Friday, October 19, 2012

On Destiny: A Review of Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann

Born To Darkness (Fighting Destiny, #1)I don't normally read romantic suspense. It just happens to not be my favorite sub-genre (unsurprising, when you consider that I don't like mystery novels either). However, I have a history with Suzanne Brockmann's work--her Troubleshooters novels were among the first adult romance novels I explored when I decided that I liked romance novels. They were wonderful and terrifying and sexy, that handful of books that I read. I kind of got out of the series as I started to gravitate more toward paranormal, but the fact remains that I really like Brockmann's style. So when I saw that she has this new series, and it's set in the future and has science fiction elements...sign me up!

So, yes, this is the first book in that series. It's set in the not too distant future (a couple of decades, I believe), and there has been a depression and times are tough all around. But more to the point, a scientific community known as the OI has discovered people with elevated integration levels--advanced use of their brains that gives them psychic powers. In addition to research, the OI is fighting to bring down the manufacturers of a drug called Destiny, which has the power to artificially give people powers--at the cost of their health and sanity. Our heroine, Mac, is part of OI and a Greater-Than (person with powers), who's particular power is empathy and a bit of self healing. Oh, and irresistible charisma that makes men believe they're in love with her. Our hero, Shane, is a blacklisted ex-SEAL, who OI picked up as a Potential (one who might, with training, develop some powers). Shane comes into the OI to start his tests and training, but things get sidetracked when he learns that a little girl, who happens to be a Greater-Than, is missing--in the hands of violent drug dealers. Shane is determined to help Mac and her team get that little girl out safely.

Positive Comments

Okay, as always I'm going to try to do this as spoiler free as possible, but it's going to be tough because all of the things I liked and disliked are somewhat lets just say MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD right now....

So, we have the Shane/Mac romance plot...I liked the instant and intense sexual chemistry between them. I liked the conflict...See, Mac has this power to charm men, and she can't always turn it off, and so men claim to love her all of the time, so she's convinced no one can ever lover her for real. Shane says he does, and even if its fake, he doesn't care, because it feels that good. That's a pretty good romantic conflict, and an interesting concept in general. I also really liked Shane, in general, and because when confronted with this conflict, he reacts like a typical guy--"Who cares if it's real, the sex is good." But then once he gets it, he tries to impress upon her that he genuinely likes her--as a person and as a friend. Way to go, Shane. Anyhow, it was some very complex and interesting relationship development.

There's also this question that arises about whether emotions like love or lust, or the act of sex itself, boost the powers of the characters. Part of me thinks this is such thick BS, but after all this is a romance novel, and it's a romantic idea. It opens up this question about what love is, and what it does to a person neurologically, and is it only romantic love, or will any love do...and so forth. I'm curious to see her develop this idea in future books.

The suspense portion of the plot will keep you awake into the night. I found it genuinely scary, and I'm not easily frightened. But we have children being kidnapped and tortured and a drug literally made from fear, and that's scary all around.

Critical Comments


Mac's attitude, personality, and treatment of Shane is really frustrating and impossible to like. While I understood her difficult past and wanted to sympathize with her, I just couldn't get past all of her negativity.

The side characters were really interesting, but the romantic relationships we see developing there also felt hallow. In one case, we had an overly sweet and overly perfect relationship that just falls into place with zero tension. In the other case, we had what I would term as blatant sequel bait that, if I'm being honest, didn't intrigue me much. 


Who would I recommend this book to? Suspense and paranormal fans would likely both enjoy this book, especially if you enjoy a little highly improbable science fiction. It feels a little like a super hero novel, which in itself is pretty cool. I caution against this book if you're sensitive to violence and horror, particularly when it's victims are kids. Brockmann does excellent work, and it will be interesting to see where this series goes. 3.5 stars.

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