Sansa Rayne has written some dark and gritty stories, and Exalted fits right into this category. It’s set in the same world as Erased, but can be read as a standalone. Marla and Gabriel make an appearance in the book, but it isn’t necessary to have read Erased to enjoy the book. I definitely suggest reading Erased though. You can earn a new respect for straight jackets. I don’t know that I would so much call it a direct sequel as much as I would call it a connected story.
Carson is a PI. She doesn’t do a whole lot of work outside of cheating spouses, but she hasn’t been a PI for very long, so she’s still trying to get her business up off the ground, but she’s pretty confident in herself and her skills. One night, her phone goes off in the middle of the night. While her ad did say call anytime, Carson really wished that people would have a little more decency than to call in the middle of the night. It turns out that the call was from her old friend Summer.
When Carson talks to Summer, Summer tells her that she’s afraid of “them” coming to get her and begs for help. Carson tells her that she’ll help and gets to Summer’s house just in time to see Summer get abducted by men in robes who drag her into a van. Being aware of Summer’s fear of “them”, Carson decides to not go to the police. She doesn’t know who they are, and she doesn’t want to do anything that could put Summer into even more danger. She’s a PI, so she’ll go and find out what happened to Summer and save her. So, Carson sets out to find out about her friend. She talks to people and discovers that Summer was seen coming from The Pit.
The Pit is owned by Aldous Occestem. It’s a Satanic-themed sex club, featuring Aldous as the Lord of the Pit. All the fun stuff happens at The Pit, you know, spankings, bondage, whippings. Carson gets some fetish wear and goes there undercover. While she’s there, Aldous sees her. Carson runs into Marla and Gabriel, who are PIs who specialize in human trafficking, and they tell her that all the missing women in this town, of which Summer is only the latest, are tied to The Pit.
Meanwhile, down the road, we have the holier side of Coventry, the Purity Home Church. The PHC has been around for years, and most of Coventry’s citizens are members or have been members. The church is now run by Marshall and Anita Jones. They have taken a small church and turned it into Coventry’s very own megachurch. They are trying to do everything they can to get rid of Aldous and The Pit. Outside of that, Marshall, Anita, and Aldous all have history. They all went to school together. Anita was with Aldous at one point, but she chose Marshall.
OK, you know what time it is. If you like dark, you’ll like this. If you like a healthy dose of BDSM, you’ll like this one too. Don’t show this one to your maiden auntie, it would probably shock her out of her shoes. I really enjoyed this story. It switches POVs frequently, and it’s more than just Aldous and Carson. We get glimpses into Summer and Anita as well. I found that it gave the story more depth that way, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t have to have it in all the stories I read, but there are books where it really works, and Exalted was one of them. I think that the story would be a little confusing otherwise. I think that the connection between Aldous and Carson is a good one. I also think that I would be like Carson and have doubts sometimes. It would be really hard not to.
Alrighty, now that it’s just us chickens, I thought that this story was wow. I mean, we know the bad guys from the very beginning, but even so, I could almost believe that it was Aldous, like we were supposed to.
I have to admit, I probably at some point knew that this was a followup to Erased but hadn’t remembered it when I first started reading, so running into Marla and Gabriel was a surprise. I read Erased a few months back, so I knew who they were. Erased, in my opinion, is darker than Exalted is, but the premise is different, although they both deal with human trafficking in some shape.
I get why Aldous started with the Satanic theme when he started The Pit, but I think that those into kink get enough shit with being into kink without the stigma of Satanism in there as well. But, if you are going to thumb your nose at a bunch of holier-than-thou prudes, a Satanic BDSM club would be the best way to do it.
Another thing I liked about this book is that Carson already knew that she liked submission and pain, so this wasn’t a case of a kink virgin all of a sudden discovering that she is into it. Not that there is anything wrong with those stories, I like them too, I just don’t think that it would’ve worked well in this particular case.
Anyhow, I think that’s all I have to say about this. I loved the book, it’s worth a read and even a reread. There are all kinds of good books coming up this week. Meanwhile, happy reading!