I won an advance readers’ copy (ARC) of Born to Darkness by bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann and am pleased to pay it forward in this giveaway. Ms Brockmann is known for writing romantic suspense novels, full of passion and adventure. This novel takes her work into a new direction. There’s still tons of passion and adventure but this time in a frightening, dystopian, near-future world. Speaking of passion: A caution for those of you who prefer only “clean” books – This one probably isn’t for you because it contains quite a few sex scenes – just sayin’.
In the near-future, the U.S. has gone through a second Great Depression which has left the country with an even wider rift between the haves and the have-nots. The streets have gotten increasingly mean for the have-nots while members of the wealthy class are ever in search for new thrills and ways to look and feel younger. They think they’ve found it in Destiny, the hottest new black-market drug which promises its users eternal youth. There are, however, a couple of significant problems with Destiny: 1), the way it’s made; and 2), what happens to people who use it.
“Yeah, that whole never die, always look twenty promise that the drug oxyclepta di-estraphen – known by its street name, Destiny – brought to the table was hard for a lot of people to turn down. Especially those who already had all of the cars and fancy houses and pairs of shoes that their billions of dollars could buy.”
Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie works as part of an elite team at the Obermeyer Institute (OI), run by Joseph Bach. OI works with people who have the innate ability to access greater portions of their brains than the normal 10%. They’ve labeled them “Greater Thans.” It trains them to identify and focus their enhanced powers, finely honing them into skills that can benefit mankind. Some people have telekinesis, some are telepathic, some have enhanced self-healing, some can morph parts of themselves, some have greatly increased strength. If they sound like superheroes, that’s not far off the mark although, unlike comic book superheroes, they’re all too human.
The paranormal skills OI has helped Mac develop include empathy, superhuman strength, the ability to heal herself, the ability to reshape her body, and the ability to make men fall hopelessly in lust with her. While she and the team were on an assignment today to stop a guy who “jokered” on Destiny, she injured herself and she needs to heal. She’s found that having sex helps her draw the energy she needs to do that quickly so she heads out to a local bar.
Shane Laughlin has looked everywhere for work since being booted out of the Navy Seals. It seems no one will touch him with his record, which isn’t too surprising. He’s desperate when he gets an invitation to take part in a scientific research study at the Obermeyer Institute. Although he’s leery about what’s involved, his situation is dire enough that he decides to accept. The night before he’s supposed to report to the institute, he decides to take his last $10 to that same local bar.
And, you guessed it, Mac and Shane hook up. The next morning, when she discovers Shane is headed to OI, she freaks internally because Bach has set a strict no fraternization policy for OI team members. Shane meanwhile thinks he has fallen hopelessly in love with her and, when he sees her at OI, is determined to win her over despite OI’s strict rules and her reluctance to get involved with any man beyond a one-night stand.
“’What the hell did I say?” he said, and she still didn’t turn around.
But she did speak, ‘This was a mistake.’
‘The Obermeyer Institute,’ It was when I said – ‘
‘What do you know about neural integration?’ she asked,…
‘…I don’t have to do it,’ Shane shouted to be heard over the engine. ‘I’ll find another job.’
But Mac shook her head, ‘No,’ she said. ‘You have to go. It’s important that you go. You’re a Potential, right?’
‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘But I don’t even know what that means.’
‘It means,’ she told him, over the noise of her Harley, ‘that I can’t see you again. I’m sorry.’”
OI gets word that one of its prospective research subjects, a thirteen-year-old girl named Nika Taylor, has been grabbed off the street near her school and kidnapped in a van. Everyone goes onto high alert because they know what’s at stake. Nika is one of the strongest Greater Thans they’ve ever come across and they can’t believe she was snatched just before they could bring her into the fold. They have to find Nika before the Organization gets their hands on her and destroys her in their Destiny-production operation. Someone of Nika’s sensitivity won’t last long at the hands of the Organization’s torturers.
“But then the dream shifted and she was Nika, and the table where she was lying became a hospital bed, with restraints that bound her arms and legs. The white cover that had been pulled over her was stained with a horrible spray of blood, the sight of which made her terribly, breathlessly afraid.”
Although I’ve introduced only Mac and Shane, there are other very interesting characters who round out the OI team and make it a balanced as well as extremely interesting group. Bach is a compassionate leader, who I liked immediately. Elliott Zerkowski is a gay scientist/nerd who’s one of the most likeable people on the team. Stephen Diaz is god-like gorgeous, sweet as the day is long, and someone Elliott secretly drools over. Anna Taylor is Nika’s sister, who moves into OI’s center so she can help in the search. And then there’s Nika, who tugged at my heart strings all through this thrill ride.
I had no preconceptions before reading Born to Darkness because I hadn’t read any of Suzanne Brockmann’s other novels. All I had to go by was the brief publisher’s description. There is a certain amount of world building that’s necessary in setting up what surely will become a new series (fingers crossed); however, it was done in such a way that it didn’t feel like dreary exposition. Yay!
If you take away the futuristic, paranormal aspects and all of the sex, this story is at its heart a good old fashioned thriller with a lot of character development – my favorite kind. I was on the edge of my seat and didn’t want to stop reading because I had to find out what was going to happen. The relationship tension added to the thriller tension made for a winning combination. Yep, I think Ms. Brockmann has another winner on her hands!
Born to Darkness was published on March 20, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
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One lucky reader will win an advance readers’ copy (ARC) of Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann.
One caveat: The ARC does not have the same book cover that’s on the published novel – instead it has a plain cover.
1) The deadline for entries is Sunday night, 4/22/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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