This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released on October 4, 2016
Race the Darkness was…chilling. And I was oh so glad that Abbie Roads wasn’t afraid to explore the dark corners of humanity with this one. New series by a new to me debut author and I found her blend of paranormal-thriller romance just the thing. Did it make me feel the heroine was pushed beyond endurance and what a human being can handle? Yes. But then again, the evil that tortured her seemed beyond human, too.
Xander Stone was struck by lightning and the burn scars that disfigure him are the least of his troubles now that he is forced through the pain caused by other people’s thoughts pushing into his mind and by his hyper-hearing. It does make him a useful tool to the law enforcement agencies when they need him to ‘listen’ to the criminals sitting in the interrogation room.
Xander’s life was not exactly happy before the lightning incident. At age seven, when his step-mother and step-sister left, something broke inside his father and the man ignored Xander ever since. His uncle is a bitter man. And Xander isn’t much better. He and a police detective are hostile because of the way Xander is with the man’s sister, but she knows the score and Xander made it clear there would be no relationship.
And into his mind comes a woman’s voice begging for his help. Xander thinks he is finally certifiable and tries to ignore it, but then he is compelled to find her. When he does, it almost drives him to his knees with guilt.
Isleen Walker has been living imprisoned and tortured by a mad woman for eight long years. Her grandmother was abducted with her and her mind has already snapped. But just when Isleen is about to give up, her gran is lucid long enough to tell her that her dream rescuer will come. Isleen has seen the same man in her dream for years and she has called out to him in her dreams, but so far, nothing. Then he is there and they must work together to keep her safe from the sadistic threat that isn’t done with her.
Alright, this one was riveting and shocking. The evil and insanity were chilling. The characters were boldly drawn and not always likeable particularly Xander. He’s had a lot happen to him and it makes him rough around the edges and always angry which makes sense. He doesn’t give a flip about anything anymore. It was interesting seeing him interact with everyone around him and have to change now that Isleen was in his life and the truth from the past is coming out.
The romance was the beautiful though fast fated mate type which was alright because Xander needed all the help he could get. Isleen is broken and needs to feel safe at all cost. Xander gives her that. But she’s got a spark left in her when she encounters Xander’s friends with benefits partner who doesn’t want to let Xander go and doesn’t want to think that they never had anything real. This was never an issue of cheating, but it does mean that Xander has some ‘splaining to do and must make things right all around. The romance is a powerful element, but I didn’t feel like it was the most important one which made it a nice balanced story. There is the danger and it was not blithely swept under the rug.
The suspense was long and drawn out so that by the time the horrible truth came out, I was breathless with shock. Wow, didn’t see that coming at all. And this was even with getting one of the bad guys’ perspective.
Now, I want to make it clear that I really enjoyed this book, but I also found a couple things that nagged at me. One, was Isleen. Without spoilerish details, let’s just say that eight years of deprivation and torture and then what came afterward that kept piling on felt just that- piling on. It was getting extreme even before the last horrific scenes took place. Secondly, I loved this romantic pair and loved them together, but I felt that the romance relied heavily on the connection to the legend of a fated mates thing. First he is her rescuer, and then her rescuer, then the issue of the other woman, then her rescuer, and so forth. I guess I wanted to see some evidence of a relationship build before the ‘I love yous’. So definitely not big deal stuff, but it was there.
So, in summary, I felt this was a strong beginning and I enjoyed the author’s dark, gritty world, psychic gifts, and characters. Her plot was nicely twisty and I look forward to the next book featuring the enigmatic FBI consultant who was introduced in this one. I definitely recommend it for other thriller romance fans.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.