Two things before I get started. First, if you haven’t read the other two books, Candy Coated Chaos and Sweetened Suffering, you are not going to understand a damn thing about this, so make sure to have read those first. Second, Cupcakes and Crooked Spoons deals with some horrific things. The majority of the book takes place while Toben and Tavin are children, and… Well, it can be triggery af. If you know that you have any problems with abuse or sexual assault, you will want to make sure that you are reading responsibly. As much as I enjoyed this series and want to share it with everyone, I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of rum, and that some people not only don’t like rum, it’s dangerous for them to have it, so please, make sure you know what your tolerance levels are.
Oh my poor aching heart. C&CS is beautiful and devastating. I have had a true love/hate relationship with Toben through the series, and I don’t think it’s really changed through this book. I understand him better and my heart is pretty much non-functional, but I still both love and hate him.
When Toben was 10, his father threw him into the basement with a girl named Tavin. Tavin had no clue how old she was, she was covered in bruises and was filthy. She tried to be friendly with him, but he wasn’t all that happy about it and managed to escape out of the basement, but he came back the next day. And thus, a life-long friendship, obsession, and dependency was born. For 6 months, Toben and Tavin were best friends. He took her out of her basement as much as he could. He always made sure that she had food and taught her how to read. They were tight. They were really just best buds. Then there came a day where everything changed. Every.thing.
When Logan James walks down the stairs with Kyle, Toben and Tavin find out that their respective parents have sold them to him to do whatever he wants to do with. It’s that day when Logan and then Kyle rape Tavin and make Toben hold her down. It’s such a violation in so many ways. First of all, it’s the obvious one. But secondly, Toben has been her best friend and her rock for such a long time. He’s done all he can do to protect her and now he has to hold her down while this terrible thing is happening. I mean, not only is she being raped as a 10 year old, she’s also being cut and branded. It nearly destroys her but it’s pretty destructive to Toben too. He’s always felt so strongly about being her protector and he can’t save her from this.
Tavin spends the next 5 years locked in that basement. Toben is there for most of it, but occasionally Logan takes him away and has him help him do things to his other Lotuses. Toben knows that Logan only keeps the girls for 5 years and then kills them, so as it comes up to their 5th anniversary, Toben tries so hard to come up with a way to keep Tavin alive. He finally comes up with a way, and that’s for her to become a prostitute. If she can make money for Logan, then he might keep her alive. Now, keep in mind, they are both 15 at this point.
So, there’s a lot of information here about Toben and Tavin’s childhood. We spend a lot of the time in Toben’s head, which lets us get more info about him than we’ve had in the past. We do get some of Tavin’s POV, which I loved when it came to her meeting Alexander. It’s stuff we didn’t see before, and it gave a nice touch and shading to what we already knew. My heart was really just destroyed by this one. It’s hard to believe that Charity hasn’t been writing long when you read these books and see the story that she has put together, with all the levels and depth that she has put into it. There are so many things going on and that can be hard for a veteran writer to do, but for someone who hasn’t been about her business long? Bravissima. That’s true talent. And even more, for her to turn someone who could be completely hateable, like Toben, into someone who you can feel for, that takes work.
OK, with Toben and his propensities, there are all kinds of things going on here. His sexual awakening came with Logan and the atrocities that he committed, so of course he’s going to view all sexual acts through that. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t already have some inborn tendencies that would’ve gone towards sadism, but the fact that he saw Logan raping and torturing Tavin every week and that Logan made him join in by hurting Tavin, and then started dragging Toben off to play with other girls, it doesn’t surprise me that Toben started doing what he did. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I liked it or that I thought it was justified, it just makes sense that’s why it happened.
As for his feelings toward Tavin and her’s toward him. They were best friends before everything happened, and then they spent 5 years locked into a basement together, in the worst of situations. Of course, their tight bond is only going to get tighter. They are the only thing that either one of them has.
There are things that I completely hold against Toben, like the fact that he thought that Tavin owed him sex. It’s not like he wasn’t having sex with no one. He was out fucking his Lotuses and whatever girl he picked up at the bar. He just didn’t understand that sex was just something terrible to Tavin. It wasn’t until Alexander that she actually felt OK with sex. And the fact that Toben didn’t understand that he did rape Tavin really made me mad. It was the whole she owed him thing that made him think that it wasn’t rape. I’m not sure how he can think that she’s his other half if he’s getting off on her hurting or he wants to do something to her that she doesn’t want.
I hated the fact that Alexander showed Tavin and Toben the tape when I read it the first time, but in this one, I’m glad that he did because it helped Toben to break out of that fucked-up headspace that he had been in. I understand Tavin never having a chance at getting exactly how fucked up what Logan did to them was because she had never had any kind of normal before them, but Toben did. Of course, I guess you can get used to just about anything, especially if you start young, and when you get any kind of positive reinforcement, it can make it so much easier to get through and past things.
OK, that’s all I have to say. It’s a lot, isn’t it? Go check out the series. Happy reading!