Book Review: BORN TO DARKNESS

by T. Mack

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I just finished Born to Darkness, by Suzanne Brockmann. Classified as Romance Suspense, the book boasts multiple main characters, action, suspense, mystery, and science-fiction elements. PLUS, science experiments involving sex! (And you thought that paper mache volcano was explosive.)

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So, it’s the not-too-distant future. Science has advanced enough that some people have been identified as having the ability to access untapped regions of the brain. They can then harness that into skills and powers, like telekinesis, telepathy, and accelerated healing. These people are called “Greather-Thans.” Ex-Navy Seal, Shane Laughlin, has been recruited by OI, an institute that identifies potential Greater-Thans and offers training of their powers. Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie is a “Greater-Than” who has discovered that sex is able to help speed her self-healing. After Shane and Mac hook up for the most incredible one-night stand ever, they are both eager to make a habit of it. Unfortunately, it turns out that Shane is on his way to join the new recruits at Mac’s place of employment. Since fraternization is frowned upon, they’ll need to keep their distance from one another. But that could be easier said than done. Shane isn’t ready to give up the incredible connection the two have and Mac discovers that Shane’s special talents and abilities may be the key to finding a kidnapped girl and bringing her safely home.

Born to Darkness is a romance, but it’s a science-fiction romance filled with action and suspense, so it’s quite atypical. Usually, you pick up a romantic novel knowing that you already know how it will end. The characters will get/be/stay together. Obviously. But in this one, there are twists and turns, plus danger and a few questionable choices. You’re not absolutely certain that all the characters will even make it out alive, let alone end up together. An easy and exciting read, Born to Darkness pulled me in almost immediately and kept me hooked all the way through.

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Shane and Mac are the characters that pull the reader into the world of the book, but they are not by any means the only relevant characters there. The book actually tells the story from the perspective of seven different people. Typically, I find jumping perspectives tiresome, but Brockmann made it work. She wisely kept point of view as third person, even when the third person narration jumped perspective from character to character. The effect actually helped the book be even more exciting and helped me invest emotionally in all the characters going through the stressful situation together.

Three separate, potential romances play out during the course of the book. Each one is unique, interesting, and surprising in its own way. Between those multiple love connections, the race to find a missing girl, the science experiments that involve sex, and the crime-fighting, this book has very few dull moments. The momentum keeps going through all 560 pages. Although I listened to this book instead of reading a hardcover, I can still say it’s a fantastic read. I actually took the discs in to work and home with me so I could keep listening after my commute. That’s how eager I was to keep following the story.

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After enjoying the book so much, I was a bit disheartened after I arrived at the end. Not everything went the way I wanted. And not all loose ends were tied up with a bow. While those facts actually make the book that much more complex and interesting, I was eager to find a sequel that would continue the story and let me follow the next chapter of these character’s stories. Alas, I found there is not one. The end of the book feels very much like there should be. The book came out Valentine’s Day of 2012, so if there was going to be a sequel, it should have hit shelves by now. Or at the very least, there should be information about the upcoming sequel on the author’s website. Unfortunately, the only thing available is the following quote from the author back in 2013 (3 YEARS AGO!), which I deem as absolutely lame:

I’ve got plans to write two (or three?) more books in the “Fighting Destiny” series (book two tells Anna’s story), but I got a little distracted by writing DO OR DIE and its sequel, ALL OF NOTHING (Martell’s book, coming out in 2015).  So I’m not quite sure when I’ll get around to writing the sequel to BORN TO DARKNESS. (Sorry!  Too many books to write, too little time!)

~Suzanne Brockmann, http://www.suzannebrockmann.com/about/faqs-2/

It’s a bummer in general when a sequel isn’t available for a book, but it’s doubly disappointing when the book is listed as part of a series that doesn’t exist and the author has said that there is supposed to be at least two sequels but she doesn’t have the time to get them to us. “Boo,” I say. I say again, “BOO!!!”

Additionally, I do want to place a warning here: there are villains in this book. Disturbing villains. The kind who like to do terrible things to people. They’re the sort typically featured on shows like Law & Order: SVU and Criminal Minds, which I do not watch for that very reason. I really try to stay away from unpleasantness like that in my entertainment. In this book, it’s mixed in among everything else that is going on and not heavily featured (thank goodness!). So the story doesn’t dwell too long on those characters or their actions, but it does pop up a few times. While it doesn’t bring the story down too far or too long, it caught me off-guard when it reared its ugly head within the narrative. So I wanted to give the heads-up.

Born to Darkness is a good pick for those who like a bit of mystery, sci-fi, and excitement mixed in with their romance. There is also some explosive sexy-time happening. The cast is diverse and the characters are interesting. There are hetero as well as same-sex couplings featured, which make the book more progressive than most traditional romance novels. There is a lot to like about this book, with the only real downside being the lack of sequels. While my disappointment over that is vast, it simply doesn’t outweigh the great time I had reading this book. For that reason, I highly recommend Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann.

Rating: 4 SHIELDS (The lack of plans for a sequel brought it down from 4.5)

4 SG Shields

While there are no sequels to this book, readers can check out the short story prequel, Shane’s Last Stand. The story features Shane during his final Navy Seal mission; the one that put him on the black list and eventually drove him to OI, Mac, and the adventure found in Born to Darkness.

Born to Darkness prequel

What elements do you like in your romance novels… vampires, werewolves, S&M, homoerotica? Would you ever read a book knowing that the sequels might never come? Do you think it’s better to have loved a book and lost the promise of complete closure than never to have loved the book at all? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

 

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