I grabbed Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann because so many people have recommended her, but her Troubleshooters series is already on book 17, and if I liked it, well, the so many books, so little time problem reared its ugly head and spat at me.
Born to Darkness is the first book in Brockmann’s Fighting Destiny series. and the readers who recommended her books were right. Born to Darkness is terrific romantic suspense. For this reader, Darkness has some added appeal, because this new series has a futuristic paranormal feel to it.
Born to Darkness takes place in Boston, in a near future at around the same time as J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Except this is a different future.
Instead of cops and robbers, the Fighting Destiny series centers around the Obermeyer Institute, a school for people with higher than normal brain-integration. In other words, people who can use more than 10% of their mental capacity at one time. Think of it as a different variation on the X-Men.
Except that a lot of the potential X-Men are X-Women, because of hormones, or they would be. The problem is that there’s a really nifty drug that can be made from the blood of these pre-pubescent “potentials”. That drug is called “Destiny” and it’s a humdinger. The Fountain of Youth in trade for instant addiction. Eventually it drives them super-crazy-powerful insane, when they “joker”. Yes, Batman’s Joker. It’s like that. Then they die.
The men and women of the Obermeyer Institute (the good guys) fight the Organization that manufactures Destiny.
Born to Darkness introduces readers to those fighters, and the powers they use to fight Destiny, as they come together to rescue one young girl from the clutches of the Organization.
The romance in this romantic suspense, and is there ever a romance, is between Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie and Shane Laughlin.
Mac is a high-ranking member of the Obermeyer Institute. She’s an empath. She also has a nifty trick, she uses sex to heal herself. After a terrible incident with a joker, Mac goes out trolling bars, and picks up Shane.
It’s his last night before he reports to the Obermeyer Institute as a “potential”. And he really needs what he considers a job. Shane was blacklisted from the Navy SEALs for doing the right thing at the wrong time. He took the blame to save the careers of the men in his unit. But blacklisting means he can’t get any job anywhere. He’s broke.
Their intended one-night stand heals Mac’s broken ankle–and blows every circuit and light bulb in her building. Whatever potential power Shane has, besides the great sex he and Mac share, it’s not anything the Obermeyer Institute has ever seen before.
The only problem is, potentials are supposed to be off-limits, and Mac didn’t know Shane was a potential until after the lights blew. Walking away is what she’s supposed to do.
But she can’t, and neither can he.
Mac doesn’t believe any man could ever love her for herself, because part of her power is to make men love her. Only as long as they are in her presence. She’s sure love can’t be real. Ever.
Shane can only be genuine. He doesn’t know any other way to be. The sex may be earth-shattering, sometimes literally, but what he feels is real. Convincing Mac is harder than any mission he’s ever been on.
And no matter how much Mac wants to push Shane away, she can’t afford to. There is a little girl’s life on the line. And the Institute has figured out why all those lights blew. Shane amps Mac’s power. Real emotion amps power. And Mac needs that boost to find the girl. Before the Organization kills her.
If she loses Shane afterwards, Mac can survive the blow. Somehow.
Escape Rating A: This story is absolutely awesome. This was one I couldn’t put down. The paranormal elements are light, this is pretty much a romantic suspense story, but that’s just fine. It’s excellent.
The setup of the Institute for future stories is good. Although a secondary love story was also resolved within Born to Darkness, you can see who will be featured in at least one of the next books. I hope it’s soon, it’s a story that begs for an HEA.
If you decide to read Born to Darkness, it’s worth reading Shane’s Last Stand first. This is the prequel short story that explains how Shane winds up getting blacklisted. I highly recommend both Shane’s Last Stand and Born to Darkness. Be sure you don’t have to get up early the next morning.