Monday, March 26, 2012

ARC Review: Born to Darkness

Born to Darkness
Suzanne Brockmann
Futuristic Suspense
Fighting Destiny/Book 1
Ballantine/March 20, 2012

Dishonorably discharged, former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin is down to his last ten bucks when he finally finds work as a test subject at the Obermeyer Institute, a little-known and believed-to-be-fringe scientific research facility. When he enters the OI compound, he is plunged into a strange world where seemingly mild-mannered scientists--including women half his size--can kick his highly skilled ass.

Shane soon discovers that there are certain individuals who possess the unique ability to access untapped regions of the brain with extraordinary results-including telekinesis, super strength, and reversal of the aging process. Known as "Greater-Thans," this rare breed is recruited by OI, where they are rigorously trained using ancient techniques to cultivate their powers and wield them responsibly.

But in the depths of America's second Great Depression, where the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown even wider, those who are rich--and reckless--enough have a quick, seductive alternative: Destiny, a highly addictive designer drug that can make anyone a Greater-Than, with the power of eternal youth. The sinister cartel known as The Organization has begun mass-producing Destiny, and the demand is growing. But few realize the drug's true danger, and fewer still know the dirty secret of Destiny's crucial ingredient.

Michelle "Mac" Mackenzie knows the ugly truth. And as one of the Obermeyer Institute's crack team of operatives, she's determined to end the scourge of Destiny. But her kick-ass attitude gets knocked for a loop when she discovers one of the new test subjects is the same smoldering stranger who just rocked her world in a one-night stand. And although Shane quickly discovers he isn't a Greater-Than like Mac, as an ex-SEAL, he's got talents of his own. But Mac's got powerful reasons to keep her distance from Shane-and reasons to want him close. She's used to risking her life, but now she faces sacrificing her heart in the ultimate war on drugs.

A long blurb for a long book. There is a lot going on in Suzanne Brockmann's new futuristic romantic suspense series. There are not one, not two but three romances taking place and while I didn't disliked all three couples, I never felt as though I knew any of them very well. There is also a lot of information to take in regarding the current status of the world and more specifically the Greater-Thans and the Less-Thans and the Obermeyer Institute's (OI) role in this new world.

First up we have Mac Mackenzie who is a very powerful Greater-Than. She hooks up with former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin one night in a bar. Mac has a hell of a lot of issues when it comes to men, not the least of is her ability to manipulate them to be attracted to her. She has some very cool powers but you definitely get the feeling she resents them. She doesn't believe a man could honestly be attracted to her but instead believes it must be her power to make them think they are. This makes it very difficult for Shane to get Mac to let him be more than anything but a casual sex partner.

Shane Laughlin thinks he got lucky when Mac picks him up in a bar. He sees her as this amazing woman surrounded by mystery which only makes him want to find out more about her. Shane is pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you get type of guy. He puts his feelings out there for Mac and doesn't let her negativity deter him. While I liked him, I had a hard time seeing him with Mac. He was just too nice for her. In their relationship, Mac was the alpha and Shane was the beta. I wish it would have been more balanced.

The other two couples, who were not as center stage as Mac and Shane but very nearly so, didn't come as any surprised when they paired up. And if you're familiar with Brockmann's previous works it won't come as a surprised that one of the couples are two gay men. Brockmann is know for focusing on societal issues in her novels and she does so again in Born to Darkness but it's not as overt as some of her previous works.

The main problem I had with all three of the romances is that there wasn't enough time devoted to each individual couple to make me feel like I knew why they were together. The most believable of the three couples were the two men. They had know each other for years and had both been hiding their attraction so when they do confess their feelings, they simple expand on their friendship and become lovers. The other two couples developed their relationships during stressful situations which made it difficult to believe that the results would have been the same if the situations had been different.

There is a lot of information to take in. Brockmann gives extensive details as to how the OI works with the Greater-Thans and the Potentials to help them utilize their powers. It's a fascinating world but there was almost too much covered when you consider there were also the three romances and the fight against The Organization and their sinister plans. It is a dark and sometimes depressing landscape of a future that I'm still not sure what caused it. There didn't seem to be any one thing that brought this futuristic world to this point. There is mention of wars and stock market crashes but no one specific thing.

As for the various plots, there is a lot of jumping around that left me wishing more focused had been placed on only a few plots. I will say that I do like the world that Brockmann has created and the science behind it, I only wish it had offered a greater focal point and fewer romances.

Rating: C


  1. Never been a fan of Ms Brockmann's books and I don't think I'll be picking this one up. I know this was a long book for you to read, partly because of the format... but 3 romances is a bit too many to squeeze in a book, even if it's a long one.

  2. Oh I just got this one from the Library. I've read the prequel and am looking forward to it. I've heard such opposing views on it I'm anxious to see what I think. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Oh man, I was hoping to finally get in on Brockmann's writing with this new series. I never picked up her Troubleshooters. Now I think I'll wait a bit more to see some more feedback from readers. Although I do think my library is getting this one, so I really wouldn't have anything to lose to give it a chance. Thanks for the review, Leslie.

  4. Nath ~ I did enjoy Brockmann's Troubleshooter series so I might read the next book in this series, depends on reviews.

    Tracy ~ I hope you enjoy!

    Christine ~ You might like it. Maybe all the jumping around won't bother you like it did me. :)