Hi Readers! Thanks for stopping by and joining us this week here at BCT. We are doing a joint review this week with a story picked out by Cyndi @ Born to Read Books. Are you a fan of romantic suspense with a touch of paranormal? Our read is RACE THE DARKNESS by author Abbie Roads published last October by Sourcebooks Casablanca, and it is first in her Fatal Dreams series.
First in a gripping paranormal romantic suspense duo by a Golden Heart finalist debut author whose clinical work gives her chilling insights...
Cursed with a terrible gift...
Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn't have to question you—he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night—the voice of a woman begging him to save her.
A gift that threatens to engulf them...
Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except...there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.
I love stories with paranormal elements blended with romance and suspense. The premise of RACE THE DARKNESS sounded like something I would enjoy, which is probably why I downloaded it last fall. The tone of the story is edgy and dark. Xander is a damaged hero who has suffered much over the years, an estrangement from his father and being struck by lightning which has scarred his body, but giving him some psychic "Gifts". He rescues Isleen and her grandmother who were being held and tortured for years. A loner, Xander finds that Isleen calms the voices inside that are making him question his sanity. I felt for Xander at times because of his backstory which comes to light and Isleen coming into his life saved him. I thought that the story moved along at a quick pace with some good ideas and a couple of interesting characters like the housekeeper Rowe and a mysterious biker Lathan Montgomery who stars in the next book in the series-HUNT THE DAWN.
I am so over the "all religious people are deadly nutburgers" trope. I don't recall any positive religious characters in any novel in-well, ever. This is the second book that I have read recently where the heroine is rescued from a cult after being imprisoned and tortured for years and yet she and the hero are insta-love and sleeping together days after being at death's door. Ooookay.
There were many unlikeable one-dimensional characters in the story. Xander's father, Xander's uncle, Kent the cop, Camille-Kent's sister. Xander himself was a prick when it came to his relationship with Camille after ten years. And of course, the kidnappers, aka religious cuckoos.
There were some loose ends that were left hanging after some truths came out further in the story. A few things seemed to be glossed over.
Isleen is not a bad person, she is naive and unworldly and she possesses some gifts as well. Her grandmother was Xander's stepmother and some of what she and Isleen endured is her fault. Some of this part of the story was confusing and unsatisfying. I still don't know why she left Xander's father and why he loved her so much. Or too much, because he left his young son floundering while he selfishly grieved for over a decade. I know there is some kind of legend and some woo woo, but it didn't really make sense to me.
Xander never treated Camille well and he never promised her anything but a good time in bed. I can relate to Kent being pissed at how he treated his sister. Camille came off as an immature stereotyped bitch from the category romances of the 70's. She really thought that she would be queen of the manor (Xander's dad was rich and considered her time with Xander an investment), but never realized in ten years that Xander didn't live with his father. Because Camille, he wasn't into you,duh. Did he ever even take you on a date or back to his place? No! He didn't even talk to his father. And when she found out Isleen lived at the mansion, she was rude to a person who just escaped a terrible ordeal. Any pride, Camille? She staked her "claim" on Xander by grabbing his crotch when a few people were around. Camille's parts in the books could easily have been left out of the book. They were silly and filler IMO. Her brother Kent the cop was nearly as bad.
Abrupt scene changes happened occasionally in the story. Xander and Isleen were in a room with a few people, then zap, the couple is somewhere else.
Don't get me started on the naked cultists in the water. Ridiculous!
I really don't know how I felt about reading this story. It had some good ideas and it was a quick read. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. My eyes rolled more than once. Would I read the next story? Possibly. Authors improve and maybe she will get better at world building. Rating this story would be hard and the end result left me scratching my head.
July 6th: Remember When