The Tied Man by Tabitha McGowan

the tied manLilith Bresson, an independent, successful young artist, is forced to travel from her home in Spain to the wild borderlands of northern England, to repay her feckless father’s latest debt by painting a portrait of the enigmatic Lady Blaine Albermarle.
On her first night at Albermarle Hall she meets Finn Strachan, Blaine’s ‘companion’, a cultured and hauntingly beautiful young man who seems to have it all. But Lilith has an artist’s eye, and a gift for seeing what lies beneath the skin. She soon discovers that Blaine is more gaoler than lover, and if the price is right, depravity has no limits.
As the weeks pass, Lilith finds that she too is drawn into the malign web that her patron has spun, yet against the odds she forges a strong friendship with the damaged, dysfunctional Finn. In a dark, modern twist to an age-old story, Lilith Bresson proves that sometimes it’s the princess who needs to become the rescuer.
Please note that this storyline contains depictions of drug abuse, violence and non-consensual sex.

Grade: A-

I read this book at a time that I was becoming convinced that there were no decent self-published e-books left to read. Lucky for me, Tabitha McGowan not only proved me wrong, she introduced me to a cast of characters so real and vibrant I mourned finishing the story.

This book revolves around Lilith who I loved from page one. If I had to compare her to any other literary character I’d chose Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Like Lisbeth, Lilith is an unapologetic woman who you can’t help rooting for. The Tied Man at its heart is a love story, but not like one I’ve read before. Not only does the man (Finn, a sex slave who is trapped in a heinous predicament) need rescuing, but the author deals with the dark subject matter of prostitution and abuse in a way that is unflinching.

One of the many things that stood out to me in this book were a few instances when characters comment to Lilith how thrilled she must be to take part in the disgusting actions that take place in the “resort” that are central to the story. The assumption being that because Lilith is sexually independent, both in her art and personal life, she must enjoy the sexual abuse and degradation that Finn is forced to endure on a near daily basis. I have to say that as a person who enjoys darker erotic stories in all mediums, I have sometimes encountered attitudes like this. That because a person is open-minded sexually, they must approve of everything, up to and including rape. No matter how much I enjoy fantasy, at no point have I ever, or will I ever condone or approve of anyone’s not having consent. EVER. I thank the author for addressing this misconception and making what I hope all romance readers feel clear.
As I previously stated, I loved this book. In what could have been a depressing and too dark to finish story I instead encountered humor, friendship, and characters I came to care deeply for. I can’t wait for Tabitha McGowan’s next book. Her writing is superb.

Having said all that, my only regret is that not being a native speaker of The Queen’s English I know were some things I missed when the characters were talking. However, it did not stop me from enjoying the story or understanding what was happening.

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