Review: Dark Summer Dawn

Dark Summer Dawn by Sara Craven
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Biggest trigger warning ever: the "hero" is a raping rapist who rapes. This isn’t one of those “gray area” rapes that some of the filthy pigs in the legislative branches of our government like to bandy about, either: they’re both drunk and things just got out of hand or she’s his wife, so it can’t be rape. She was a young girl and he was her older stepbrother and she said no and tried to push him away, and he didn’t stop. He had sex with her until she passed out. In the story, she refers to it as rape. She even specifies it as rape, but he never acknowledges it as such and never really takes responsibility it for it. This motherfucker is no hero, trust me. He is a predator. He should be placed in a burlap sack, beaten with reeds, and dropped in a wood chipper.

I looked over my notes real quick before I started writing this review and my stomach actually turned when I was reminded of the age difference between the “hero” and heroine of this tale—it’s not the number that bothered me, really. But Dane was 24. TWENTY-FOUR when he and Lisa, who was TEN YEARS OLD, met. HE WAS A GROWN-ASS MAN and she was a little girl when he and she first clapped eyes on each other.

Anyway, Lisa and her widowed mother were living with asshole relatives while Lisa’s mom busted her butt working as a secretary to support herself and Lisa, WHO WAS A SMALL CHILD, until she wins a luxury cruise and comes back married to a multi-millionaire and suddenly, they’re not poor anymore. Hooray! Lisa and her mom move to a big mansion and everything is great because her new stepdad is really nice and he has a little girl who is only a couple of years younger than her…and okay, he also has a son named Dane who is a GROWN ADULT and has mean eyes and is cold to Lisa and her mother, but Lisa’s mom tells her everything will be okay now, though Lisa is not feeling very welcome. For one thing, Lisa will never forget that Dane once referred to her and her mother as “a gold-digging typist and her brat.” She decides the best course of action is to avoid him and stay out of his way, instead paying all of her attention on her new stepsister, though she remains ever wary of Dane’s watchful and hateful gaze.

When they reach their teens, her stepsister Julie becomes rebellious and begins hanging out with their neighbors, the Hammonds, who tend to have parties with drugs and orgies and all sorts of bacchanalia. That’s not really Lisa’s scene, but she worries about Julie, particularly since she knows the other girl has been sneaking over there and for some reason, Dane is convinced that it’s all due to Lisa’s bad influence because she’s older and Julie looks up to her (by now, Lisa’s mom is dead). Dane also thinks the worst of her because HE’S A BAD PERSON AND HE HAS A DIRTY, PERVERTED MIND AND BELIEVES ALL WOMEN ARE WHORES UNLESS THEY’RE NEWBORNS. Lisa has just had her 17th birthday and Dane gave her a sweet-ass music album (for making out-- all right, Maurice Ravel's "Daybreak" from Daphnis et Chloe. So hot) that gave her some feelings and she’s got a bit of a crush on him, so she really doesn’t want to give him more cause to think poorly of her. Unfortunately, while in the middle of covering up the evidence for one of Julie’s late-night shenanigans, she gets caught by Dane and dragged to a dark corner of the house where he… does terrible things.

Warning: This is really bad. Lisa runs away after this incident because of what Dane did. This is what Dane did. 1. He accuses her of being a whore and taking part in the Hammond orgies 2. He rips off her clothes and assaults her 3. He rapes her until she passes out.

Two years later, Lisa is a successful fashion model, the famous Amber Girl. She has tried to put Dane and what happened out of her mind, but that’s impossible because, you know, he raped her and all. She has no contact at all with her stepfamily and has tried to make the best of her life with the friends she has acquired in the short time she has been away. She even has a guy she dates casually, but has never allowed anyone to get close because is still traumatized from her experience with Dane. She resolves never to see or speak with anyone from that part of life again, even her beloved stepfather, but that changes when she gets back from a modelling job and hears from her stepsister Julie, who is getting married and wants her help planning the wedding. Lisa’s answer is a firm HELL NO with a healthy side of NO, but Dane himself comes to fetch her and tells her Julie is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and their father, who suffered a stroke recently, is now in a wheelchair. Lisa, though terrified of Dane and full of loathing for him at the same time, also loves Julie and her stepfather. Out of familial duty, she relents and agrees to go. Before leaving with Dane, she receives a call from Simon—the guy she sometimes goes out with—and Dane overhears the conversation, assuming that Simon is Lisa’s live-in boyfriend and probably just one of her hundreds of lovers because fashion model who wears skimpy clothes equals whore. Jump up your own ass and die, Dane.

