Note: The series reviewed contains themes only appropriate for those over the age of 18. Some of the content may be triggering. Also, take heed that there may be some mild SPOILERS ahead.
Finding Anna isn’t what I expected it to be, but in a good way.
Although it is categorised as erotic romance, this 4-book series is really a story about a victim of human trafficking and sexual slavery taking back her life with both the help of other people and her own iron will.
Like the story, Stephan is not a typical protagonist of the genre, either. I liked that he isn’t the tortured hero with a dark past type, but is a genuinely good person and does not just his best to help Anna, but what actually is best for Anna. Which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t mess up, because he does.
However, for a change from a lot of male protagonists in the genre, Stephan doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge his faults, apologise for his mistakes and try to fix them. For the most part, though, he is a level-headed man, with the patience and self-restraint of a saint, and would be almost too good to be true, if not for having a few actual flaws.
Even though Anna is very dependent on Stephan (as she would be on any other given person, considering that she literally cannot function on her own after her captivity), Stephan doesn’t take advantage of that. On the contrary, he encourages her to spread her wings and return into the world – but at the pace that is comfortable and safe for her. And even when, out of concern for her, he disagrees with her decisions, he still supports her and helps her carry them out in any way he can, even if it means having to step aside.
Additionally, I loved that Stephan isn’t Anna’s only source of support and doesn’t limit her to his social circle; Anna also reunites with a childhood friend, who also brings other people into her life, and I loved how both men put their mutual dislike and distrust of each other aside for her sake.
For erotic romance, Anna and Stephan’s relationship is pretty tame and doesn’t go further than light kink and develops slowly, progressing to intimacy only towards the end of the second book. Which is good and necessary, as it is contrasted against Anna’s horrendous past experiences.
Hence, Finding Anna is an emotionally demanding series, both for the references and flashbacks to the abuse Anna has been through (and which can be hard to stomach, so be warned) and the ways it affects her in the present.
That said, it is also very satisfying to see Anna recovering from her trauma, regaining her sense of self, and reclaiming her sexuality. And although that is bound to be a life-long process, Anna’s abusers don’t win. She does. And gets to live (mostly, I assume) happily ever after.