REVIEW by @BunnyBethA : Only The Strongest Survive by Ian Fox

The novel opens with a hair-tingling scene, as two men kidnap Emely Donnovan, one of the wealthiest women in America, and bury her alive. What is behind this horrific crime?
Raised in a strict religious institution, Emely never knew her parents. Fearing a life of poverty, she starts up a small business that deals mainly with buying and selling stocks. Thanks to her extreme dedication and knowledge, the company grows over time into a major conglomerate. In her desire for ever greater financial security, this beautiful, ambitious CEO has accumulated a number of enemies.
But now she finds herself locked in the basement of a remote house in the middle of a forest, watched over by one of her captors who makes her buy and sell stocks for him so he can get rich. Her challenge to survive becomes even more complicated when Emely’s captor falls in love with her. … 

Author Ian Fox offered me a free copy of Only The Strongest Survive for a fair and honest review.
Before starting this book, I read some reviews from other readers on Smashwords and, and I was a bit nervous about starting this book. The story is violent, there’s a graphic rape scene, and I have a problem with stories that have a woman falling in love with her rapist. It’s a common theme, in books, movies, and daytime soap operas, but it always gets my dander up. But read on, because Ian Fox got my attention with his story.
Only The Strongest Survive tells the story of Emely Donnovan, a rich and powerful businesswoman who has clawed her way to the top of her profession. The story follows Emely’s struggle to survive her kidnapping by two of those enemies. Fox uses flashbacks to show Emely’s early years, how she rose to the top, how she made enemies at the same time she was gaining unbelievable power. There’s also any number of male characters in this book who feel threatened by Emely’s power, the ruthless streak that got her to the top. In our culture, ruthless successful men are viewed as strong, while the same kind of women are labeled as bitches. Makes me furious.
I’m a social worker by profession, so I’m always trying to figure people out, and perpetually in awe of what people do to survive. Ian Fox was able to show me how two lonely and messed up people form this amazing bond with one another.  Fox shows us who Emely and John are as people, their past and present, by sharing their inner dialogues with the reader.  Since I love trying to figure folks out, I found myself intrigued as John’s desperately unhappy life was explained, and I watched him struggle in an attempt to figure out where he went wrong in his life.
Emely’s finally forced to look at her life critically, for the first time, and wonder what she can do differently if she survives this ordeal. I was able to set aside my dislike of the whole damsel falls in love with her rapist scenario to think about the beautiful and intelligent women I have known in my life who have made messes of their personal lives. And I’ve known, and worked with, men like John, men damaged by life, always trying to make it big but never managing to make any headway. Men who identify more with failure than any kind of success, who try to hide their feelings of inadequacy by being jackasses towards women.
Fox paints a painful journey for Emely and John. I had to stop reading a few times, because these are two unhappy people. Some will find it a hard book to read; I did at times. But life is hard, for all of us, right? We all struggle in our own ways, struggle to survive, to grow, and to love. In the end, I found John and Emely to be believable characters, each flawed in their own ways, but fighting to survive, to grow, to love. Human.
I’m giving Only The Strongest Survive three stars, because I find it to be an intriguing psychological thriller that reminds me a lot about life– the good, the bad, and the really bad.

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1 Comment

  1. Great review, Beth. I don’t know that I could read it but you did an excellent job. Remember all the early romance books that always had a rape scene in them. They were written by women in a time that required women as the “weaker” sex to be victims.
    Very brave of you to stick with this one!!

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