As soon as Lisa gets back to her old home, she realizes right away that something is not quite right. Julie is more high-strung than usual and really pushing to get this wedding going, though showing very little interest in actually being married to the groom. Her family’s land borders that of her husband-to-be’s and a house is being custom-built for them on it, but Julie could give two shits about any of it, pushing off the responsibilities on her future husband’s mother. Instead, Julie is very consumed with the wedding, refusing to hear a word about postponing it, and insisting it must happen right away. Meanwhile, Julie is also trying to push Lisa onto their old neighbor James, whom Lisa had a small crush on when they were younger, but James is married to a major bitch who loses no time accusing Lisa of trying to seduce her husband, so of course Dane assumes the worst again and calls Lisa a whore and manhandles her some more. It seemed every time Lisa was trapped in a compromising situation that was more or less inadvertently set up by Julie, Dane would just happen to walk in and bust her, like he was following her around or something. Then he’d yell at her, call her a whore, give her more bruises, and storm out of the room or something. Honestly, how long can anyone live with all of this pressure and trauma without snapping and just going Lizzie Borden on people?

SPOILER ALERT WHERE I RUIN EVERYTHING!! As it turns out, Julie is being weird because she’s pregnant with James’ baby (duh) and she’s trying to unload the baby on poor Tony, the groom, even though they’ve never had sex, so she’s rushing the wedding so she could claim the baby is Tony’s. Shaaady. She’s also scared of Celia, James’ major bitch wife, so she instead tries to turn the focus on Lisa and James by throwing them together, knowing Celia would hear about it and attack Lisa. Of course this also invites the ire and wrath of Dane, who already thinks Lisa is the biggest whore in the universe and hates her for existing probably because she reminds him that he’s a dirty, slimy piece of shit for desiring a child and raping her two years back, but that would require some self-awareness, which Dane’s ugly, black soul definitely does not possess.

After extricating herself from the V.C. Andrews drama-wannabe that was her homelife (and a near-death experience courtesy of that train-wreck, Julie), Lisa goes back to London with a “peace out, assholes, don’t contact me again for shit” and tries to get on with her life and hasn’t had peace for a minute when another asshole TRIES TO RAPE HER AGAIN. OMGWTFBBQ!! WTF is with all the raping? What the hell is this shit, Rwanda? Ugh, who saves her this time, but Dane who’s all apologies and all hearts and “I’m sorry baby, it’s just that you’re so beautiful and you make me so crazy and I just want you all to myself and all these other guys want you and just looking at you makes me lose my mind and I lose all control when I’m with you and you’re just so beautiful and baby, I’m sorry, I’m a beast when it comes to you and I’ve never felt this way about anyone and I swear, baby, none of my other hos have ever meant anything to me, baby. You make me so crazy.” UGH, DANE, EAT A BAG OF POISONED SALTY RAT DICKS AND DIE.

These frickin' HP guys and their out-of-control hormones! What the fuck, seriously??? You want a lady so badly that you go nuts with it, so you lose all reason... and RAPE HER?!? And that means you love her?!?

Lisa tells him that he raped her and he basically brushes it off and was like, “I’m sorry I ruined it for both of us, but I just got so jealous, baby. I thought you went to the neighbor’s house and had orgies with fifty men and I didn’t want to face up to the fact that you were innocent…” READ: SHE WAS A VIRGIN, ERGO NOT HAVING ORGIES. Not that she would have been deserving of Dane’s raping even if she had been entertaining an entire rugby team next-door or anything, but Dane himself says he did not want to face what he did. He knew he raped her and instead of admitting it to her and groveling, he fled to America because he already had some business crap scheduled, supposedly. Whatever. Then he says he was going to look her up by the time he got back from his business trip, but by then she was already a famous model and spreading her shit on magazine covers like it’s the nineties and she’s Sharon Stone, so he figured he was right about her all along and didn’t need his apology and ergo, deserved to be raped?!?? He needed her to be a whore, so he could justify what he did in his own mind because in Dane's mind, whores deserve to get raped. He couldn't accept it if Lisa had been a virgin when he assaulted her, even though it shouldn't have mattered if Lisa were known among the Navajo as Deer-With-Wide-Canyon. He still raped her. This motherfucker. GET BENT, DANE!! What a frickin’ unbelievable wanker this guy is.

Ugh, I can’t. This book made me really mad. I don’t think Dane deserved to be forgiven by Lisa at the end at all. HE RAPED HER. She was having nightmares about being suffocated because he overpowered her and raped her until she passed out when she was a teenager!! There’s no excuse for that! This man is fourteen years older than she is. He was, like, in his thirties when he was doing this shit, man, to a young girl! HE WAS TWENTY FOUR YEARS OLD AND SHE WAS TEN WHEN THEY FIRST MET. Now imagine if you saw this shit on a Lifetime Movie or a crime show on Investigation Discovery instead of reading it as a Mills and Boon. Tell me if you can stomach that shit. No. Just no. DIE, DANE, DIE.

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