Doll by Juniper Bell
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Length: Short Story (62 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 Cherries
Reviewed by Fern
Even a plaything can be pushed too far…
Chloe Barnes thought her marriage to a wealthy politician would be the stuff of fairy tales. Instead, he took advantage of her naiveté and used her as a plaything to fulfill his twisted sexual needs. Ten years is enough. She returns to Bellhaven Island to sell the summer cottage she inherited, hoping the money will buy her freedom—and custody of her daughters.
Fisherman Dustin McDougal never forgot the childhood crush he once had on the fairy-like Chloe. The woman she’s become has a haunted look that brings his feelings back, stronger than ever…with a mature edge. Along with all his protective instincts.
Their passion blows stronger than a Maine nor’easter, awakening Chloe to the joy of true love. Yet it may not be strong enough to free her from the past…
Doll is a thought-provoking story that stays with you long after you’ve finished. The theme of abuse, both physically and emotionally, runs deep.
Though it’s not an easy read, it’s an honest one, and for that I give props to author Juniper Bell. She’s managed to tackle controversial subject matter by introducing the reader to a victim who becomes her own savior. Although her flourishing relationship with hero creates the path, it is she who confronts and cages the demons that have enslaved her, and it’s an amazing sight to witness.
When we first meet Chloe, she’s all but broken. A lifetime of being coddled by over-protective parents kept her somewhat ignorant about life, to the extent that she didn’t flee her husband when she learned the extent of his depravity. Through recollections, you get a glimpse of the hell she’s endured as a consequence. I should warn sensitive readers that the flashback scenes hit like a sucker punch to the gut. The treatment Chloe endured is some heady stuff, even though you’re aware of it to some extent from the blurb. I’ve read my fair share of material that pushes the envelope, but I can honestly say I’ve never met an antagonist I’ve detested more than her husband, Andrew.
Fortunately, Ms. Bell has walked the line between darkness and hope by creating a hero to swoon for. Dustin isn’t some rich knight in shining armor – he’s a normal, average guy, which is exactly what Chloe needs. Although he doesn’t understand the extent of her damage, he recognizes her frailty, and caters to it. While this is Chloe’s story, he becomes the foundation, introducing her to the joys of living without fear or subservience.
Due to the subject matter, Doll might not suit the tastes of everyone. However, due to fantastic writing, memorable characters, and the provocative theme, I personally could not put the story down. Anything that makes you stop and think is worth a read, and this story definitely accomplishes that.