Reviewed by Jenna
TITLE: Stealing Innocents
AUTHOR: Lisa Henry as Cari Waites
PUBLISHER: Anglerfish Press
LENGTH: 273 Pages
RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2016
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.
READER DISCRETION ADVISED.
This collection contains three edited second editions stories that were previously individually published, plus one all-new story, by Lisa Henry writing as Cari Waites.
The stories in this book were hit and miss for me. There was one I loved, one I hated, and two that I had neutral feelings about. All had to do with barely legal or underage pretty boys being abused, raped, tortured, or exploited in some way or other.
Gambling Everything: Out of all the stories, this one was fantastic. In addition to being extremely erotic, it was a real mind fuck. The story began when Daniel, who is eighteen-years-old gives himself over to the casino boss, Mr. Carne to pay for his father’s gambling debts. Daniel feels like he’s doing the right thing since he’s saving his father’s life, but when he realizes that Mr. Carne wants more than just his body, it is harder for him to accept. Mr. Carne has Daniel dress in little boy’s clothes, puts him in a room decorated for a child, and has him call him daddy. Despite all the things he does to him, Daniel is mostly disturbed by how Mr. Carne brings him pleasure and makes him want to be in that role.
I really loved this story. Daniel realizes that Mr. Carne is most likely a pedophile, but the way he handles Daniel allows him to overlook this. Even though he’s in the position to treat Daniel however he pleases, he is in no way trying to hurt him. He builds him up and makes him love what he’s doing to him. This story was extremely hot, and I really loved the ending. It just seemed right.
Crazy: I found this story depressing and oppressive, but it really made me think and I liked it for the fact that it exposed a very messed up flaw in the system we have for people who are considered mentally ill. The story begins with Drew’s thoughts on his situation. He’s a mental patient in a facility, but he doubts that he’s crazy. He was sent there after an attempt on his life due to depression caused by the death of his brother. However, they drugs the give him in the institution keep him in a daze and he doesn’t always remember things. He has dreams that he’s being used sexually by his doctor. The dreams really turn him on, but the idea that they might be real starts to freak him out. If he’s being kept there just for the pleasure of his doctor, he wants out, but the trick is how to get people to listen to someone who is labeled “crazy.”
Though this story was disturbing and I didn’t like the ending, I loved it for the horrific aspect. This is really scary stuff. The author does a great job portraying Drew’s apathy and how he’s lost to the world. It is also very realistic how he fades in and out of memories and dreams. It makes sense that he would doubt his sanity since the drugs make his memories fade and everyone is telling him he is mentally ill. With everything Drew had to go through, I was looking for a drop of hope, but the ending left me feeling cold.
First and Only: This story literally disgusted me. I’ve loved every single thing I’ve ever read from Lisa Henry, but I could not stomach this one in the least. The story is about David, who finds out his second wife is cheating on him and decides to get revenge by seducing her eighteen-year-old son, Sage. David is no stranger to the law and does everything “right” so he can get away with raping his barely legal stepson without it being technically illegal. He is very methodical about it and even rules out drugging him since this would surely land him in jail. When David ends up falling for Sage, he fools himself into believing Sage wants him. However, Sage is alone with a stepfather who has forced him, and all the signs show that Sage is scared and looking for a way out.
I’m always looking to push my limits when it comes to what I read. In fact, this is the first time I’ve read a non-con book that I didn’t like. I’ve also read erotic YA that includes non-con, but this story really got under my skin. I think if it wasn’t written in the viewpoint of the child predator, I would have really enjoyed it. I read and enjoyed Lolita, but I think the difference is that Humbert Humbert knows he is sick and demented. Every time he touches Lolita he hates himself for doing it. However, David is self-absorbed and feels entitled to what he’s taking. I found nothing whatsoever to like about him. The only good part about this story was how it ended.
Falling Angels: Arkady is a trafficked Russian boy who ends up in South London. He’s learned to take the abuse, but he knows when he’s too old his time will be up. They only keep boys for so long before killing them, but Arkady doesn’t want to die. It’s a wish that he learns too late that he should have never made. On the other side of the story is Troy, a detective who is investigating trafficked boys. He’s disturbed by how he dreams of Arkady and how he gets off on watching the sex videos of him. Yet he wants more than anything to save the boy. Deep down he knows he wants to own him too.
I had mixed feelings about this story. I liked Troy and really wanted him to rescue Arkady even though he wanted Arkady in ways that he couldn’t accept. Arkady never had a master that had any feelings for him and I wanted him to have that. With that said, the ending made sense, but I didn’t like it one bit.
Overall, the stories in this book were dark with a common thread of barely legal/pedophilia and disturbing endings that included some kind of twisted justice. Though I don’t always need a happy ending to like a book, I still found this collection depressing. Will I read more from Lisa Henry as Cari Waites? Yes, most likely, but if I do, it will be mostly out of curiosity.
Anglerfish Press (imprint from Riptide Publishing)