Those who dare to scratch the surface of ordinary, everyday life may be horrified to find a sick underbelly beneath—a nightmare world populated by villains and victims, predators and prey, where the rules of society no longer apply.
Where you’ll find people like Danny, the boy who sells himself to pay for his father’s gambling debts and ends up in a situation more twisted than he ever imagined. Or Troy, the cop whose obsession with saving a brutalized human trafficking victim turns deadly. Or Drew, the mental patient who begins to suspect his nightly delusions of abuse by his doctor are actually real. Or David, the cuckolded husband who decides the best way to get revenge is to seduce his wife’s barely legal son.
Stealing Innocents is an exploration of our darkest human impulses, where sex is power, love is horror, and there’s no such thing as a happy ending.
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I’ve only read a couple of Lisa Henry’s books because she scares the bejeezus out of me. I figured having read her Bliss series and Fallout, I’d be good to go with Stealing Innocents. After all, I’m no stranger to reading and enjoying dark romances and dark pseudo-romances. Yeah…No. This is a collection of dark erotica stories and there is no romance to be found. If you do not enjoy the dark, the twisted, and the basest of human nature, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! I am giving it five stars, not because I loved it and will read it again. Nope, Stealing Innocents earned its five stars for doing what Henry does best – scaring the everlovinghell out of me. I am seriously wishing that I had read this book in the middle of the day on the bright and sunny beach down the road because I have a bad feeling, my dreams are going to be weird tonight.
GAMBLE EVERYTHING – 5 stars
This novella encompasses half of the Stealing Innocents collection and is exactly why I don’t read age-play books. Gamble Everything isn’t actually age play, but it’s what I always worry I might get if I happen to pick up an age-play story – pedophilia disguised as age play. Now granted, none of the characters in Gamble Everything are underage, so it’s not actually pedophilia either. But Archer treats Daniel like a little boy 24/7, including while he’s engaged in sexual activities with Daniel. So how, you may wonder, do I give a story that creeps me out on so many levels 5 stars? Because even though the boy-daddy role-playing takes up much of the page time and grosses me out, it’s not the point of the story. When Archer finishes turning Danny into Daniel, I was both shocked, yet not with the end results. I was still creeped out by the boy-daddy roles, but what Daniel ended up doing in the end for Archer and for himself was a perfect yet twisted example of conditioned behavior. That Daniel got to enact a little bit of justice for himself was something I was kind of pleased to see happen too. While Daniel may have experienced a bit of Stockholm Syndrome, by the end, the choice to stay or go was his own.
CRAZY – 4.5 stars
“They said I was crazy. I said they were crazy. The outvoted me.” – Drew
I prefer, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” Crazy is the B-movie nightmare come true (well, you know what I mean). A young man finds himself in an asylum (private care facility), not able to remember why he’s there. Not sure if his nightmares are actually nightmares or if they’re truly happening to him. Unable to distinguish reality from dreams because the medication keeps him just hazy enough that he doesn’t know what’s real and what isn’t. And just when he thinks he’s figured out how to discern reality from insanity, the good doctor diagnosis him with schizophrenia. What’s real and what’s a hallucination? Even more importantly, does he really want to know? The writing style is a little choppy on this one, but I believe it’s meant to be because the story is told from Drew’s point of view and with all that occurs to him, telling his story in a steady stream of consciousness would not have been as effective. It was a nice touch.
FIRST AND ONLY – 4.5 stars
I don’t know what to say about First and Only. There are times during the story that I felt sorry for David. I didn’t condone his seduction of Sage, but from the standpoint of human nature, I understood where he was coming from. Then when his protective instincts were aroused, I felt better about the story. Then it got creepy and took a turn for the worse. And then another one. And then another one. And by the end, the only person I felt sorry for was Sage.
FALLING ANGELS – 5 stars
This was the hardest of the stories to finish. I actually had to stop because with each of the stories getting progressively worse in how they ended, I didn’t know if I wanted to know how Falling Angels would turn out for Arkady. Honestly, had this not been a review book, I don’t know that I would have finished the story. As long as I didn’t read the ending the author wrote, Arkady’s ending could be whatever I imagined it to be. But alas, this was a review book and I forced myself to soldier forth and cringed as Arkady’s lot in life got worse and worse, as the author demonstrates that there are things worse than death, and that monsters really do exist. And just as I think it cannot get any worse, Henry shows that it can. While Falling Angels did not end as I was afraid it would, the ending was just as shocking because it was not at all what I expected. I forgot the most important rule of reading – the author giveth hope, and the author can snatch it away at any moment. Well done Henry. Well done, indeed.