious consent. There's struggle in the sex. There's pain in the relationships. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.