Though she is free of the palace, rescued from her position as a blood slave, Aria is haunted by the memories of her time spent within the fortress, tormented by memories of Braith, the prince that betrayed her and shattered her heart.
Every day is a struggle to get through, and the only solace she is able to find is with Max, her best friend, and fellow captive. Though Max does not understand her bond to Braith, he knows some of what she endured, and helps to ease some of the tattered pieces of her soul. Aria slowly begins to salvage the broken parts of her wounded spirit by throwing herself into the wonder of the woods she had so greatly missed, and the secure and reassuring love that Max freely gives her. Her world is thrown into a tailspin again though when a marauding group of vampires destroy the caves she had found temporary shelter in.
Scattered about the forest, seeking to stay hidden and find her family, Aria is stunned when Braith, the monster that savaged her heart, reappears. Stunned by his sudden arrival in her world, Arianna is uncertain if he has come to recapture her, or to kill her for daring to escape.
After Stevens left us with that crazy and heart breaking ending in Captured, I was crossing my fingers and really hoping for this next installment to turn things around for Aria and Braith. While I was excited to see the two of them facing off yet again, it took me a while to get used to seeing them outside of the palace. My heart was breaking for Aria while she was attempting to get back to her "normal" every day life, while also trying to convince everyone around her that her circumstances and experience within the palace was not what she was expecting, nor what they've all convinced themselves it was.
I'll admit that I was feeling very bad for Max and watching him try to deal with his gruesome experience while he was a blood slave was just so sad. But that didn't last long...he, like everyone else around Aria refused to believe that their captivity was different and it just grated on my nerves the way he was trying to force his opinions and feelings on her, when really all was he doing was treating her like an ignorant child who couldn't differentiate fiction from reality. And once Aria and Braith were brought back together, his behavior put me over the edge for sure!
The adventure most certainly continued and nearly gave me an anxiety attack whenever Aria was on the run. But seeing her in her natural environment of the woods and what she was capable of had me rooting for her like a cheerleader throughout each of her action packed scenes. At times I found it hard to be on the outside looking in and just wanted to shake everyone (and I do mean everyone!) so that they'd stop being silly and realize what was really going on and how everyone was really feeling.
Once again, Stevens left me no choice but to hurry up and order the next installment in the series, because there was no way I could let things end without picking it right back up....way too much pressure with another Stevens cliffhanger ending.