Review: Darkest Before Dawn by Stevie J. Cole

Sixty-four days in captivity. Sixty-four days to lose yourself—or find yourself.

 I’m Ava Donovan. I was abducted at the age of nineteen. I’m told I’m a survivor, but the truth is, I only survived because he saved me. Even when he kept me locked in that room—he saved me.

Constantly wondering when and how you will die, that does something to you. To your mind. But what do you do when it does something to your heart? What do you do when the man holding you captive seems just as broken as you are, when his mere presence becomes a comfort you crave—when you love him even though you shouldn’t?

You smile and tell yourself it’s okay because love has no morals.
Sixty-four days in captivity gave me a love most people will never have and my freedom took it all away.

I honestly cannot even begin to tell you what this book did to me. This is the first ever book I've read from Stevie J. Cole and I know it will definitely not be my last.  She has literally made me feel everything just from this book. It's not a very very long story, by any means, but the emotions it invokes are unexplainable.
This is the story of Max Carter and Ava Donovan. Two broken people that have been fated to meet through tragic circumstances.  Both have known evil and violence all their lives because of who their fathers were. Unbeknownst to them at the beginning, they are linked by more than just Ava's kidnapping by Earl and the circumstances of their meeting.
Max is such a strong character. He's bold and honest to himself. He doesn't sugarcoat anything to himself, or cover the things he does with lies. He's honest about what he commits and about knowing the darkness inside him. Though Lila triggers his changes, he knows he had always been susceptible to it. Max is our tragic anti-hero. He knows this too. He is a product of the circumstances of his birth, living daily through what life dishes his way to reach his goal.
He is a walking contradiction, to which Ava describes as
Gentle yet savage, respectful but abhorrent--God and devil.
Ava, on the other hand, represents innocence to Max, and in his world, that will be her downfall. Though the way she ended up in Max' life is horrible, the connection she feels with him is strong. She can't hide from it or ignore it, as she felt it from the start.
Ava is strong, mentally as well as physically. She is also broken. We see glimpses of these when she starts to question why she craves certain this and feelings from Max, her captor.
Max is drawn to her. He tried to deny it at first but just like Ava, their connection is too strong to be ignored. He fears that out of all the women, she will be his downfall, the distraction from his goal.
Stevie J. Cole delivers a book that will make you question everything you think is right or wrong. She will blur the lines that you won't know which way is up or down. I started rooting for the captor and the victim, I really did. When did it cross the line from wrong to acceptable? I honestly couldn't tell you.
Not only is this a romance, though a dark one at that, it is also a psychological book that will keep your mind reeling, feeling everything from pity, anger, unjustness, to understanding, lust and love.
"According to biology it is almost natural to be captive to love. Love is, in a sense, a prison."
When does the manipulation stop and love begin?
Love--out of all the emotions there are, is the one which can cause the greatest upheaval of a person's soul for it is the only emotion that promises to give you something in return.
Even when that emotion is nothing more than a lie...
When is it acceptable to be in love with your captor?
"I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul."
I will be absolutely honest with you, I was rooting for these two souls at the end. I started to question myself while reading this book, I started to questions my morals on what I thought I believed was right, and honestly, that's really why I believe this book is amazing, it made me question as well as feel. It kept my mind going as I turned each page.
If his story were a movie, it wouldn't be considered a romance. It would be a psychological thriller or suspense, but somehow Stevie J. Cole made it into one, in my humble opinion, anyway.
I loved this book. No questions asked.


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