I usually try to review a book immediately after finishing it, in the hopes of capturing how I exactly feel at that moment. But this one, I had to give pause.I wasn't sure what to expect with that blurb but it's such a disservice to the great work put in to writing here that it only has 59 ratings and 31 reviews. It's going to be a b*tch to write but I'll try to bridge my thoughts into coherence.This is not a conventional romance. The heroine has to rescue the hero, no 'I love you's were exchanged (I checked), and there's no badly skewed love triangle plot device. This is not an erotic novel. There is BDSM but there are no doms, no subs and no safewords.It is, for all intents and purposes, a horror story and a fairytale.This is the story of Finn Strachan, a man trapped in a castle by the evil Lady Blaine Albermarle and Lilith Bresson, a notoriously popular artist who came to settle her father's debt with the mysterious Lady. Why yes, that sounds an awful like Disney's Beauty and the Beast, with the talking teacups and candelabra and in certain aspects it felt like a contemporary retelling of that "tale as old as time"(TM).Which makes this plot difficult to pull off, because at this day and age of overshare, can one person really be held a prisoner and be subjected to such acts of pure, unadulterated evil? There are too many options out there to convince me the 'no other way' logic for Finn and even Henry. However, I did get over it, (I've suspended disbelief until the dinner scene with the TV director) because Tabitha McGowan tells a story that puts man's depravity in all its grotesque glory and it kind of makes nitpicking and breathing while reading this too difficult.To put things in perspective, compared to Finn, Caleb from The Dark Duet goes to boarding school and goes to the Bahamas during the semester breaks.They say the greatest evil is apathy, but evil is evil. Putting it in a spectrum is almost as offensive as the act: lesser evils don't make them less horrible when you're staring at it in the eye. What went on in that castle, will challenge anyone with a beating heart. It did sometimes feel like 'shock selling' and the "near-gratuitous violence" will probably put off a lot of the readers. I wish it won't but it will. I did nearly write it off as too much for one heart but I did recognize the impeccable writing, the obscene humor that carried the story on, the endearing and the horrid secondary characters and I was truly rewarded by something more than a story of a man being rescued by the girl of his dreams.I wouldn't have survived this read if not for moments like:“She wore a cantilevered , augmented-breast-skimming satin dress the colour of egg-yolk. Somewhere in deepest Nebraska, a prom queen two sizes smaller than Selena was wondering where the fuck her outfit had disappeared to." “I didn’t know what the hell to say to that. I just gave an ungrateful sigh of exasperation and pulled the sweater over my head.‘It’s just your colour,’ Henry enthused.‘And you can fuck right off,’ I said." So grow a pair, put on those big girl pants and give this book the chance it deserves.-------This felt like punishment for me DNF-ing that other book with the bipolar hero. The universe is telling me, "yeah, you want dark and depressing? I'll give you dark and depressing."I take things too personally, I know.Full review to come because I can't NOT.